School of Engineering and IT

School of Engineering and Information Technology

Dean's Newsletter

March 2016

pic7 Jan News.jpg

With the March issue of the School Newsletter published and the Easter break upon us, we look back on how quickly the first quarter of 2016 has passed.  As always the first part of the year is a high pressure time for all of us, a time to get everything organised for the start of teaching, but it certainly hasn’t stopped us from pushing forward and striving for great achievements. 

The first achievement to acknowledge is a $25,000 grant awarded to Dr Sebastian Zander and Dr Alex Wang under the APNIC Internet Operations Research Grant scheme (read more below).  Congratulations to you both on your fantastic success.

Another success story I would like to share with you is some outstanding news from our Dubai campus where we have had two students who recently completed their studies with GPA’s of 4. 

Our congratulations go to Asad Ahmed, who achieved 21 HD’s with 13 scores of 90 and above and Maria Hyacinth Carmen D'Costa, who gained 20 HD’s with 12 scores of 90 and above.  Asad and Hyacinth, along with Sharha Jafar Ali who achieved 6/9 HD’s in 2015, have been awarded VC’s Excellence Awards.

The recipients of the VC’s Excellence Awards in Singapore, who did equally well in their studies are Pritham Mohan and Jun Jie Soh.

Well done to you all for your fantastic achievement.

The Award for Outstanding Early Career Researcher in our School will be named in honour of Professor Alan James (Jim) Parker.  Jim was appointed as the Foundation Professor of Chemistry & Mineral Science at Murdoch University in 1974, a post he held until his premature death in 1982.  Much of his work involved understanding and developing the science of disparate areas of chemistry.  His research into non-aqueous hydrometallurgy and storage of electrical energy are today seen as novel and visionary.  Jim was a great mentor to many.

We also have a very unusual Welcome this month.  Our School is now the new home to Hypatia.  Hypatia is a high performance computer server and storage facility, which was purchased with a School small equipment grant awarded last year.  Read more about her, how she got her name and how she can help you in your research.

Remember, whether you are an academic, administrative or technical staff member, if you have a story to share please send it to Teresa Ratana at  Please mention the article title in the Subject line of the email.

Best wishes,



Introducing Hypatia

Hypatia.jpgMathematics and Statistics have recently welcomed a new member to the group.  Hypatia is a high performance computer server and storage facility, purchased with a School small equipment grant that was awarded last year.  ’She' is named after the Greek mathematician, astronomer and philosopher who lived around 360AD-415AD.  Hypatia was head of the Platonist school at Alexandria around 400 AD, and taught mathematics and philosophy.  She was the first women to make a substantial contribution to mathematics but is perhaps more famous for the manner of her death.  According to the account written around AD 415 by Socrates Scholasticus, Hypatia was brutally murdered by a Christian mob, during unrest in Alexandria, incited by the hostility between Orestes, the Governor of Alexandria and Cyril, the Bishop of Alexandria.  The mob blamed her for Orestes's unwillingness to reconcile with Cyril.  Her murder was marked down in history as the “beginning of the decline of Alexandria as a major centre of ancient learning”.  The server has 16 cores, each 3.2 GHz, 512 GB RAM along with ~12 TB storage capacity and runs on the Linux OS.  Researchers wishing to make use of the server are advised to contact Kris Parker to request an account.  

Article submitted by Dr Nicola Armstrong


Establishment of Collaboration between Information Technology and the South China Business College, Guangdong University of Foreign Studies

On 15SCBC.jpgth of February 2016, delegates from South China Business College (SCBC), Guangdong University of Foreign Studies, visited Murdoch University to establish collaboration between the two universities. They were Professor Wang Xinjie (Vice President), Professor Yang Jianjn (Director of International Cooperation and Exchange Centre), Jiang Yuansong (Project Coordinator of International Cooperation and SCBC_Andrew.jpgExchange Centre), and Simon Zhang, Managing Director of Aohua International Education.  Professor Andrew Taggart, Professor Bogdan Dlugogorski, Associate Professor Kevin Wong, Dr Hong Xie, Shri Rai, Vicky Dunford and Neville Hiong hosted them at Murdoch University.

An MOU with SCBC was signed during the visit to encourage academic collaboration in areas of teaching, research training and research.  Articulation agreements for the 3+1 and 2+2 into our Bachelor of Science in Computer Science, and the Bachelor of Science in Mobile and Web Application Development have been developed.  The discussion also involved the setting up a joint program with SCBC and the application process for this joint program to the Ministry of Education in China.

Article submitted by Associate Professor Kevin Wong


Photocarrier Lifetime and Recombination Losses in Photovoltaic Systems, Nature Photonics

Nature_Photonics.jpgWriting to Nature Photonics, Dr Almantas Pivrikas and co-authors raise the awareness of the academic community about the long overlooked issue of electrical charge behaviour in semiconductors and photoactive devices.  The controversial topic relating to the material structure, charge transport and lifetime is addressed.  This interdisciplinary topic is critically important for numerous applications such as solar cells, photodetectors, phototransistors and especially relevant to novel types of devices made of non-crystalline and disordered dye-sensitised systems, organic donor/acceptor blends, perovskites, nanoparticles, quantum dots and nanowires.

The role of charge transport and photocarrier lifetime is critical for solar cells as is directly impact their efficiency.  Solar cells provide the source of renewable energy, which recently have been falling in price exponentially and arguably became comparable in price to other sources of electrical power generation.  An ultimate goal of photovoltaic research is to develop the low cost device fabrication technologies allowing solar cells with high power conversion efficiency to be made.

Another area of application where the photocarrier lifetime matters is photodetectors.  High detectivity photodetector are sensitive to even very low levels of light.  They are used for night-time photography, optical communication, sensing, bio-medical and others.  Low-light photography without flash light and low-cost night vision imaging sensors for mobile phones are yet be developed.

These photoactive devices are all made out of semiconductors.  While the photocarrier transport and lifetime are relatively well understood in Silicon, this is not the case in novel non-crystalline and disordered systems.  For example, it is well known that in crystalline silicon, the photocarrier lifetime is defined by the mechanisms of energy dissipation.  However, in non-crystalline systems this is not the case.  In these systems the photocarrier lifetime is defined by the travel time of charges with opposite signs towards each other leading to so called Langevin-type nature of photocarrier transport.  The implications of these differences are far reaching as it impacts the theoretical models and understanding of fundamental photophysics of devices fabricated using novel compounds.

In this correspondence Dr Almantas Pivrikas et al. argue that the photocarrier lifetime in non-crystalline systems should not be analysed as a material parameter because it depends on the experimental conditions.  Instead of the lifetime, it is proposed to use the bimolecular recombination coefficient which is not inherently related to experimental parameters such as photocarrier density.

Authors: Almantas Pivrikas*, Bronson Philippa, Ronald D. White and Gytis Juska

Article submitted by Dr Almantas Pivrikas


APNIC Internet Operations Research Grant

APNIC.jpgAPNIC Pty Ltd, the not-for-profit Regional Internet address Registry for the Asia Pacific region, has awarded Dr Sebastian Zander (left) and Dr Alex Wang (right) a $25,000 grant under the APNIC Internet Operations Research Grant scheme managed by ISIF Asia.  The grant is for a research project titled "Surveying the State of IPv6 Deployment in Australia and China" which will start in March 2016.  The project will investigate the current state of deployment and future deployment strategies for the Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6), the Internet's next generation network protocol, in organisations in Australia and China. Notably this was the only project that received funding in the current round.

Article submitted by Dr Sebastian Zander

AJ Parker Award for Outstanding Early Career Researcher

The Award for Outstanding Early Career Researcher in our School will be named in honour of Professor Alan James (Jim) Parker.  Jim was appointed as the Foundation Professor of Chemistry & Mineral Science at Murdoch University in 1974, a post he held until his premature death in 1982.  Much of his work involved understanding and developing the science of disparate areas of chemistry.  His research activities in non-aqueous hydrometallurgy and storage of electrical energy are today seen as novel and visionary.  Jim was a great mentor to many.


RACI Physical Chemistry Conference

RACI_Physical_Chemistry_Conference .jpgThe Physical Chemistry Division of the RACI recently held their biennial conference at the University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand (2 – 5 Feb, 2016).  The conference was attended by ~ 90 delegates from Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Europe.  Presentations covered a wide range of topics within the field of Physical Chemistry, ranging from “Photoisomerization Action Spectroscopy” and “Effect of Solvent Vapours and Polymer-Substrate Interactions” to “Investigating Titan’s Cyanide Haze”.

Of particular note were five excellent plenary presentations:

Professor Natalie Stingelin, Imperial College London, UK “The Principles of Manipulating the Phase Transformations, Solid-State Order and Properties of Organic Functional Matter”

Professor Dwayne Miller, Max Planck Institute for Structure and Dynamics of Matter, Germany “Mapping Atomic Motions with Ultrabright Electrons: The Chemists' Gedanken Experiment Enters the Lab Frame”

Professor Scott Kable, UNSW – Division Medal Winner 2016 “Probing dissociation dynamics in H2CO: Correlated H2 and CO state distributions measured by ion imaging”

Professor Rebecca Jockush, University of Toronto, Canada “Properties of Gaseous Biomolecular Ions and Complexes Probed using Action Spectroscopy, Fluorescence and Fluorescence Resonance Energy Transfer (FRET)”

Professor Peter Schwerdtfeger, Massey University, NZ “From Graphene to Graphyne, Fullerenes, Fulleroids, Gaudienes and their Golden Duals”

Murdoch University was represented by Dr David Henry who gave an oral presentation “Soil Water Repellence: A Molecular Dynamics Study of Amphiphilic Compounds on Mineral Surfaces” and also presented two posters on behalf of his research group.

Finally I would like to draw readers’ attention to the RACI Centenary Congress in Melbourne, July 2017 that will host all RACI Divisions.  I would encourage all EIT staff with some connection and/or interest in Chemistry to attend the conference not only for the academic and networking opportunities but to also highlight Murdoch’s research strength in Physical and Materials Chemistry to the Australian research community.

Article submitted by Dr David Henry

Securing the Future: Security, Risk and Resilience in the Digital Age

Securing_the_Future.jpgIn February, Dr Nik Thompson and Professor Sara de Freitas organised an expert forum titled “Securing the Future: Security, Risk and Resilience in the Digital Age”.

This event brought industry and public sector representatives and Murdoch academics together to network and discuss a topic of national security, specifically around cyber security and critical infrastructure protection.

The event invited participants to consider and discuss these two main themes:

  1. Critical Infrastructure Protection:  How do we make our communities safer?
    Our critical infrastructure includes physical facilities, communication networks and supply chain and how we can protect them for the social or economic wellbeing of the nation;
  2. Cyber Security: How can we protect our digital information systems?
    Our economic prosperity is predicated upon the security of our data systems and there are increasing risks associated with protecting it, such as natural disasters, terrorism and cyber-attacks.

Keynote speakers included Dr Walter Green (Adjunct Professor at Murdoch) who opened the event with a presentation on telecommunications.  A particular highlight was his “Murdoch Success Story” topic in which he described how work initially started at Murdoch University has now been incorporated into the National Broadband Network (NBN) plan.

Other speakers included A/Prof James Speers from VLS who spoke on his work in development of forensic services for law enforcement and Lindsay Hughes, Senior Analyst at Future Directions International who spoke on demographic profiling as a means to estimate terrorism attack likelihood.

There was a good turnout of guests with representation from Industry (including consulting such as Ernst and Young, PwC, Deloitte, BankWest, CISCO) as well as WA Police and staff from Police Minister’s Office.  Feedback from the event has been very positive and the success of this event has raised awareness around the area of security as well as highlighting the expertise that Murdoch University academics hold in this domain.

Article submitted by Dr Nik Thompson


Student Mentor

student_mentor.jpgOn Wednesday 24th February 2016 I attended the annual Mentor Breakfast at Perth College in Mount Lawley.  This event provides their Year 12 girls with an opportunity to discuss career aspirations and study options with old-girls from the School in fields such as Pharmacy, Veterinary Science, Creative Arts, Law, and the Sciences. 

With my background as the School Manager in Engineering and Information Technology I was located on the "Science" table and spoke to the students as they rotated every 15minutes through the tables they were interested in.  One such student was Isabelle Taylor (picture left Isabelle Taylor and Rebecca Treloar-Cook) who is interested in studying a double major in Chemistry and Extractive Metallurgy.  She was previously interested in studying just chemistry, however after attending BAMFAD in 2015 with Perth College, became fascinated with Extractive Metallurgy and will be applying to now study both majors.  Over the course of the breakfast I met 8 young women all excited to find out more about the sciences from the mentors present on the table.

Perth College is a private girls’ school in Mount Lawley that was established in 1870.  It is one of the oldest independent girls’ schools in Western Australia and has a strong history of fostering and encouraging young women to be independent, confident, and achieve whatever they set their mind to.  Perth College has a dedicated state-of-the-art science building where girls are encouraged in the sciences and produces academically strong graduates.  The School performs exceptionally well in ATAR and, in 2014, of the 118 year 12 students eligible for an ATAR, 7% achieved an ATAR score of 99 or above, 30% achieved an ATAR of 95 of higher and the median ATAR for the cohort was 88.9.  In 2014 Perth College had the highest performing students in the State in the Stage 3 courses of Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics 3AB and Mathematics 3CD - amongst other courses. 

With a keen interest in encouraging women into the STEM sciences, I found it encouraging talking to so many talented and driven young women who are keen to study in a science related field.

Article submitted by Mrs Rebecca Treloar-Cook


The Australian Academy of Science Awards

Please note the closing date for nominations for the honorific awards is the 30th April 2016 and that nominations/applications for research conferences, research awards and travelling fellowships are due by the 15th June 2016.


Double Majors – Important Draw Card

Past experience teaches us that Double Majors are important drawing card to attract good students to Murdoch.  They constitute a critical plank of the School marketing strategy.  

Thank you to those of you who last year participated in developing our web site that promotes flexible Double Majors that our students can take.

Please continue to promote further our Double Majors to prospective and existing students.  We cannot go wrong with disseminating our Double Majors as widely as possible.  In addition to growing load, Double Majors encourage cross-School interaction, bring more highly-capable students to Murdoch who perform well in their studies and may undertake advanced degrees.

Take a minute to familiarise yourself with the web page.  It will be time well spent.


Murdoch University Research Staff and Students Will Switch Countries with German Counterparts

biopolymeric_nanostructure .jpgMurdoch University research staff and students will switch countries with German counterparts for a new research project funded by recently-announced national grants.

Dr Gerd Schröder-Turk, Senior Lecturer in Mathematics & Statistics, and Dr Piotr Kowalczyk, Senior Lecturer in Physics, recently led a successful submission on behalf of the School of Engineering & Information Technology (SEIT) for University Australia’s Australia-Germany Joint Research Cooperation Scheme.

Left - image shows a biopolymeric nanostructure in butterflies turned into a carbon nanostructure by Murdoch's SEIT

Both staff will soon fly to Germany to grow international relationships with peers from Friedrich-Alexander University and research ‘Confinement and adsorption of complex fluids in biology and materials’.

“This grant will strengthen ties with leading minds in Germany and help the University continue to grow an international profile for research, particularly for functional properties and design of nanostructured materials” Dr Schröder-Turk said.

An additional two research-based postgraduate students from SEIT will also travel to Germany later this year, staying for up to two months, when Murdoch will host Friedrich-Alexander University students to continue research.

Absorption is the scientific term for the build-up of a fluid layer on a surface or interface, somewhat similar to dew on a grassy lawn on a cold morning.

“Nanostructured materials with huge internal interface areas lead to large absorption effects that can be harnessed for biological function or nanoengineered applications. There are some with an internal area the size of a football field within each gram of material,” Dr Schröder-Turk said.

“Biological examples, from the ultra-fine structure of bones to ordered nanostructures in insects, can inspire functional engineering materials, with applications ranging from fuel cells to gas separation.”

Late last year the Australia-Germany Joint Research Cooperation Schemereceived a record 380 research submissions, selecting just 100 projects to share in almost $3.5 million worth of funding.

The scheme is open to all Australian researchers at participating universities, with specific focus on early career researchers.

Murdoch was successful in two submissions, with each set to receive up to $25,000 for travel and living expenses supporting research work in Germany.  The University will also partner Leipzig University as part of a separate research project entitled ‘Seeing Without Awareness’.

More information on Australia-Germany Joint Research Cooperation Schemegrant recipients can be found on the Universities Australia website.

Article submitted by Dr Gerd Schröder-Turk and Dr Piotr Kowalczyk

Australian Museum Eureka Prizes – Entries Now Open

Entries and nominations are now open for the 2016 Australian Museum Eureka Prizes.

There are 16 prizes on offer this year including two NEW prizes, so please consider entering, or nominating a colleague, student or friend.  The prizes are:

Research & Innovation

  1. NSW Office of Environment and Heritage Eureka Prize for Environmental Research
  2. UNSW Eureka Prize for Excellence in Interdisciplinary Scientific Research
  3. Scopus Eureka Prize for Excellence in International Scientific Collaboration
  4. Australian Infectious Diseases Research Centre Eureka Prize for Infectious Diseases Research
  5. Johnson & Johnson Eureka Prize for Innovation in Medical Research **NEW**
  6. ANSTO Eureka Prize for Innovative Use of Technology
  7. Defence Science and Technology Eureka Prize for Outstanding Science in Safeguarding Australia
  8. Macquarie University Eureka Prize for Outstanding Early Career Researcher
  9. UNSW Eureka Prize for Scientific Research


  1. 3M Eureka Prize for Emerging Leader in Science
  2. CSIRO Eureka Prize for Leadership in Innovation and Science
  3. University of Technology Sydney Eureka Prize for Outstanding Mentor of Young Researchers

Science Communication

  1. Department of Industry, Innovation and Science Eureka Prize for Innovation in Citizen Science **NEW**
  2. Department of Industry, Innovation and Science Eureka Prize for Promoting Understanding of Australian Science Research 
  3. Department of Industry, Innovation and Science Eureka Prize for Science Journalism

School Science

  1. University of Sydney Sleek Geeks Science Eureka Prize (Primary and Secondary Schools)

For more on the Australian Museum Eureka Prizes, including the full prize line-up, FAQs and judges tips, visit the website.  Entries close 7pm AEST Friday 6 May.

Contact if you have any questions.