Showcasing Early Career Researchers 2013

Showcasing Early Career Researchers celebrates good research, communicated well.

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This year, for the first time, entrants were asked to submit a 30-second video demonstrating that they could convey the aim of their research clearly and effectively.  Fifty-one video entries were received and from those, six finalists were chosen to attend the CRC Association conference and give a five-minute oral presentation about their research. The judges looked for entrants who demonstrated excellent oral presentation skills. Miss Caroline Le was selected as the overall winner by an audience vote at the conference.

See the six finalists.

Entries received

Dr Andrew Bengsen

Invasive Animals CRC

Target-specific vertebrate pest control in complex faunal communities

Pest animal impacts are often poorly managed because some pest control tools can threaten native or domestic animals. I developed a process for identifying useful ways to control pest animals without harming non-target species. By applying the process to the problem of feral pigs in northern Australia, I discovered ways of using effective pig control tools that had previously been considered unacceptable. The process represents a widely applicable solution to a common problem across the globe.

Mr Florian Berner

Advanced Manufacturing CRC

Rotating, perfused-multilayer photo-biofilm reactor – A novel system for attached cultivation of microalgae

With the eponymous photo-biofilm reactor I am tackling the biggest challenge in current microalgal production – low biomass concentration. Microalgae can recycle carbon dioxide into useful products, for example biofuels, but current cultivation systems are too expensive for bulk production. By growing the microalgae as a dense biofilm attached to a surface, my design avoids expensive harvesting machinery. This makes it a great candidate for the next generation of microalgal culturing systems.

Ms Isabelle Boisvert


Outcomes of cochlear implantation in a sound-deprived ear

This counter-intuitive research shows that an ear that hasn’t heard for decades can successfully use a cochlear implant – especially if the other ear has functional hearing. This is likely due to the better hearing ear’s ability to keep the auditory neural pathways to the brain in good working order. Knowledge gained from this work is likely to give a new overall perspective on predictors of cochlear implantation outcomes and influence clinical decision-making.

Mr Ngai Ning Cheng

CRC for High Integrity Australian Pork

Exploitation of wastewater grown microalgae for the production of biogas and feedstocks

Anaerobic digestion of sludge is often employed to reduce both the mass of solids, pathogen load and produce energy in the form of methane gas. Increasingly covered anaerobic lagoons are being considered by the pork industry to manage GHG emissions and recover the methane for energy production. Algal biomass produced in HRAPs treating piggery wastewaters removes CO2, contributing to GHG mitigation, and is an additional source of biomass energy which could be released via co-digestion with pig slurry.

Mr Karthigeyan Chidambaram Padmavathy

Advanced Manufacturing CRC

Production and characterisation of bio polymers from methane oxidising bacteria using landfill gas

Methane (CH4) is one of the important Greenhouse gases (GHG). In Australia, there is a strong dependence on landfills for waste management. Microbial oxidation of methane stands as a cost effective candidate to minimize the GHG emission from landfills . Most of the researches done so far were aimed to oxidise methane to CO2. Instead CH4 can be utilised for the production of Polyhydroxyalkanoates(PHA)-Bio polymer. This project aims to utilise the methane from landfills for the production of PHA.

Miss Susanna Cramb

Queensland University of Technology

Spatio-temporal modelling of cancer data in Queensland using Bayesian methods

This is the first study to investigate both spatial and spatio-temporal inequalities for a large range of cancers in Queensland at such a detailed level. Understanding these inequalities is vital to improving cancer patient outcomes. By using Bayesian methods we can obtain reliable and accurate estimates of cancer incidence and survival across small areas, even though some have populations of less than 100 people. Project results to date have already influenced advocacy and support efforts.

Dr Jianhua Du

CRC for Contamination Assessment and Remediation of the Environment (CARE)

Development of high power ultrasonics for improved settling and dewatering of clay wastes

Conserving water is crucial for human life on Earth. Mining in Australia consumes up to three Sydney Harbours’ worth of fresh water annually, with much of this locked up with mining waste. I developed a method that uses ultrasound to change the structure of the waste and effectively ‘shake’ out the water. This method – which has been patented and is being field tested with a leading mining company – has the potential to save 170 Olympic swimming pools of water annually from one mine site alone.

Mr Mehdi Ebrahimi

CRC for Rail Innovation

Workplace Coaching in the Australian Rail Industry

The purpose of this research is to investigate ways to build and promote the internal coaching capacity within Australia’s rail industry. The research has utilised a mixed methods research design across two sequential phases. The first phase was quantitative (online survey) and the second qualitative (in-depth case studies).

Miss Samantha Ewart

Young and Well CRC

Interactive Music Technology for creative engagement, entertainment and wellbeing for hospitalised young people (The Music Cubes Project)

The Music Cubes Project introduces innovative music and technology devices to hospitalised young people (aged 12-18) at The Children’s Hospital, Westmead. It aims to provide entertainment, increase wellbeing, self esteem, encourage socialisation and build on numerous different skills. The research focuses on providing individualised creative engagement activities by seeking feedback through youth lead workshops to positively influence young people stay in hospital.

Dr Craig Furneaux

CRC for Infrastructure and Engineering Asset Management (CIEAM)

Variation on a routine: an evolutionary model of change in repetitive organisational patters of action

Routines are core organisational processes such as manufacturing and researching. An explanation as to how organisations create, change and continue these complex patterns of action over time was lacking. In my PhD I undertook a longitudinal multimethod analysis which developed a model of how organisations created variety in their routines. This model helps us to manage multi-agent pattens of action better. I am currently seeking to commercialise elements of the PhD.

Mr Shiran Galpathage

CRC for Rail Innovation

Ground improvement using native vegetation

Engineers use different types of engineering applications to improve soft grounds to keep the railways stable. Native vegetation can be used as an environmentally friendly, economically attractive and aesthetically appealing ground improvement method. My research heading towards to design important tools for practising engineers to use native vegetation as a sustainable ground improvement method.

Mr Ebadat Ghanbari Parmehr

CRC for Spatial Information

Feature Extraction from Multi-source, Multi-sensor Imagery and Ranging Data

This research focuses on using both airborne imagery and LiDAR point clouds for feature extraction. The first significant deliverable will be a process to metrically combine the imagery and LiDAR point clouds to form accurate 3D images. The combined 3D images provide additional information through each of the data sources. These 3D images will be used to automatically extract features for modelling objects such as buildings and vegetation parameters.

Mrs Caitlin Grenness


Patient-centred audiology

Most people know someone with hearing loss or have heard about the communication problems it can cause. If it were your Grandma, or Father, wouldn’t you like them to seek help from someone who understands them? Rates of seeking help and satisfaction with hearing aids is low. One reason may be related to the way the audiologist interacts and communicates. To provide patient-centred communication we must ask patients how they want their care to occur. This study was the first to ask in audiology.

Dr Richard Hartner

CRC for Optimising Resource Extraction

Integration and analysis of optical and scanning electron microscopy for optimisation of geometallurgical modelling and ore deposit characterisation

The mining industry depends on mineralogical information to assist with optimising production and maintaining efficiency. In the last decade automated scanning electron microscopy systems have provided more information than ever, but at great expense. My project is about bringing similar levels of automation and functionality to lower cost optical microscopy.
Research outcomes include fusing mineralogical images from scanning electron and optical systems to combine the benefits of both systems

Ms Jessica Heath

CRC for Bushfire

Protecting our water catchments from fire

We know very little about the impact of fire on our essential water supplies. My research looks at how bushfires affect Sydney’s water catchments in terms of water yield, soil carbon, water repellence and vegetation response. My results, surprisingly, show recovery around three years after a bushfire. The Sydney catchments respond quickly to fire; mainly because the trees are resprouting, not reseeding like species in many other forests. Catchment managers can now better predict bushfire damage.

Ms Kylie Hewson and Ms Penelope Steer

Poultry CRC

Investigations into the molecular basis of pathogenicity of the Australian infectious bronchitis viruses (KH)
Assessment of Australian fowl adenovirus field strains for virulence and efficacy against inclusion body hepatitis in broiler chickens (PS)

Australians eat 600 million chickens per year! In only 6 weeks chickens are ready for the dinner table, so they need optimal health from hatch to harvest. The Poultry CRC fund our research projects to develop diagnostic tests that detect and characterise viruses that impact chicken health. Our research reveals emerging problems, options for vaccine improvement, and potential new vaccines. This helps the poultry industry continue to produce lots of healthy, happy chickens for a growing Australia.

Miss Lily Hirsch

CRC for Rail Innovation

It’s a Jungle in Here: A Study of Crowding on Indian Trains

With a background in social sciences and anthropology, Lily started her PhD with Central Queensland University in 2012. Lily is investigating the social psychological issues in rail transport surrounding train and platform crowding in Australia and India. Primarily, she is looking at the effect of carriage design and carriage colour on passenger behaviour, the flow of crowds within the carriage space and processes surrounding learned tolerance to crowding.

Miss Molly Zhongnan Jia

Antarctic Climate & Ecosystems CRC

Diet and energy budget of Antartic krill in spring

My research is to investigate the diet of larval Antarctic krill in spring. This is a basic question to evaluate the importance of sea ice in krill’s life cycle. Then we could predict better how krill respond to climate change with a better understanding of the relationship between krill and sea ice.


Miss Manasa Kesharaju

Advanced Manufacturing CRC

Ultrasonic Sensor based Defect Detection and Characterization of Armour Ceramics

Currently, Armour ceramic tiles are inspected visually offline using an X-ray technique that is time consuming and very expensive. The aim of this research is to develop a methodology to detect, locate and classify various defects such as the formation of free silicon, un-sintered silicon material and conventional porosity along with the microstructural differences that normally occur in Armour ceramics using an ultrasonic testing.

Mr Inhi Kim

CRC for Rail Innovation

ITS for safer level crossings

This project aims to improve level crossing safety by examining the road vehicle drivers’ responses to new Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) to advance both in-vehicle and road-side warning and protection systems using a state-of-the-art driving simulator located in the Carrs-Q at QUT . This project will identify in-vehicle and roadside ITS systems that facilitate railway crossing safety outcomes. It will focus on designing and evaluating an ITS system that will change driver behavior.

Ms Kylie Ireland

Plant Biosecurity CRC

Susceptibility of Australian plant species to Phytophthora ramorum, an emerging potential threat to Australian plant industries and ecosystems

Many Australian plant industries and ecosystems have climatic conditions similar to those found in the USA and Europe where Phytophthora ramorum disease (Sudden Oak death) is a serious issue. If introduced into Australia, this pathogen has the potential to have a significant impact on plant industries and become a major ecological threat. To prevent the introduction of P. ramorum into Australia, the potential host range and their role in transmission of the disease needs to be understood.

Ms Carolina Kunnen

Vision CRC

Ocular comfort and contact lenses

140 million people worldwide wear contact lenses (CL) and 40% of them experience ocular discomfort, which can result in CL wear discontinuation. The number of CL wearers is rising as the rate of myopia (short-sightedness) dramatically increases. Myopia currently affects 1.5 billion people globally, including 3.5 million Australians. New generation CLs have enormous potential to reduce the progression of myopia. It is therefore crucial to optimise CL comfort, so more people can benefit from CLs.

Ms Paula Lima

Australian Seafood CRC

The utility of RNA interference (RNAi) as a means of controlling Atlantic salmon Amoebic Gill Disease (AGD)

RNAi has emerged as one of the most promising techniques to study gene function of non-model organisms. This technology could assist in further development of preventive methods against AGD, the main health problem affecting the salmon aquaculture industry in Tasmania. Therefore, the main objective of my PhD is to investigate if the causative agent of AGD possesses an active RNAi machinery, so this novel technology can be employed to identify and characterise new anti-parasitic drug candidates.

Mr Xiaogang Liu

Advanced Manufacturing CRC

Modelling of Wheel Squeal and its Validations

Wheel squeal is a loud, tonal noise generated when a train negotiates the curve of a rail. Field tests found that the loudness of squeal noise increases with angle of attack and rolling speed. Also, it was found that the probability of squeal increases with relative humidity and that the wheel squeal still exists after the application of friction modifiers. These phenomena, however, have not been explained in terms of the generation mechanism of wheel squeal. My research filled these gaps.

Ms Lorenna Machado

Advanced Manufacturing CRC

Mitigation of methane emissions from livestock by macroalgal natural products

Methane is the second most important greenhouse gas and its anthropogenic emissions are increasing rapidly, largely due to agricultural activities. In Australia, ruminant livestock are responsible for 86% of the total methane emitted by the agricultural sector. This study is assessing the effects of algal functional feed and natural products on ruminal methanogenesis. It will provide mitigation strategies that also increase feed quality and digestibility, and cattle’s production efficiency.

Dr Anna McBeath

Future Farm Industries CRC

Biochar: Its measurement and importance

Biochar (BC) has been identified as recalcitrant carbon source which makes it a potentially important carbon sink in soils. Previous studies have identified that quantifying BC is complicated due to its heterogeneous nature, making it difficult to determine reliable estimates of BC soil pools, or to understand its movement and fate in the environment. My PhD unravelled the mysteries associated with the recalcitrant nature of biochar using novel NMR spectroscopy methods.

Ms Shannon Naeeni

CRC for Rail Innovation

Use of geosynthetics in the prevention of damage due to flooding

The recent sudden flood in Queensland that inundated thousands of square kilometres of land has damaged hundreds of kilometres of tracks and eroded much of the ballast, leading to track instability. The aim of this project is investigating the effects of flooding level on ballasted track through understanding of particle erosion mechanisms due to flooding, and recommending cost-effective preventive measures (geosynthetics) for protecting the railway tracks from flood damage.

Mr Hajananth Nallaivarothayan

CRC for Rail Innovation

Video based detection of normal and anomalous behavior of individuals

This PhD research program investigates the problem of anomalous event detection of individuals using computer vision techniques. Different feature extraction techniques and scene modelling techniques are investigated by developing various algorithms. Developed algorithms are evaluated on UCSD pedestrian anomaly data set. Detected anomalies are presence of high speed bicycles, skate boarders and other vehicles in a pedestrian walk way video footage and people walking through off-paths.

Mr Nicolas Neveux

Advanced Manufacturing CRC

Seaweed to biocrude oil

My research focuses on optimising seaweed cultivation for the production of biocrude oil through a thermochemical upgrading method called hydrothermal liquefaction.
Seaweeds are fast growing organisms that can provide abundant renewable biomass without competing with food crops for arable land. Hydrothermal liquefaction is an energy efficient process delivering a product similar to crude oil that can be directly refined to jet fuel into existing infrastructures.

Mr Chandrahas Rathod

Advanced Manufacturing CRC

Advanced Microstructural characteristion of Insulated Rail Joints

My project is mainly focused on (i) characterisation of track damage and its failure modes; (ii) surface coating on rail head to mitigate the subsurface cracks which are developed due to rolling contact fatigue; (iii) characterisation of residual stress in serviced rails by utilising neutron diffraction technique and x-ray diffraction and (iv) to analyse the deformation behaviour of surface coated rail under controlled mechanical rig instrument.

Miss Jessica Rickard

CRC for Sheep Industry Innovation

Male Infertility: The interaction of seminal plasma, spermatozoa and the female reproductive tract

The sheep industry rarely uses cervical AI with frozen thawed semen because of its reduced ability to get through the cervix, go the distance and fertilise the egg. We believe that protoeomic changes occur to the sperm during freezing and this interrupts how sperm can navigate and survive in the female tract. My research aims to identify these changes in an effort to help frozen sperm swim better, conquer their battle with the cervix and spread their superior genes throughout the sheep industry.

Mr Andrew Rodda

CRC for Polymers

Electrospun nanobottlebrush fibres for investigation of cell-substrate interactions

Cells, including stem cells, respond to changes in their physical or chemical environment. While 2D surfaces are the most common substrates for cell culture, cells in the body do not grow in 2D, but 3D. My project is developing new 3D fibre scaffolds within which cells can grow. We have designed the synthetic polymer structure so as to have independent control over multiple different stimuli. We hope to investigate signals that can change stem cell development, for use in regenerative medicine.

Ms Athira Rohit

Vision CRC

Tear Lipid layer and Contact lens Comfort

140 million people use contact lenses worldwide. However, almost the same number of people drop out of lens wear each year as enter lens wear for the first time due to discomfort. Contact lenses disturb the function of natural tear film layers. In my research, the oily layer of the tear film of contact lens wearers is artificially supplemented by drops and sprays that contain lipids. An evidence-based assessment is investigating how the replenished tear film affects the lens wearer’s discomfort

Dr Binoy Sarkar

CRC for Contamination Assessment and Remediation of the Environment (CARE)

Remediation of organic and inorganic contaminants by novel bio-reactive organoclays

Industrial processes, including pharmaceutical production, are vital for our way of life. However, these processes release many thousands of contaminants into the environment. For my PhD I developed a novel clay-based material that can either break down these contaminants into harmless products, or hold onto them and prevent from re-entering the environment. This technology provides a cheap and practical option for cleaning up water and soil, and thus reduces the risk of harm to human health.

Mr Jason Scally

Capital Markets CRC

The Breakdown of Capital Market

We all build the platforms, regulation and algorithms that are needed to make capital markets function. However, when placed under stress, these interacting parts have a tendency to respond unpredictably. Serious economic and social consequences are a frequent result of these breakdowns.
I’m developing a model capable of identifying the presence of excessive risk – the precursor of large corrections. This will help identify and mitigate the effects of financial turmoil.

Mr Colin Simpson

CRC for Bushfire

Dynamic interactions between wildfire and atmosphere

Topography and weather modify bushfire behaviour through complex physical interactions. These interactions can be studied directly with atmosphere-fire modelling. I used the WRF-Fire model to investigate atypical lateral fire spread on mountain slopes, also known as fire channelling. My research demonstrated for the first time that atypical fire spread is driven by vertical vortices generated by pyro-convection. This research will directly benefit fire suppression operations in complex terrain.

Mrs Annette Sommerville

CRC for Rail Innovation

Development of near-miss metrics for rail level crossings

There can be no rail level crossing incidents in the absence of road and rail intersections. While it is possible to eliminate rail level crossing collisions by removing the intersection of the two pieces of critical infrastructure it is impractical to. Multiple scholars and their industry partners have tried to attack the problem for many decades, from many angles including design, improved technologies and community awareness. The question is WHY do rail level crossing accidents still occur?

Miss Teodora Stefanova

CRC for Rail Innovation

Understanding of pedestrian behaviour at railway level crossings

Collisions between pedestrians and rail vehicles at level crossings (LC) represent a major problem worldwide. While, It has been found that collisions at LCs are mainly due to road users’ behaviour, research so far has mainly been focused on drivers’ unsafe behaviour. The main aim of this project is to study pedestrians’ risky crossing adopting a system approach that examines human behaviour in the larger context of the system they interact within.

Dr Suresh Ramraj Subashchandrabose

CRC for Contamination Assessment and Remediation of the Environment (CARE)

Algae-bacterial system for remediation of contaminants

Algae and bacteria often have a bad reputation but, when they are working together, they can be champions for remediation. My PhD has characterised a cocktail of bacteria and algae that, under the right conditions, can clean up soil contaminated with hydrocarbons created by burning fossil fuels. What’s more, because this process uses carbon dioxide from the air to break down hydrocarbons, it can also help cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Mr Kelly Tsang

CRC for Polymers

Photodegradable Hydrogels for Tissue Engineering Applications

We are on the edge of a breakthrough in regenerative medicine with but one giant bottleneck – we need a better cell culture system that more accurately reflects the dynamic conditions in vivo. I am developing a light responsive hydrogel platform for growing cells that can be tuned to provide stimuli and organisation to cells in real time. This allows cells to finally be patterned, studied and grown in conditions mimicking their natural environment under the precise guidance of light stimuli.

Ms Kellie Vella

Young and Well CRC

Videogames and Wellbeing

An opportunity arises to impact on the mental health of young people via their engagement with videogames. A first step in doing so requires defining a zone of optimally healthy gaming. Specifically I am attempting to determine how gameplay characteristics such as game genre, mode of play, and amount of play impact on player wellbeing, as well as identifying how the psychological experience of play moderates this relationship. My first study of three, has revealed some encouraging results.

Ms Krishnaveni Venkidusamy

CRC for Contamination Assessment and Remediation of the Environment (CARE)

Waste to Watts: Energy from Bioremediation of Hydrocarbons

Two major issues facing humanity in the 21st century are environmental contamination and power production. So what if we could power our communities with contaminated waste? My PhD has shown that we can. I have developed such ‘waste to watts’ technology by devising a method whereby bacteria can break down petroleum contamination and at the same time produce electricity. On a commercial scale, this remediation approach could power itself using the very waste it cleans up.

Mr Nick von Alvensleben

Advanced Manufacturing CRC

Environmental remediation and production of high-value compounds using microalgae

Large-scale microalgal cultivation can remediate industrial pollutant gases and nutrient rich waste-waters with parallel production of high-value biochemical compounds from the resulting biomass. My research focuses on microalgal strain bio-prospecting and cultivation optimization, to identify optimal species for industrial production based on: biomass productivity, nutrient remediation potential, and productivity of essential fatty acids and antioxidants for the manufacture for nutraceuticals.