VLS Announcements 71 - 22 January 2016

Dear Colleagues,

Welcome to issue 71 of our weekly announcements.

Kind regards

Phil Nicholls

Acting Dean

Submissions for the announcements can be made by emailing Emma Thorp  by COB each Tuesday for publication on Friday.

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

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

  • Supervisors Enhancement Workshops (SEW)

    The next series of Supervisor Enhancement Workshops will be presented on:

    Tuesday, 16th February, 2016 (9am -12) in the Murdoch Business Building, Learning Link Rooms LL1.002/LL1.003; and Thursday, 18th February, 2016 (9am -12) in the Murdoch Business Building, Learning Link Rooms LL1.002/LL1.003

    In order to meet research training educational standards expectations under a range of national mandated and best practise policies, the Research Degrees and Scholarships Committee (RDSC) of the university has approved the implementation of a compulsory supervisor professional development program (don’t be alarmed – it is one 3-hour workshop once every 4 years) as part of the requirements for academic staff to be listed on the approved register of supervisors.

    The attached document provides details of the background to development of the Workshop program, and identifies how it will be rolled out over the next few years.

    As per the roll-out information in the attached document, we require academic staff in your School who fall in to the first cohort for Workshop completion - i.e. all staff who are not eligible to act as a Principal Supervisor, and have not been required to complete the EPS (Enhancing Postgraduate Supervision) program - to attend a workshop session this year if they wish to continue to be eligible to supervise graduate research degree students. We encourage all academic staff who have not completed EPS within the last 4 years (or are not currently undertaking EPS) to attend a workshop as soon as possible so that they are fully informed about current policy, procedures and issues relating to GRD supervision. If you are unable to attend these workshops in February, further workshops will be held later in 2016 (dates to be confirmed).

    There are places left for both the February, 16th and February 18th workshops.

     Staff should contact , Karen Richardson ( to register for the –
    16th February SEW workshop by 5 p.m. on Monday 15th February, 2016; and
    18th February SEW workshop by 5 p.m. on Wednesday 17th February, 2016.

  • Modeling could predict future bushfire danger

    An article by Rob Payne in Science Network WA highlights how models could predict future bushfires.

    AS SOUTH West residents count the cost of last week’s devastating bushfires Murdoch University scientists are working on a model to help predict future bushfire threats in the region.

    The work’s aim is to inform preparation and help assess the risks of catastrophes such as the Yarloop tragedy in which two elderly men died and 143 properties were razed. “Using state-of-the-art regional climate models, we are investigating future changes in fire weather by focusing on the key contributing climate factors, which are temperature, rainfall, wind speed and relative humidity,” researcher Alyce Sala-Tenna says.

    The end result will be bushfire risk ratings projected over time consistent with the McArthur Forest Fire Danger Index—the same index WA’s Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) currently uses to produce daily Fire Danger Ratings in regional WA. “We’re aiming that our work can show how bushfires are going to change and get a better understanding of where more frequent occurrences and intensities, longer fire seasons and shifts are likely to occur,” Ms Sala-Tenna says.

    To develop the models the Murdoch team is drawing on the Weather Research and Forecast Model (WRF) developed in America. Through WRF, they’ve downscaled global climate models from their original 100–250km resolutions to 5km grids of WA’s South West, each grid covering an area slightly larger than Kings Park.

    The grid model incorporates data from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s A2 scenario. The resulting 30-year climate simulations will assess future changes in fire weather, including the impact of flammable fuel loads. To make the whole project work, the Murdoch team is relying on the power of the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre’s petascale machine Magnus. Magnus is the most powerful supercomputer in the southern hemisphere with its processing power equivalent to six million iPads.“Our simulations require significant computing power and data storage, so without Pawsey, the research would not be possible,” Ms Sala-Tenna says.

    The research could also assist in developing effective policies on bushfire management into the future and provide agencies and the public with a better understanding of how climate change affects the natural environment. “You can never prevent bushfires—they’re part of the natural cycle and are part of how Australia has developed—but we can be better prepared,” Ms Sala-Tenna says.

    Individuals concerned about bushfires in their area can consult the DFES Map of Bush Fire Prone Areas.

  • Birdlife Australia - Black Cockatoo Update 2016

    Please see the attached Black Cockatoo research update from Birdlife Australia.

  • Badly burned horses transferred to the Murdoch University Veterinary Hospital.

    Five horses badly burned in the South West bushfires were transferred to the Murdoch University Veterinary Hospital on Tuesday for further specialised treatment.

    The injured animals, with burns to their heads, legs and bodies, received first response care from vets at Murray Veterinary Services in Coolup, about 25 kilometres west of Waroona. The intensity of their ongoing treatment, however, needs meant the major vet hospital in Perth's southern suburbs was the best care option. MVS head vet Ross Wallace said the injured horses had mainly received second degree burns with some at the milder end of third degree burns The challenge is the extensive areas of affected tissues that many of the horses have suffered," he said. "The nature of burns is that what you see now can also get a lot worse before it gets better."

    Doctor Wallace said that eight of the injured horses were caught at Logues Brook Dam at Cookernup while the other two were cornered on the scarp behind Yarloop. The equine specialist said they had decided to share the workload with Murdoch because of the treatment needs. "These wounds need to be cleaned and dressed every day; there's a tremendous amount of ongoing care required," he said. MVS has four full-time vets and five nurses who operate out of a purpose-built equine hospital and offer a wide range of horse-related services.

    Doctor Wallace believed the prognosis for most of the horses was good with a couple requiring close ongoing observation. "It's going to be a long recovery for all of them," he said. The horses were assessed by the Murdoch hospital's equine specialists after their 100 kilometre road trip. The veterinary hospital has been approached for comment on the horses' treatment schedule.

    Murdoch nurse manager Yvonne Markey said the hospital was also available to see other animals affected by the bushfires either from the public or affected clinics that might need support. "People concerned about the animal victims of the bushfires in Western Australia's south west can also donate supplies and items to the hospital," she said.

    "Veterinary clinics are welcome to donate veterinary supplies and the public can donate general items, like pet food, bedding and blankets."

    Items needed include:

    • Medications used for burns treatment and wound management – Flamazine, gauze, wrap and bandaging material, IV fluids, Viscotears, sorbolene cream, sterile saline
    • Chux wipes and alcohol rub handwash, hand wipes
    • Scissors, tape, marker pens, temporary identification tags
    • Towels, bedding, blankets, horse coats/blankets, newspapers
    • Pet carriers/ cat cages and plastic tubs for relocation of wildlife
    • Honey, bottled water and water bottles for guinea pigs and rabbits
    • Food for animals including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, rabbits, horses
    • Bowls – plastic or metal, large containers for food and water
    • Kitty litter trays and kitty litter
    • Dog leads and harnesses, horse harnesses/halters and lead ropes
    • Hay nets, fly nets
    • Dog and cat toys
    • To read more about donating - see here

    Monetary donations should be directed to the Lord Mayor's Distress Relief Fund here.

    Meanwhile, the RSPCA WA chief inspector Amanda Swift and her support team of inspectors are in location in bushfire-affected areas.

    "We urge anyone who requires assistance with companion and equine animals to contact us," she said.

    If you have sighted any stray or wandering animals, contact the RSPCA WA on 1300 278 3589.

    Read more:

     See the 9 News bulletin here -

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

  • Welcome our new Anatomic Pathologist - message from Dr Nahiid Stephens

    Mandy O’Hara and I would like to welcome our new anatomic pathologist Dr Audra Walsh.

    Audra is a Murdoch alumnus and she joins us following an anatomic pathology residency at University of Pennsylvania, USA, and work at a private diagnostic laboratory on the eastern seaboard of Australia. Audra is a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Pathologists. Audra can be found in her office VBS 2.010 (ext: 2112) and can be reached at: We’re really happy to have her join our team – please join us in making her feel welcome.
  • New Director appointments to Professional Services

    In late December 2015, two new key appointments were confirmed in the leadership team for Professional Services.

    The first of these appointments is a new University Librarian. Susan Ashcroft has been appointed to the role and is looking forward to leading the Library during an exciting period of re-investment, with a focus on enhancing the student and staff experience. Susan’s significant experience across Library sectors, including academic and public libraries in WA and overseas will be invaluable to Murdoch.

    A new Director, Information Technology Services has also been appointed. Michael Grant is leaving his role as Deputy Chief Information Officer at the University of Western Australia to take up this role with Murdoch on 8 February 2016. Michael senior leadership roles in the tertiary sector, and commercial and resources sectors in Perth provide a strong background for leadership of Murdoch’s technology platform and strategy.

    Please join me in welcoming both Susan and Michael to the Murdoch team as we move positively into 2016.

VLS Announcements No. 71