School of Engineering and IT

School of Engineering and Information Technology

Dean's Newsletter

December 2014

Associate Professor Tanya McGill & Dr Doug Fletcher Elected to Academic Council

It has recently been announced that A/Prof Tanya McGill has been elected to serve as the School’s Level D-E Academic staff representative on Academic Council. Dr Doug Fletcher has also been elected as the School's Level A-C representative. Tanya and Doug will take up their positions on 1 January 2015.

Please join us in congratulating Tanya and Doug on their election and giving our thanks for their willingness to serve in this important and demanding role.

Three Successful Probationary Reviews

Three of the School’s academic staff have recently completed the onerous probationary review process. Please join us in congratulating Dr David Parlevliet, Dr Doug Fletcher and Dr Linda Li on the confirmation of their continuing appointments.

Welcome to Dr Nicola Armstrong - Senior Lecturer in Mathematics and Statistics

The School is pleased to announce that Dr Nicola Armstrong has accepted an appointment as a Senior Lecturer in Mathematics and Statistics, and will join the School in early 2015. Dr Armstrong obtained her BSc (Hons) in Mathematics from Murdoch and her MA (1998) and PhD (2001) in Statistics from the University of California at Berkeley. After graduating from Berkeley, she spent time in the Netherlands, holding postdoctoral positions at EURANDOM and the Free University (Amsterdam) before moving to the Netherlands Cancer Institute as a Senior Statistician. On returning to Australia in 2009, she joined the Garvan Institute as a senior bioinformatics officer and in 2013, moved to the School of Mathematics and Statistics at the University of Sydney as a member of the Statistics research group.

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Dr Nicola Armstrong

Nicola’s field of research is statistical bioinformatics, in particular, genomic and epigenetic data analysis. Since obtaining her PhD, Nicola has worked on many collaborative genetic and genomic analysis projects in both human and mouse, making contributions that have led to the identification of potential new biomarkers for cancer detection and prediction of prognosis; development of novel analysis techniques and identification of a key genetic interaction for Hepatitis C.

Welcome to Dr Gerd Schröder-Turk - Senior Lecturer in Mathematics and Statistics

The School is pleased to welcome Dr Gerd Schröder-Turk, who has recently accepted an appointment as a Senior Lecturer in Mathematics & Statistics. Dr Schröder-Turk will join the School in March 2015 from the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg in Germany where he is currently an acting professor.

Gerd Schröder-Turk studied physics and mathematics in Cologne/Germany, graduating with an honours (Diplom-Physik) thesis on the use of combinatorial optimisation for statistical mechanics systems. In 2000, he moved to the Australian National University in Canberra to pursue post-graduate studies within the Department of Applied Maths at the Research School of Physical Sciences. His PhD thesis 'Skeletons in the Labyrinth' used computational geometry and minimal surface theory to address the formation mechanisms of self-organised copolymeric assemblies. After the PhD award in 2005 and a further year of postdoctoral work at the ANU in 2005-06 on 3D image analysis in tomographic 3D datasets, he moved to his current position at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg where he completed a Habilitation in 2013.

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Dr Gerd Schröder-Turk

His field of research is 'materials geometry' - geometric problems inspired by spatial patterns in real-world nanostructures or, vice versa, materials science from a geometric perspective. Particular interests are the quantitative characterisation of structure and shape in amorphous materials (from cellular foams and granular materials to network percolation) and the formation of negatively curved interfaces in nanostructured systems, including biophotonic crystals and self-assembled lipid systems.

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Dr Schröder-Turk's "Butterfly":
The sparkling coloration of the 'green hairstreak' is a geometric photonic crystal effect of its complex network-like nanostructure, called the Gyroid.

Dr Schröder-Turk is a member of the cluster of excellence 'Engineering of Advanced Materials', a founding member of the research group 'Geometry and Physics of spatial random systems' and a visiting fellow of the Australian National University, as well as an accredited member of the Australian Mathematical Society and is credited with over 70 publications, invited conference presentations, awards and grants.

Postgraduate Research Poster Day

On 20 November 2014, the School’s HDR students showcased their research in a Research Poster Competition. Forty students submitted research posters, with 14 of these being selected for the competition after initial screening. The posters were displayed in the Robertson Lecture Theatre, and many staff and students took the opportunity to attend the event and learn more about the research interests and achievements of their colleagues across the School’s discipline areas.

Four winners were selected by a panel of judges from all four disciplines: Chemical and Metallurgical Engineering and Chemistry, Electrical Energy and Physics, Information Technology and Mathematics and Statistics.

The winners were:

Rorie Gilligan, CMC:

Leaching and characterisation of brannerite – A refractory uranium mineral.
Gilligan, R., Nikoloski, A., Deditius, A

Ibukun Oluwoye, CMC:

Mitigation of NOx by pyrolysate fragments of solid fuels; Research overview.
Oluwoye, I., Altarawneh, M., Dlugogorski, B.

Dean Laslett, EEP:

Large scale renewable energy system in a web page.
Laslett, D., Creagh, C., Jennings, P.

Siti Salmi Jamali, ICT:

Utilising mobile-augmented reality in learning human anatomy.
Jamali, S.S., Shiratuddin, M.F., Wong, K. W., Oskam, C.

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Ibukun Olowuye and Siti Salmi Jamali with their Poster presentations

There was also a People’s Choice Award, with the winner chosen from a ballot taken among those who attended the event. The popular vote selected two equal winners, Siti Jamali and Maryam Shahabi. Prizes will be awarded in the University Awards Ceremony in 2015.

The Dean offered his thanks to the judging panel: Associate Professor Lance Fung, Dr Kevin Lee, Dr Mark Lukas, Dr Damian Laird, Dr Martin Anda, Dr Dan Churach, Dr Jonathan Whale, Dr Tania Urmee and Dr Manickam Minakshi, noting that it would not be possible to run the competition without their time and thoughts.

Special thanks also went to the Postgraduate Research Director Associate Professor Gamini Senanayake who organised the event with able assistance from Rosie Price, Ken Seymour and Stewart Kelly.

IT Academics and Students Help Create Competency Assessment Software

Story supplied by Cristy Secombe, College of Veterinary Medicine


Dr Shri Rai, Dr Pyara Dhillon, A/Prof Kevin Wong and a team of undergraduate students (Project Oasis) from the School of Engineering and Information Technology have worked together with Dr Melinda Bell and Dr Cristy Secombe from the College of Veterinary Medicine to develop a generic competency assessment software package.

The project evolved from the Veterinary College’s requirement for an objective, reliable robust method of assessing competencies in undergraduate veterinary students. Melinda and Cristy approached Shri, Pyara and Kevin from the School of Engineering and IT to work collaboratively on the problem and they suggested it would be an ideal undergraduate project for their students.

The Vet College became the client for whom the students from Project Oasis developed the software, and the result is that a useable product has been delivered at no cost to the College. This software is of exceptional valuable to VLS and given its generic design has the potential to be used in multiple schools and professional services. This collaborative project between the two schools is an example of Murdoch University educating students to solve “real world problems”, providing them with an exceptional learning experience and increasing their employability – with the added bonus of providing an essential software product at no cost to the Vet College.

New Densitometer Lands in CMC

The School has recently taken delivery of a Mettler Toledo Deltarange Density meter. This densitometer was purchased under the EIT Small equipment Grants Scheme to replace the ageing densitometer that has resided in the chemistry teaching area since 1976.

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Lab Technician Caitlin Sweeney tests the new Mettler Toledo Deltarange Densitometer

The new densitometer is currently in the process of being commissioned, and will be used in the undergraduate teaching program initially in CHE202 Physical Chemistry 1. The densitometer will be used to determine solubilities, amongst other thermodynamic properties. For further information please contact Technical Manager, Andrew Foreman, ext 2383.

Change of Roles in the Administrative Office

Leandra Corich (Academic Support Officer, Service and Engagement) has commenced a secondment in the Timetable Office to cover maternity leave of one of their staff members. Whilst Leandra is away from the School, Emma Tristham will step into the role of Academic Support Officer and provide support around engagement, outreach and timetabling. Emma will also continue to provide administrative support for the recruitment activities for the School.

The School is preparing to advertise the position of Administrative Assistant, with the aim of filling the position early in 2015.

For general administrative assistance, any of the staff in the front office will be able to handle requests for keys, mail, stationery, swipe card access etc. Please come down to the office in SC2.026 or email seit@murdoch.edu.au .

Update from our Student Advisors

Our Student Advisors, Mandy Middle and Emer McKernan, have been working on the provision of more support and outreach in the pre-orientation space to better prepare commencing students before the start of semester.

Initiatives have included:

  • The development of a Readiness tool – provided to all students once they have accepted their offer.
  • The development of a student success plan – worked through in an interview format, targeted at particular cohorts
  • Increased outreach and contact with students earlier and more often

More specifically, early in the new year, the SA's key areas of focus with be contacting and offering support to mature age students and those who receive an ATAR rise due to their low SES status. For more information about the Murdoch ATAR RISE, please visit the Future Students page. 

Mandy and Emer will also be continuing with their regular contact with all students who have received a Cause For Concern letter due to poor academic progress, and offering support.

If you have any questions about these processes, or want to offer input and share ideas, please don’t hesitate to contact either of the Student Advisors:

  • Emer McKernan x 6514
  • Mandy Middle x 6951

Mandy and Emer are located in Science & Computing 2.010, down the corridor from the School Office.

Visit by the Ministry for Education in Bhutan

On Tuesday, December 9, Murdoch University was visited by officials from the Bhutan Ministry for Education, with the aim of gaining a better understanding of the different programs offered at Murdoch, available facilities and student support services, and international student recruitment policies and programs.

The delegation included Tshewang Tandin, Director General of the Ministry’s Department of Adult & Higher Education and three of his associates. The delegation met with Associate Professor Tanya McGill, Head of Information Technology, to discuss areas of cooperation and collaboration between the University and the Ministry for Education in Bhutan.

Murdoch University has an excellent reputation in Bhutan, and is considered the premier University for Bhutanese students in Australia. At present there are twelve students from Bhutan enrolled in the Masters programmes in IT along with one PhD candidate; thus Bhutan is an important market for the IT discipline and the School. A/Prof McGill commented “We have had very positive experiences with our postgraduate students from Bhutan and are keen to maintain good links.”

The meeting with the delegation was mutually positive and agreeable, with the visitors remarking that they were “elevated and enthusiastic after the visit”, and “very impressed by the arrangements at Murdoch”.

Visit by Kaplan China Delegation

On Monday 1st December the School hosted a delegation from Kaplan China who were on campus to speak to each of the schools and visit services and amenities. The delegation consisted of senior staff members including Directors, CEOs, and Managers, as well as high level staff from Murdoch’s top agent partners from across different provinces and cities in China.

The School’s presentation consisted of an overview of the School, its disciplines, areas of expertise and study areas. The delegation was then taken on a tour of some of the School’s facilities including the Bayer power plant, engineering power labs and chemistry labs.

The delegation was extremely impressed with our presentation, the number of academics that attended and presented each area and also our facilities. They were particularly impressed that they had the opportunity to meet and hear from the School Deans and the Academic Course Coordinators directly.

Visits such as this one from Kaplan are important in fostering and building links with our international partners and increasing the international student numbers to the University and specifically to the School.

Neville Hiong (Regional Manager – North Asia) and Shirley Goh (Business Development Manager at MIT) assisted with the coordination of this particular visit and ensured it ran smoothly.

Our thanks to those SEIT academics who presented during the visit.

SEIT's Pedal Power for Cross-Campus Cruising

The School of Engineering and IT has two Zap electric bikes available for on-campus use by staff whose responsibilities take them to far-flung ends of the campus. The bikes were purchased in 2013 using a Green Campus Grant, are equipped with locks and helmets, and have a small cargo rack on the rear. With a low step-through frame, they are comfortable and easy to ride, and can provide varying levels of power assistance depending on how much of a thrillseeker you are.

Next time you have a meeting over the back of beyond, consider taking an e-bike for a spin instead of running or driving from pillar to post – see Ken Seymour in SC2.040 or John Boulton in the Engineering workshop.

Limited Services Period - School Office Hours

From Monday 22nd December 2014 until Friday 9th January 2015, the School Office will have reduced staffing levels to enable staff to use leave during non-peak period.

Monday 22, Tuesday 23 December and Monday 5 to Friday 9 January: The office will be open each day from 8.30am until 4.30pm with 2 staff members in attendance - Miriam, June and Rebecca will all be away for the week beginning 5th of January.