Celebrating our Southern Cross academic stars
Message from the Vice Chancellor
As Christmas drew close last year, I wrote to the University in order to announce the names of all of those colleagues who had been successful in the 2022 academic promotion round.
As we begin 2023, I am delighted to share with you this special edition of Southern Cross Matters. As you will see, it is given over entirely to providing profiles of each of these colleagues and the ongoing contributions that they are making to the University. I hope that you find this material enjoyable, informative and inspiring, and look forward to working together with you throughout the year ahead as we continue to revolutionise our approach to education and drive research with real impact.
Professor Tyrone Carlin
Professor Tobias Kretzschmar
Professor Tobias Kretzschmar is a Professor specialised in Plant Science. Tobias was awarded his Doctorate of Natural Sciences (PhD equivalent) from the University of Zurich. As a Plant Breeding and Genetics lead at Southern Cross University, Tobias is involved in project management and hands-on implementation of a range of pre-breeding, genetic resource management and breeding activities of plantation and high value arable crops. Previously, Tobias was affiliated with the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the Philippines.
At Southern Cross University, Dr Kretzschmar’s main research interests focus on the intersect of basic and applied science and the linking of academia with industry, ensuring that research outputs have impact on the region’s agricultural productivity. While his research is still interested in rice, he is now working on a variety of arable and horticultural crops. He currently leads ARC Linkage projects on black rice and hempseed, a CRC-P on Cannabis and manages Agrifutures-funded projects on coffee and tea tree.
Professor Christian Sanders
Discovering habitats that sequester carbon and reducing chemical pollutants to our oceans.
Whether exploring coastal wetlands around the world or studying differing types of pollutants being discharged into our marine systems, Dr Christian Sanders' research is both globally and locally significant. Christian scans the globe looking for regions that naturally bury large amounts of carbon, from the remote mangroves along the Amazon coastline to the highly impacted saltmarsh habitats in Asia. He also works closely with the Coffs Harbour community on developing strategies to help mitigate pollutant runoff into our oceans, important for the health of Australian protected marine parks.
Associate Professor Kathomi Gatwiri
Associate Professor Kathomi Gatwiri is an ARC DECRA Fellow at the Centre for Children & Young People (CCYP), Associate Professor in the Faculty of Health at Southern Cross University, President of the Australian Women & Gender Studies Association and a practising psychotherapist. Kathomi is one of Australia’s leading Afro-diasporic scholars whose award-winning interdisciplinary research investigates the intersecting topics of racial trauma, belonging, blackness, and migranthood. Since being awarded her PhD in 2017, she has attracted over $1,000,000 in competitive research funding and published over 70 traditional and Non-traditional research outputs including the books African Womanhood and Incontinent Bodies and Afrodiasporic Identities in Australia.
Kathomi Gatwiri has received numerous awards for excellence in research and community service including a Vice-Chancellor’s award in research excellence and outstanding community impact (2022), a Vice Chancellor Early Career Researcher Award for outstanding research achievement (2019) and Community Impact Award as “Kenyan of the year” (2017). As a community leader, she is the Founder and Director of Healing Together, a service that provides accessible, culturally sensitive therapeutic support for people impacted by racial trauma.
Associate Professor Chris Stevens
Dr Chris Stevens is one of Australia's leading young researchers in exercise and sport science having twice been named Exercise & Sports Science Australia's best young researcher. Chris' research interests include improving all aspects of sports performance and specifically the areas of exercise physiology and thermoregulation. His current research projects investigate practical acclimation and cooling strategies to maximise endurance performance in the heat and separately, novel strategies to monitor illness, improve sleep and augment the negative effects of overseas travel in professional athletes. Chris has received research grants from Exercise & Sports Science Australia and the NSW Ministry of Health.
Senior Lecturer David Abrego
Dr David Abrego is a marine ecologist with over a decade of experience in reef-building corals and their microalgal symbionts. He is particularly interested in research that advances insights into how corals and the reefs they build may adapt to warming oceans. He works in both tropical and subtropical systems.
Senior Lecturer Ali Reza Alaei
Advancing artificial intelligence (AI) based technologies to empower people.
Senior Lecturer in IT Dr Alaei is known for his research work on document image analysis and recognition, human visual system modelling, biometrics and Big Data mining (sentiment analysis). He has worked on several multi-disciplinary research projects, such as Big Data Analysis for Opinion Mining, Document Image Retrieval, and Writer Identification and Detection from Handwritten Documents to enable different stakeholders to use cutting-edge technologies in order to understand people's opinions on their services and products and facilitate digital communication. He has published more than 60 high-quality papers in reputed international journals and peer-reviewed conferences. His current research focus is to use machine learning and computer vision technologies to understand food characteristics and predict/model natural disasters to mitigate their risks on our communities.
Dr Alaei is also an Academic Integrity Officer and the Associate Editor of Springer Nature Computer Science Journal.
Senior Lecturer Zac Crowley-McHattan
Dr Zac Crowley-McHattan is a passionate, experienced and well-rounded lecturer and researcher with more than a decade of service to Southern Cross University. Through his roles as Sport and Exercise Science course coordinator, Deputy Director of Higher Degrees Research (Faculty of Health) and a member of the Human Research Ethics Committee, he is able to pursue his passion of fostering positive pedagogical and research experiences for all students and staff at the University.
Zac’s research broadly covers many aspects of sport and exercise science, from applied training practices to basic mechanistic investigations of neuromuscular changes with ageing and exercise. His primary area of research however, is in neuromuscular stimulation techniques and cross-education, where he aims to improve the implementation and effectiveness of such interventions in clinical practice.
Senior Lecturer Erika Kerruish
Dr Erika Kerruish is a researcher and lecturer in the Faculty of Arts, Business and Law at Southern Cross University. Her research is at the intersection of continental philosophy and computational technologies and examines questions of affect and perception in digital culture.
She is also a co-editor of the journal Transformations: A Journal of Media and Culture.
Senior Lecturer Johanna Nieuwoudt
Supporting students to their full potential.
Dr Johanna Nieuwoudt is a passionate and experienced unit assessor and tutor in both award (e.g. diplomas) and non-award courses (e.g. Preparing for Success Program) in SCU College. She specialises in pathway curriculum design and delivery of award and non-award units to achieve quality learning outcomes for students in high school (Year 12), enabling courses, diplomas and bachelor courses. Johanna is currently the Coordinator of the High Schools Pathways program, focusing on increasing pathways into Southern Cross University for Year 11 and Year 12 students. Her current research interests include factors related to students’ academic success and retention.
Senior Lecturer Sharen Nisbet
Preparing students for the world of work.
Dr Sharen Nisbet is a teaching scholar within the management discipline. Her expertise is in work-integrated learning and learning design, delivery and evaluation. A particular focus is on developing authentic learning activities that help students build the competencies needed to transition from study to work. Sharen’s recent research output is focused on this scholarship. Sharen is the current MBA Course Coordinator and in that role works to build positive relationships with a diverse range of external partners and stakeholders that enhance the reputation of Southern Cross University and our students in the community.
Sharen was a recipient of a Southern Cross University Teaching Excellence Award 2021.
Senior Lecturer Gregory P Smith
Dr Gregory P Smith is a passionate social researcher and advocate for social disadvantage in Australian society. He lectures in sociology and politics within the Social Sciences and is the current Chair of the Faculty Board for Business, Law and Arts. Gregory was commissioned in 2019 to provide a qualitative evaluation of the NSW Premier's Priority Pilot Project into an assertive outreach program with an objective of ending rough sleeping by 2030. He is a Director of the End Street Sleeping Collaboration with a special interest in Lived Expertise and Out of Home Care outcomes for children transitioning out of care and adults who have experienced care historically.
Gregory was also a participant in developing the global award winning By Names List designed to reduce re-traumatisation when applying for specialist service provision for socially vulnerable people. He is also a member of CareSource USA.
Senior Lecturer Aaron Thornton
Yes, Southern Cross University has its own mathemagician. Dr Aaron Thornton teaches our core mathematics units and applies mathematical modelling to a range of activities including carbon accounting in the circular economy, optimisation of waste-to-fertiliser processes and engineering biological-chemical technologies for extreme environments. He is a Project Lead for the ReCirculator program and has experience leading the development of technologies from concept to commercialisation.
Senior Lecturer Mustafa Ucgul
Assisting the Australian grains industry and agricultural machinery manufacturers.
Dr Mustafa Ucgul is a mechanical engineer with a strong interest in computational mechanics and its applications in agricultural machinery design. With 17 years of research experience in the Turkish and Australian contexts, a major component of his research has focused on the discrete element method simulations of engaging soil tools, the design of mechanical systems and thermal analysis of agricultural greenhouses and desalination systems. His Doctorate specialization was in the field of discrete element modelling of soil-sweep tool interaction and, since then, he has undertaken research activities in several GRDC, DPIRD and other industry-linked projects.
Lecturer Megan Kelly
Dr Megan Kelly is especially interested in developing pre-service teachers' skills around the implementation of effective pedagogies to engage all students in the classroom. She completed her PhD in the Faculty of Education in 2022, with a focus on teacher pedagogy and student engagement.
Megan is an experienced educator and has taught in universities, secondary schools and as a specialist teacher in primary schools, both in Australia and abroad.
Lecturer Kayleen Wood
Dr Kayleen Wood is particularly interested in technology-enhanced, curriculum development for student engagement with learning in blended models. The current global situation has revealed a plethora of learning and teaching challenges, however these have also been opportunities for educators and designers such as Kayleen, who were already designing for, delivering in and assessing using digital learning platforms.
Her research and area of expertise is the design, implementation and measurement of technical threshold concepts in a gamification curriculum. More broadly, she seeks out opportunities to work within a team which enables peer observation of teaching, mentoring and curriculum development and review, as well as collegial and content conversations and collaborative research opportunities.