Strategic Research Area
The School of Engineering and Information Technology (SEIT) has a research culture rich in quality, breadth and depth. In the last Excellence in Research in Australia (ERA) assessments by the Australian Government, the School produced one quarter of Murdoch University’s 5-star rated research areas. Research in our School falls into three broad Strategic Research Areas: Natural Resources, Engineering & IT for Health & Welfare, and the Enabling Sciences. The Strategic Research Areas span the four disciplines in the School:
- Chemical and Metallurgical Engineering and Chemistry (including Environmental Engineering);
- Electrical Engineering, Energy and Physics;
- Information Technology; and
- Mathematics and Statistics.
There are many cross-disciplinary connections among these groupings.
Applied mathematics is a broad research area that underlies and has important applications in engineering and computer science; the physical, environmental and biological sciences; economics, management and finance. The research area includes fluid dynamics; modelling of industrial, environmental and biological processes; computational mathematics; discrete mathematics; and differential and computational geometry. Current topics within these areas include porous media flow, reservoir modelling, environmental
fluid mechanics, ill-posed and inverse problems, spline smoothing, combinatorics on words, and geometry of nano-structured materials.
Data is being created, collected and stored at an ever-increasing rate in the digital era. Researchers in statistics are concerned with the development and use of novel statistical methods to analyse and interpret data from many different sources. Specific areas of interest within the group include robust statistics, time series analysis, saddlepoint approximation methods, the analysis of social networks and genomic data analysis and integration. The group often works collaboratively with industry partners with other academic researchers. In particular, there are strong links to researchers in areas such as cancer, dementia, immunology and extractive metallurgy.
Intelligent and Information Systems
The two main research areas in this field are Intelligent Systems and Information Systems. Topics covered under Intelligent Systems include the use of computational intelligence techniques such as fuzzy systems, artificial neural networks and evolutionary algorithms to solve complex and practical problems in data mining, image processing, adaptive systems and simulations. Researchers in Intelligent Systems also work on topics relating to games, simulations and interactive virtual environments, providing solutions to problems in health and well being. Information Systems research includes technology adoption, computing education and e-learning, user security behaviour, and human-computing interfaces.
Networking and Security
The Networking and Security Research group contains several academic staff members and numerous postgraduate research students. Both applied and theoretical topics are explored. The pure networking topics include: routing protocols, wireless networks, TCP congestion control and Active Queue Management (AQM), IPv6 and Mobility. Areas of exploration in security include: host-based security models, legal issues in information technology, covert channels, applied forensics, industrial control systems and cyber incident response policy.
Dr David Murray
Physical and Materials Chemistry
Research in Physical and Materials Chemistry incorporates both experimental and theoretical techniques and covers a wide range of topics including, the synthesis, structures and reactivity of nano-materials, ion effects in solution, the theory of electrolytes, adsorption and surface phenomena, electrode modelling, conduction mechanisms in electronic devices including solar cells, the dynamics of soft-matter for clean energy applications (membranes, hydrogen storage and solar devices), hydrothermal synthesis of carbon microspheres and measuring the kinetics of metal complex reactions in solution.
This area achieved a 5-star ranking in all of the Australian Government’s ERA surveys. The six academic staff and two postdoctoral fellows in this group form a world-leading research group in solution chemistry and its application to solving global problems. The research focuses on the measurement and modelling of physico-chemical properties and chemical speciation in real-world systems of industrial, hydrometallurgical, environmental importance, over very wide ranges of temperature and pressure. Other work includes fundamental studies of ion solvation and ion association.
As a result of ongoing ARC and industry funding, the laboratory facilities are world-leading. Postgraduate students are highly sought after by industry and research organisations.
Professor Glenn Hefter
Surface Physics and Nanotechnology
Research in this area is concentrated on the design, fabrication and quantum mechanical computational modelling of functional nanostructured and nanosized materials for use in environmental, renewable energy, mechanical and medical applications. The research focus is on the physico-chemical properties of the materials which include: super hardness; optical selectivity; corrosion resistance; thermal mechanical stability and biological compatibility. Six academics and more than 10 postgraduate students are enthusiastically researching in these fields utilising the most up to date characterisation techniques.
Research in renewable and sustainable energy has been a major focus at Murdoch University since its establishment in 1975. Significant research is performed in photovoltaic devices and systems; small wind turbines, biomass, energy efficiency, storage and economics and developing-country needs. In addition to the academic staff in this area, there are many domestic and international research students, and strong interactions with staff in other areas of the School.
In particular there are strong links between renewable energy researchers and electrical engineering researchers in areas such as renewable energy systems integration in the electricity grid and smart grids, power quality analysis, electric vehicles and power converters for renewable energy systems.
Dr Jonathan Whale
Extractive Metallurgy and Resources Engineering
Murdoch University has been home to the world’s leading academic research group in extractive metallurgy since its foundation in 1975. This group has received high ratings for Resources Engineering and Extractive Metallurgy in the Australian Government’s ERA surveys.
Current research is focused on developing more economical and sustainable processing methods for precious and base metals, uranium, rare earths and light metals. Four academic staff, along with others from chemical and metallurgical engineering and chemistry and more than 20 research students, are active in projects relevant to mineral processing, pyrometallurgical and hydrometallurgical unit operations on ores/concentrates and recycled secondary resources that are funded by the ARC and numerous mining companies.
Associate Professor Gamini Senanayake
Mineralogy and Geochemistry
The group focuses its research on fluid-mineral interactions, in particular on crystallisation of ore minerals, mineral replacement reactions, metal extraction and recovery, formation of metallic nanoparticles in minerals and synthetic compounds, amorphisation, dissolution and precipitation process, liberation and sequestration of radioactive elements, isotopic fingerprinting, carbonation reactions and storage of CO in minerals. The group possesses expertise in a wide range of cutting-edge analytical and experimental techniques for mineralogical, chemical and microscopic characterisation of minerals, rocks and synthetic phases, such as in-situ X-ray diffraction, (MC-)ICP- MS, IRMS, EMPA, SEM, TEM and nano-SIMS with distinguished records of publications, innovations and funding from external sources.
Clean Technology and Bioprocessing
Research in this area includes biological waste & wastewater treatment, bioenergy, modelling, sophisticated bioreactors, bioleaching of ores, and environmental biotechnology. This work has attracted about $2 million of funding in the last decade, and has produced several commercially successful patents.
Desalination and Water Treatment
Murdoch University hosts the National Centre of Excellence in Desalination, which currently funds School projects in membrane nanotechnology and biofouling. Our School’s research capabilities in water conservation, re-use and purification are directly related to the University’s key research strengths in food security and human health. Five academic staff, including a recently-appointed Professor of Desalination, and more than 20 research students are active in this area.
Professor Wendell Ela
Green Buildings and Practices
Despite serving their primary purpose reasonably, many historical engineering practices have significant negative side-effects or do not well reflect modern conditions. For instance, conventionally designed homes often use much more energy than necessary, causing negative economic and greenhouse gas emission consequences.
Research in this area covers sustainable, holistic and environmentally sound building practices and materials; water conveyance and treatment approaches; wastewater and solid waste minimisation and management; smart community growth and recycling; and commercial, residential and industrial water and energy audits. The staff and students work closely with architects, urban managers, building contractors, water and wastewater utilities, community planners to blend research and practice.
Dr Martin Anda
Biophysics and Integrative Biomedicine
Maintaining health or alternatively the development of disease both are generally characterised by a large number of interacting processes, from genes to the whole organism. Integrating the physical, chemical and biological processes defining complex biological systems is the focus of this research area. Primarily, this integration is done through developing computational
and mathematical models. However, all projects involve close collaboration with experimental biologists and clinicians. This approach is known as Computational Systems Biology. Currently, at Murdoch, we are working on osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, tendonopathy, colorectal cancer and acute kidney injury along with applications to tissue engineering and drug development.
Professor Bruce Gardiner
Process Systems Engineering
This area involves several academic staff, research fellows, and PhD students. Topics covered include modelling, analysis, control, optimization, design, scheduling, risk assessment, decision support systems, techno-economic assessment, planning, supply chain and involve collaborations within Murdoch University and with industry. Applications range from mineral to biological systems including crystallisation processes, biodiesel reactors, algal systems, desalination and waste water treatment, leaching and solvent extraction operations.
Professor Parisa Bahri
Fire Safety and Combustion
Topics covered include formation of pollutants in fires, combustion processes and explosions, biomass combustion, chemical reaction kinetics, solid and spray fuel combustion, modelling kinetic, fire and combustion processes, as well as process safety and environment protection. The group comprises four academic staff and twelve PhD students. The work is well supported by industrial collaborators and the Australian Research Council through Discovery and Linkage grants. The group operates a sophisticated and well equipped cutting-edge fire safety and combustion kinetics laboratory.
Virtual and Augmented Reality in Healthcare and Well-Being
Topics covered include the use of Virtual Realities, Augmented Realities, games and simulations for providing solutions in healthcare and rehabilitation. Research in this area will also look into the use of Natural User Interfaces (NUIs), biomedical interfaces as well as Brain Computer Interfaces (BCIs) to enhance the use of virtual reality for healthcare and well-being. Most of the research projects in this area will be conducted in collaboration with medical professionals and practitioners, and psychologists.
Associate Professor Kevin Wong