Winning research

Research news
09 April 2014
'Improving the world' was a key motivator for the four Alfred Deakin Thesis Medallists this year.

Outstanding research that aimed to improve quality of life was a consistent theme for the four Deakin researchers awarded Alfred Deakin Medals for Best Doctoral Thesis this year.

Medal winner Dr Nicholas Patterson was probably summing up the feelings of all recipients when he said: “Winning this award is a real thrill and a very special honour. I think all PhD graduates understand how hard it is to just finish your PhD, let alone be successful enough to win a prestigious award such as this.

“It is an award not just for myself, but for my loved ones who supported me throughout this mammoth challenge. I will look fondly upon this award for the rest of my life.”

Recipients were assessed across a range of criteria, such as international recognition, impact (in terms of actual and potential adoption), and acknowledgement from within the profession.

The medal winners are:

  • Dr Tarannum Afrin, Institute for Frontier Materials, for “Eco-friendly Production of Bamboo Fibres having UV-absorbing and Antibacterial Properties.”
  • Dr Jia Lin, School of Medicine, for “A Nanoliposome-based Drug Delivery System for Cancer.”
  • Dr Nicholas Patterson, School of Information Technology, for “A Framework for Detecting Virtual Property Theft in Virtual World Environments.”
  • Dr Yongli Ren, School of Information Technology, for “Intelligent Techniques for Recommender Systems.”

Dr Afrin, who now works as Manager, Textiles Testing at Charles Parsons Textiles in Melbourne, worked on bamboo fibres for her PhD, which she describes as a “magic crop” that is eco-friendly and has excellent UV blocking abilities. 

Her research examined the potential applications of bamboo in medical textile, fabric and cosmetic industries and led to a high media profile during her time at Deakin, which was capped off with an appearance on “Catalyst”.


From left: Dr Tarannum Afrin, Dr Nicholas Patterson, Dr Yongli Ren and Dr Jia Lin.

Dr Lin’s project focused on reducing side effects and enhancing the tumour targeting properties of a nanoliposome drug delivery system for cancer patients.

She is now lecturing at one of China’s top universities, Sichuan University, within the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, where she has recently received a two-year grant to study the effects of genetic and psychological factors on metabolism.

Dr Patterson’s research involved combating a highly profitable form of cybercrime, called Virtual Property Theft, that occurs in online social environments (Virtual Worlds). Individuals break into accounts belonging to other people with the objective of stealing their virtual goods, which they then sell for real money on black markets.

For his PhD, Dr Patterson designed a theft detection algorithm that has an 80 per cent accuracy rate for detecting this type of online theft. Companies that operate these virtual worlds can adopt the technology to detect and monitor any new threats/frauds discovered in the future.

Dr Patterson is currently working as an IT professional for an international fashion company. He plans to build up his industry experience and move into a position within cyber law enforcement as a digital forensic analyst.

Dr Ren undertook research on information retrieval for his PhD, with a focus on optimising filtering and ranking systems. The aim of this research has been to improve on-line searching, taking into account the user's specific geographical location and surrounding environments. This research has the potential to enhance peoples' ability to locate nearby services, retail outlets or other facilities in the future.

He is continuing his research in personalised information retrieval through a research fellowship at RMIT.

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Alfred Deakin 'Improving the world' was a key motivator for the four Alfred Deakin Thesis Medallists this year.

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