Delivering solutions to global security challenges

Murdoch University delivers multidisciplinary translational research with real-life impact, leading the way across a wide range of research fields with relevance to the international defence sector.

Murdoch has a wide range of defence-related research expertise across disciplines including strategic policy, human physical and cognitive performance, engineering and IT applications, biosecurity and One Health.

We place high value on long-term partnerships and seek collaborations with communities, industries and government in achieving long-term goals. We are a member of the Team WA group of universities that coordinate on defence research activities.

Our capabilities

Our defence research capabilities reflect our strengths in biosecurity and One Health, cyber security and machine learning, human performance and health sciences, engineering and water management, and political, economic and social sciences.

Mitigating risk from infection and transfer of invasive species during military and humanitarian relief operations is a focus of our team. Military forces are constantly moving large volumes of equipment, personnel and associated kit across international borders.

As a result, defence forces are one of the most important sectors responsible for unintentional movement of biological organisms, including exposure of ADF personnel to new pathogens and parasites. This impacts on operational readiness whilst equipment is cleaned; occupational health and safety issues around the use of de-infestation treatments; the down-time associated with illness; and compliance with government regulatory agencies responsible for biosecurity.

Murdoch has world leading status in delivering Biosecurity and One Health outcomes for animal, plant and human populations. We collaborate with United Nations, regional, national, and state authorities as well as industry bodies on biosecurity frameworks and surveillance systems. Our work with defence includes advice on Biosecurity and One Health risks, developing cost effective intervention strategies to prevent, eliminate or mitigate impacts to military personnel and infrastructure, and to Australians.

Murdoch has broad capabilities in AI/Machine Learning assessment and evaluation of images, sound and natural language. Additionally, recent investments in network steganography – the art of hiding information in network protocols, has resulted in a strong cybersecurity team:

  • Characterisation and classification of existing covert channels
  • Research into previously unknown covert channels in existing and future network protocols and applications
  • Countermeasures for eliminating, limiting or detecting covert channels.

Murdoch has developed a wide range of capabilities for aerial and underwater unmanned vehicles. Our physical assets include one of the largest drone fleets in an Australian higher education institution with established facilities suitable for certification by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA). Aerial drones are fitted with a range of optical and hyper spectral imaging facilities with industry partners.

Additionally, linkages with Information Technology and Computing provide bespoke control systems, automation and on-board Machine Learning image processing for intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and detection of threats.

Murdoch hosts the Australian National Phenome Centre – a global leader in metabolic phenotyping that characterises the interactions between the genome of an individual and the environment to provide a precise analysis of current functional status.

The outcomes will be applied to precision nutrition, precision medicine and optimising therapeutic interventions with specific application to Defence priorities around medical countermeasures and human performance.

Murdoch has a unique perceptual and exercise laboratory facility, the MindBody Lab, to explore and advance human physical and cognitive performance. Our researchers collaborate with a range of partners in maritime defence, air traffic control, elite sport, forensics, and the police to understand how stress and performance can be adapted to optimise critical decision making. Our current research includes:

  • advanced evaluation of human performance using physiological, biomechanical, biochemical and psychological techniques to measure and enhance capacity
  • perceptual-cognitive (decision making) expertise and skill learning including the acquisition and measurement of “expertise” for cognitive tasks
  • understanding the mechanisms associated with perception of pain.

Neuroplasticity Research Laboratory conducts non-invasive measurements of neural activity in response to stimuli and evaluates how recovery can be enhanced with applications to recovery from physical and cognitive trauma such as PTSD and Acquired Brain Disorders.

Through the Asia Research Centre, Murdoch has extensive capability to analyse conflicts from the national to the international level, across the dimensions of politics, economics, environmental resources, ethnicity, religion, and culture.

Understanding the causes and consequences of conflict underpins the effectiveness of Australia’s public and private policymakers across the region. Given the unprecedented population growth across Asia, policies that will ensure healthy, sustainable and equitable societies are a particular focus.

Additionally, we question how security priorities are determined, how new modes of security governance emerge, and their implications for social and political rights, poverty, and environmental degradation.

Research in the surface analysis and materials engineering research group is focused on hard and super-hard coatings, thermal-mechanical properties of composite materials, and nanomaterials including:

  • electronic structure effects on mechanical properties
  • changes in surface structures at high temperature
  • development of new fabrication facilities for super hard coatings
  • the mechanical stability of thin film coatings at high temperatures
  • nanoscale surface structures.

Murdoch hosted the National Centre of Excellence in Desalination, focused on water and waste water management and treatment. Our current expertise is in:

  • desalination and recycling innovation and implementation
  • heavy metal/metalloid release and removal
  • decentralised and off-grid water and sanitation systems
  • zero waste discharge water treatment systems.

Defence Industry Security Program

The Defence Industry Security Program (DISP) assists in securing Department of Defence (Defence) capabilities through strengthened security practices in partnership with industry. It enhances Defence’s ability to manage risk in evolving security environments.

Murdoch University is a member of DISP which is managed by the Defence Industry Security Office. A component of the DISP assurance program is all staff undertaking Annual Security Awareness Training, setting the benchmark for security across the university.


Member of

Team WA group of universities

Defence Science Partnership

Defence Industry Security Program

Key contacts

André deSouza

Defence Research Director

Prof. Peter Eastwood

Chief Security Officer

Alasdair Macdonald

Security Officer

Defence enquiries