Achievements and Announcements


Improving quality of life for older Australians

Professor awarded prestigious mathematics medal

Marketing graduate takes out top award

UniSA lecturer receives early career pharmacist award

UniSA graduates take the lion’s share of art awards


Spin-out company to tackle Western diseases

Research to boost regional leadership


Improving quality of life for older Australians

Australia’s ageing population represents a significant challenge for aged care, with new methods, techniques and evaluative frameworks needed to overcome resource constraints that will help maximise the quality of life and wellbeing of older Australians.

Professor Julie RatcliffeUniSA’s Professor Julie Ratcliffe, with the Institute for Choice, has recently been acknowledged for her work in this area, receiving one of six 2018 Australian Research Council Linkage grants as the lead investigator, to develop a new ‘quality-of-life’ instrument that will improve the care and wellbeing of older Australians. The investigator team also includes Dr Rachel Milte, an early career researcher from the Institute for Choice, and research leaders from Australia and the UK with expertise in quality of life research, health economics, choice modelling, aged and dementia care policy and practice.

Collaborating with Ech Inc; Uniting (NSW, ACT); Uniting Agewell Victoria; Helping Hand Aged Care Inc; and Presbyterian Aged Care, Prof Ratcliffe says the $406,665 grant will deliver a ‘quality of life’ instrument that enables economic evaluation and comparison across the aged care sector.

“Economic evaluation offers a rigorous, systematic and transparent framework for measuring quality and efficiency across the aged care sector, but there’s no composite mechanism for incorporating older people’s values into the measurement and valuation of quality of life,” Prof Ratcliffe says.

Two elderly ladies looking at a mobile phone.“This project will address this fundamental gap, using state of the art methods to develop a Values in Quality Of Life instrument for older people.

“The tool is the first of its kind – co-created from inception with older Australians – and will be widely applied across quality assessment and aged care decision making systems.”

Helping Hand Aged Care Director for Research and Development, Megan Corlis, says they were very excited to be involved in the project, particularly with the contribution of older Australians.

“The Values in Quality Of Life instrument for older people will incorporate older people’s contribution to what they believe quality of life means to them,” Corlis says.

“It’s very unique in that it focuses on both health and lifestyle, including independence and control, social participation and safety and dignity.

“From an industry viewpoint, producing a scoring system that has wide applicability for economic evaluation is a critical feature.

“At the moment, we cannot routinely measure our activities from a dollar perspective, and as such are unable to justify new activity for its economic benefits.

“The Values in Quality Of Life instrument has real potential to change policy and funding programs in both health and ageing.

”It is anticipated that the new instrument will be ready for testing in late 2019 and available for widespread rollout across the Australian aged care sector in 2021.

Professor awarded prestigious mathematics medal

Dr Frank de Hoog and Prof Phil Howlett. Photo courtesy Mark J McGuinness.Dr Frank de Hoog and Prof Phil Howlett.

Emeritus Professor Phil Howlett has been recognised for sustained and outstanding contributions to the theory and application of mathematics by the Australian and New Zealand Industrial and Applied Mathematics (ANZIAM) society.

Prof Howlett was presented the society’s most prestigious award, the ANZIAM Medal, at the annual ANZIAM conference in February.

The award recognises research achievements, wide-ranging activities enhancing the discipline of applied and industrial mathematics, and contribution to ANZIAM.

Professor Brenton Dansie, Head of the School of Information Technology and Mathematical Sciences, says Prof Howlett has had a distinguished career since joining UniSA more than 50 years ago.

“Phil was one of the driving forces behind the Scheduling and Control Group which has a worldwide reputation for its work in optimising train performance. Phil has made significant theoretical contributions to this work as well as being a driving force behind its implementation into various systems which now sees it being used in trains across the world,” Prof Dansie says.

“Phil has also been a mentor to many PhD students and early career academics who have gone on to establish their own outstanding careers and played a significant role in lifting the national profile of ANZIAM through is leadership in activities.”

Prof Howlett says he was proud to win the award.

“I was very pleased to win the medal and was delighted that the great work of the Scheduling and Control Group had also been recognised by ANZIAM.”

The citation for Prof Howlett is on the ANZIAM website.

Marketing graduate takes out top award

xxxAn innate sense of curiosity and a passion for learning has placed UniSA student, Yolanda Nguyen, at the forefront of Australia’s top marketing graduates, taking out the coveted 2018 Nestlé Marketing Future Leaders Award, at the recent GradConnection Top100 Awards.

Run in partnership with Fairfax’s Australian Financial Review, the awards challenge Australia’s top-performing students in a full graduate recruitment process modelled on those of leading companies, with the goal of identifying Australia’s future leaders.

Both Yolanda Nguyen, a Master of Business (Research) student with UniSA’s Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science and fellow student, Michael Pivato, a UniSA Information Technology (Honours) student, entered the competition, and from a pool of nearly 4000 applicants, were selected as finalists in the top 100.

Yolanda NguyenYolanda was named the category winner in marketing. She says the competition provided invaluable insights into the graduate recruitment process.

“Understanding contemporary recruitment processes is critical as a new graduate, especially as an increasing number of companies are adopting similar graduate selection protocols,” Yolanda says.

“The Top100 Competition challenged me to demonstrate perseverance and determination across a range of recruitment and leaderships scenarios – from simulated online interviews, to in-depth group discussions.

“Experiencing these first-hand, and under competitive conditions, was the ultimate way for me to become truly ‘career ready’.”

As part of her preparation, Yolanda received valuable guidance from UniSA Career Services team, contacting her to congratulate her on being named a finalist and offering help if she needed.

“UniSA’s Careers Services team provided some top tips on how to succeed at Assessment Centres—what to expect, and the specific behaviours that are typically favoured by panels,” Yolanda says.

“They were extremely helpful and supportive, particularly with understanding the importance of finding a good balance between participating, talking, and listening in the Assessment Centre.

“The advice I received made a world of difference in my performance in the competition, and was truly instrumental in my success.”

Yolanda says the award has helped build her confidence in her skills and abilities as an emerging marketer.

“When you reflect on today’s competitive job market, it is really easy to become doubtful within yourself and your own abilities. For me, this award is a tangible symbol that reminds me of my capabilities, and that anything is possible if I set my mind to it.”

GradConnection Top100 Awards were announced in Sydney in February. Following the 2018 Nestlé Marketing Future Leaders Award winner, Yolanda was offered a fast-tracked recruitment process for the Nestlé NextGen Graduate Program for 2019 in Sydney, but is instead exploring opportunities with Nestlé in Adelaide.


UniSA lecturer receives early career pharmacist award

Dr Jacinta JohnsonUniSA pharmacy lecturer Dr Jacinta Johnson has been identified as a future pharmacy leader by the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia.

Dr Johnson has been presented the 2018 SA/NT Early Career Pharmacist Development Award.

The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) award recognises early career pharmacists with a vision to influence the future of pharmacy and the potential to lead and inspire others within the profession.

The award was announced at the South Australian and Northern Territory Pharmacist Awards in late February.

Dr Johnson was recognised for her leadership and mentorship through the SA/NT Early Career Pharmacists Working Group. Dr Johnson is a lecturer in the School of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences where she coordinates Pharmacy Practice 2 and 3 in the second and fourth years of the Bachelor of Pharmacy with Honours program.

Dr Johnson says she’s found it rewarding to help facilitate programs and activities through the working group to improve professional satisfaction for early career pharmacists.

“It’s important to provide strong leadership and support for early career pharmacists, not only to ensure pharmacy remains a career of choice, but also to ensure early career pharmacists are able to provide the best possible care for their patients,” she says.

“It’s a privilege to be recognised through this award by the peak national body for pharmacists, and I look forward to continuing my work in supporting the pharmacy profession as well as teaching the pharmacists of the future.”

UniSA graduates take the lion’s share of art awards

Twelve UniSA graduates have received accolades at the 2018 Helpmann Academy Graduate Exhibition Awards.

Now in its 23rd year, the Helpmann Academy’s exhibition featured 29 graduate artists from its visual arts partner institutions including UniSA’s School of Art Architecture and Design.

The exhibition provides an opportunity for graduating artists to gain public recognition in a prestigious setting, alongside their peers. Participating artists are eligible for awards with a combined valued of $60,000.

Sera Waters, Basking. Photo by Grant HancockSera Waters, Basking. Photo by Grant Hancock

The 2018 award recipients include:

Sera Waters, a textile artist and PhD candidate received The Hill Smith Gallery / University of South Australia Postgraduate Award ($10,000 cash), which recognises the achievements of a Masters of PhD candidate.

Brianna Speight, UniSA graduate, received The Undergraduate Award for Excellence supported by Roger and Helen Salkeld ($7500 cash). The award is new in 2018 and is the top undergraduate award recognising the winner as an artist with a promising future.

Yusuf Ali Hayat, UniSA graduate, received The City of Adelaide Award ($7500) cash. The award is new in 2018 and enables the work of an emerging artist to be showcased through the City of Adelaide’s Contemporary Acquisitions Collection.

eDuard Helmbold, Die Spore van Raka (Echoes of an Ancient Sorrow). Photo by Grant Hancock.eDuard Helmbold, Die Spore van Raka (Echoes of an Ancient Sorrow). Photo by Grant Hancock.

eDuard Helmbold, UniSA graduate, received The City Rural Insurance / Helpmann Travel Award ($5000 cash). The award provides the recipient the opportunity to travel, informing their practice with new ideas and experiences.

Kate Little, UniSA graduate, received the Bluethumb Online Gallery Award ($5000 cash). The award is new in 2018 and recognises artistic excellence and talent.

Molly Willson, UniSA graduate, received The Raffen Award ($5000 cash), through which her work becomes part of a significant private collection.

Khoa Edgecomb, UniSA graduate, received The Rob Lyons Award ($3000 cash). The award recognises artistic excellence and talent.

Joseph Haxan, UniSA graduate, received The Bluethumb Photography Award (valued at $5000, including a $2500 cash reward). The award is new in 2018 and is presented to an artist working in photography. The award provides in-kind support, including being featured in the curated Bluethumb Photography online gallery, and an exhibition in Bluethumb’s gallery space in Melbourne.

Arviegail Cahilig, UniSA graduate, received The Peter Walker / Helpmann Encouragement Award ($1000 cash). The award goes to an artist who deserves particular encouragement to continue their practice.

Hannah Vorrath-Pajak, UniSA graduate, was presented with The SALA Award (valued at $1000 including a $530 cash reward). The award provides premium registration for the 2018 SALA Festival and is given to an artist who will benefit from exhibiting their work at SALA.

Imogen Porteous, UniSA graduate, was named the winner of the Portia Valley Wine Label Competition, (valued at $2000).

For the first time ever, two recipients were also announced for the Helpmann Academy British School of Rome Residency (BSR) program valued at $25,000 each. Both UniSA graduates, Yusuf Hayat and Tamara Bailie will each undertake three-month residencies in Rome during 2018 and will be allocated studio space at the BSR, including residential accommodation.

The Helpmann Academy provides professional development opportunities including grants and awards, mentorships, masterclasses, advisory services and international artist residencies tailored for South Australia’s higher education students, tertiary graduates and emerging artists.


Spin-out company to tackle Western diseases

A spin-out from the Centre for Cancer Biology (CCB) has been launched to develop new therapies to target conditions relating to an unhealthy Western diet, including serious and highly prevalent diseases associated with obesity.

Cincera Therapeutics Pty Ltd is focused on the discovery and development of new, small molecule drugs to treat difficult inflammatory and fibrotic conditions associated with obesity and metabolic disorders, with potential application in other disease areas including cancer.

The company will initially focus on treatments for the emerging epidemic of a liver disease termed ‘NASH’ (non-alcoholic steatohepatitis).

Cincera will harness high-potential research from the CCB, an alliance between UniSA and SA Pathology, and Monash University’s Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences (MIPS).

The company’s founding scientists, Professor Stuart Pitson from the CCB, and Associate Professor Bernard Flynn from MIPS, have been developing novel therapies that set an important target involved in a number of diseases.

Professor Pitson says that through the Monash collaboration, they have “drug candidates that are potent and broad-acting anti-inflammatory and anti-fibrotic agents that show strong potential to become new treatments”.

“There are many aspects of the disease that could be improved by these drugs, from treating liver or kidney dysfunction through to possible treatments for certain cancers,” Prof Pitson says.

“Making a difference is what drives researchers at the CCB and forming a company like Cincera will be important for translating our research into better treatments for patients.”

The company is funded through a $7 million venture capital commitment by the Medical Research Commercialisation Fund (MRCF). The MRCF promotes the creation of early-stage medical technology companies across Australia and New Zealand.

Research to boost regional leadership

A three-year research project to measure the strength of leadership in regional communities to identify the places in greatest need, has received $60,000 in government funding.

Professor Andrew BeerThe project will be undertaken by UniSA Business School Dean for Research and Innovation, Professor Andrew Beer, in partnership with Professor Markku Sotarauta from the University of Tampere in Finland.

‘Mobilising Community Leadership’ is aimed at providing important resources for Australian governments to help prioritise resources, design and delivery, along with empowering community organisations and local governments to provide community leadership.

The State Government has provided $60,000 towards the research from its Regional Development Fund. The project will require funding from the Australian Research Council to proceed.

Prof Beer says there is a lack of knowledge that can be addressed to guide how governments, associations and community organisations can mobilise local leadership.

“This research aims to address that and deliver practical guidance tools,” he says.

“Globally, many economies are experiencing unprecedented levels of structural change.

“Australia’s regions and communities are experiencing and responding to these structural changes unevenly and many are at risk of not transitioning to a more sustainable economic base.”

He says effective community and place-based leadership is essential to addressing this.

Regional Development Minister Geoff Brock says South Australia’s regions have many talented and passionate community leaders. The program would help develop leaders of the future and equip regional communities with the tools to bolster regional development.