It takes just one spark to trigger an explosion in an underground mine or chemical plant, but thanks to the introduction of antistatic materials, these incidents are now rare.
New research involving UniSA plastic processing engineer Dr Jun Ma is taking this technology another step forward.
Dr Ma, who specialises in developing polymer composites, is leading a $500,000 project to tackle the problem of electrostatic discharge in hazardous environments, including mines, the oil and gas industry, space and agricultural sector.
The project, which is predominantly funded by a $330,000 Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage grant, brings together industry and academia to help develop new antistatic processing techniques for industrial plastic pumps.
Dr Ma and colleagues from Taiwan’s Far East University and Western Sydney University will work with an Australian pump manufacturer to develop antistatic composites to not only improve safety but also cut costs for industry.
“Pumps are used everywhere – in mining, the oil and gas industry as well as agriculture,” Dr Ma says. “The potential for them to spark due to the build-up of static electricity, resulting in a major fire or explosion, creates hazards in many industrial settings.
“We aim to develop new processing methods to build plastic pumps which are antistatic, corrosion-resistant, lightweight and yet still mechanically robust.”
The project is expected to be completed by the end of 2021.
Reaffirming the virtue of the adage ‘practice what you preach’, UniSA’s Business School has been awarded an International Service Excellence Award (ISEA) by the Chicago-based Customer Service Institute of America (CSIA).
The UniSA Business School was named winner of the “Customer Service Organization of the Year – Not-for-Profit” category from a pool of international finalists.
Pro Vice Chancellor (Business and Law) Professor Marie Wilson says it is recognition that the school conducts business with as much passion as it teaches it.
“We start with good students and great teachers, but we go beyond that with great career services and professional development opportunities, and exceptional advisors and mentors,” Prof Wilson says.
“Our wrap around student services are world class – and we have the award to prove it – but more importantly, our students rate it highly and their success is the best reward for all of us.”
The CSIA is the body delegated by the International Council of Customer Service Organizations (ICCSO) to manage ISEA, and these awards, announced in Chicago in January, are recognised as the premier service awards around the globe. CSIA founder and CEO, Christine Churchill, says the standard of entries was extremely high.
“The 2018 awards race was absolutely outstanding, and the calibre of entries and variety of industries represented were the most to date – without a doubt, what we are seeing in the area of service excellence from these organisations is truly world class,” Churchill says.
UniSA’s success in the international forum follows similar local recognition last year, when the Customer Service Institute of Australia (CSIA) honoured the Business School with two awards: “Customer Service Organisation of the Year – Government/Not-for-Profit” and the “Extraordinary Service Award”, created especially for the Business School Concierge.
UniSA Senior Research Fellow Dr Tuan Anh Nguyen is leading a project to contribute to the development of the first national dementia plan for Vietnam.
Dr Nguyen is an NHMRC-ARC funded Dementia Research Development Fellow at the School of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences.
The project, Strengthening responses to dementia: Building an evidence platform for the development of a Vietnam National Dementia Plan, supports the World Health Organization’s initiative to create national plans to address the burgeoning social and economic burden of dementia around the world. It will help create a coherent framework to direct resources for diagnosis and care for people with dementia, their carers and families.
Joint funding of $850,705, comprising $499,805 from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and $350,900 from National Foundation for Science and Technology Development of Vietnam (NAFOSTED), will support researchers from UniSA and other partner organisations. The other partners are UNSW Sydney’s Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing, the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute, the University of Sydney, the University of California Davis, Hanoi Medical University and Vietnam National Geriatric Hospital.
They will examine and strengthen Vietnam’s response to the disease at the individual, organisational and national healthcare system level.
UniSA Deputy Vice Chancellor Research and Innovation, Professor Tanya Monro, has been appointed as Australia’s Chief Defence Scientist.
UniSA Vice Chancellor Professor David Lloyd says Prof Monro has brought enormous energy to UniSA’s research enterprise, leading an invigorated and focused research strategy and fostering a research culture focused on relevance and impact which has generated the University’s highest ever research grants based revenue.
“I’m delighted to congratulate Tanya on this wonderful achievement and to thank her for her enormous contribution to UniSA,” Prof Lloyd says.
“Tanya’s work on developing our research strategy Scale and Focus has established a framework that will ensure we continue to attract and retain the best global research talent.”
He says her work has also enabled UniSA to build on its distinctive strengths in interdisciplinary and end-user partnered research; raise the profile and reputation of the University internationally; drive stronger national performance; and forge partnerships that translate knowledge into real world impact.
“We are extremely proud to see Tanya take on this important new role as Australia’s Chief Defence Scientist and leader of DST, the Australian government's lead agency responsible for applying science and technology to safeguard Australia and its national interests,” Prof Lloyd says.
Prof Monro will transition to become an Emeritus Professor of UniSA in 2019, maintaining her research activities with colleagues in Mawson Lakes.
Defence Minister Christopher Pyne says Prof Monro’s research has had significant impact in areas spanning manufacturing, telecommunications, defence and health.
“Prof Monro will bring her extensive experience working at senior levels in both industry and educational institutions to this integral and nationally significant role,” Pyne says.
“In a complex and changing environment she will lead and develop the defence science organisation whilst collaborating with research agencies, industry and international partners.”
Prof Monro will commence as the Chief Defence Scientist in March 2019.
UniSA has welcomed two new members to Council who bring with them a wealth of experience in science, research, higher education, public and government relations and media – Professor Caroline McMillen and Ian Smith.
UniSA Chancellor Pauline Carr says the considerable expertise and professional experience of both new council members will be an asset to the University.
“The best governing councils draw on a diversity of experience that is relevant to the operations of an institution or business,” Carr says.
“We are fortunate in the calibre of our council members and both Caroline and Ian will bring significant expertise in science and research, university administration, politics, business and media relations. It is a testament to the University that people with outstanding careers and achievements who also have a strong sense of social equity are keen to join our active, innovative university community to support the growth of UniSA as Australia’s enterprise university.
“I am delighted to welcome them and look forward to their contribution.”
Prof McMillen – South Australia’s Chief Scientist, former Vice Chancellor at the University of Newcastle and former Deputy Vice Chancellor Research and Innovation at UniSA – was appointed to UniSA Council in December.
Educated in the UK at Oxford, where she gained a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Physiology, a Master’s and a PhD and at Cambridge, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Medicine, Prof McMillen has worked in higher education for almost 30 years.
She has taught and conducted research in Australia at Monash and Adelaide universities and was granted funding continuously from the Australian Research Council (ARC) and the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) for 20 years for her research looking at the relationship between babies’ nutrition in the womb and the development of heart disease and obesity in adulthood.
Prof McMillen served as a member of the Prime Minister’s Science, Engineering and Innovation Council Working Group for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander maternal and perinatal health.
She has also served on a range of government advisory groups with a focus on innovation, climate change, and manufacturing resources and as Chair of disciplinary review panels for the Australian Research Council and NHMRC.
Prof McMillen is joined by another new member on Council, Australian businessman, corporate advisor and former journalist, Ian Smith.
Smith is highly regarded as one of Australia’s most effective political influencers.
He migrated to Australia from Surrey, England in 1986, after studying journalism and business at the then London College of Printing. He worked at the Daily Advertiser in Wagga Wagga before moving to Adelaide to join The Advertiser in 1988 where he became National News Editor.
In 1990 Smith became media advisor to the Liberal Party Opposition Leader Dale Baker before joining the office of Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett from 1992 until 1995.
He became CEO of one of the largest public relations agencies in Australia, Gavin Anderson and Co, and part of its worldwide executive committee, working on some of Australia’s most significant financial transactions. In 2008 he established his own corporate advisory firm – Bespoke Approach – in partnership with former federal members of parliament and media influencers.
Smith is now deeply involved in refugee advocacy, chairing the Barefoot to Boots charity and travels regularly to camps in Africa and the Middle East. He writes occasional opinion pieces on refugee policy for The Australian, The Australian Financial Review, The Advertiser and appears on Sky News.
He is the UK’s Honorary Consul to South Australia and is a director of Developing East Arnhem Limited, which is overseeing the redevelopment of the NT region in the wake of Rio Tinto’s closure of its Gove refinery. He is chairman of Adelaide United Football Club’s advisory board and Deputy Chair of the Committee for Adelaide – an apolitical, independent group committed to developing Adelaide as an extraordinary, mid-sized global city that people from all over the world want to be a part of and those who live are proud to call home.
He became a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in June 2018.
In other changes to UniSA Council, former banking industry specialist Jim Hazel has been promoted to Pro Chancellor and former Minister in the South Australian Parliament, John Hill, will take on the position of Deputy Chancellor.
Jim Hazel holds a range of non-executive board positions and is a director of ASX listed companies Bendigo & Adelaide Bank Ltd, Impedimed Ltd, Ingenia Communities Group (Chair) and Centrex Metals Ltd (Deputy Chair). He also sits on the board of Coopers Brewery Ltd and the SA Motor Accident Commission, and other private company and government boards.
John Hill’s parliamentary career began in 1997, when he was the Opposition Shadow Minister for the Environment until Labor’s election in 2002. From then until 2013 he took on several ministerial roles – including Environment and Conservation (2002 - 2006), Health (2005 - 2013) and assistant Minister and Minister for the Arts (2002 – 2013). After retiring from Parliament, he has served on various boards, including the ACH Group, Bellberry Ltd, the SA Institute of Educational Leadership and the SALA Festival.
Following the appointment of UniSA Deputy Vice Chancellor Research and Innovation Professor Tanya Monro as Australia’s Chief Defence Scientist, a number of changes will be made to UniSA’s leadership team.
Beginning 1 February, Professor Simon Beecham has taken on the role of Deputy Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation; while maintaining his duties as Pro Vice Chancellor for the Division of IT, Engineering and the Environment.
Vice Chancellor Professor David Lloyd says that later this year, UniSA will recruit for a new role – Deputy Vice Chancellor: Research and Enterprise, reflecting the aspirations of the University’s strategic plan Enterprise25.
Also beginning 1 February, Professor Roger Eston, who was until that time Head of School for Health Sciences, joined the Senior Management Group in the role of Pro Vice Chancellor for the Division of Health Sciences. UniSA will soon call for internal expressions of interest to fill the role of Head of School for Health Sciences for 2019.
“We are fortunate to be able to draw on a breadth and depth of internal leadership talent to lead the implementation of our strategic plan Enterprise25,” Prof Lloyd says.
“I look forward to welcoming and working with our colleagues in their new roles and continuing to work together as we deliver on our ambitions for UniSA, its students, staff and partners.”
The story of UniSA Deputy Vice Chancellor Research and Innovation, Professor Tanya Monro, is the focus of a new exhibition celebrating women who have made significant contributions to science.
The South Australian Museum is highlighting four women whose stories it hopes will inspire the next generation to follow their own dreams and careers in science and humanities.
Each of the women’s stories is being highlighted for three months as part of the year-long Her Story: Inspiring Women in Science exhibition, which features a video on each subject supported by a display case of personal items that are meaningful to them.
Professor Tanya Monro, who was recently named as Australia’s next Chief Defence Scientist, will be the focus of the exhibition series from 15 February to 13 May. The exhibition is open 10am to 5pm daily and is located in the museum’s main foyer.
The growing trend of designers working with healthcare providers to create better services, products and experiences for patients will be the subject of a free talk in March.
Research Professor for Design Ian Gwilt will discuss the positive change that can happen when designers collaborate with care professionals and the community.
The event is part of Enterprising Research Talks – a series of free talks exploring impactful partnerships between UniSA researchers, industry and the community; presenting their solutions for a changing world.
Prof Gwilt will talk about the role that design and new technologies such as augmented reality can play within a broader societal context of people’s health and wellbeing.
The evening will also feature a panel of experts – including from the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, the Royal Adelaide Hospital and the Australian Centre for Precision Health at UniSA – who will explore how design and creativity is helping to shape healthy futures.
The talk will be held on Tuesday 5 March at 6pm in the UniSA Cancer Research Institute Building.
For more information and to register to attend, visit the Enterprising Research Talks webpage.