Achievements and Announcements
One of Australia’s leading researchers in brain injury has been appointed Pro Vice Chancellor for the University of South Australia’s Division of Health Sciences.
Professor Robert Vink (pictured right) is currently the Head of School of Medical Sciences and Chair of Neurosurgical Research at the University of Adelaide. He says he is delighted to be joining UniSA and will commence the position early next year.
“I am particularly looking forward to the opportunity to contribute to the emergence of UniSA as a leading centre for health education and research at the local and national level,” Prof Vink says.
Prof Vink completed his PhD on nuclear magnetic resonance studies of energy transduction at Griffith University in 1986. He was awarded a Doctor of Science – which recognises the highest standard of research – by the University of Adelaide earlier this year. His Doctor of Science thesis uncovered the critical roles of magnesium and the neuropeptide substance P in central nervous system injury.
UniSA Vice Chancellor Professor David Lloyd says Prof Vink will provide strong innovative leadership in health education at a time when UniSA is making significant investments in the new West End health precinct.
“Bob is an example of the high quality staff that UniSA attracts to its teaching and research. His passion for education is matched by a world view that reflects our culture of enterprise,” he says.
“Bob joins UniSA at an exciting time for our institution and I look forward to him being part of our senior management team.”
Joining UniSA in November was Professor Susannah Radstone who is the new Dean of Research and Research Education in the Division of Education, Arts and Social Sciences.
Moving to UniSA from the United Kingdom, Prof Radstone was most recently a Professor of Cultural Theory in the School of Arts and Digital Industries at the University of East London.
Prof Radstone has held key roles on the University Research Advisory Group and the Research Excellence Framework Strategy Group and has been the Director of the Graduate Centre at the University of East London.
Prof Radstone is sought after for her expertise in assessing UK and international research projects and grant applications for the Economic and Social Research Council, the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the European Science Fund.
She has published extensively, with 10 edited, co-edited and authored books (one forthcoming), 15 book chapters (two forthcoming) and numerous journal articles.
Pro Vice Chancellor of the Division of Education, Arts and Social Sciences Professor Pal Ahluwalia says Prof Radstone’s extensive experience will be an absolute asset to the Division.
The building will become a hive for medical and health research in SA with more than 600 local, national and international researchers getting to work at the new facility in the coming months.
Key research into the big health challenges of our times, cancer, obesity, heart disease, diabetes and a range of other illnesses will be tackled in an environment of cutting-edge, multidisciplinary collaboration.
UniSA’s School of Population Health will take up residence on the top floor of the state-of-the-art, purpose-built nine-storey building, making UniSA the only university to transfer an entire academic school to the SAHMRI location.
UniSA Vice Chancellor and President, Professor David Lloyd says SAHMRI provides a unique opportunity for innovative, world-class research that can grow outside of the traditional boundaries that might apply elsewhere.
“The very nature of SAHMRI encourages a dynamic and collaborative approach to research because in addition to whole university schools, there will be individuals, groups and entire networks of researchers both within Adelaide and internationally, who are linked to SAHMRI,” Prof Lloyd says.
“UniSA researchers will work side by side with researchers from other universities, from our hospitals and from around the world, to explore new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat a range of diseases and illnesses, from cancer to obesity.”
Established by the South Australian Government and funded by the Federal Government, SAHMRI is governed by representatives from South Australia’s three major universities, the State Government and key members of the research and business communities.
The new facility is located opposite UniSA’s City West campus in the burgeoning medical precinct that will also be home to the new Royal Adelaide Hospital.
Nine new UniSA research projects won funding support from the Australian Research Council (ARC) in November.
The funded research projects and infrastructure, with a value of more than $4m, span health, business, artificial intelligence, environment, nanotechnology, soil science and psychology.
UniSA Vice Chancellor Professor David Lloyd said he was delighted for the researchers who had been successful in securing support for their projects in an environment where the competition for research dollars was increasingly strong.
“Research being undertaken at UniSA is done with a growing aspiration to make a difference on the world stage – to improve lives, make breakthroughs and build stronger communities,” Prof Lloyd said.
“The fact many of the successful UniSA projects have national and international collaborations is significant because increasingly research should have global applications and be built on enterprising and creative partnerships.”
More details about the projects can be found on a media release about this announcement.
A UniSA chronic pain researcher has recently been awarded two accolades from the very competitive National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) system.
Professor Lorimer Moseley (pictured right), won the NHMRC Warren and Marshall Award for the best innovative and potentially transformative project from the 3800 proposals submitted last year. And in this year’s round of funding, he won a $727,610 Established Career Fellowship to continue his work on the role of the brain and mind in chronic pain.
“It’s a very competitive system and I am chuffed that my peers have decided to continue to support my work – at least for the next five years,” Prof Moseley said.
“The project for which I won the Warren and Marshall Award, is testing an idea that chronic pain is not caused by chronic problems in the tissue of the body but by problems in the way the brain ‘remembers’ the event.
“For example, if you hurt your back picking up a box, then your brain may encode that painful event so that when you bend over in a similar way, your back hurts, even though that similar movement is not in fact dangerous.
“It’s very real pain brought on by the brain protecting us from events that it has encoded as being dangerous, when in fact they might not be. It is sort of ‘overprotecting’ and the way it does this is by making it hurt.
“Over the next five years I will be testing this theory.”
UniSA was awarded seven NHMRC grants in the latest round of funding for:
Professor Sharad Kumar with $606,894 for research into novel ways of regulating membrane proteins in cell physiology and disease; Associate Professor Natasha Harvey with $695,558 for defining the role of the transcription factor GATA2 in the construction of lymphatic vessels; Professor Richard D’Andrea with $587,562 for work on blood disorders; Associate Professor Michele Grimbaldeston with $664,890 for research on understanding how skin mast cells as part of the body’s natural defence against skin tumourisgenesis; Dr Quenten Schwarz with $615,558 for research into craniofacial development; Dr Cameron Bracken with $425,171 for research into how variant forms of microRNAs affect their functional repertoire in affecting gene expression; and Dr Sarah Heron with $363,447 for work into identifying new genes involved in the development of epilepsy.
In addition, a Career Development Fellowship was awarded to Associate Professor Janna Morrison for $447,840 to understand the consequences of impaired cardiac development on heart health after birth. Dr Jenni Ilomaki was also awarded an Early Career Fellowship for $304,596 to look into how therapeutic treatment pathways impact medicine safety and effectiveness.
A NHMRC Partnership was also awarded to Professor Alex Brown (pictured right), Director of the Wardliparingga Aboriginal Research Unit within the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) and UniSA Chair in Aboriginal Health, for more than $1million for the development and testing of an integrated cancer monitoring and surveillance system for Aboriginal people in South Australia.
Prof Brown will work with UniSA researchers Professor David Roder and Associate Professor Margaret Cargo to develop an advanced cancer monitoring system for Aboriginal people in South Australia.
“This project builds on work started by Professor Roder on the existing Cancer Registry,” Prof Brown said.
“The project and the system it develops will be guided and governed by Aboriginal people themselves, and will be explicitly developed for Aboriginal people to better target and improve their cancer services, strengthen their advocacy, and indicate to them the effectiveness of initiatives to reduce disadvantage in cancer.”
The project includes SA Health, the Cancer Council of SA, the Aboriginal Health Council of SA, the Cancer Clinical Network and the SA-NT DataLink group (also a part of UniSA).
The Wardliparingga Aboriginal Research Unit within SAHMRI conducts research that is of direct relevance to Aboriginal people in South Australia.
Its research is focused on the significant gap between the health status and life expectancy of Aboriginal people when compared to other Australians.
Cheng Wai Kok, His Excellency Rear Admiral Kevin Scarce AC CSC RANR, Vice Chancellor and Vice President of University of South Australia Professor David Lloyd, Elsa D’Ercoli, Qiao Luqiang, Dennis Muirhead and Mike Teng.
The University of South Australia welcomed its four international alumni chapter presidents in November for a packed round of meetings and information sessions designed not only to inform but to take in feedback from the international chapters and the thousands of graduates they represent.
The group included alumni presidents Cheng Wai Kok from Malaysia; Edward Lam from Hong Kong; Singapore president Sherina Ng and past president Mike Teng; President designate for China Luqiang Qiao; President of the South Australian Universities Alumni Chapter for the UK and Europe, Dennis Muirhead; and Vice President of that chapter, Elsa d’Ercoli.
The agenda included a site tour of the new Jeffery Smart Student Learning Centre at the City West campus which is set for completion early in 2014, a tour of new research facilities at the Mawson Lakes campus, presentations from key research institutes including the Hawke Research Institute and a special reception at Government House hosted by the Governor of South Australia, Rear Admiral Kevin Scarce.
UniSA Deputy Vice Chancellor of International and Advancement Nigel Relph said it was wonderful to be able to meet the presidents as a group and share UniSA’s new strategic plan – Crossing the Horizon – and at the same time learn about the program of activities each chapter undertakes.
“There were many excellent ideas discussed during the two days and lots of planning together for a stronger global alumni network of mutually beneficial relationships,” Relph said.
UniSA’s physiotherapy clinic has been given a boost by the donation of a piece of high-tech cooling equipment for staff and students to use.
Staff member Dr Rose Boucaut (pictured right lying down), has donated a new ProIce system after winning it at an Australian Physiotherapy Association Conference in Melbourne in mid-October.
The equipment, which was won in a competition organised by Club Warehouse Sports Medical Supplies, works by circulating iced water around a limb to provide compression and cooling simultaneously.
Dr Boucaut, who lectures in occupational health and safety in physiotherapy practice, says she thought it would come in handy at the clinic.
“UniSA’s physiotherapy clinic is such a great resource for students and the wider community, and I thought the equipment could be put to good use there,” she says.
“Hopefully it will not only help people who come to the clinic but could also be used by staff who work with sports teams as it’s portable.”
And that is exactly what Musculoskeletal and Sports Physiotherapy lecturer Dr Mary Magarey hopes to do.
Dr Magarey, who regularly goes on tour with the Junior Softball World Championship teams, says the equipment will be ideal to treat sports teams away on competition.
“If one of the players is injured you want to get on top of the injury as quickly as you can, while ensuring they get the rest they need, so the timer function will be great to ensure they are disturbed as little as possible while they rest overnight," Dr Magarey says.
The equipment will mainly be used by students and staff at UniSA’s physiotherapy clinic. Lecturer Alison Bell says the equipment is a welcome addition to the clinic.
“We operate a busy physiotherapy clinic, providing more than 3800 services last year, and we’re pleased to have the new equipment to use,” she says.
“The clinic is an affordable, evidence-informed, best-practice physiotherapy service provided by both undergraduate and postgraduate students. The service is provided to the community at low cost, throughout most of the year, five days a week, and through extended business hours (9am – 6pm).
“From the perspective of the community this represents accessible affordable physiotherapy management, while from the University’s perspective this represents a significant proportion of clinical placement requirements.
“Students work under the supervision of both academic staff members and clinical educators, which confers scholarly, research and clinical experience depth to the student experience. Students are exposed to a broad clinical experience, through the diverse population that accesses the clinic.
“As well as the learning experience supported by staff who are directly involved in supervision, the clinic provides an opportunity for the incorporation of techniques and approaches that have been researched within the School of Health Sciences and the University more broadly. The knowledge and expertise of both research and teaching staff across the School are easily accessible.”
UniSA’s physiotherapy clinic can help with the assessment and treatment of back, neck and limb pain, sports injuries, orthopaedic injuries (including rehabilitation after surgery), headaches, repetition strain injuries, overuse syndromes and other work-related problems as well as movement-related disorders.
For more information, visit the website.
Arun was recognised at the recently held Study Adelaide 2013 Governor’s International Student Awards, where he received his award from SA Governor, His Excellency Rear Admiral Kevin Scarce.
For the past two years Arun has organised the annual UniLife Kangaroo Island Tree Planting Festival, which links UniSA students with local community groups to revegetate parts of Kangaroo Island and aims to promote environmental sustainability.
Bachelor of Nursing student Arun also introduced UniLife magazine’s ‘Your Story’ competition which allows international students to share their origin and culture with their peer group, as well as having worked as a volunteer for Red Cross where he ran a promotion and awareness campaign within the University to prompt colleagues and friends to donate blood.
Arun also volunteers his time to tutor more than 45 nursing students and as a mentor to new international students. He says he was extremely proud to win the award.
“Winning this award was such a fantastic moment for me,” he says.
“I believe international students can contribute positively to the community by volunteering and helping others.
“Let’s all of us have great goals and aims, and work towards a stronger community by making difference in people’s lives.
“Never get tired of doing little things for others – sometimes those little things occupy the biggest part of their heart which makes a big difference.”
Arun will finish his studies this year, and will start work as a registered nurse at a private hospital in Adelaide early in 2014, as well as continuing as the UniSA Student Association President until July 2014.
UniSA Master of Professional Accounting student Chengcheng Sun was also highly commended for her work in the community at the awards.
For the past two years Chengcheng has helped with a variety of community and university programs, including volunteering as an administrative assistant at Volunteering SA and a Chinese language assistant at Pembroke School.
She is a Committee member of the International Student Support Group at Port Adelaide Football Club and has participated in the University of Adelaide’s Student Leadership program.
Earlier in 2013 Chengcheng was appointed as one of six Study Adelaide International Student Ambassadors. The ambassadors, who come from a range of countries, are leaders in Adelaide’s international student community.
Chengcheng is currently working with UniSA Career Services as a graduate intern.
Bachelor of Tourism and Event Management student Genevieve Pontikinas (pictured middle right), won the new category at the event on November 8, and will travel to Christchurch next April with Air New Zealand as part of the SKAL International Adelaide Student Exchange Program.
Genevieve said she was delighted to win the award.
“I didn’t think I would win and was really thrilled when they announced my name,” she said.
“For the past year I’ve been taking part in a Young Australian Tourism Export Council mentorship through the University with entrepreneur Rebecca Sullivan of Dirty Girl Kitchen, an amazing experience which I think has contributed to winning the award.
“I’m really interested in the food and wine industry, especially in South Australia. It’s such an exciting time for the State, and I’d love to be involved in the promotion and marketing of our fantastic food industry when I finish studying next year.”
Bachelor of Tourism and Event Management students Belinda Rundell and Cassandra Powditch were also nominated for the award.
Program Director of the Bachelor of Tourism and Event Management, Jenny Davies, said it was wonderful to have three students representing the University.
“I’m really proud we have this quality of student being nominated for and winning the South Australian Tourism Student of the Year award,” she said.
“It shows both the quality of the program and of our students.
“Genevieve is a fantastic student and I know she will get a lot out of her experience in Christchurch, which will provide great insight into how tourism adapts to challenging conditions.”
UniSA has recently launched a suite of three new programs designed to equip modern professionals such as business analysts and strategists, and information specialists with the skills to manage and mine big data.
The Graduate Certificate, Graduate Diploma and Masters in Data Science are sponsored by the world’s leader in business analytics software and services, SAS and the programs will be SAS-accredited.
Head of UniSA’s School of Information Technology and Mathematical Sciences, Professor Andy Koronios says the partnership with SAS will deliver vital opportunities for businesses and other organisations by developing graduates with the latest skills and education in this important field.
“Being able to analyse economic and social trends by examining a number of disparate and large datasets has applications in some vital areas including health, security, social service delivery and infrastructure planning,” Prof Koronios says.
“We know that commercial operations are highly invested in using big data to help with product and service development and planning, but there are a myriad of other applications from helping to decide new catchment areas for schools, right through to understanding a population’s use of over-the-counter medications or the consumption of foods.”
SAS Managing Director, David Bowie says the new Data Science study options will assist in bridging the skills gap that exists for data experts.
“There is a growing unmet demand for professionals who are equipped to analyse the increasingly complex and vast amount of data that is now available to businesses and public sector agencies,” Bowie says.
More information about the new data science study option at UniSA is available here.
The University of South Australia is leading a nation-wide project that aims to uncover the true impact domestic violence has on victims.
In a major push to find out how and to what extent domestic violence impacts women’s lives and their ability to engage as citizens, the University of South Australia and the University of Western Australia are joining forces to reach out to women who have been, or still are, victims of domestic violence.
UniSA’s Dr Sarah Wendt, one of the project’s lead researchers, says domestic violence doesn’t discriminate according to age or social circumstance; it occurs right across the spectrum with the latest statistics showing one in three Australian women have experienced domestic violence, by encouraging them to fill out a survey.
“There are many types of domestic violence but the research shows that across the world 40 per cent of women report sexual or physical partner violence; in Australia we know women experience most domestic abuse from men they know and in particular their partners,” Dr Wendt says.
“What is less well researched is how domestic violence impacts on women’s everyday lives and how it can limit their opportunities and capacities to act as citizens. That is what we want to examine in a national survey.
“We are urging victims of domestic violence to contribute to the survey in complete confidence. We hope this research will go on to inform policy to help improve the lives of women who have suffered domestic violence across the country.”
The UniSA, UWA study will examine three central aspects of everyday life – housing, employment and mental health. To take part, visit the website.
Using skills gained through her visual arts degree to describe a variety of art to people who are vision-impaired is proving rewarding for graduate Lara Torr (pictured right), in more ways than one.
Lara, who graduated from UniSA with first class Honours in Visual Arts in 2006, was recently named one of five national winners in a competition run by the British Council Australia.
The Realise Your Dream competition is a professional development platform for people working in the creative industries.
As one of the five winners, chosen from more than 750 applications, Lara will travel to the UK next year and undergo a unique professional development program put together by the British Council.
Lara’s program will focus on her field of expertise, audio description.
“Audio description is well established in Europe and the UK but it is still a developing field in Australia,” Lara said.
“In 2010, when I was working on an arts and disability project, I heard about a process called audio description, which makes the arts accessible to people who are blind or vision-impaired.
“I trained as a describer in 2011 and have been working in the field ever since, with jobs for the State Theatre Company, Adelaide Festival, National Gallery of Victoria and others.
“Audio description is a fascinating process. For me, it brings together my visual arts training, experience in the theatre sector and commitment to access. Using language to encapsulate the visual elements of an artwork really forces you to think about the most succinct way to describe something – it's a challenging practice and that challenge is a huge part of the appeal!
“I believe that access to the arts is a human rights issue and playing a part in providing high quality access is hugely rewarding.
“Spending so much time describing art of all kinds has been an unexpected outlet for my visual arts degree. My studies involved a lot of critique and arts writing and those skills have formed a really important part of my professional practice.”
Two UniSA urban and regional planning graduates have received industry recognition for substantial research work undertaken during their course in the areas of using temporary spaces to reinvigorate the city and urban food security.
Hannah Shaw (pictured right) was awarded the Outstanding Student Project Award – Tertiary from the Planning Institute of Australia (PIA) at its recent South Australian annual awards.
Hannah’s research thesis, undertaken as part of her fourth year coursework in the Bachelor of Urban and Regional Planning (Honours) program, focused on how temporary uses of space – often referred to as pop-ups – could be better implemented into urban planning.
“My research centred around the City of Adelaide where temporary use projects are gaining recognition for their potential to reinvigorate disused public spaces and vacant shopfronts,” Hannah said.
“I found that there were many obstacles to establishing these pop-up projects, and recommended that the planning system must shift from its role as regulator to one of a facilitator.”
Hannah was encouraged to enter the PIA awards by her Honours supervisor, Lecturer in the School of Natural and Built Environments, Dr Alpana Sivam.
“Actually winning the award was a huge surprise and honour, especially knowing the high standard of research undertaken by my peers and by previous award winners,” said Hannah, who is now working for a planning consultancy.
Fellow UniSA graduate in the same program, Michael Dickson, received the runner-up award for his thesis that investigated food security as an emerging challenge for land use planning in the context of the increasing densification of urban areas.
“I used the City of Charles Sturt as an inner city case study to demonstrate some of the issues and challenges associated with current policy approaches to food security,” Michael said.
“My study showed that the planning system does have limits in addressing food security and that the key to ensuring our future food security lies with appropriate community education and awareness.
“I can only hope that my work makes a greater contribution to the future of planning and food security.”
Michael, who is now a planner in local government, said it is a real privilege to be recognised with this commendation by his peers for research within the industry.
Dr Sivam, who also supervised Michael’s research, said she is particularly proud of their achievements.
“They are both brilliant students,” she said. “I am now working with both of them on journal articles about their work.”