School of Engineering and IT

School of Engineering and Information Technology

Dean's Newsletter

October 2018

Dean - Professor Bogdan Dlugogorski

This month there is much to celebrate. Two of our students were finalists for the ACS WA 1962 Prize and one of our talented finalists, Taaqif Peck was awarded the prestigious prize. Well done to both finalists on their fine achievements.

Our staff have reported many great accomplishments this month and congratulations are extended to you all.

  • Tanya McGill on her promotion to Professor
  • Gerd Schroeder-Turk on his promotion to Associate Professor
  • Dr Tania Urmee and Dr Piotr Kowalczyk for their recent acknowledgement in the West Australian as “THE STARS OF 2018” in recognition of their respective research fields in Sustainable Energy and Dispersion Chemistry.
  • Dr Drew Parsons has also been recognised at the Inaugural NumFOCUS Awards for his contribution to the FEniCS project, detailed in this edition of the School Newsletter.
  • Dr Danny Toohey was awarded an annual excellence award by the International Education Association of Australia for his ‘outstanding postgraduate thesis’.

October will be the last month of teaching before exams commence in mid-November and I would like to take the time to wish the students well for their impending exams.

Remember, whether you are a student, an academic, administrative or technical staff member, if you have a story to share please send it to the SEIT email - Please mention the article title in the subject line of the email.

If you are a student or staff reading this Newsletter, please let your friends and family know about Scholarships for Honours, Postgraduate degrees, details are included in the Newsletter.

Best wishes,

Bodzio Dlugogorski


Congratulations - ACS WA 1962 Prize Winner
Are you Eligible for a 'Murdoch First Scholarship'?
Scholarship for Scientific Excellence
Help Lead the Way to Clean Energy Storage
Apply for Honours and Postgraduate Courses
Research: The Stars of 2018
Drew Parsons - Recognised at the Inaugural NumFOCUS Awards
Batteries Beyond Lithium
Postgraduate Research Director Report
RACI Heads of Chemistry 2018



At the recent Australian Computer Society (ACS) Dennis Moore Oration Dinner, the winner of the ACS WA 1962 Prize was announced. .

Murdoch was proud to have 2 IT students nominated and shortlisted - Luke Phipps and Taaqif Peck. The ACS WA 1962 Prize is named after the year in which the first stored-program digital computer was installed in Western Australia and is presented by Dennis Moore who brought the IBM1620 to WA from Brazil.

The prestigious prize was awarded to Taaqif Peck and is in recognition of the individual achievements of a student in their studies but also in regards to their extra curriculum activities.

Congratulations to both Luke and Taaqif for being finalists but particularly to Taaqif for winning the prize.

The School would like to wish you both well in your future endeavours.

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Article submitted by Associate Professor Hamid Laga


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If you or someone you know is interested in continuing postgraduate study, see the opportunities available below:


To find out more go to


To find out more go to



Two Murdoch researchers are leaders in their fields.

In this year’s Research magazine of The Australian, highlighted the excellence of Australian researchers, universities and other research institutions. Two researchers from Murdoch University were selected as the research leader in their field of research. Dr Tania Urmee, as the field leader in Sustainable Energy and Dr Piotr Kowalczyk, as the field leader in Dispersion Chemistry.

The editor and researcher follow the Google Scholar taxonomy methodology, with eight broad research disciplines each divided into many detailed fields of research – more than 250 in all. They have chosen Google Scholar as the basis of our analysis because it’s now the most comprehensive source of data about published research. pic 2 Research The Stars of 2018 2.jpg

To compare, in a fair way, they did not only count each researcher’s citations because different fields of research have very different citation patterns. Broadly, they measured both the quality (measured by citations) and the quantity (measured by the number of publications). So they chose to use the H-Index, a single number that reflects both output and impact over a lifetime of research. For example, an H-Index of 10 means that a researcher has at least 10 publications, each with at least 10 citations. It tends to build over a career. One of its benefits claims by this publication is that, it screens out one-hit wonders and researchers who are highly productive but not often cited. They also decided to average each researcher’s H-Index over their career, because it has been shown that this is a reliable way to compare performance of researchers in different fields and different career stages. For selecting leading researchers, they chose authors who had the most papers published in the top 20 journals in their field. The top 20 journals are determined by their trailing five-year impact factor as measured by Google Scholar. This recognises both their career output and, since it is limited to the top publication venues, the quality of their work as recognised by their peers worldwide. For institutions, those with most impact, that is citations, from papers in the top 20 journals in each field in the past year were selected. 

The publisher of this list claimed that this method is more comprehensive, up to date and granular than the traditional university rankings, which rely in part on things such as Nobel prizes, which typically reflect performance from decades ago, not today. They also claim that Google Scholar source has been shown to have the greatest coverage of research output – including scholarly books, articles and papers.

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Article submitted by Dr Tania Urmee and Professor Bodzio Dlugogorski


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Drew Parsons was awarded Recognition at the Inaugural NumFOCUS Awards the last week of September for his contribution to the FEniCS project. NumFOCUS ( is a consortium of numerical software projects and technology companies with a mission to promote sustainable high-level programming languages, open code development, and reproducible scientific research. FEniCS ( is a C++/python computing platform for automatically solving partial differential equations (PDEs) by finite element methods. Drew's contribution has been to package FEniCS for Debian/Ubuntu Linux systems, making the software more accessible to users. Drew has also provide FEniCS modules for the CRAY supercomputer at the Pawsey Centre. Drew uses FEniCS himself currently to compute electric fields and molecular concentration distributions.

Article submitted by Dr Drew Parsons


The development of new energy storage devices with improved performance require basic research. An alternatives to conventional lithium-ion batteries are tested worldwide in order to create the basis for next-generation and subsequent batteries. My host, Professor Fichtner’s group at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) study systems based on sodium and magnesium.

During my visit to KIT, we have developed novel synthesis method which pic 6 battery beyond lithium.jpgis at the forefront for the new materials, as the storage strongly influences the technical properties of a material. Our studies showed sodium-ion batteries could find a niche in a stationary large-scale application such as electrical grid stabilization. Subsequent to this, we also found bio-waste chicken eggshells can store energy. Using chicken eggshells as electrode not only reduces the amount of bio-waste, but also adds considerable value.

These outcomes have got some attention in the community, such as a new piece in top journal and further, received invitations from Dalton Transactions and Nanoscale Advances to include the work for the cover of issue.

Overall, trip to Europe was very successful, resulting in four high quality journals and other attentions in the academic community.


Article submitted by Dr Manickam Minakshi Sundaram


In my last contribution to the school newsletter I wrote about how staff can assist students applying for the RTP international scholarships. The closing date for that scheme has now passed and the scholarship sub-committee has the task of selecting the best 6 applicants from a field of more than 50. That does mean the success rate for applicants, and the staff that have assisted and mentored them, is rather low, around 10 %, which is less than the success rate in achieving Commonwealth Government grant funding. However, that competitive ratio also means that the quality of the applicants is very high and that is generally good news for our School. The School also has 4 RTP domestic scholarships to award and application for those close on 30th October.

A ruling by the Research Degrees and Scholarships Committee (RDSC) late last year changed the requirements for completing Ph.D. degrees to include presentation of a ‘completion seminar’. A completion seminar, and the associated question time, is expected to occupy an hour and to mimic the format that doctoral graduates will encounter at conferences and colloquia. It is meant to be longer than the confirmation of candidature (CoC) seminar and give space for the project and its conclusions to be fully expounded. I must admit that I agreed with the RDSC conclusion that seminar presentation is an art-form that is critical to the success of our graduates in their chosen fields and that making candidates organise their project results into a seminar format was a valuable exercise. It has doubled my seminar attendance load at one stroke but I have been favourably impressed with the variety and quality of the work presented.

I also wanted to remind staff and research students that our School will again be conducting its research poster competition this year. This competition relies on students formulating their research projects in a single A3 poster that ‘catches the eye’, explains the project or aspects of it, and provides some results from the practical investigations. The Dean is again offering cash prizes for the best poster in each of the School’s four disciplines. In addition, a successful prize winner gets the award noted on their academic transcript. The poster doesn’t have to have been displayed at a conference and can be made specifically for this competition. If you are supervising research students, or are a research student, then please consider taking the time to put your research into this common format. Entries will be accepted up until the beginning of December.

Article submitted by Dr David Ralph


RACI Heads of Chemistry (HOCs) meeting was held this year at Curtin University and was attended by David Henry as the Murdoch representative. A broad agenda was prepared for the meeting by RACI President elect Vicki Gardiner and host Professor Mark Buntine.

The opening presentation was given by Nathan Curnow from the Australian Science Teachers Association (ASTA). Nathan described the growing challenges faced by teachers including the differences in interpretation of the National Curriculum adopted by each state, the expectation of teaching STEM soft skills, the design thinking process making sciences more like engineering and the challenges posed by the expectations of Generation Z.

Professor Martina Stenzel provided an update on the activities of the Australian Academy of Science National Chemistry Committee and their engagement with Government, IUPAC, SAGE etc. One of the current projects is the development of activities for the International Year of the Periodic Table, which include a Lecture Series on the Chemistry of Elements and a Photo competition.

Professor Muthupandian Ashokkumar reported on the ARC Industry Transformation Training Centre (ITTC). One of the programmes offered by the ITTC is the Master of Science Industrial Research that includes a research project placement in Chemical Industry, including the availability of 2 year scholarships. President Gardiner then coordinated a workshop on the Decadal Plan for Chemistry, with separate groups focussing on 1. Big Questions/Challenges in Chemistry, 2. ERA Impact and Engagement, 3. Working with Industry 4. Diversity and 5. Secondary to Tertiary Transition.

There were also discussions about Chemical Store Management, Risk Assessments in Undergraduate Labs and Accreditation. Professor Sue Thomas (ARC CEO) gave an update on ARC funding and outcomes. This was followed by a presentation from Dr Barney Jones from WesCEF/CSBP outlining the graduate attributes that industry are seeking. The final presentation was from Anna Ahveninen (RACI) on the International Young Chemists Network and the opportunities available for post-graduate students and ECRs. If anyone in SEIT would like further information about any of the items discussed at RACI HOCs please contact David Henry (

Article submitted by Dr David Henry