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.

Social isolation can quicken tumour growth
Degree of social interaction can determine how quickly a cancerous tumour grows, according to a world-first study tracking stomach cancer in fruit flies. A team of researchers from Australia, France and Spain has used fruit flies to track how cancerous tumours grow in insects in isolation, compared with those kept
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Citizens and drones come to coastal rescue
Deakin University is training its own army of citizen scientists to monitor the effects of climate change on Victorian coastlines.  In their efforts to map coastline, marine researchers of the past had to undertake painstaking and tedious work in often treacherous conditions. Obtaining a clear view of reef structures through
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How are rising sea temperatures stunting fish growth?
Deakin’s new Australian Research Council Future Fellow Dr Timothy Clark is set to investigate one of the most profound issues facing global fish populations. Eco-physiologist and Future Fellow Dr Timothy Clark is preparing to explore why fish species and other aquatic organisms are becoming less able to achieve large sizes
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Mussels reveal secrets of reproductive ‘chemistry’
In relationships, “chemistry” is usually that “special something”, but Deakin chemists are on the brink of understanding the real chemistry of attraction in mussels. Surprisingly, this will have implications not only for aquaculture, but for animal husbandry and assisted human reproduction. With his theory that sexual selection was unlikely to
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The pros and cons of rabbit removal
Ridding Australia’s landscape of rabbits could have mixed results for our native species, says a recent study. The removal of rabbits could be good or bad for Australia’s native species depending on how many rabbits are removed and for how long, according to research from Deakin University’s Centre for Integrative
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Australia must learn from China on environment

Developed nations like Australia can learn from China in reaching global sustainability goals, according to the first comprehensive study on the effectiveness of China’s world-leading environmental investment. The study, published in “Nature,” reviewed China’s response to a national land-system sustainability emergency, where hundreds of billions of dollars were poured in
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Victoria’s inland wetlands store $6 billion in carbon stocks
A Deakin University study has revealed the scale of the role of wetlands in carbon storage. Victoria’s inland wetlands lock away the annual emissions of 185,000 people, or roughly the population of Geelong, according to the state’s first tally of the valuable environmental resource. The tally, which came to three
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Turning water from foe to friend
As one in 100 year floods become more like one in ten, or one in five year events, blue-green infrastructure could help reduce the impact of flooding on our environment and economy. The aftermath of floods can be devastating for the environment, the economy and livelihoods. In 2017, Deakin University
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Industry collaboration targets turbines
Carbon fibre composites are set to improve the performance of wind turbines and benefit the local and global renewable energy sector. Deakin University is partnering with leading wind energy solution provider Vestas, to improve the compressive strength of carbon fibre composite materials for wind turbines. Deakin Carbon Nexus Director Derek
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Joint effort on water
Citizen scientists are tracking the effect of environmental flows from a decommissioned reservoir near Victoria’s Great Ocean Road, under the guidance of researchers from Deakin and Barwon Water. Local conservation groups and interested individuals are working with Deakin University and Victoria's largest regional urban water corporation, Barwon Water, to quantify
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Plover parents play favourites
The idea of daddy’s girls and mummy’s boys might just translate to the animal kingdom, according to new research. Researchers from Deakin University’s Centre for Integrative Ecology (CIE) have found that amongst a species of Australian shorebird fathers spend more time caring for their daughters, while mother plovers are more
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Melbourne’s urban fringe: bandicoots find a niche
Endangered bandicoots are thriving in parts of Melbourne’s fringe, according to a surprising new study from Deakin University. Scientists from Deakin’s Centre for Integrative Ecology set up traps to monitor numbers of southern brown bandicoots in parts of residential and farm land between Koo Wee Rup and Bunyip, south-east of
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Virus discovery in Australian wild birds
A GCEID team has discovered coronaviruses in Australia’s wild birds, showing the nation is not as isolated from potentially serious host-jumping virus outbreaks as previously thought. A team of researchers, led by the Geelong Centre for Emerging Infectious Diseases (GCEID), has discovered that two different types of coronaviruses are present
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Cancer risk for inbred organisms: study
Inbreeding could lead to increased rates of cancer, putting both humans and endangered animals at risk, according to a review led by researchers at Deakin’s Centre for Integrative Ecology. The impact of inbreeding on the emergence and progression of diseases such as cancer has been previously overlooked, according to Deakin
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Finding Nemo’s genome
In a world-first, Deakin scientists have sequenced the clownfish genome, allowing them to identify and study genes connected to the species’ most intriguing characteristics, including its ability to change sex. While the Disney Pixar movie ‘Finding Nemo’ catapulted the endearing clownfish into the public imagination, scientists have long been interested
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Global nature conservation indicators missing the mark
New Deakin research has set out a roadmap for global conservation efforts, arguing that while the world is in the grips of a biodiversity extinction crisis, international targets to address the problem aren’t addressing the main influences – government and society. The research, published today in the journal ‘Nature Ecology
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Deakin to host Anthropocene Campus 2018
Australia’s first Anthropocene Campus will bring cutting-edge, cross-disciplinary thought to bear on ways for humanity to address the challenges facing the planet. Coined in the 2000s, the term “the Anthropocene” refers to the geological period after the industrial revolution, where “the human species has emerged as a geological force now
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Sea urchin cull helps restore kelp forests
A Deakin team of ecologists are working with colleagues and citizen scientists to re-establish kelp canopies in Port Phillip Bay. The destructive purple sea urchins responsible for a 90 per cent reduction of the kelp in Port Phillip Bay’s marine sanctuaries are being removed as part of a trial cull
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Collaboration reviews energy use
A new Deakin-industry collaboration is set to help one of south-west Victoria’s major industries become more energy efficient. Rising energy bills are an issue for all businesses, and one of Warrnambool’s biggest employers is taking steps towards reducing its energy costs, which have almost doubled in recent years. Meat processor
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Devils adapting to disease
Tasmanian devils are learning to live with the cancer epidemic that has decimated their population. The deadly devil facial tumour disease (DFTD) affecting Tasmanian devils has triggered evolutionary responses in the species which may help them to coexist with the cancer, new research has found. Researchers from Australia and France
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Fire: dingo’s friend but fox’s foe
Fire and dingoes could be the dynamic duo that hold the key to helping stop destructive foxes in Victoria's Big Desert region. New research published in the 'Journal of Applied Ecology' has investigated how fire management could help control feral pests such as foxes in a semi-arid environment. Deakin University
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Antarctic program builds women science leaders
Deakin geochemist Dr Ellen Moon has been selected to visit the Antarctic for a Homeward Bound leadership program for women scientists. Deakin University’s Dr Ellen Moon is well prepared for the icy blasts she’ll encounter over a three-week visit to the Antarctic from 15 February. Dr Moon is one of
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Finding water solutions: nature’s way
Floating reed beds are being trialled as a means of reducing the amount of waste-water nutrients discharged into inland waterways, in an innovative project with Wannon Water. As excess nutrients from human activities cause increasing stress to our river and lake systems, a Deakin University researcher has teamed up with
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Defining collapse – step forward for ecosystems
A team of researchers has created a four-step guide for defining ecosystem collapse, to improve resource management and help protect ecosystems. With over 1,100 islands once dotting its waters, the Aral Sea, bordering Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, was one of the four largest lakes in the world. It no longer exists.
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Link between disease and migrant animals questioned
Migratory animals are often blamed for the global spread of diseases, but new Deakin University research has shown their role may be less significant than previously thought. With the rate of zoonotic diseases - pathogens that jump from animal hosts to humans - on the rise, migratory animals have been
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Unlocking the secrets of amber time capsules
Scientific analysis of fossilised tree resin has caused a rethink of Australia’s prehistoric ecosystem, potentially paving the way for recovering preserved palaeobiological artefacts from the time of dinosaurs or prehistoric mammals. In a project that could be straight out of “Jurassic Park”, scientists from Deakin University’s Institute for Frontier Materials
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Harvest from the sea
A Deakin PhD student is working with industry to investigate whether commercial aquaculture of seaweed in Port Phillip Bay is possible. A third generation sheep and cattle grazier from Gippsland has turned her sights to a different type of farming, working with the Victorian Shellfish Hatchery in Queenscliff, along with
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Brown the new green in Australian conservation
Threatened ecosystems considered by the public to be dry, brown and ugly are having their conservation value overlooked in favour of greener, wet forests, according to new Deakin research. Researchers from Deakin University’s School of Life and Environmental Sciences are concerned a mismatch between conservation goals and human preferences could
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Nanobiotech conference fosters collaboration
Nanobiotechnology and its uses in sustainable agriculture will be the focus of an international conference hosted by the TERI Deakin Nanobiotechnology Centre. From treating seeds with nano-fertilisers and pesticides to converting waste into biologically synthesised agrichemicals, nanobiotechnology has opened up a new world of possibilities in sustainable agriculture. These possibilities,
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Time is running out to save the planet, scientists warn
15,000 scientists from around the world have co-signed an article highlighting the urgent actions that must be taken to avoid irreversible harm to the Earth. In 1992, more than 1500 concerned scientists, including a majority of the world’s living Nobel Laureates, united to sign the World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity,
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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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In their own words – Dr Alecia Bellgrove
“The lungs of the earth and a national treasure.” Is Dr Alecia Bellgrove really talking about the brown, slimy stuff left on the sand after high tide? In Australia, they’re most often associated with sushi or something that spoils a nice day at the beach, but Deakin University’s Dr Alecia
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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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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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