VLS Announcements 035 - 1 May 2015

Dear Colleagues,

Welcome to issue 035 of our weekly announcements.

Congratulations are in order for the winners of the 2015 Vice Chancellor's Excellence in Research Awards. There were three categories in research and the School of Veterinary and Life Sciences have been successful in each three of these categories. Furthermore, Dr Andrew Currie who has been recognised for his outstanding contribution to learning and teaching; receiving the Vice Chancellor’s Citation for Excellence in Enhancing Learning 2015. This is a great result and I offer my personal congratulations to Trish Fleming, David Pethick, Charlotte Oskam and Andrew Currie. It is great to see that you have been commended for your commitment and hard work in research and teaching.

The awards are:

  • 2015 Vice Chancellor's Excellence in Research Awards for Outstanding Research Development (Associate Professor Trish Fleming)
  • 2015 Vice Chancellor's Excellence in Research Awards for Distinguished and Sustained Achievement (Professor David Pethick)
  • 2015 Vice Chancellor's in Research Awards for Early Career Development and Achievement (Dr Charlotte Oskam)
  • 2015 2015 Vice Chancellor's Citation for Excellence in Enhancing Learning 2015 (Dr Andrew Currie)


David Hampson

Submissions for the announcements can be made by emailing Sarah Gillett by COB each Friday for publication the following Friday.

Note: items that require action are now marked with a red flag for action.   Click on [Expand All/Collapse All] below to view the entire stories.

Teaching and Research News [Expand All] | [Collapse All]

  • Australian tobacco research - Smokin ' - Message from Steve Wylie, Senior Research Associate: Plant Virology, Bioinformatics, Ecosystem Metagenomics 

    Species of Australian tobacco had an important role in Aboriginal culture. It was called Pituri and valued for the same reasons people smoke tobacco today. One Australian species, Nicotiana benthamiana, is used in science labs internationally as a universal host for plant viruses. It was always a puzzle why N. benthamiana was so susceptible to viruses. How did it survive in the wild when extreme susceptibility to virus infection is like riding the bullet train to extinction? Only one accession of N. benthamiana has been available to scientists for 70 years. Drs Hua Li and Steve Wylie collected specimens of N. benthamiana from wild populations in widely separate locations across northern WA to see if they differed from the lab accession. Plants were collected from sites ranging from beaches near Karratha to the summits of large inland mountains. There were many differences between populations, the most significant being that all wild plants tested differed in an important gene for virus susceptibility, the RDR1 gene. The lab strain has a mutated RDR1 gene, making it respond with more severe symptoms to some virus infections, while the wild plants have a functional RDR1 and respond with mild symptoms. We now know the lab strain of N. benthamiana is unusually susceptible to viruses because of a mutation the wild populations don’t have.

    Sir Walter Murdoch Distinguished Adjunct Professor Marilyn Roossinck was a collaborator on this project, and collection and subsequent research was funded by MU under the Distinguished Adjunct Professor Scheme. As a result of this research, Murdoch now holds the largest collection of Australian Nicotiana species in the world, which will be a valuable resource for science. Amongst the collection are plants with high drought, heat, and salt tolerances, traits of interest to plant breeders adapting crops to climate change. This research was published in PLos One and is available here.

    35 - 150405 Boodie Cave N bentamiana PC 06.JPG

    Image: Nicotiana benthamiana plants growing in a cave entrance on Barrow Island, Pilbara.

  • Whiteboard in PG Suite - ECL1.031 and ECL2.301 - Message from Leandra Corich, Space and Timetabling Officer | Murdoch University

    Hi Everyone,

    We have been advised that the glass board that is used as a whiteboard in both ECL1.031 and ECL2.031 can be cleaned with a ‘Magic Sponge’.

    Please advise all staff who use these two venues that glass boards need to be cleaned with a Magic Sponge. The sponges can be purchased via the University’s preferred supplier, Staples. The magic sponges may also be very useful for standard whiteboards.

    Thank you

    Leandra Corich

    Space and Timetabling Officer | Murdoch University
    Campus & Facilities Management Office | South Street, Murdoch WA 6150
    Tel +618 9360 7396

  • Attention Unit Coordinators - Late submission of SX Grades - Message from John Bailey  for action

    Attention Unit Co-ordinators if you haven't already done so, please update in any procedural documentation you might have within the School regarding submission of results.

    Submission dates for Semester 1 results are as follows -

    • Units with no exams 24 June 2015
    • Units with exams up to Wednesday 24 June 201529 June 2015
    • Units with exams after Wednesday 24 June 20152 July 2015

    Further information is available on the Submission of Unit Results web page at

    Many thanks


    Peter Furzer
    Associate Director | Student Registry | Academic Registrar's Office
    Phone 08 9360 2510


  • Ignition (entrepreneurial) Program 2015 – Fully Funded Scholarship - Message from Rolee Kumar, Business Relationship Development Manager, Research and Development Office

    The Office of Research and Development (R&D) at Murdoch University is offering two Attendance Scholarships each worth $2,350 each for Murdoch academics/ researchers and/or students at Masters or PhD level to attend Ignition Program.

    The Attendance Scholarships will allow researchers to develop skills that will be useful in their future careers and will provide the opportunity for them to develop a commercial opportunity from their current area of research, as well as introducing them to a network of contacts that can help progress the opportunity. Ignition Program is open to anyone with a business idea, research project or early stage business venture that could become a high growth business
    An information session will be held at Murdoch University on Ignition and Accelerating Commercialisation Programs. Accelerating Commercialisation is a program to assist Australian entrepreneurs, researchers, inventors, start-ups, address the challenges associated with commercialising novel intellectual property in the form of new products, processes and/or services.

    When: Monday 4th of May 2015
    Time: 4:00-5:00pm
    Where: Nash Room at Club Murdoch
    RSVP: To register please email Rolee Kumar

    Ignition Program is an intensive 5½-day (23-28th of August 2015) education program for aspiring entrepreneurs, academics and corporate innovators to trial and prepare their opportunities for the commercial environment.

    Applicants must be prepared to commit one full week of their time to an intensive and results-focused program. Fluency in spoken and written English is essential.

    Scholarship Applications are judged on their individual merit based on the following eligibility criteria:

    • The applicant is currently a Murdoch academic/researcher or a Murdoch Research student at Master or PhD level,
    • The novelty of your business/idea/innovation,
    • The market potential and uniqueness of your proposal.

    Award of scholarship places made based on the written information provided in the application form. Apply online at:, please state your staff/student number and school within your application.
    Scholarships are limited to one per opportunity, and terms and conditions apply.

    Closing date for Scholarships is July 17th 2015.

    Rolee Kumar
    Business Relationship Development Manager
    Research and Development Office
    Murdoch University South Street Murdoch, WA 6150
    Email: Tel: (+61 8) 9360 2076 Mob: 0408 931 675

Staff News and Events [Expand All] | [Collapse All]

  • Welcome Kiara Roche to the position of Receptionist/Administrative Assistant - Message from Katherine Cresey

    35 - Kiara Roche.jpg We are pleased to announce that Kiara Roche has recently been appointed to the Reception/Administrative Assistant role in VLS. Kiara started with us this week and will be based in the Biological Sciences Reception area. Please join us in welcoming Kiara, she is a great addition to our VLS team.

  • Vet Trust Changes - Message from Peter Irwin

    The Veterinary Trust has recently undergone some changes to its administration that will mean they can spend more time raising funds for the health and welfare of animals.

    In December 2014, the individual trustees of the Vet Trust retired and appointed M.U.F.T. Company Pty Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of Murdoch University, as the new sole corporate trustee for the Vet Trust. The board of the new trustee company currently has nine directors who are highly regarded professionals, business leaders, community members, executive level University staff, and also two retired Vet Trust trustees.

    The ex-trustees of the Vet Trust have been appointed as members of the newly formed Murdoch University Veterinary Trust Advisory Board. This ensures the veterinary professionals, community members, and staff who support the work of the Trust can concentrate on raising funds for the programs and projects that benefit the health and welfare of the animals we all care about.

  • Vet Gazette - Message from Peter Irwin

    The Vet Gazette is a newsletter sent out two to three times a year to keep the supporters of the Veterinary Trust and the College of Veterinary Medicine informed of what’s been happening at the Trust, the Hospital and in the College. The latest edition can be found at:

    We would love to hear from you if you have any news items you think might be of interest to our supporters. An interesting case? An innovative student initiative? A feel good story?

    Contact the Vet Trust by email at or pop in to our office for a chat.

  • New Staff in the Vet Trust - Message from Peter Irwin

    As many of you will have heard, we say farewell to Ellaine Hislop this week after four years as the Executive Officer of the Veterinary Trust. I would like to acknowledge the tremendous dedication she has given to this important role and thank her for guiding the Trust through some challenging times in recent years. With Ellaine leaving the Vet Trust at the end of this week, we welcome Margo Darbyshire to the role of Executive Officer of the Vet Trust. Margo will be in the role from Monday 4th May. 

  • State Dressage Championships - Message from Annemarie Cullimore, The Equine Centre, Veterinary Hospital 

    The Equine Centre and Veterinary Hospital recently sponsored the rug for the winning rider of the Novice championship class at the State Dressage Championships held this weekend at the State Equestrian Centre. It was great to have Murdoch University, The Equine Centre and the Veterinary Hospital represented at such a prestigious equestrian event.

    35 - State Dressage Championships Stand 2.JPG

    35 - State Dressage Championships Rug.JPG

  • Special Guest Lecture by Assoc Prof Chris Guppy ‘Subsoils and CT: investigating root responses to nutrients’ - Message from Wendy Vance

    Soil Science Australia, West Australian branch invites you to join us for a Special Guest Lecture by Ass Prof Chris Guppy ‘Subsoils and CT: investigating root responses to nutrients’

    With the recognition that surface soil sampling tells only a fraction of the story with respect to plant nutrient responses, identifying how and where nutrients are recovered by crop species is increasingly important. This talk will cover research at UNE into root responses to patches of N, P K and S using computed tomography scanning and what that means for varietal selection for growers and soil sampling strategies.

    Please see the flyer for more details.

    Date : Friday May 15th
    Time : 3 pm
    Location : Murdoch University, South st Campus, Biological Sciences lecture theatre (BSLT) (building reference number 29 in this link to the campus map )
    Parking : Paid parking in car parks 2, 3 and 4

    Enquires: or

  • 2014 Vice Chancellor's Commendation for Academic Excellence Awards - Message from Keryn Hagarty, Events & Sponsorships Coordinator

    These prestigious awards are presented to students who are placed in the top two per cent enrolled in a Bachelor Degree and who have achieved a minimum of 15 credit points of High Distinction within the review period.

    In recognition of the recipients outstanding achievement there will be an award presentation ceremony on Tuesday, 5 May 2015 at 7pm held at the Esplanade Hotel, Fremantle.

    We encourage all staff to attend, and would appreciate if you could pass this message onto your staff.

    Please see here the recipient list for 2014 for your reference. Please note students in green have RSVP’d yes to the event, red are not attending and white are yet to RSVP.

    Should you have any questions regarding these awards, or to RSVP to attend the event, please don't hesitate to get in touch with Keryn Hagarty, Events & Sponsorships Coordinator
    on or 9360 6253.

Seminars, Conferences and Workshops [Expand All] | [Collapse All]

  • Seminar - Practices and current issues in visitor management of Finnish protected areas - Message from Karen Olkowski

    'Practices and current issues in visitor management of Finnish protected areas'
    Wednesday 13th May, 12.30pm-1.30pm
    Biological Sciences Lecture Theatre (BSLT)
    Presenter: Miisa Pietilä

    Miisa’s seminar will introduce the visitor management practices that are applied to sustain the fragile Nordic environment and to deliver quality experiences to protected area visitors in Finland. She will also demonstrate how the role of recreation and tourism has increased in Finnish protected areas, especially its national parks. Additionally, the seminar will discuss current management issues such as promoting and monitoring parks' health benefits, branding national parks as tourism destinations, as well as utilising Public Participation GIS methods to support park management.

    Miisa Pietilä is a doctoral student at the University of Oulu in the Department of Geography. She is specialized in Public Participation GIS (PPGIS) methods and her research focuses on developing best practices of using PPGIS methods to promote visitor management of natural areas. Miisa is visiting Murdoch as a research scholar for three months under the auspices of Professor Sue Moore’s Nature Based Tourism Research Group.

  • Austrade Alumni event to be held in Berlin - Message from Carol Ghandour

    Please find here flyer for an upcoming Austrade Alumni event to be held in Berlin.

    Anyone who may be interested can get in touch with me directly and I will be happy to find out further information about the event.

    I will also be sending brochures and collateral to ensure Murdoch has a presence at the mini-fair regardless if anyone is able to attend.

    Kind regards


    Carol Ghandour
    Regional Manager, Europe & the Americas | External Engagement | Academic Registrar's Office
    Phone +61 8 9360 7624

    Murdoch University, 90 South Street, MURDOCH WA 6150

VLS Announcements No. 035