Showcasing Early Career Researchers 2018

Showcasing Early Career Researchers celebrates good research, communicated well.

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Entrants were asked to submit a 30-second video demonstrating that they could convey the aim of their research clearly and effectively. Thirty-one video entries were received and from those, six finalists have been chosen to attend the CRC Association conference in Sydney, Collaborate | Innovate | 2018, from 14–16 May and give a five-minute oral presentation about their research. The judges were looking for entrants who demonstrate excellent oral presentation skills. One of the six finalists will be selected as the overall winner by an audience vote at the conference.

See the six finalists

Entries received

Mr David Allen, The HEARing CRC

Conceptualising patient- and family-centred care for young adults with hearing loss and their family members

Delivering high-quality, patient- and family-centred healthcare can be a challenge – especially when we don’t know what sort of care might be most appropriate. As a clinical audiologist, I saw many young adults living with hearing loss – and the stories that they told me inspired me to start my PhD. In my work, my team and I ask young people like Max – “What do YOU want from hearing healthcare?” By listening to their stories, we can help them achieve now and into the future.

Miss Anthea Bott, The HEARing CRC

Shared decision making for adults with dementia and hearing impairment living in aged care

Within aged care, dementia and hearing impairment commonly co-occur, making communication even harder. Hearing interventions can assist with communication; however, hearing aids have poor outcomes for this population. For my PhD I am developing a shared decision making tool, that provides information on all hearing intervention options, not just hearing aids. I am then exploring how the hearing intervention, chosen by the individual, meets their hearing and communication needs.

Mr Mike Burbridge, Low Carbon Living CRC

Partnerships for evidence based innovation

Universities spend $1.5bn on improving their campuses each year. There is little evidence that it is being done in a manner consistent with the climate science published by our own academics. My research is looking to close this circle so that campuses become the embodiment of development that is fit for the Anthropocene and shows to society how to partner to deliver evidence based innovation.

Mr Craig Burton, Low Carbon Living CRC

Behaviour change via social sanctions and shared electricity

Will a group of adjacent urban neighbours be able to share renewable electricity? We know they can trade excess solar over the network. But can they share their own combined solar and battery system and form an ‘energy commons’ (Bauwens 2014) according to Elinor Ostrom’s Design Principles (Ostrom 2002)? If so, would this lead to real energy conservation and optimal use of daylight hours electricity? I am deploying simulated shared systems (3 groups of 6 adjacent neighbours) to test this.

Dr Glenda Caldwell, Queensland University of Technology

Design robotics for mass customisation manufacturing

This IMCRC research project with UAP and RMIT (2017-2022) aims to address the needs of Australian SME manufacturers by developing:

  • Robotic vision systems to increase the accuracy of robotic manufacturing equipment for mass-customised manufacturing.
  • Software user-interfaces to program vision-enabled robotic manufacturing tasks for improved performance.
  • Adoption strategies documenting operational requirements, including workforce training needs for SME implementation of design robotics.

Dr Abhijit Chowdhury, The University of Newcastle

Mental health and bone quality

My PhD will examine the impact of long-term depression on new-onset osteoporosis among adult Australians. People with long-term depression have been shown to have a higher risk of osteoporosis in epidemiological studies, but the exact association and the biological interplays are long-debated and mostly underexplored. My research will contribute new understanding of the relationship between depression and osteoporosis, both highly prevalent medical conditions.

Dr Steven Curnin, Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC

Decision-making in a crisis: enhancing capability

Our research project is developing cognitive aides to enhance the decision-making capability of our end users involved in a crisis. My specific role is to generalise our research to organisations beyond our traditional end users that are predominantly from the emergency services. Consequently, I am working with the Attorney General’s Department to develop a user-friendly tool to assist crisis management teams from the critical infrastructure sector to enhance their decision-making proficiency.

Miss Sarah Delforce, The University of Newcastle

The role of the placental Renin-Angiotensin System in pregnancy and implications for reproductive health

Many pregnancy complications including preeclampsia and miscarriage known to stem from poor placental development. The development of the placenta in the first trimester occurs under low oxygen. This stimulates proper growth and blood vessel development. However, the mechanisms in which low oxygen promotes placental development is not known. My research investigates the molecular mechanisms that drive placental development in low oxygen during the critical first trimester.

Dr Christine Grove, Monash University

Fostering social inclusion and the well being of young Australians

The number one killer of young people is not cancer or car crashes but suicide. They are their own greatest risk. The three top stressors for youth are: coping with stress; school and study problems and depression. There is a lack of support that directly addresses youth needs. My research will address this inequality of support. Using a participatory design approach I have created a digital technology tool with youth to provide individualised care, coping strategies and professional advice.

Dr Sally Hunt, The University of Newcastle

Why women drink

The long standing gender divide in rates of alcohol consumption by Australians, with men traditionally drinking twice that of women, is closing. This trend suggests that harm reduction messages which appear to be reaching men are not as effective at reaching women. My research explores factors which motivate women to drink and uses this to develop an evidence based e-Health intervention to support women to make healthier choices about their pattern of alcohol use.

Dr Kate Letheren, Queensland University of Technology

Consumer responses to humanised technologies

My research program examines consumer responses to humanised technologies, include anthropomorphised robots (e.g., Pepper), or human-like Artificial Intelligence (e.g., Siri). These technologies will influence areas from elder care to simply making life run more smoothly. Understanding how consumers think, feel, and engage with these technologies (beyond the stereotypes of science fiction) is vital for ensuring consumers derive optimum value from the services these humanised technologies offer.

Mr Alex Long, Data to Decisions CRC

Deep reinforcement learning for automated information extraction

The amount of data national security agencies are faced with is growing rapidly, resulting in manual analysis by both human and automated systems becoming increasingly infeasible. My research focuses on developing AI-based algorithms that are able to learn where to search for important information, combining the intuition of a human analyst with the scalability of an autonomous system. This means national security threats are detected earlier, ultimately helping to keep Australia safe.

Mr Callan Lowes, CRC for Optimising Resource Extraction

Recovery and Concentration of gold ores for coarse particle gangue rejection in a reflux classifier

My work investigates a mechanism to concentrate the high value metal and reject the waste component earlier in mineral processing. The gravity separation technique I’m working on is showing real potential for bringing significant benefits for the industry through reducing water and energy consumption – making mining much more sustainable, economically and environmentally.

Mr Remi Marchand, The HEARing CRC

Improving the enjoyment of music for hearing aid users

Hearing aids are designed primarily to facilitate speech understanding. However they may overlook the differences between speech and other signals such as music. I identified with a survey the most prevalent issues encountered when listening to music with hearing aids. A follow-up study will involve controlled listening experiments to further understand the signal processing strategies preferred by hearing aid users when listening to music in relation to the problems highlighted by the survey.

Ms Amal Osman, CRC for Alertness, Safety and Productivity

A new approach to direct targeted therapies for obstructive sleep apnoea

Patients that have sleep apnoea have pauses in their breathing during sleep. The most common cause of sleep apnoea is a highly collapsible or anatomically narrow upper airway. This research is the first to compare a new 10 minute test while the patient is awake with the more costly and time-consuming method to measure airway collapsibility during sleep. Our exciting findings highlight the potential for our new approach to be used clinically to help determine the appropriate therapy for patients.

Mrs Ishanka Rajapaksha Mudiyanselage, The University of Newcastle

Joint mobilisation in chronic ankle instability

The evaluation and treatment of chronic ankle instability (CAI) is a significant challenge in health care. Identification of characteristics of this population and its’ subgroups is essential to define the direction of the treatment. Manual therapy in the form of joint mobilisation is frequently used in the treatment of patients with CAI. However, is it effective for CAI with structural deficits? or functional deficits? Is it an effective in long term? These will be also answered in my PhD.

Dr Michael Ruppert, The University of Newcastle

Advanced sensing and control with smart cantilevers for measurements at the nanoscale

The atomic force microscope has significantly enabled the steady growth of nanotechnology over the past three decades. As imaging boundaries are pushed beyond atomic resolution towards measuring a wealth of nanomechanical properties, the demand for a “smarter” cantilever is becoming louder than ever. My research aims to achieve a break-through in cantilever instrumentation by realising a new class of active probes with high-performance integrated actuators and sensors.

Mr Sundar Shrestha, Rail Manufacturing CRC

Estimation of adhesion condition between wheels and rails for development of advance braking control systems

This project proposes the implementation of new approaches to contact modelling, detection and monitoring of the contact conditions between wheels and rails for rail vehicles.

Mr Peter Sinclair, The University of Newcastle

Using e-learning to move beyond knowledge generation and into behaviour change

A recent systematic review concluded that e-learning had not yet demonstrated that it could influence or change health care professional (HCP) behaviour. e-learning has not demonstrated the ability to assess behaviour using objective validation methods. My research is evaluating an evidence based e-learning approach to changing behaviour in HCPs using kidney screening in primary health care. In doing so, it will provide a framework for future research in this domain and improve patient outcomes.

Dr Rachael Unicomb, The University of Newcastle

Complex stuttering in early childhood – stuttering and speech sound disorder

Most people are familiar with stuttering–it’s quite recognisable. If left untreated, can effect education, vocation, and cause psychological issues. Though there are effective treatments for stuttering in children, research supporting them often screens out other communication disorders. One common example is co-occurring stuttering and speech sound disorder. My research aims to trial a new treatment approach for this caseload so we can continue to learn how best to support these children.

Mr Trong Thien Vu, Rail Manufacturing CRC

Automated assembly for rolling stock fabrication in rail industry

In manufacturing, assembly processes account for about 20% of the production cost and up to 50% of the time and labor expense. However, assembly planning is commonly dependent on engineer skill and thus time consuming and error prone. My research focuses on developing a platform that can automatically generate the assembly plan for rolling stock based on 3D models. The platform plans by searching for the optimal assembly sequence and movements before instructing the assembly robots accordingly.

Dr Luke Wakely, The University of Newcastle

The experience of parenting a premature infant in rural Australia

Parenting is one of the hardest yet most rewarding undertakings in existence. Imagine then, parenting a fragile, unwell infant at a distance and isolated from support. My research explored, in-depth, the experience of parenting a premature infant in a range of rural areas. These incredible, traumatic and heart wrenching stories of parenting I have explored to illuminate the experiences, and particular needs of rural-based premature infants and their families for health workers and policy makers.

Mr Sachin Wasnik, CRC for Alertness, Safety and Productivity

Computational models to predict alertness failure

Many shift workers especially those in safety-critical roles are at risk of impaired alertness due to sleep loss or disruption. This costs our country 66 billion dollars a year, in health bills and lost productivity. This is why for my PhD, I have contributed to the development of highly sensitive computational models to predict alertness failure during drowsy driving. My work has the potential to alert drivers of impending risks and reduce accidents.

Miss Alix Woolard, The University of Newcastle

Hi Baby! How we can help infants at risk for Autism with infant-directed speech

Have you even wondered why you use ‘baby-talk’ when speaking to babies? Well, this ‘baby-talk’, or infant-directed speech, is really important for a baby’s language and social development. But what happens when a baby is at-risk for atypical language and social development? Young children with Autism Spectrum Disorder display difficulties in these areas. My research focuses on how infant-directed speech can differ in the case of risk for Autism Spectrum Disorder in the first year of life.