Enabling a sustainable World

03/04
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Designing Smarter Technologies

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Advancing Society and Culture

Deakin supports one of the world’s most prestigious environmental and marine science research programs. Our ecologists are helping to protect Australia’s vulnerable flora and fauna from disease, rapid development and climate change.

Detailed research is enlarging understanding of Australia’s parrots, turtles, kangaroos, and many other animal and plant species – and building complex knowledge about their interconnectedness.

Marine researchers have developed the purpose-built research vessel “Yolla” – which houses the most advanced sonar system in the world – and have created a detailed continuous map of sea floor habitats of the entire coast of Victoria. This data is playing a key role in supporting fishery and conservation management of the state’s marine environments.

The global aquaculture industry is also being supported by our nutritionists, who are investigating the effect of farmed fish diets on human nutrition – of crucial significance, given the global shortage of appropriate fish food.

In the agricultural sphere, a team of experts is focussing on designing smarter technologies to solve productivity problems. In consultation with farmers, scientists are developing sophisticated lab-on-a-chip technology to optimise livestock health. Water management advice is also being provided to farmers and rural planners across the nation and internationally, as countries seek new responses to population growth and climate change.

At the international level, researchers at the newly-expanded TERI-Deakin Nanobiotechnology Research Centre in India are working with their colleagues in Australia to develop solutions to global issues such as food security for growing populations in changing climates, sustainable agricultural practices and environmental sustainability.

Diversity helps combat parrot virus
Deakin researchers have discovered that the genetic diversity of Australian parrots affects their chances of contracting a common but deadly virus, and also how much of the virus they harbour. Beak and Feather Disease Virus (BFDV) is thought to affect all of Australia’s parrot species, but new research from Deakin
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Secrets of desert waterbirds revealed
Researchers have used satellites and surveys from light aircraft to unveil the unique breeding behaviour of an Australian waterbird. New Deakin University research shows a threatened species of Australian waterbird will fly thousands of kilometres to lay eggs equivalent to half their body weight in a bid to capitalise on
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Success stories for sea turtles
New research points to signs of recovery in global sea turtle populations thanks to long-term conservation efforts. New Deakin University research, completed in partnership with Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece, has found a greater trend towards increases in sea turtle population size globally, as well as some worrying population
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Body size matters in battle against extinction
New research has shown that extinction risk is the greatest for the world’s smallest and largest vertebrates, but for very different reasons.  The results of an international study into the relationship between body size and extinction risk have practical implications for animal conservation, according to a Deakin University researcher. By
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Baw Baw frog charms researchers in battle against extinction
Scientists are racing against time to save Victoria’s unique Baw Baw frog – facing extinction from a fungus threatening a third of Australia’s frog species. The Baw Baw frog (Philoria frosti) might be the colour of mud and have an unusual croak, but it is a very special Victorian frog,
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Hi-tech to highlight nature
New technology will help visitors to Victoria’s parks get the most out of their experience. A trip to one of Victoria’s national parks may give people a different definition of “fog” as Deakin University researchers work with Parks Victoria to trial a new way of providing visitor information using Fog
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Powering up energy research
The appointment of Dr Adrian Panow as Director, Deakin Energy, marks a new phase in Deakin’s commitment to the energy sector. Deakin has become the first Australian university to take a university-wide approach to energy research activities. “The Deakin Energy initiative acknowledges that the contemporary challenges in energy are multifaceted,”
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Big picture for marine data
A new online portal will give researchers access to valuable data collections about Victoria’s seafloor and coastal ecosystems. Deakin University is leading a collaborative project to collate marine data that might otherwise be lost to the scientific community, and archive it in an accessible form. The Victorian Marine Habitat Mapping
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Plastic bag ban not as simple as it seems
A Deakin expert on waste management has called for further research into the pros and cons of banning plastic supermarket bags. The recent decision by Coles and Woolworths to phase out single-use plastic shopping bags over the next twelve months has drawn both praise and criticism. However, waste management expert
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Lab variations impact animal research
How much do test results vary between different laboratories, and how much does it matter? It turns out that, “Quite a lot” is the answer to both questions. In the world of medicine, much effort and expense is invested in standardising measurements across labs to ensure accurate diagnosis. After all,
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Bridging the divide
Could increased collaboration between scientific disciplines help overcome immense challenges facing the world? Climate change. Habitat and biodiversity loss. Food and water security. The burden of disease. According to the recently established Deakin University Science and Society Network (SSN), these global challenges are interconnected. Solving them will require the breaking
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Dingoes to the rescue?
Could dingoes be the answer to controlling the havoc red foxes wreak on native and domestic animal populations? Dingoes are a polarising force in Australian society, viewed as both victim and villain. The introduced red fox, however, has few friends among native animals or farmers. Now, the first study to
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Bird calls lead to fame
Reciting Dr Seuss and imitating bird calls has led to national recognition for a Deakin behavioural ecologist. Onstage at the national finals of FameLab in May, Andrew Katsis, a PhD student with Deakin University’s Centre for Integrative Ecology had only one prop – a replica of the tiny egg of
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Turning plastic into fantastic
Asking, “What can we do with what we already have?” led to an answer that may solve some major problems for the developing world. A photo of an idyllic tropical beach polluted with plastic bags and bottles triggered an innovative project to recycle plastic rubbish into plumbing and sanitation parts
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Shining the spotlight on sustainability
A Deakin University researcher’s advocacy for sustainable agriculture and climate change action has led to an award for environmental leadership. As the 2015 Young Farmer of the Year and 2017 NSW Finalist for Young Australian of the Year, Anika Molesworth is passionate about sustainable farming, natural resource management and climate
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Prime Ministers open expanded TERI-Deakin Nanobiotech Centre
New facilities in India will help researchers tackle problems of global significance. Research into global challenges around food security and sustainable agriculture has received a boost, thanks to an expansion of the world’s first dedicated nanobiotechnology research centre, opened in India on 9 April, 2017. The new facility, a partnership
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Are we re-domesticating the wolf?
A new paper examines how the reliance of large predators on human-provided food impacts on ecosystems, human-wildlife interactions and the genetic diversity of predator populations. Around the world, large predators, such as grey wolves and bears, are reoccupying their former habitats. However, in their absence, the environment has often been
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Satellite and drone data improve farm cropping
Scientists are drawing on high-tech data to help farmers increase their yields. Over the past 18 months, high-resolution agricultural data has been more readily available in Australia, thanks to a significant increase in the use of drones. Associate Professor John Hornbuckle, from Deakin University’s Centre for Regional and Rural Futures
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Tidal marshes exposed as massive carbon sinks
Australian tidal marshes have been found to contribute $37M annually in organic carbon storage. For the first time, a dollar figure has been placed on the carbon storage (sequestration) value of Australia’s tidal marshes. Ecologist Dr Peter Macreadie, from Deakin University’s Centre for Integrative Ecology (CIE) and Director of Blue
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Teabags to aid battle against climate change
Scientists are calling on citizen scientists around the world and the humble teabag in the battle against climate change. A team from Deakin University’s Blue Carbon Lab has launched a new project that will use Lipton tea bags as a tool to measure how well global wetlands are storing carbon.
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Bigger not always better for birds
New research has found that the larger a bird’s bill, the longer they spend trying to snuggle it in against the cold. A Deakin University study examining the “backrest” behaviour of shorebirds has discovered that birds with bigger bills exhibit the behaviour more, and over longer periods of time. Ecologist
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Researchers optimistic after megafauna dig
The ‘buckets of bones’ discovered at Lancefield, north of Melbourne, will offer clues to the cause of Australia’s megafauna extinction. Having captured the popular imagination, Australian megafauna such as giant kangaroos, wombats and marsupial lions, which once wandered Australia’s plains and forests, are equally intriguing to scientists. These giant marsupials raise
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Bird data leads to new findings
Ongoing research into the “fantastic phenomenon” of shorebird migration has revealed surprising information about the birds’ parenting habits. On King Island in the middle of Bass Strait, Professor Marcel Klaassen, Director of Deakin University’s Centre for Integrative Ecology (CIE), is patiently catching shorebirds and removing tiny geolocator devices from their
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Feral cats cause havoc on Australian wildlife
Managing feral cats needs to be a priority for the sake of our wildlife, says a Deakin ecologist. Researchers at Deakin University are calling for improved management of feral cats, due to the damage they are causing Australian wildlife. Dr Tim Doherty, a Research Fellow from Deakin’s Centre for Integrative
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Farming for the future
A Deakin PhD researcher is working hard on ways to lift crop yields, and farmers’ livelihoods. Young Farmer of the Year Anika Molesworth, who was recently announced as a finalist for the NSW Young Australian of the Year, is passionate about sustainable agriculture and helping agribusiness adjust to climate change.
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New avenue for international research collaboration
Deakin’s Cotutelle program is offering PhD students the opportunity to expand their horizons. Deakin University PhD students looking to expand their international networks and research collaborations can now study at Deakin and an overseas institution. A new arrangement will provide joint supervision and the opportunity to earn a doctoral degree
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Saving the ocean’s sentinels
A new crowdfunding campaign seeks to put the complex microbial world of penguins and the part it plays in penguin health, nutrition and physiology under the microscope. Penguins are the among the A-listers of wildlife celebrities, attracting thousands of viewers to their nightly parades from water’s edge to their nests
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Nobel laureate lays out the facts on climate
Eminent US climate scientist Dr Russell Schnell has shared his climate data at a Deakin lecture. With a large inflated globe in one hand and tee shirt giveaways in the other, climate scientist and Nobel Peace Prize Co-recipient Dr Russell Schnell has painted a concerning picture of the challenges facing
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Invasive predators: major cause of extinctions
Deakin ecologists have revealed the massive damage caused by invasive mammalian predators around the globe. Non-native rats pose far more danger to wildlife than just spreading disease. New Deakin University research shows they are high on a list of invasive mammalian predators that have contributed to more than half the
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Food poisoning: researchers take aim at chicken pathogen
An industry grant will allow medical researchers to work on reducing the risk of food poisoning. Over four million Australians suffer from food poisoning each year, with the Campylobacter pathogen responsible for over a quarter of these cases. There are many sources of Campylobacter, with a key source being raw
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The air we breathe is not what it used to be
Eminent climate scientist, Dr Russell Schnell, will deliver a lecture at Waurn Ponds. The Nobel Prize recipient Dr Russell Schnell is set to visit Deakin University, where he will deliver a lecture at the Waurn Ponds campus. Dr Schnell is Deputy Director of the Global Monitoring Division of the National
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Baby, it’s hot out here! Bird parents prepare embryos for future heat
Birds call to their embryos during incubation to warn them about hot temperatures outside the egg, according to new Deakin research. In a paper published in the latest edition of Science, researchers from Deakin’s Centre for Integrative Ecology (CIE), within the School of Life and Environmental Sciences, revealed how the
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Deakin researchers call for regional rethink
Given the population explosion predicted for Melbourne, its time for smarter use of Regional Victoria, claim Deakin experts. Melbourne’s population is predicted to double from four million to around eight million by 2050, outstripping Sydney by 2030. Yet Deakin experts claim that Regional Victoria has been largely left out of
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Researchers seek true value of ocean wealth
Deakin researchers are seeking to put a value on southern Australia’s underwater habitats, as part of the Global Mapping Ocean Wealth Program. Initiated in 2014, the project has come to Australia for the first time, with researchers to investigate the wealth of waters in Port Phillip Bay, Westernport Bay and coastal areas
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Fuelling a greener tomorrow
A rare form of bacteria collected from a hot spring in a Himalayan cave is offering hope for a cleaner planet. A Deakin University microbiologist, Nisha Singh, undertook a challenging trek to such a remote location to pursue her dream of finding a way to efficiently produce biofuel in India
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Machines learn to count wildlife
A Deakin IT research team is helping Parks Victoria to track wildlife and improve park management. In a time of increasing environmental vulnerability, technology is coming to the aid of Victoria’s wildlife. In an innovative project, Deakin University researchers are developing technology that will provide more useful data than ever
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Bearded dragons can change their spots
Bearded dragon lizards can change the colour of different body parts for different functions. A breakthrough in the study of bearded dragon lizards has progressed the study of many lizard species. Researchers have discovered that the lizards can both respond to temperature variations and send each other social signals –
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Top recognition for Deakin researcher
Marine scientist Dr Peter Macreadie may well be one of the busiest researchers in the country. When the latest round of Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage Program funding was announced, Dr Peter Macreadie’s name was on three of the successful Linkage Projects. In recent months, he has also received the
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Climate change is bad news for birds
Warming temperatures in the Arctic are compounding problems for migratory birds. Migratory birds may face reduced survival rates at one end of their journey, as a result of changing climate at the other end, according to new research. Scientists from Deakin’s Centre for Integrative Ecology (CIE) collaborated with researchers from
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Adapting to future landscapes
A group of Deakin researchers is helping farmers work with climate change. Anticipating and managing the effects of higher temperatures, less rainfall and more extreme weather conditions is vital for the future of Victoria’s agricultural sector. Led by Associate Professor of Climate Change Adaption Robert Faggian, a team of researchers
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Natural antibodies could save Tassie devils
Deakin scientists may have found a way to halt the cancer killing Tasmanian devils. Tasmanian devils could already hold the solution to the cancer that has devastated wild populations of the iconic species in the past 20 years – natural antibodies found in the marsupial’s immune system. Dr Beata Ujvari,
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Citizen scientists add to knowledge about bird behaviour
Deakin researchers have gained the biggest ever birds-eye view of Australian backyards, offering a fascinating insight into the variety, number and even size of avian wildlife drinking and washing in bird baths across the country. Research Fellow with Deakin’s Centre for Integrative Ecology (CIE) within the School of Life and
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Golden age for tracking marine life
Advances in technology mean the underwater world can be better monitored than ever before. A team of 40 scientists from around the world has developed a roadmap for future research of the world’s marine life that makes the best use of tracking technology. The project’s lead researcher, Alfred Deakin Professor
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Blue Carbon Lab targets climate change
A new research lab will focus on preserving coastal ecosystems and mitigating climate change. Life for environmental research field workers is undoubtedly extremely satisfying, but it also requires stamina and hardiness. Led by Deakin’s dynamic marine scientist Dr Peter Macreadie, researchers from the new “Blue Carbon Lab” have traversed the
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‘Drowned Apostles’ discovered near 12 Apostles
Limestone columns have been found on the ocean floor six kilometres from the coast. Australia's iconic tourist attraction, the Twelve Apostles, has received an unlikely boost in numbers, with the discovery of five extra limestone columns hidden deep below the water. The sea stacks, located 6km offshore from the Twelve
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Starlings offer clue to human diseases
Rapid evolution in WA starlings could throw light on human mitochondrial diseases. Deakin University and UNSW Australia researchers have made a rare observation of rapid evolution in action in the wild. They have documented the spread of a newly-arisen genetic mutation in invasive starlings, which could shed light on mitochondrial
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New CeRRF Director reaffirms industry focus
The Maslovian saying “if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail” is perhaps the antithesis of David Halliwell’s approach in his role as the new Director of Deakin’s Centre for Regional and Rural Futures (CeRRF). “We are multidisciplinary and we have the flexibility to look at
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Salmon research worth its salt
Deakin has signed a new research agreement with Australia’s largest Atlantic salmon producer, Tassal Operations, to improve the welfare and survival of thousands of salmon that are transferred from freshwater hatcheries every year to sea cages. The Tasmanian-based company is committed to improving the welfare and survival of salmon during
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Penguins work together, but only so far
Little penguins stalk their prey in groups, but when it comes to catching and killing them, it’s every bird for themselves, new research by Deakin ecologists has shown. The study, from Deakin’s Centre for Integrative Ecology, within the School of Life and Environmental Sciences, is the next stage of research
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Emily Nicholson – an inspiring woman
On encountering a career brick wall, when seeking to progress her career and care for three young sons, Deakin conservation scientist Dr Emily Nicholson made the discovery that reframing her achievements could provide a way forward. Taking a scientific approach to her problem, she realised that reporting her productivity metrics
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Institute and Strategic Research Centre Directors
Enabling a sustainable World

Prof Xungai Wang

Director, Institute For Frontier Materials
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Prof Marcel Klaassen

Director, Centre for Integrative Ecology
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Dr David Halliwell

Director, Centre for Regional and Rural Futures
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Prof Colin Barrow

Director, Centre for Chemistry and Biotechnology
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