Showcasing Early Career Researchers 2019

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. Forty-one video entries were received. Five finalists will be selected to attend the CRC Association conference in Adelaide, Collaborate | Innovate | 2019, from 28–30 May and give a five-minute oral presentation about their research. The judges are looking for entrants who demonstrate excellent oral presentation skills. One of the five finalists will be selected as the overall winner by an audience vote at the conference.

Finalists will be announced in early April.

Entries received

Ms Dashielle Allain, University of South Australia

Education to employment trajectories of youth living as refugees in South Australia: an arts-based narrative study

Understanding experiences of young people living as refugees in their own terms is crucial, as policy and practice is implemented to meet community needs. Such voices have been absent in education-to-work contexts, and in the implementation of policy and practice. Hearing their experiences of living in linguistic and cultural diversity may disrupt the reproduction of social, educational and employment prejudice and disadvantage and create opportunities to fulfill their full potential.

Mr Avianto Amri, Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC

Building disaster resilient households through a school-based education intervention with children and their families

Recent studies on disaster education have demonstrated that although programs have increased awareness and knowledge of children, there is little evidence of any significant improvement or change at home. Therefore, this research has been initiated to develop an innovative tool through a participatory process to encourage children to actively engage with their parents in improving household preparedness. Now, the tool has been transformed into a comprehensive toolkit.

Ms Tanya Babaeff, CRC for Low Carbon Living

Mainstreaming low carbon housing precincts

Cities are major contributors to climate change, so changing the way we develop our neighbourhoods is critical to survival. Yet, contemporary planning and development practices fail to meet this challenge, still producing unsustainable housing precincts. To assist urban planners and developers to better facilitate institutional change, Tanya’s research identifies how a recent residential development project, which began with a business-as-usual approach, ended up transforming toward innovation.

Dr Veronika Bandara, CRC for Cell Therapy Manufacturing

CAR-T immunotherapy for treating a broad range of solid cancers

Imagine a future where all cancers are curable! A revolutionary new cancer treatment CART therapy promises a cure without chemotherapy. In CART therapy a patient’s own T cells are genetically modified to kill cancer and this has shown remarkable efficacy against blood cancers. Can we make a CAR-T therapy to treat all cancers? I am developing a CART that can kill a broad range of cancers. So far our CAR-T can kill 9 different cancer types and suppressed cancer in preclinical models.

Dr Michal Bartnikowski, University of Queensland

Patient specific degradable scaffolds for functional jaw bone regeneration

Many people lose teeth due to unhealthy gum tissues, and are unable to receive implants due to having insufficient bone in their jaw. Current technologies that treat these problems are lacking and are unable to effectively treat all cases. Tissue engineering offers a solution to these problems by enabling the production of constructs that are specific to the shape of each patient, are able to encourage the growth of the desired tissue, and then dissolve away, leaving no toxic remnants.

Dr Stephen Connaughton, CRC for Sheep Industry Innovation

Using DEXA technology to predict lamb carcass composition at chain speed in an abattoir

Imagine predicting a person’s height by only being able to see their head! The current standard for predicting overall fatness of a lamb in an abattoir in Australia is by a single point, subjective measurement – which is not very accurate. My research is investigating a whole carcass, objective way of measuring lamb fatness. A Dual Energy X-ray scanner has been adapted to run at chain speed in an abattoir, and is giving incredibly precise and accurate predictions of lamb fatness in seconds!

Dr Elizabeth Convery, The HEARing CRC

Hearing loss self-management in older adults

Hearing loss is a chronic condition that affects all aspects of a person’s life. However, audiologists focus more on assessing auditory function than the impact of the hearing loss on psychosocial wellbeing. My research has identified a clinical tool that can be used to assess how well patients are self-managing the multidimensional consequences of their hearing loss and demonstrated that good psychosocial self-management is particularly important for achieving successful hearing aid use.

Ms Aleisha Davis, The HEARing CRC

Optimising outcomes for children with hearing loss in their early years: Tracking progress & guiding intervention

I see every day the impact hearing loss has on children. The HEARing CRC’s research has demonstrated the impact of early action, advances in diagnosis, device technologies, and language outcomes. Given language is directly reliant on listening, and is ‘caught’ by a child in their every day world, if parents and professionals could measure listening skill development, a child’s outcomes could be significantly changed. This has application on a global scale for all children with listening concerns.

Mr Sepehr Ghasemi Dehkordi, Queensland University of Technology

Cooperative ITS and automated vehicle integration, and benefits evaluation

This project utilises automated vehicles (AV) with wireless communication devices which allows vehicles and infrastructure to talk to each other and share information about the road. The project is investigating how wireless communication can provide the necessary information for the safe driving of AV. We are evaluating the benefits of using this technology for the Australian roads. We expect that the outcomes of the investigation provide a clear path to inform government policy and direction.

Mr Vaibhav Gupta, University of Southern Queensland

Survival and performance of Australian SMEs in international markets

A large number of Australian SMEs are entering international markets as soon as they are founded. However, the majority of them fail to survive and perform despite strong governmental support. My research investigates: Why do Australian SMEs fail to survive and perform in international markets? While the arguments exist both in favour of and against the role of firms and founders separately, my research demonstrates the ways in which factors at both levels combine to achieve results.

Dr Evan Hamman, Queensland University of Technology

Managing land use in the catchments of the Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef (GBR) is Australia’s most iconic natural asset. Its worth over $50 billion a year and employs 60,000 workers. Sadly, water quality entering the GBR has declined in recent years. Increased sediment and nutrient loads from sugarcane and grazing are the chief causes of concern. I’m a social scientist, a conservationist and a lawyer. I am committed to improving the laws, policies and governance systems we adopt, to preserve the site for future generations.

Mrs Miah Hammond-Errey, Data to Decisions CRC

Big data and national security

My research explores the impact of a new technological phenomenon, ‘big data’, in Australian national security intelligence and decision-making. Big data has become a ubiquitous feature in commercial enterprise however there is limited research about its current or potential impact in the national security environment. I spoke with senior decision-makers and experts to explore the complex dynamics of these technologies, which are confronting our existing ethics, laws, values and social norms.

Mr Tom Paul Haynes, CRC for Low Carbon Living

Supporting a shared vision and collaboration toward a paradigm shift among project design stakeholders

How can we visit a building and the community living in it in 50 years’ time? Are they happy? Is it sustainable? Thriving? These are practical questions that confront architectural design project stakeholders working today. Mental Time Travel is a process created by futurist and foresight professionals that allows designers to listen to the future within themselves. This direct experience supports building a shared vision of systemic change and a paradigm shift in sustainable architecture.

Mr Lio Hebert, CRC for Low Carbon Living

New approach to integrate renewable energy into our network

Renewable energy and particularly customer-owned rooftop solar greatly help countries reduce their carbon footprint and customers reduce their electricity bills. However, Utilities struggle with the way renewables are integrated into our Grid and the latter might either collapse or limit the amount of renewable. I have taken a new approach and developed a business model for solar and battery to optimise the Grid, reduce our electricity bills and unleash the potential for a zero-carbon future.

Mr Madhubhashitha Herath, University of Southern Queensland

Deployable space structures

The modern security, transport and communication systems are benefited by the advancement of space engineering. However, one of the major concerns in sending large scale engineering structures to space is the large volume required inside the spacecraft. This project is intended to develop a high strength intelligent material that can undergo shape changes. The structures made out of this material can compress and transport to outer space and expand into the required configuration.

Mrs Samantha-Kaye Johnston, Curtin University

Pay attention, but not too much!

In an era where education dictates opportunity, reading development research must support all learners to realise reading excellence. Yet, globally, approximately 250 million children lack efficient reading skills, including 10% with dyslexia. This research advances our understanding of the mechanisms by which attention influences reading skill via its impact upon phonology. The findings are fundamental for clarifying current international debate on reading instruction and intervention.

Ms Samantha Le May, RMIT University

Graph databases to support Space Situational Awareness (SSA) and Space Traffic Management (STM)

There are currently more than 40,000 tracked objects in orbit around Earth and only about 2,000 of them are active satellites – the rest are pieces of junk. When collisions occur, we lose valuable services and thousands more pieces of junk are created. My research will bring together information including the position, velocity, shape and mass of these objects into a space knowledge graph that will help space operators and researchers to prevent collisions in orbit.

Mr Alexander 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 William McCance, CRC CARE

Novel groundwater tracers for delineating groundwater impacts

Management and treatment of wastewater and solid wastes from wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) is a major worldwide sustainability challenge. One aspect of this challenge is potential groundwater contamination. This research investigates one potential technique to address this problem through the use of novel groundwater tracers, which can assist in separating wastewater-derived contamination from other similar sources.

Miss Siobhan McGinnity, The HEARing CRC

Preventing hearing injury in the music industry

Hearing injury is an unfortunate by-product for many individuals attending, working within and creating music. The focus of my research has been to investigate practical ways this might be prevented, working closely with industry to find solutions. Attention has been paid to the improvement of audiological services for musicians, documenting the hearing health of live music sound engineers, and exploring the use of sound level management software in live indoor music venues.

Mr Ubaid Mehmood, Swinburne University

Measuring demand for bus replacement services

At times rails are replaced by bus services due to scheduled track maintenance, and also due to network incidents. Passengers using replacement bus services is difficult to measure as these trips may not be captured by use of travel cards. This leads to the risk of under- or over-procurement of replacement services. This project seeks to analyse and assess technology and implementation options, leading to efficient and effective services for the benefit of operators and travellers.

Mr Ricardo Mesquita, Edith Cowan University

These nerve cells are on fire – are they?

Have you wondered why our muscles get tired? The mechanisms from the brain to the muscle that underpin fatigue are not yet fully described. Your brain does not directly command your muscles to move. Half-way, we have amazing nerve cells that speed up the information that is sent to the muscles. I aim to find out if this increase in signal speed is impaired during exercise. The techniques I am using will potentially be used in the clinic to assess people with neurological disorders.

Mr Justin Morrissy, CRC CARE

Novel bioremediation techniques for nitrogen contaminated groundwater

Nitrogen contaminated groundwater is an increasing problem in today’s society. Since the invention of the Haber-Bosh process, impacts on human health and the environment have become increasingly widespread. This project aims to test biostimulation and bioaugmentation techniques on groundwater ecosystems in the lab. In doing this we will gain insight into how we can decrease attenuation times for nitrogen in groundwater and potentially apply these techniques in the field at selected sites.

Mr James Mount, iMOVE CRC

Surface-based visual positioning for autonomous vehicles

Autonomous vehicles will positively impact society. However, they are still unable to track their position whenever, wherever, whatever the weather. GPS, unfortunately is simply not reliable in all environments, such as in tunnels and urban canyons. My research aims to give autonomous cars the ability to position themselves in all conditions and environments, through the use of road-focussed cameras and computer vision techniques. My aim is to pave the way for safer autonomous cars on our roads.

Mrs Thi Vanh Khuyen Nguyen, Macquarie University

Smart energy monitoring system

The Internet of Things (IoT) applications not only provide a convenient and safer environment, but also reduces energy waste and electricity costs for home owners. In our research, we proposed an end-to-end IoT solution for smart energy monitoring system within a smart home context based on our envisaged and implemented smart sockets. It further collects data and control the devices in real time via a mobile application which could prove beneficial for analyzing the behavior of energy consumers.

Mr Joseph O’Leary, Space Environment Management CRC

General relativistic and post-Newtonian dynamics for near-Earth objects and solar system bodies

Classical theories of gravity are not sufficient for describing the motion of near-Earth objects such as GPS satellites. Small departures from Newtonian gravity require that general relativistic effects be taken in to account for accurate time-keeping and satellite orbit prediction. My PhD focuses on the mechanics of near-Earth objects in a relativistic framework, simulating satellite orbits and comparing with classical models.

Dr Christina Parker, Queensland University of Technology

Predicting the likelihood of of non-healing: A venous leg ulcer risk assessment tool

My research has identified early predictors of non-healing in venous leg ulcers that has contributed to an innovative tool for early detection of these ulcers. This tool has shown good results for reliability and validity and is being tested internationally. The identification of risk factors for delayed healing provides an opportunity to implement adjuvant interventions in addition to routine care at an early stage and to determine realistic outcomes for patients and guide decisions on tailoring treatment.

Miss Buddhini Ranawaka, Queensland University of Technology

Epigenetics as a molecular resource for crop improvement

Throughout the millennia scientists are genetically engineering plants to satisfy human needs. However, this process permanently reduces crop genetic diversity. A better understanding of epigenetics (biological mechanism of how plants switch genes on and off) can enable novel and efficient approaches to crop improvement in a more stable and reversible way. I am modifying the epigenetic status of plant genes to make them more strong, resilient and healthy to feed the future.

Ms Carolin Reichherzer, Data to Decisions CRC

Viewing crime scenes in virtual reality

My PhD builds on the increasing ability to rapidly capture surroundings, focusing on the use of laser scanners for evidence presented to jury members in courtrooms. The use of these virtual copies combined with Virtual Reality technology could be used as an effective tool for accurately reviewing the information presented in a trial. This could potentially help the jury reach a verdict faster, more accurately, and at a lower cost than situations where a crime scene visitation would be necessary.

Mr Mortaza Rezae, CRC for Living with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Facilitating public transport accessibility for people on the Autism Spectrum

Transportation is a minefield of anxiety, distress and sensory overload for autistic individuals. It is common for them to be trapped at home, unable to participate in meaningful community activities, employment and education, due to limited transport accessibility. My research focuses on enhancing access to transport via a mobile app that empowers them to travel independently using public transport. The goal is to make the world a friendlier place for autistic individuals and the autism community.

Ms Chamila Samarasinghe, CRC CARE

The effects on reproductive health of environmental contaminants from personal care products

Every day, women are exposed to more than 160 chemicals from personal care products, such as shampoo. For men, it’s about half that. When these chemicals – as well as those from pharmaceuticals and agricultural products – enter the environment, they can harm sperm or interfere with pregnancy, putting the foetus at risk. By better understanding the reproductive toxicity of such chemicals, we can help expectant parents can minimize their exposure and maximize the chance of a healthy baby.

Mr Mitchell Scovell, Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC

Investigating the psychological factors that influence cyclone mitigation behaviour

Cyclones can cause significant damage to houses in the Tropics. For older housing, in particular, structural upgrades can mitigate losses. However, the majority of older houses in these areas do not have these upgrades installed. This research found that how people think about cyclones and structural upgrades helps to explain their mitigation behaviour. These findings are being used to inform cyclone preparedness messaging to promote the uptake of structural upgrades in high-risk areas.

Ms Ruth Sims, University of South Australia

Individual and organisational followership expectations and behaviours and their contribution to performance and wellbeing

My PhD research explores leaders’ and followers’ expectations about followership and follower behaviours. This is important because it is not yet clear what effective followership is, or what followership behaviours contribute to organisational success. Followership in organisations is recognised by leadership scholars as both important and under-researched. It is not currently an area of focus for other Australian researchers.

Ms Sesa Singha Roy, Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC

Development of an interface for improving computational performance of bushfire simulation tools

Bushfires are natural hazards that take a toll on life, property, and the environment. If these fires can be simulated, proper mitigation plans can be executed. Physics-based models simulate these fires in near-realistic scales as they delve into physical and chemical details of the fire. However, the major setback of these models is the high computational expense. My research aims at reducing this computational expense, resulting in faster simulations, faster mitigation, and reduced damage.

Ms Annalise Taylor, CRC for Living with Autism Spectrum Disorders

A model of practice to support students on the Autism Spectrum during their first year at school

My research aims to improve the school experience for Prep students on the autism spectrum; by translating the knowledge on foundational educational supports for this student cohort in a way that makes it accessible to mainstream early years teachers. Design Based Research was used to tailor the knowledge and develop a framework for practice that helps teachers make better decisions regarding the education of students on the spectrum – so they have a great start to school!

Dr Ashiwin Vadiveloo, Pork CRC

The sustainable cultivation of algae in anaerobically digested piggery effluent (ADPE)

Anaerobic treatment methods used in piggeries for treating wastewater are inefficient in removing inorganic nutrients. Algae are nature’s most efficient photosynthetic organism that can be grown in various water and nutrient resources. Through collaboration with Pork CRC, we developed a system that uses local algae strains that can grow and efficiently treat this effluent. This innovation does not only economically treat the effluent but also allow for the production of valuable algal biomass.

Dr Rachel Westcott, Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC

Advancing public health in the context of natural hazards: normalising preparedness within a framework of adapted Protection Motivation Theory

This research proposes public health policy and processes to assist people to negotiate natural hazards in an increasingly hostile, climate change induced environment. This is achieved by normalising preparedness – to make ‘fire-fitness’ routine and everyday. With data gathered from a diverse regional community in South Australia this research identified achievable locally bespoke and societal wide strategies to narrow the awareness-action gap and promote public safety and resilience.

Dr Ayanka Wijayawardena, CRC CARE

Predicting the risks posed by mixed metal contaminants

Areas on or near industrial or formerly industrial sites are often contaminated with a range of potentially hazardous heavy metals and metalloids (e.g. lead, mercury, chromium, cadmium, arsenic). Public use of such land can expose people – including children – to health risks. In many cases, the risks posed by mixed metal contaminants is poorly understood. I am developing tools that, by better predicting these risks, will help us improve the management of contaminated land and keep people safe.

Dr Tuo Zang, Queensland University of Technology

Analysis of blister fluid biochemistry for determination of burn severity in children

Severe burns and the resulting scars can leave severe physical and psychological trauma in children. Our research, which used cutting edge technology to analyze molecules in burn blister fluid, could improve the time it takes to determine burn severity from weeks to just days. This could assist the treating doctors to carry out efficient interventions at an earlier stage to accelerate healing and reduce scarring.

Ms Peta Zivec, Griffith University

A different approach to regrowing Australia’s forests; allowing nature to make some decisions

Increasing the amount of vegetation in farming areas is vital for creating more resilient and sustainable landscapes under climate change. We often assume to regrow forests we must plant trees or sow seeds, however, this method has been proven to be costly and often highly unsuccessful. My research investigates ways areas can revegetate on their own, the positive values of this vegetation and how to manage it.