Achievements and Announcements


Mineral engineering and tourism management subjects ranked in top 25 in the world

UniSA win $2.3m for research into cancer, ageing, alcohol abuse and other health issues

When the chemistry is right: UniSA pharmacist wins top prize

Small scale research earns UniSA scientist a Tall Poppy award

UniSA student to lead national pharmacy association

UniSA wins prestigious European Union grants

UniSA celebrates first Senior Fellows of UK’s prestigious Higher Education Academy

High achievers take centre stage


Jacinta Thompson appointed to Korean advisory board

Innovation and Collaboration Centre appoints entrepreneur in residence


UniSA Chancellor to lead Premier and Cabinet

UniSA leverages industry connections in $9.2m ARC projects

SA tech entrepreneurs invited to pitch to Prince Andrew

New resource to help students take control of their finances

China-Australia collaboration set to advance laser and sensor technologies


Mineral engineering and tourism management subjects ranked in top 25 in the world

UniSA’s School of Engineering and its Business School have both had subjects ranked in the top 25 in the world in a recent international ranking.

The ShanghaiRanking's Global Ranking of Academic Subject ranked UniSA 22 in the world in the subject area of Mining and Mineral Engineering. It also ranked UniSA 25 in the world in the subject area of Hospitality and Tourism Management.

The 2018 ranking is published by the ShanghaiRanking Consultancy.

More than 4000 universities were ranked, which also placed UniSA in the top 100 in the world in the subject area of Business Administration (ranking band 76-100); and highest in South Australia in the subject area of Environmental Science & Engineering (ranking band 101-150).

The subject area of Education was also ranked highest in the State (ranking band 151-200).

The ShanghaiRanking's Global Ranking of Academic Subjects is determined by a series of indicators including: the number of papers authored by an institution in an academic subject; Category Normalised Citation Impact (CNCI); international collaboration on papers; and the number of staff winning awards in an academic subject.

The full ranking and methodology can be found on the Academic Ranking of World Universities website.

UniSA win $2.3m for research into cancer, ageing, alcohol abuse and other health issues

UniSA has been awarded more than $2.6 million in the latest round of Federal Government funding to further research into Australia’s most critical health issues.

Almost half of UniSA’s funding announced in August from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) has been awarded to find potential treatments for cancer, specifically brain tumours, acute myeloid leukaemia, bone marrow and head and neck cancers.

More novel research will be funded to develop an innovative 3D bioprinting platform to reconstruct the earlobe – a difficult organ to regenerate using traditional methods.

Other projects to benefit from the NHMRC funding will focus on preventing medicine-related side effects in older people; programs to address Australia’s high alcohol consumption by targeting parents; and strategies to balance daily activities for the best mental and physical health.

UniSA researchers awarded funding include:

  • Professor Stuart Pitson: a $649,175 Senior Research Fellowship to understand how defects in a type of ‘fat’ molecule known as sphingolipids contributes to cancer and other diseases, and how this can be prevented to treat brain tumours, acute myeloid leukaemia and multiple myeloma;

  • Professor Benjamin Thierry: a $609,542 Development Grant to use magnetic tracers to develop a superior staging technology for head and neck cancers based on magnetic tracers.

Four-year Early Career Fellowships have also been awarded to:

  • Dr Liping Wang: $417,192 to fabricate tissues and organs for ear reconstruction using 3D bioprinting;

  • Dr Renly Lim: $327,192 to develop and evaluate a novel, pharmacist-led service to prevent medication-related side effects in older people;

  • Jacqueline Bowden: $327,192 to help halt Australia’s high rate of alcohol consumption by targeting parents, discouraging them from supplying their teenage children with alcohol;

  • Dr Dorothea Dumuid: $327,192 to identify the healthiest daily activity patterns for adults and children.

Full details of the successful projects can be found on the NHMRC website.

When the chemistry is right: UniSA pharmacist wins top prize

Dr Jacinta Johnson talks about her work and career.

UniSA pharmacist Dr Jacinta Johnson has been named Australia’s Early Career Pharmacist of the Year.

Dr Johnson, a lecturer and researcher in UniSA’s School of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences, received the honour at the 2018 Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) Excellence Awards in late July.

The award nomination singled Dr Johnson out for her extensive support and mentoring of students, her volunteer work within the industry and her research.

Described as an “exceptional role model and effective communicator,” Dr Johnson has been credited with motivating students to be innovative and achieve high standards.

South Australian Pharmacy Students’ Association president Caela Crane says Dr Johnson “is more than just a lecturer; she is a mentor and an inspiration to her students”.

“Both in the lecture theatre and in person, Jacinta is a dynamic and powerful communicator who makes complex subjects understandable and who is very generous with her knowledge and time,” Crane says.

“She encourages students to challenge and ask questions to ensure a deeper understanding of pharmacy rather than just learning by rote.”

In 2017, the South Australian Pharmacy Students Association awarded Dr Johnson “Lecturer of the Year” and the Australian Journal of Pharmacy named her one of the country’s “rising stars”.

She won the SA/NT Early Career Pharmacist Award in March this year, qualifying her for the national finals.

Small scale research earns UniSA scientist a Tall Poppy award

Dr Melanie MacGregor explains some of her work.

A UniSA researcher who works with materials a billion times smaller than a metre has taken out a Young Tall Poppy Science Award for her ground-breaking work in nano-architecture.

Dr Melanie MacGregor, a Santos-UCL Research Fellow at UniSA’s Future Industries Institute, has been named one of 10 Tall Poppy Scientists for South Australia in 2018.

The 33-year-old is building a solid track record in nanoengineered biomaterials, developing devices using plasma coatings to capture cancer cells from urine samples, growing stem cells and improving oil and gas recovery for the mining sector.

Her research involves designing surfaces at a minute scale to influence how they interact with their environment – a field billed as “the next industrial revolution”.

Dr MacGregor’s key focus involves working with a team of 12 scientists to develop a commercial non-invasive microfluidic device to detect bladder cancer cells in urine. The team hopes to start clinical trials this year using this new, pain-free technique.

In the five years since completing her PhD at UniSA, Dr MacGregor has published 30 high-impact, peer-reviewed articles and won a number of awards, including the Ian Wark Medal, the John A. Brodie Medal for Chemical Engineering, the Winnovation Engineering Award and the UniSA ITEE ECR Award.

She is a keen supporter and volunteer of Science Alive, the largest single interactive science exhibition in Australia, and actively promotes women in STEM.

The fellowship program with Santos-UCL supports UniSA’s role in the Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE) project.


UniSA student to lead national pharmacy association

UniSA student Jess Hsiao is president of the National Australian Pharmacy Students’ Association Board.UniSA student Jess Hsiao is president of the National Australian Pharmacy Students’ Association Board.

Fourth-year UniSA pharmacy student Jessica Hsiao has been elected national president of the National Australian Pharmacy Students’ Association Board (NAPSA) for the 2018-19 term.

Jess is studying a Bachelor of Pharmacy/Bachelor of Pharmaceutical Sciences (Honours) and says she’s very excited to take on the role.

“It is an honour and although it is a big responsibility, it is also an extraordinary opportunity to represent pharmacy students nationally,” she says.

“NAPSA is dedicated to making our student voices heard to ensure that the changes that we see are what we, as students, wish to see in our profession.

“As NAPSA president, together with the Board of Directors, we strive to build and strengthen relationships with our industry bodies and provide platforms for our members through education and networking opportunities.”

Jess will be joined on the board by seven newly elected executive directors from across Australia, including fellow UniSA students Joshua Hogben and Tina Blefari, who takes on the role of treasurer.

Since beginning her pharmacy degree, Jess has been heavily involved with her local NAPSA branch – the South Australian Pharmacy Students' Association (SAPSA). UniSA will host the annual NAPSA Congress in January 2019.

UniSA wins prestigious European Union grants

UniSA will play a central role in deepening ties between Australia and the EU after winning two of the most prestigious grants awarded by the European Commission.

UniSA’s Hawke EU Centre has been awarded more than $600,000 to establish a Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence and a Jean Monnet Network, aimed at strengthening Australia-EU relations through research, teaching and diplomatic activities.

Professor Anthony ElliottProfessor Anthony Elliott

Professor Anthony Elliott, UniSA’s Dean of External Engagement and internationally-acclaimed sociologist, will be Executive Director of the new centre, which will be launched in September 2018.

Prof Elliott, a Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia, will also lead the new Jean Monnet Network, bringing together a consortium of 12 researchers from universities in Australia, Germany, Denmark, Estonia, New Zealand and Japan to examine the impact of driverless vehicles on society.

The Hawke EU Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence will focus on three main themes:

  • Industry 4.0, reflecting the era of cyber-physical systems powered by artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things (IoT), autonomous machines and big data;

  • Creative Industries, including the design of business models and skills for digital markets;

  • Migration, Mobility and Culture to track the global and regional migration of people and the transformation of cultural identities.

“Through this award of a Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence, this is an enormously important opportunity to develop and deepen EU-Australia relations on the most critical global transformation of our times,” Prof Elliott says.

“One of the characteristics of the 21st century is the digital revolution – from AI to advanced robotics to Industry 4.0. UniSA will play a central role in generating and promoting synergies in European studies to better understand these global technological changes.”

The Jean Monnet Network will undertake research on the development and impact of driverless vehicles in Europe and Australia, identifying issues for governments and local authorities and making policy recommendations.

UniSA Deputy Vice Chancellor, Nigel Relph, says the grants are “a real coup for UniSA and for Professor Elliott”.

UniSA celebrates first Senior Fellows of UK’s prestigious Higher Education Academy

Dr Julie ReisDr Julie Reis.

Two UniSA academic staff have been announced as Senior Fellows to the UK’s Higher Education Academy (HEA) – Scott Polley, Program Director of Human Movement and Dr Julie Reis, Program Director of the Bachelor of Community Health at Mount Gambier.

UniSA introduced an initiative this year help academic staff develop and submit applications for HEA Fellowships, with support including workshops and mentorship from Dr Beth Beckmann who is a Principal Fellow of the Academy.

Dr Gavin Sanderson who is coordinating the UniSA initiative says this recognition is a great credit to Dr Reis and Polley, reflecting their high quality, sustained work and leadership.

Dr Reis says it was a pleasant surprise receiving the news she had been nominated to participate in the program.

“It was an honour just to be nominated and then to be successful in my application,” Dr Reis says.

“In particular, my senior fellowship provides evidence that rurality and distance is not an impediment to being an effective teacher, course coordinator and program director.

“This acknowledgement inspires me to continue to do the best I can to build the capacity of students for the wider community good.

“I’d like to express my gratitude to the University for supporting the program this year, to thank in-particular my nominees and referees, but significantly I wish to acknowledge the support and mentorship afforded to me from Beth Beckman.”

Scott PolleyScott Polley

Polley says he was aware of the title of Fellow of the Higher Education Academy but had not considered that he might apply.

“It was not until I was contacted by Gavin Sanderson and my Head of School to advise that my name had been put forward as a possible candidate that I thought seriously about the prospect,” he says.

“Being a Senior Fellow is a mantle that I am still getting used to and I hope I represent the title well as I continue my career teaching in the field of Human Movement and Outdoor Education.

“It feels pretty amazing to know that your teaching is recognised by an international benchmark and I hope my recognition helps other academics to have the confidence to pursue a fellowship with the academy.

“I’d like to thank the University and my colleagues publicly for the support given, along with my students for helping me maintain my passion.”

Dr Gavin Sanderson says the initiative is ongoing with two UniSA applications from Stage 1 still in the HEA assessment stage and a number of academics preparing submissions for Stage 2 later this year.

High achievers take centre stage

More than 40 first-year UniSA students have been recognised for academic excellence – receiving scholarships at a special awards ceremony in July.

Recipients of the UniSA Excellence Scholarships with Professor Allan Evans and Heads of School.Recipients of the UniSA Excellence Scholarships with Professor Allan Evans and Heads of School.

The academic merit scholarships are awarded to new UniSA students for academic excellence in previous studies.

Twenty-one domestic students were presented a UniSA Excellence Scholarship at the ceremony, which was also attended by family and friends. The $5000 scholarships are awarded to South Australian school leavers who obtained an ATAR of 99. This year’s recipients are pursuing degrees including business, law, psychology, physiotherapy, podiatry, pharmacy, midwifery, occupational therapy and medical radiation science. It’s the third year the scholarships have been awarded.

Provost and Chief Academic Officer Professor Allan Evans says UniSA is “proud to play its part in realising the ambitions of exceptional students from here and abroad”.

Podiatry student Emilee Ong says the scholarship helped provide a smooth transition from secondary schooling to university.

“The support from my school community facilitated my academic success,” she says.

“The current support from UniSA has undoubtedly aided in establishing an encouraging environment for me to develop workplace skills and more importantly, nurture my passion for my studies.”

Medical radiation science student Yolanda Gomes says she is humbled and grateful to UniSA for the scholarship.

“It has taken some of the pressure off me with regards to the cost of my degree and has allowed me to fully engage with my studies as well as pursue some extra-curricular activities,” Yolanda says.

“I'd like to thank my family and the wonderful teachers at Unley High School for their unconditional support in helping me achieve academic success. I look forward to the memories and opportunities my study at UniSA will provide".

Twenty international students received the Vice Chancellor’s International Excellence Scholarships at the same ceremony. The scholarships are awarded to international students who obtain outstanding academic results in previous studies.

Scholarship recipients in their UniSA hoodies.Scholarship recipients in their UniSA hoodies.

This year’s recipients come from India, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Pakistan, China, Singapore and Kenya, and are studying undergraduate degrees in nursing, pharmacy, information technology, engineering, commerce, business, laws, environmental science, and master’s degrees in design and data science.

Psychological science student Daksha Ramesh says she feels honoured and grateful.

“This scholarship has given me a sense of assurance and encouragement that somewhere, something that I'm doing in pursuit of seeking knowledge and excellence has been right,” Daksha says.

Information technology student Gowri Sankar says receiving the scholarship has been a privilege and a kickstart to his career, helping him get a job as a junior developer.

Malaysian product design student Shu Yun Lam says she is grateful for the scholarship.

“Without it, I wouldn't have a chance to pursue my dream and to study a degree in world class facilities that are not available in my home country,” she says.

Prof Evans says UniSA is delighted to celebrate the achievements of these academically gifted students.

“These high achievers represent less than 1 per cent of the total UniSA student population of 32,000 - they should be very proud of their success,” he says.


Jacinta Thompson appointed to Korean advisory board

Jacinta ThompsonThe Executive Director of UniSA’s Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre, Jacinta Thompson, has been appointed to the board that advises the Federal Government on how to deepen cooperation with the Republic of Korea.

Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop appointed Thompson to the Board of the Australia-Korea Foundation (AKF) this month, alongside fellow new board members Dr Ruth Barraclough and Mr Chris Raciti.

Announcing the three-year appointment, Bishop says Korea is a vital strategic and economic partner for Australia and Australia’s fourth largest trading partner.

Thompson is the only South Australian appointed to the board and says she is delighted to take up the opportunity.

“It is a great honour and I look forward to working towards greater collaborations and understanding between Australia and Korea across a wide range of areas, including science and technology, education, culture, sports, international relations and trade,” she says.

In addition to her role at the Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre, Thompson is on the steering committee of the Asia Pacific Centre for Arts and Cultural Leadership and a member of the Association of Asia Pacific Performing Arts Centres.

Innovation and Collaboration Centre appoints entrepreneur in residence

Kirk DrageUniSA’s Innovation & Collaboration Centre has appointed Kirk Drage as its inaugural entrepreneur in residence.

Drage is the chief executive and co-founder of LeapSheep, a subscription advisory and startup building support platform that aims to revolutionise the rate of startup success.

After 12 years at Microsoft holding many roles, including Head of Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital Relations for the Asia Pacific, Drage spent time in Silicon Valley developing artificial intelligence products and services before returning home to Adelaide in 2015.

Drage wants to support passionate and committed entrepreneurs with disruptive business ideas to create the next generation of hyper-growth startups.

“Supporting early stage startups has developed into a real passion,” Drage says.

“As an entrepreneur and investor, I’ve made my fair share of rookie mistakes, it’s both highly challenging and rewarding to help founders avoid these common pitfalls.”

ICC manager Jasmine Vreugdenburg says Drage brings global experience and perspective to Adelaide, critical to helping new founders who are wanting to grow a globally successful and competitive business.

“By growing founders here, we hope to build and maintain a culture of globally successful entrepreneurs in South Australia,” she says.


UniSA Chancellor to lead Premier and Cabinet

UniSA Chancellor Jim McDowell has been appointed as the new chief executive of the South Australian Department of the Premier and Cabinet (DPC).

Premier Steven Marshall announced the appointment on 26 July.

UniSA Vice Chancellor Professor David Lloyd says UniSA has benefited greatly from McDowell’s extensive industry experience and contacts, including his years as a chief executive and board member in Australia and abroad.

“On behalf of everyone in the University I want to congratulate Jim on this significant appointment and to wish him well in what I know will be an important period of reform in State Government,” Prof Lloyd says.

“I want to take this opportunity to thank Jim for the leadership he has given the University as Chancellor since 2016, and as a member of Council previously, and particularly for the tremendous support and guidance he has provided to me personally.”

Premier Steven Marshall says McDowell’s wealth of experience in the defence and space industries would be invaluable.

“Mr McDowell is an incredibly talented leader with decades of international business experience in industries that are critical to South Australia’s future prosperity,” Marshall says.

“Mr McDowell is well placed to guide the South Australian public sector as we seek to take full advantage of the Commonwealth’s naval shipbuilding program and other defence contracts based in South Australia.”

McDowell will officially commence in his new role on 1 September.

Business leader Pauline Carr has been appointed as UniSA’s new Chancellor (see separate story).

UniSA leverages industry connections in $9.2m ARC projects

UniSA will help chart the future of Australia’s energy and manufacturing sectors as a key partner in two new national training centres announced by the Federal Government in August.

The Australian Research Council (ARC) has provided $9.2 million to establish centres in Surface Engineering for Advanced Materials ($4.8m), and Future Energy Storage Technologies ($4.4m).

Dr Christiane SchulzDr Christiane Schulz

In the first centre, UniSA researchers Dr Christiane SchulzAssociate Professor Colin Hall and Associate Professor Nikki Stanford from the Future Industries Institute (FII) will join forces with Swinburne University and RMIT to integrate hi-tech research into the manufacturing sector, benefitting industry and providing a central point for international collaborations.

Known as the ARC Training Centre in Surface Engineering for Advanced Materials (SEAM), the Swinburne-led centre will bring together researchers across all career stages and provide job pathways, creating a high-quality manufacturing workforce, according to Professor Chris Berndt.

“It will cover a spectrum of important research themes and applications, including biomaterials, graphene layering, high temperature coatings, laser metal deposition for materials repair and Industry 4.0 manufacturing processes, ranging from thin films to thick coatings and additive layered materials,” Prof Berndt says.

Within the SEAM project, UniSA’s principal partner will be Adelaide surface engineering company LaserBond, with opportunities for a post doc and two PhD students to work in the centre.

UniSA is also part of a new ARC Training Centre for Future Energy Storage Technologies (FEST), which will equip the next generation of researchers and the energy technology workforce with the skills needed to drive innovation, exploration and investigation.

The centre, led by Deakin University, will create advanced energy materials, batteries and battery-controlled systems to help small and medium-sized enterprises produce new technologies.

In the ARC-FEST Centre, UniSA FII researcher Associate Professor Drew Evans and a PhD student will partner with SA sensor technology company Sentek Pty Ltd to help further its remote sensing applications with a materials science focus.

“By harnessing the expertise of researchers and industry partners, both projects aim to deliver benefits for our economy, the community, and our environment,” says Dr Christiane Schulz.

SA tech entrepreneurs invited to pitch to Prince Andrew

HRH Prince AndrewHRH Prince Andrew

Adelaide will welcome The Duke of York, HRH Prince Andrew later this year when he visits UniSA as part of Pitch@Palace Australia 2.0 – an event designed to give new entrepreneurs and start-ups the best connections to develop their ideas and innovations.

Pitch@Palace On Tour Adelaide will be hosted by UniSA on 26 November, the first time the event has been held in South Australia.

The concept was founded by HRH in 2014 as a platform to amplify and accelerate the work of entrepreneurs. The program guides, helps and connects entrepreneurs and early-stage businesses with a global network of potential supporters including CEOs, influencers, angels, investors, mentors and business partners.

Pitch@Palace Australia On Tour events will provide entrepreneurs from across the country with the opportunity to learn about the program, connect to local stakeholders and receive mentoring to develop their business.

The Adelaide event will be hosted by UniSA in collaboration with the Innovation & Collaboration Centre (ICC), a unique co-working space that supports innovative ideas from generation through to growth and expansion, all year round.

Pitch@Palace Australia Steering Committee member, UniSA Deputy Vice Chancellor: Research and Innovation Professor Tanya Monro, says this is an invaluable opportunity for Australia’s thousands of talented, creative and innovative entrepreneurs to take part in a unique event.

“As Australia’s University of Enterprise, we are all about connecting people with opportunities,” Prof Monro says.

“In everything we do – providing opportunities for students to realise their educational ambition, forging valuable research partnerships with industry to grow knowledge and capacity, and in supporting local innovation through the ICC – we embrace the ‘can do’ spirit.

“Pitch@Palace is a rare opportunity for budding entrepreneurs to learn from the experience of others, refine their concepts and bring an idea to fruition, and this promises to be a truly exciting event which we are proud to be hosting.”

Australian applicants can apply online before being shortlisted. Those who are successful will compete in state-based events before eight finalists from each of five Pitch@Palace Australia On Tour events and two overall wildcards are selected to pitch at Pitch@Palace Australia Boot Camp in Brisbane in November.

The winners of Pitch@Palace Australia 2.0 will be invited to Pitch@Palace Global 3.0 at St. James's Palace in London in December. Applications can be made online at the Pitch@Palace website.

New resource to help students take control of their finances

BannerUniSA has teamed up with USASA and digital financial education provider blackbullion to provide free money lessons to help students take control of their financial future.

Students can now use their UniSA email to register for a free account with blackbullion and choose from online learning modules covering topics such as budgeting, debt, savings and tax.

It’s an important initiative and timely given the latest data from the Universities Australia Student Finances Survey 2017, released this month, showing that one in seven university students regularly go without food and other necessities because they cannot afford them.

Universities Australia Chief Executive Catriona Jackson says financial hardship is hurting students’ education, with many students deferring studies or reducing their course load for financial reasons.

The survey also reveals three in five university students say their finances are a source of worry.

Blackbullion provides a range of tips and strategies students can access in their own time, with principles to help them manage their money better.

It’s a simple learning platform for students, offering short four-minute modules, including videos, graphics and quizzes. More information can be found on the University’s website.

China-Australia collaboration set to advance laser and sensor technologies

China-Australia collaboration set to advance laser and sensor technologies.UniSA has established a joint laboratory in advanced lasers and sensors with Shandong Academy of Sciences (SDAS), with support from the South Australian Government.

The collaboration consists of two major facilities – one in China’s Jinan City and the other in Adelaide.

The advanced lasers and sensors lab was announced at the same time as the South Australian Government forged closer links with the Shandong Academy of Sciences by underpinning a three-year collaboration agreement with all three South Australian universities and committing $900,000 to support the advancement of collaborative research with China.

The new collaboration in lasers and sensors research will integrate top-class Chinese and Australian scientific and technological resources, boosting capacity to make significant technological breakthroughs within the next five years.

Research will focus on the development of advanced lasers and sensors for humidity sensing and trace detection of toxins in food products, R&D and commercialisation of planar waveguide-based infrared lasers and advanced gas sensors.

UniSA Deputy Vice Chancellor: Research and Innovation, Professor Tanya Monro says the joint laboratory aims to develop novel and internationally competitive lasers and sensor products and to open the door for both Australian and Chinese businesses to collaborate and innovate.

“This sector has enormous potential internationally to transform and upgrade existing industries, and at the same time, support the formation of new industries where advanced sensor and laser technologies are key,” Prof Monro says.

“By bringing our research teams together we expect to shorten discovery times and leverage global links from both South Australian and Shandong.”

The $1.6m joint lab, funded jointly by UniSA, the Shandong Academy of Sciences and the South Australian Government, will also support places for six PhD students.