Southern Cross Matters
From the Vice Chancellor
Professor Tyrone Carlin, Vice Chancellor and President
By any measure, 2022 has been an extraordinary year. As we approach its end, perhaps wondering what surprises 2023 may yield, I hope that everyone at the University will reflect with pride on what we have done together these past twelve months, and the spirit in which we have done it.
We have often reflected together as a University community on the profoundly challenging circumstances in which we have come together to change lives through education and research, and I know that none of us will ever forget the experience of confronting the enduring cruelty visited on our community by this year’s unprecedented flooding.
Yet we have seen beyond adversity and through our hard work, passion and commitment to a vision of serving a greater good, we are constantly improving and achieving remarkable things. Each of us has a proprietorial stake in this journey of progress. We are building a better future through clarity as to our purpose and by committing to a set of values that will fortify our culture for the ongoing benefit of each of us and for those we serve.
This month’s edition of Southern Cross Matters captures our energy, optimism and momentum as a University in a very engaging and compelling way, and I hope that you enjoy reading it as much as I have.
I offer to each of you my very sincere thanks for all of your hard work in 2022 and the hope that in coming weeks you very much enjoy an opportunity for a well-deserved break with friends and family. I am enormously optimistic as to what we can accomplish together in 2023.
From left to right: Director of the Living Lab Northern Rivers Dan Etheridge, Vice President (Engagement) Ben Roche, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research and Academic Capability) Professor Mary Spongberg and UTS Dean Professor Elizabeth Mossop
A flood-affected shopfront in the Lismore CBD has become an exhibition space and inspiring HQ for the Living Lab Northern Rivers, which launched with a bang last month.
The project is a collaboration between Southern Cross, University of Technology Sydney and the Northern Rivers Reconstruction Corporation.
With the expert guidance of Professor Mary Spongberg, Vice President (Engagement) Ben Roche, UTS Dean Professor Elizabeth Mossop and Southern Cross graduate Dan Etheridge, the Lab is sure to involve dozens of colleagues already working on flood mitigation and recovery projects.
Alumnus Dan Etheridge, who is also the Director of the Living Lab Northern Rivers, moved to New Orleans after graduating from Southern Cross’ Applied Science in Coastal Management program in 2002. It was not the first time for Dan in the birthplace of jazz, as he had spent a semester there as part of a Southern Cross exchange program.
Over his time in the US and after working at Tulane University and Tulane School of Architecture, for ten years Dan helped direct a community design centre founded to support resident driven recovery and rebuilding programs after Hurricane Katrina.
"It feels great to return to Southern Cross and put all the experience I've had in the interim to use in such an exciting project. We've had an incredible response to the Living Lab and I am hopeful it will bring concrete results for our flood-affected communities," said Dan.
The Living Lab brings together global expertise, as well as all levels of government, communities, industry and educational institutions, to provide a testing ground for solutions to complex issues facing flood-prone regions and cities like Lismore.
From the shopfront in Woodlark St, Lismore (open Tuesdays-Thursdays from 1-4pm), the Living Lab promises regular outreach across the region and opportunities for the community to share their ideas. There will also be information sessions on resilient building and design, exhibitions of global best-practice and community engagement.
Learn more and sign up to the newsletter here.
Dr Lachlan Forsyth, Director of the Centre for Teaching and Learning, presenting at the 2022 Scholarship of Learning and Teaching Symposium
The 2022 Scholarship of Learning and Teaching Symposium couldn’t have been held at a better time. As the University prepares to deliver every course under the Southern Cross Model in 2023, with early data revealing positive outcomes for students and staff, this year’s symposium was naturally focused on ‘The Southern Cross Model: Exploring Immersive and Engaging Learning’.
More than 60 Southern Cross colleagues from across all Faculties and Colleges shared their teaching and learning practice with peers in what was the University’s third online professional learning event.
Over three days presenters openly shared their experiences, scholarly lessons, achievements, risk-taking, creative approaches, challenges, and solutions with attendees.
“This year’s Symposium again showcased Southern Cross’ rich and diverse contribution to the scholarship of learning and teaching. With engagement from all Faculties and Colleges - and from both academic and professional staff, it was clearly evident how far we’ve come in our collective work on the Southern Cross Model, and the areas in which we will continue to improve. What struck me the most in the presentations was our colleagues’ commitment to an outstanding learning experience for all our students,” said Professor Erica Wilson,
Pro Vice Chancellor (Academic Innovation).
As Faculties and Colleges are at various stages of Southern Cross Model implementation, attendees had the opportunity to hear from colleagues who have been teaching in the Model and also from colleagues who are about to start teaching in 2023.
“This year’s edition presented such a diversity of scholarly approaches and activities associated with our Southern Cross Model. We know that people look forward to it every year as it’s an opportunity to share their experiences, strategies and ideas with their peers, in a collegial and welcoming space,” said Dr Lachlan Forsyth, Director of the Centre for Teaching and Learning.
As part of the celebrations from the many high calibre presentations, a number of awards were presented from the Symposium Steering Group members and from peers.
The award recipients for 2022 are:
Best contribution award – decided by Steering Group: (two for 2022)
- ‘Inclusive learning in the SC Model: The importance of embedding Indigenous knowledge in the curriculum’: Dr Johanna Nieuwoudt, SCU College.
- ‘Developing a Teaching Presence rubric’: Dr Patrick Gillett from Faculty of Business, Law and Arts, Tina van Eyk from Centre for Teaching and Learning, Kylie Day from Gnibi College of Indigenous Australian Peoples, Dr Carolyn Seton from Faculty of Science and Engineering, and Patrick Bruck from Faculty of Education.
Highly commendable award – decided by Steering Group:
- ‘Accessibility in the Southern Cross Model’: Shelley Odewahn from Student Care and Support, Toni Ledgerwood from Centre for Teaching and Learning, Associate Professor Adele Wessell from Faculty of Business, Law and Arts, and Dr Mieke Witsel from Centre for Teaching and Learning.
Most thought-provoking contribution – decided by popular vote:
- ‘Mathematical synergies toward numeracy and the implications for the SC Model’: Dr Christos Markopoulos, Dr Lewes Peddell and Patrick Bruck from Faculty of Education.
Pre-recorded video contributions – decided by popular vote:
- ‘Maximising teacher-student partnerships under the SC Model: Student ratings of audio and written feedback’: Dr John Haw, Dr Sharen Nisbet, Dr Patrick Gillett, and Rita Duval from Faculty of Business, Law and Arts.
MS Teams Greenhouse contribution
- Dr Elizabeth Emmanuel - Faculty of Health.
The recordings are available here.
Ann-Maree Wilkinson, Student Experience Assistant
Ann-Maree Wilkinson is a familiar face to many at the University, and especially to our students who have seen her light up orientation and campus activities for many years. Ann-Maree is also the driving force behind the Student Excellence Awards, which recently celebrated a 14th edition.
Ann-Maree’s involvement with the University goes back even further however, back before the University was even called Southern Cross.
She arrived in 1991, fresh from a stint as a cultural and recreation coordinator with a student union in Melbourne. “I was just going travelling really and then I ended up in Byron Bay and it was a place that really spoke to me. It just felt right,” she recalls. “I spotted an ad in the Northern Star, a small ad for a casual activities officer and I thought, what are the chances? It’s such a specific role in a university. I remember driving over in the torrential rain and walking through the car park, saturated. But I did the interview and started casually and then it went from there. 32 years later and I’m almost a local!”
There have been many changes over the last three decades and Ann-Maree has seen first-hand the benefits of a vibrant campus life. “There’s so much to uni life that happens outside the classroom. I know lots of people who say to me, I met my partner on placement or in a uni sports team or something like that. That side of uni where it’s about connection is really important,” she said.
“Student-focused stuff is what I really enjoy. I just soak it up, the youthful energy and their inspiration. Because that's why we are here. We wouldn't be here if it wasn't for students.”
A group of business and hotel management students during their trip to Singapore
It’s a good thing that our Gold Coast campus is located next to the airport because international travel is back for staff and students! Our students had their passports stamped in Singapore and Japan as part of international study tours in October.
The Singapore trip was open to business and hotel management students and was part of the New Colombo Plan Mobility Program. Students visited a broad range of tourism organisations to learn about their operations while also undertaking cultural and language training.
But it wasn’t all work and no play. There were also plenty of opportunities to explore with students taking part in a tour of Singapore, watching the light show at Marina Bay, a tour of Chinatown and Changi, a visit to Singapore Zoo and classes in Asian cuisine culture and Peranakan history.
Adjunct Senior Lecturer at the Faculty of Business, Law and Arts, Paul Weeks said the trip allowed students to immerse in the culture and business operations of another country.
“The program is aimed at building confidence in intercultural business communications as well as promoting and expanding student awareness and respect for cultural and social diversity and the opportunities for networking and employment,” Mr Weeks said.
The cultural awareness and learning continued in Tokyo where a group of science students attended the Sakura Science Program in Japan. The program aims to support development of students who have the potential to contribute to innovation in science and technology in collaboration with a Japanese university.
Students visited Tokyo City University to learn about applied chemistry practical training and experiments as well as conducting data analysis. The study tour also included a tour of the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation.
Course Coordinator for the Bachelor of Science Dr Lachlan Yee said it was a great experience for the students.
“Tokyo City University were fantastic hosts. They really made us feel welcome but also challenged the students,” Lachlan said.
“We were in the laboratory for about two-and-a-half days doing practicals. The students also got to present which I thought was a fantastic format because it meant the students did the work diligently and in a professional capacity.
“Part of the program is to really enrich cultural interaction too. We had some traditional Japanese meals and one of the professors came out and cooked okonomiyaki (Japanese omelette) on a hot plate in front of us. We went and did karaoke on the second last night.
“We were the first Australian university to partake in the program. Japan only opened up to international tourists again about 11 days before we left which was really fortunate.”
Live Ideas workshop (Theme Rains, Founder of Synthesis Organics, on the left and moderator Ashleigh Camm, Facilitator at Sourdough Business Pathways, on the right)
The adage ‘from little things big things grow’ couldn’t be truer for Southern Cross University’s Live Ideas, which has relaunched with ambitious plans to foster innovation for local businesses, schools, our researchers and the wider community.
Combining elements of the historic brand, while absorbing what was previously known as the Enterprise Lab, Live Ideas is setting the foundations to deepen engagement and activate innovation within our local communities.
“We started playing with the idea of relaunching Live Ideas about 18 months ago, as we were looking for a way to unify the University’s innovation-focused outreach activities under one banner,” said Innovation Projects Manager Rhianna Poole.
“It’s been an exciting process to see that idea evolve from brainstorming sessions and sketches to a now fully established and active sub-brand for the University.”
Live Ideas will boost innovation and entrepreneurship in the community by providing a number of programs and resources designed to help industry and community activate their ideas and create positive change for impact. The project is funded by the NSW Government’s Boosting Business Innovation Program.
We kicked off with a bang this month with Live Idea’s first event, a workshop on innovating for people, planet and profit, delivered to local business leaders. The panel included Southern Cross University entrepreneurship and innovation lecturer Dr Owen Hogan, Chief Operating Officer at ZeroCo Sandy Morrow, and Founder of Synthesis Organics Theme Rains. The event was the first of many more planned for the New Year that harness the University’s business expertise in conjunction with local business experts.
Further business workshops will be delivered as part of the Innovate Series, with plans also underway for a conference-style Impact Forum featuring a number of exciting international and national speakers, a professional development program designed to support our researchers and HDR students, and a suite of innovative resources and programs for high schools.
For Rhianna, working as part of the rebrand of Live Ideas has been an exciting professional challenge.
“I was really drawn to the creativity this opportunity presented. Being able to rebuild and redefine Live Ideas from the ground up and work with an incredible mix of stakeholders along the way has been very rewarding.
“It’s great to be delivering projects that are going to have a real impact for the Northern Rivers and Mid North Coast regions.”
But it’s not all ‘out with the old and in with the new’. As Live Ideas continues to roll out, mapping how the University engages with its innovation ecosystem, including connecting students with industry projects, will start to fill the gap left by the historic Live Ideas brand.
Find out more about Live Ideas here.
The Patterns of the Past – The Promise of Tomorrow on display at the Australian Pavilion at COP27
Scientific data doesn’t seem like your typical artistic inspiration but for media artist and Chair of Creative Arts Associate Professor Grayson Cooke, weaving together satellite imagery is like putting paint to canvas.
Grayson’s latest media artwork, The Patterns of the Past – The Promise of Tomorrow, was showcased at the 2022 United Nations COP27 Climate Change Conference in Egypt last month – the environmental activism equivalent of being hung in The Louvre.
The film uses satellite imagery from Digital Earth Australia and Digital Earth Africa to create a time-lapse of changes to wetlands, river systems and salt lakes across Australia and Africa over four years and promote climate action.
Australia and Africa were chosen for the project as they are both continents with diverse landscapes and are facing similar climate challenges including food security, access to water, desertification and coastal change.
When speaking about the creation of this film and its success, Grayson’s enthusiasm is contagious: “I was really chuffed to be invited to produce this work. It’s a huge privilege to work with this kind of material and with these data platforms,” he said.
“I love data both for the artist in me and the nerd in me, and maybe they’re the same person. I love taking scientific data and giving it a new form and frame, and making it look and sound different, giving it a story and life and emotion. And hopefully inspiring people to think and act differently in relation to the environment."
“I think satellite data is an incredible tool and it’s the product of a global multi-billion-dollar investment. But for me, at least as an artist who works with this material, I think we’re only getting half the return on our investment if satellite data isn’t taken up across disciplines and particularly across creative disciplines."
“There is so much potential for its rethinking when creative and non-scientific minds get access to it.”
View The Patterns of the Past – The Promise of Tomorrow here.
From left to right: Student ambassadors Mia Dion, Sophie Fischer, Clare Richardson and Star Maple
Maybe their names don’t ring a bell but you are probably familiar with some or even all these faces. Southern Cross student ambassadors, Mia Dion, Sophie Fischer, Clare Richardson and Star Maple have been the friendly image of the University for some years now. That phase has come to an end, but for a good reason.
Ready for the next episode of their lives, Star, Clare, Sophie and Mia will be throwing the mortarboards in the air at the upcoming December Gold Coast graduation. Four different paths await our student ambassadors, yet each of them promising.
“I’m joining a Registered Nurse Graduate Program in January at a rural referral hospital in regional NSW (NSW Health), which involves rotations in different clinical areas. I plan to work in critical care settings and one day in aeromedical retrieval throughout Australia,” said Clare, about to graduate with a Bachelor of Nursing.
“I’m beyond excited to apply my newfound knowledge in practice as I begin my career in events. I’m hoping to work in large scale events like weddings and festivals where I can become an important part of a big, busy team,” said Star, who will graduate with a Bachelor of Business in Convention and Event Management.
The future might look different for these soon-to-be-graduated students but they all share a common thought: the enriching and positive experience gained by not only studying but also working at Southern Cross.
“I have immensely enjoyed my time as a student ambassador. The University provided amazing once-in-a-lifetime opportunities that I will cherish for years to come. Working closely with Future Students was endlessly rewarding as I was able to inspire and highlight the high-quality experience of studying at Southern Cross. As an ambassador, I received excellent support and training to develop a range of invaluable skills which I will apply to my future career in nursing," affirmed Mia.
For Sophie, those years as a student ambassador have provided skills she can use in the future: “My experience as a Southern Cross ambassador has been both rewarding and enjoyable. My role has allowed me to gain valuable skills and opportunities from presenting to audiences, hosting interactive workshops with students and travelling to various parts of Queensland to promote the University to various schools. Not only has my time as an ambassador allowed me to grow professionally as a person, but it has also allowed me to form many connections and friendships from being part of a team.”
We thank Clare, Sophie, Star and Mia for their tireless work over the past few years and wish them all the best in their future endeavours.
Val Murray, Coordinator, Library Services
The honour recognises St John Ambulance volunteers who have gone above and beyond in devoting their time, effort and expertise to helping others.
Val joined St John Ambulance in 2008 as a First Aider and then progressed to First Responder. In 2017, she was promoted to Officer Grade 4 upon becoming Divisional Superintendent for the Lismore region.
Her leadership and tireless commitment proved crucial during the 2022 floods.
"When we were activated, it was 2am on 28 February and we set up at the evacuation centre in P Block," says Val. "I co-ordinated the first aid coverage on campus, doing 12 to 14-hour days for two weeks.
“For most of that time, St John provided 24/7 first aid coverage, including meeting the helicopters landing on the oval with patients. We also had teams from neighbouring divisions, from all over NSW as well as from ACT and Tasmania at the University, RFS base camp and other evacuation centres."
Val has been with Southern Cross University since 2000 and is now Coordinator (Library Services) at our Lismore campus.
She continues to love volunteering and urges others to consider joining St John Ambulance (click here).
"It is such an amazing organisation, a great way to give back to the community, to learn life-saving skills, attend amazing events and make life-long friendships."
St John Lismore Division covers an area from Byron to Maclean to Tenterfield, with volunteers on hand at school sports, fetes, local shows, sports events, campus graduations and more.
PhD graduand Scott Goddard
As a greenkeeper at Coffs Harbour Golf Club, Scott Goddard would pass Southern Cross University and wonder how he might change from one kind of course to another.
The answer came via the Preparing for Success Program (PSP), which makes university study possible for people seeking a career change or who may not have graduated high school. For Scott, it launched a journey that now finds him a PhD candidate and an example for others pondering a return to study.
Growing up on the NSW mid-coast, Scott attended Macksville High School and dreamt of a sporting career. A promising soccer player, he even undertook trials in Germany.
"It didn't work out, which was disappointing. More concerning was what I was actually going to do with my life," he says.
It was during his greenkeeping apprenticeship from 2010-14 that the notion of returning to study took hold.
"The PSP was ideal," says Scott. "It provided clear information about my options and obligations. I felt motivated and supported. I started my Bachelor of Psychological Science in 2015, graduated in 2017, and did Honours in 2018."
For his PhD, Scott investigated one of the more intriguing aspects of sporting performance – flow states – which refer to when a person becomes fully immersed in an activity, or “in the zone”. Scott monitored runners on treadmills in a laboratory setting. Importantly, the pressures and stresses of competition or specific goal-setting were removed.
"Flow states are a Holy Grail for sports psychologists, athletes and coaches, due to their association with positive subjective experiences and exceptional performances," he says.
"It raises questions about how to approach different events and being able to perform positively without experiencing unnecessary pressures or feeling let down by perceived failure."
Since finishing his PhD, Scott has remained involved with the University, including work as a research assistant.
Ella Simmons, Administration Coordinator, SCU Health Clinic
Vini Cruzat, Lecturer in Anatomy and Physiology, Faculty of Health
Atta Rasool, Research Fellow in Environment Geochemistry & Mineralogy, Faculty of Science and Engineering
Danielle Griffani, Lecturer in Engineering, Faculty of Science and Engineering
Hayley Saul, Transaction Services Officer, Financial Services
John Broomfield, Technical Lead (Data Platforms), Technology Services
Vijaya Kumari Sadasivam, Analyst Programmer, Technology Services
Duncan Fawkes, Analyst Programmer, Technology Services
Vinessa Trikeriotis, Client Services Coordinator, Student Administration Services
Isabella Herington, Student Administration Officer, Student Administration Services
Jess Scheibel, Student Administration Officer, Student Administration Services
Joanne McKay, Student Administration Officer, Student Administration Services
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From the Vice Chancellor
Professor Tyrone Carlin, Vice Chancellor and President
Last week, I had the opportunity to spend some time with colleagues from SCU College who had come together for their annual planning day.
I was delighted in particular with the way in which the team began the work of the day by reflecting on our statement of purpose as a University, and the core values that we have adopted and that will guide us as we work towards our 2030 ambitions.
Though small in number, our colleagues within SCU make an extraordinary contribution to the life of the University. They have displayed considerable innovation in learning and teaching during a tumultuous and disrupted period of time, expanded their portfolio of programs and committed deeply and authentically to incorporating evidence-led scholarship of learning and teaching into their practice.
All of this is translating into highly satisfied students who are excellently prepared for their academic journey beyond SCU College. They are a very humble and self-effacing group of colleagues and so not given over to boasting of their achievements, so it falls upon me to do a little of that on their behalf because I genuinely think that what they continue to accomplish, and the spirit with which they do it is inspirational.
As you read through the material in this month’s edition of Southern Cross Matters I think you will also find considerable inspiration. You will learn of colleagues testing their personal limits on the global stage, see the continuing evidence of the profoundly positive impact of the Southern Cross Model, feel the joy that so many of us experienced at our recent Lismore graduations and so many other things besides. We are blessed to be a part of a dynamic, energetic and passionate University and we continue to elevate the lives of so many in our communities and to improve the world around us through our revolutionary teaching and our impactful research.
Students at Gold Coast campus
The University’s new strategic plan is a bold vision for the future – with some initiatives already under way and enjoying success.
Vice Chancellor Professor Tyrone Carlin described Strategy 2030 as a statement of certainty and intent after the disruption of recent years.
With the overriding goal to change lives through revolutionary learning and research with real impact, priorities are:
- Education and Student Experience
- Research and Impact Initiatives
- Engaged Communities and Partners
- Digital Transformation
- Financial Security
- Outstanding People
- Reimagined Campus
“Strategy 2030 is a living strategy underpinned by values of excellence, trust, care, boldness and ownership,” said Professor Carlin. "In myriad conversations over many months, we have distilled a sense of our purpose, and found ways to evoke the values that will stand us in good stead as we go forward.”
This is already happening. For example, five Southern Cross University research publications featured in the latest IPCC Climate Change Report, affirming that being a small University is no detriment to achieving global influence and impact.
Also, early data from Term 1 this year offers encouraging news around learning and teaching under the revolutionary Southern Cross Model, bringing great optimism leading into 2023 and beyond.
In other initiatives, the Digital Experience Project continues to drive enhanced digital performance for our students and colleagues, while the growth of the University is reflected in a program of development, expansion and modernisation on all campuses.
Students at Lismore campus
There are 15,000 more reasons to study Business in Lismore next year.
Business is back in Lismore! We all know Lismore is a great place to study and it's more important than ever to keep our budding entrepreneurs and innovators in the region as it rebuilds. That's why we're offering a $15,000 scholarship to every student who enrols in the Bachelor of Business and Enterprise on-campus in Lismore, starting in 2023.
“This is the University’s way of saying to the Northern Rivers business community we continue to be here for you and the next generation in the revitalisation of the city of Lismore and the region,” said Professor Richard Dunford, Interim Executive Dean of the Faculty of Business, Law and Arts.
Business NSW’s hub has been located in Lismore campus A Block since the floods earlier this year. Jane Laverty, Business NSW Regional Director Northern Rivers, said the launch of the Bachelor of Business and Enterprise comes at a time when the Northern Rivers region is experiencing a turning point in its economic development.
“I am impressed with the agility and responsiveness of Southern Cross University to meet the needs of our emerging talent in this field and deliver on the demand from business to employ the best and brightest, enabling them to expand their businesses in a sustainable and innovative way,” she said.
A group of students on campus
It may be early days and still a while to go before Christmas, but we think there’s plenty of reasons for good cheer around the Southern Cross Model.
Results up to Term 3, 2022 show improved student performance and retention, which is exciting news as the University prepares to deliver every course – from Arts to Health, Engineering to Law – under the Model in 2023.
When compared to 2019 results, results up to Term 3 2022 under the Southern Cross Model show student success rates in completing units have increased on average by 16 per cent, rising from 69 to 85 per cent. Mean Grade Point Averages were also up, from 3.6 to 4.4 (where the highest rate is 7.0), while absent fail rates are down 25 per cent to 4.6 per cent. The early data also builds on positive evidence gathered during pilot programs conducted from 2019-21.
Pro Vice Chancellor (Academic Quality), Professor Thomas Roche, said the Southern Cross Model was a bold approach to education that had been purpose-built for the 21st century student.
“This early data confirms our belief that the Southern Cross Model is a better way to learn,” he said.
Bachelor of Science graduate Shimay Clark at Lismore campus
Throw the mortarboards in the air! More than 200 Lismore graduates crossed the floor over two ceremonies on Saturday 5 November. It was the first graduation in Lismore in three years due to the pandemic.
They say no one likes a bragger but we can’t help it when our students are such high achievers! A number of medals were presented at the event, including two Chancellor’s Medals to Doctor of Philosophy graduates Dr Luke Jeffrey and Dr Laura Stoltenberg, and a University Medal to Bachelor of Education (Honours) graduate, Timothy Barringham.
The breadth of the Southern Cross University community was represented by our graduates hailing from the Faculty of Health; Faculty of Education; Gnibi College of Indigenous Australian Peoples; Faculty of Business, Law and Arts; Faculty of Science and Engineering; The Hotel School; and SCU College.
Bachelor of Science graduate and Technical Assistant at the Southern Cross Analytical Research Laboratory, Shimay Clark said she is excited to jump into her career in genetic engineering.
“Wherever the opportunities are, I go. I’m excited to see what’s possible,” Shimay said.
“I particularly like working on genetic projects around endangered species. I did a bit of research on the Tasmanian Devil and looking at ways you can genetically modify it to be resistant to the facial tumour disease.”
As a former student ambassador, Shimay has transitioned from ushering families into the auditorium, to herself filing in, dressed in a gown and mortarboard.
“I used to do the tickets and the ushering of old ceremonies and I haven’t done that for three years now due to the pandemic, so it’s really nice to see graduation ceremonies come back and bring a bit more normality back to the uni.”
“Returning to normal events and programs gives a bit of hope and I think it really livens up the university community. If I’m here doing admin and seeing people playing music in the plaza, it just feels more alive.”
Our new alumni were inspired by Newton Denny Chapelle Managing Director and Principal Town Planner, Damian Chapelle and Business NSW Northern Rivers Regional Director, Jane Laverty who gave occasional addresses.
Members of the RISE Conference 2022 organising committee
Microplastics, ocean warming, mercury, dolphins and beekeeping: the 2022 RISE conference was a window into the depth, breadth and quality of postgraduate research in the Faculty of Science and Engineering.
There were plenty of opportunities for socialising and sharing the war-stories of a life in research during the two-packed days of programming at the Lismore campus. 32 students, from Honours through to doctoral-level, rose to the RISE challenge of presenting their research to peers and senior academics in the Faculty.
The conference, now in its 11th year, was organised by a dynamic group of students, comprising of: Miranda Altice, Micha Nebel, Mona Andskog, Sophia Ellis, Daven Gopalan, Parth Patel and Colleen Rodd, who said holding the event in person had been an important decision. “The last couple of years have been very challenging for researchers, with lockdowns and this year with the floods. We are now rebuilding that campus culture and it’s great to be together to do that,” she said.
Addressing the conference, Vice Chancellor, Professor Tyrone Carlin, encouraged researchers to embrace the process of academic enquiry and to never lose hope. “This is an exciting point in your journey... and you never know where this journey is going to take you. Be relaxed about that. The skills you are building along the way are so valuable – practising how to communicate your research and sharing that intellectual spark,” he said.
Lecturer Nicole Graham (left) and Partnerships Officer Jodie-Anne Mak at the Gold Coast Women in Business Fearless Females event
It is OK not to be OK. Many of us are still dealing with the mental health fallout from the pandemic.
In celebrating Mental Health Week, Southern Cross Lecturer from the Faculty of Health, Nicole Graham joined a panel discussion at the Gold Coast Women in Business: Fearless Females breakfast, to discuss mental health in times of chaos.
Whilst Mental Health Week is over, the importance of self-care is a timeless matter. For that reason, Nicole has kindly written a few words to share with colleagues:
“It is not uncommon that we sometimes feel the stress of everyday life. After all, we are amid a pandemic and going through significant changes in how we connect with people and deliver services.
The question often asked is, how do you know if it is more serious than everyday stress? To simply answer, if you are asking, it is time to discuss how you are feeling with someone. Especially if it affects elements of your daily living, such as appetite, sleep, motivation, health, or relationships.
Many of us struggle to balance a busy professional and personal life. A key ingredient to building and maintaining resilience is self-care. You must prioritise time for yourself just as you would for a meeting with your manager or a scheduled class.
I challenge you to find moments of opportunity:
- Arrive to work ten minutes earlier and find a quiet place for a meeting with yourself
- Engage in a brief mindfulness activity before attending a meeting
- Prioritise your lunch break
- Get creative with meeting spaces – do you need to be inside or could you perhaps host a walking meeting?
- Connect with someone regularly and share achievements and challenges
Mental illness does not discriminate. Southern Cross University has a wealth of health and wellness resources available at Health and Wellness.
Mary Spongberg, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research and Academic Capability)
Congratulations to Professor Mary Spongberg, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research and Academic Capability), who has been appointed to the expert working group charged with developing a new data-driven approach for Excellence in Research Australia (ERA).
Professor Spongberg will be part of a 14-member nationwide panel drawn from research, education and government. Her appointment reflects Southern Cross University’s highly regarded research outputs.
ERA is Australia’s national research assessment body and is administered by the Australian Research Council (ARC). It identifies and promotes excellence in research in Australia’s higher education institutions, through comparisons with international benchmarks.
“ERA has been a very important vehicle for driving research quality in Australia and has demonstrated that research excellence can be found across the sector. It’s great to have a regional voice on this important working group,” said Mary.
ARC Chief Executive Officer, Ms Judi Zielke PSM, will chair the expert group and said: “The ARC recognises the importance of working with experts across the higher education and research sectors, especially with the diverse range of research disciplines that ERA covers.”
The transition plan is scheduled for delivery by December 2022 for implementation in 2024-25. The working group comprises senior academics from universities around the country.
Senior Lecturer in social work Dr Kathomi Gatwiri
Senior lecturer in social work, Dr Kathomi Gatwiri has plenty to celebrate after receiving the Australian Research Council’s highly prestigious Discovery Early Career Researcher Award.
Kathomi has received a mighty $456,600 in funding to examine the challenges Black Africans face integrating into Australian society. Her research project is titled Beyond Inclusion: Belonging and Racial Dignity for Africans in Australia.
“This project is a culmination of the gap I observed within this space over many years, where African communities expressed their concerns with the ongoing negative discourses about them. The concerns moved beyond inclusion and belonging to longing for dignity within their everyday lives as Australians from a minoritised community,” said Kathomi.
An example of the negative discourses is the ‘#AfricanGangs’ social media hashtag which went viral in 2018 and prompted national debates about ‘failed multiculturalism’ and led to calls for Africans struggling to integrate within Australia to be deported.
Kathomi’s project aims to identify significant African practices that foster wellbeing, resilience and dignity. She defines racial dignity as “the immutable, unconditional worth of Black people as human beings. It is to be seen through a humanised lens and to be afforded basic respect in private and public relationships within a complex society that predominantly mistreats the Black body.”
“This DECRA research project will apply a unique and innovative Afrocentric methodology to generate a new understanding of racial dignity as key to belonging for Black Africans in Australia,” Kathomi said.
“This knowledge will be used to develop a tailored, culturally appropriate practice framework for relevant human service organisations.
“I am always excited about telling and hearing the stories of Black communities both as a researcher and as a psychotherapist. It is quite common for the stories of marginal communities to be told by others. So, in a way, this is a reclaiming process and a creation of space where we can engage with Black experiences through dignified sociological framework and cultural nuance. I hope the presence of more Afrodiasporic stories in academic literature will promote more community, healing and a sense of collective worth.”
Leah Fitzgerald at the Berlin Marathon's finish line in front of the Brandenburg Gate. Credit: Sportograf.com
Our colleagues based in Coffs Harbour might be familiar with Leah Fitzgerald, the Campus Services Manager there. What you may not know about her is that she has completed more than 20 marathons around the world, including five out of the six ‘World Marathon Majors’.
A few weeks ago, Leah travelled all the way to Europe to compete in Berlin and London, two of Europe's most renowned marathons. Not only did she come back home with a luggage full of memories, she returned with a personal best.
“It was the first time for both cities. In Berlin, nothing felt more spectacular than seeing the Brandenburg Gate and running through it to the finish line. The crowds were massive and the cheering was unbelievable, deafening. London was similar to Berlin, with its iconic landmarks towards the finish line. I ran a personal best in Berlin, with a time of 2:46:21 finishing 56th female and 3rd Australian. It was emotional and empowering. An amazing feeling.”
Leah is a mother of three beautiful children and began running when she had her second child. Running became her outlet from the world, her ‘me time’ with no interruptions.
“When my third child, Leo came along, I decided to run in a 10km race. Progressively, I continued to move up in distance, competing in a half marathon and then a full marathon. I fell in love with the sport of running, in particular marathons, and I have just continued to do them. I love a goal and something to work towards, I thrive on challenging myself physically and mentally.”
Success usually comes with effort. Leah confesses that the early mornings are the hardest part. “If I have a work commitment or a work trip, I will get up at 3am to get the training in. I am always up early, but before 5am just hurts a little more. Also, runners are famous for terrible feet, so let’s just say I won’t be getting a pedicure any time soon.”
To date, Leah has run 21 marathons, the New York one being her favourite. “There were 50,000 runners, the largest number I have ever been amongst and by far the largest spectating crowd. Over one million people line the streets! The spectators set up stages and perform, they play music like you are at a concert; they dance, and they cheer and party on the sidewalks as you run along. It is the most incredible atmosphere, you almost forget you’re running a marathon – almost.”
With only one World Marathon Major to tick off the list – Leah has already run Chicago, New York, Boston, London and Berlin - it’s no wonder that her current goal is to compete in the Tokyo Marathon. “Not only am I hoping to complete the Tokyo Marathon in 2024, but I am also aiming to do them all in under 3 hours!”
Lucy Shinners, Course Coordinator of Nursing
Currently working as the Course Coordinator of Nursing and with an ICU nursing background, Lucy is used to working with technology in a clinical setting. Her interest in artificial intelligence (AI) began as it started to gain promenance at industry conferences. After realising the considerable evidence-gap in related research, Lucy decided to centre her PhD around the current perceptions of AI in the healthcare industry.
Lucy’s research aims to identify how clinicians can bridge the gap on artificial lntelligence, contribute to AI development, and harness its power in the delivery of care.
Do you find there is a lack of understanding of what AI actually is?
In the studies we conducted, there was this real ‘Hollywood’ idea of artificial intelligence, but there is also a degree of ‘social sense-making’ that is occurring. Some healthcare professionals perceive AI as robots, others believe that it is computer technology that can think and act like a human being with emotions, insight and intention, for others again it is just a piece of technology that sits in the store room.
At the moment, AI is just a series of computer algorithms wholly reliant on the data it receives and the human that informs it, which we’re essentially already using in day-to-day technology without even knowing it. It has huge potential in informing healthcare delivery, but a long way to go yet.
What have you found to be the biggest concerns about using artificial intelligence by healthcare workers?
The main concerns are education and training first and foremost. Healthcare professionals want to know more before they will trust it! However, interoperability, organisational support, privacy, liability and policy are equally important and as yet unresolved in the complex space of healthcare.
What are you most excited about with your research?
For me, it’s always this altruistic idea of positively impacting people’s lives somehow. It would be awesome to see clinicians make better-informed decisions because this technology was developed by them and is safe to use, which would ultimately improve quality of care and patient outcomes. If I can do my little bit to help keep the clinician front and centre in the development and implementation of AI, then I’ll feel like I’ve really achieved something.
You have almost finished your PhD. What is next for you?
I see myself as an interpreter for both sides of the health-tech divide so I think eventually I’d like to get into a space where I can assist both types of organisations to understand the healthcare problem, participate in creating the solution, and prepare the workforce through training and education.
Courtney McGowan, Lecturer, Faculty of Health
Sam Lapkin, Associate Professor, Faculty of Health
Adriana Ikeda, Administrative Assistant, SCU College
Evelyn Barnes, Data Coordinator, Office of Business Intelligence and Quality
Linda Collins, Finance Business Partner, Financial Performance
Tiffany Phan, Reporting Performance Analyst, Office of Business Intelligence and Quality
Professor Tyrone Carlin, Vice Chancellor and President
In 2019, the University published a plan for its journey out to the mid-2020s. I think that it is self-evident to all of us that the extraordinary events of recent years traduced the core suppositions upon which that plan was constructed.
What was not self-evident, however, given the profound, persistent and dynamic nature of the shocks to which we have been subjected over that period, is what our alternative course of action and framework of priority might be.
As the leadership team of the University reflected on this paradox, we became more and more committed to the idea that any new roadmap for our future would need to be firmly grounded in our purpose and a set of values that would guide our mode of thought and our means of doing.
Neither can be magically conjured. Rather, they can only come to life and authentically embody our essence and the compact we make with each other through careful reflection drawing on a great many conversations comprising many and diverse voices.
As such, the last two years has been both a time to do the things necessary to sustain the University in the immediate term and to listen carefully to the many voices that comprise our community in order to best distil an enduring framework of purpose and values as the bedrock for the way that we plan and prioritise for our future.
This month, it will be my privilege to share the product of that journey with the University community as a whole, just as I have recently done with our Council. When I do so, I will be setting out not so much the content of a document, as a living framework for the way that we will set and accomplish our ambitions over the remainder of this decade.
I hope you very much enjoy the content of this month’s edition of Southern Cross Matters and I look forward to engaging with you in coming weeks as we come together as a University community to reflect on our strategic framework for action.
A few highlights during the event at HOTA
At Southern Cross University, we’re fans of doing things differently; but this was really different, even for us. Why not launch an engineering course in an art gallery… with our Electric Kombi as a feature?
Last month, art met science at the Home of the Arts (HOTA) in Surfers Paradise, when it hosted around 60 graduate engineers and industry representatives to launch the University’s engineering program in the Gold Coast, starting from 2023.
Guests were treated to a tour of the Southern Cross-sponsored “Gallery 2”, where curators highlighted works associated with the changing face of the Gold Coast and its built environment. Our new Chair of Engineering, Professor Charles Lemckert, along with Vice President (Engagement), Ben Roche and the Vice Chancellor, Professor Tyrone Carlin, all spoke of the significance of the new offerings. It was great to also hear from industry leaders like Joseph Tam, Queensland Deputy President at accrediting body, Engineers Australia, who spoke about the future of engineering in Australia, the diverse career options available to our graduates and industry’s insatiable appetite for trained engineers.
The introduction of engineering at the Gold Coast is already proving popular with 91 applications for the Bachelor degree and 15 for the Associate degree received so far for 2023 – and Year 12s haven’t even sat their final exams yet!
Warren Grimshaw AM at Coffs Harbour graduation ceremony
Warren Grimshaw AM can now add ‘Doctor’ to his extensive resume, after being conferred the award of Honorary Doctor of the University at our Coffs Harbour graduation ceremony last month.
The award was bestowed upon Warren in recognition of his services to education. He boasts an impressive list of achievements, which include leading the development of policy across schools, TAFE and universities; as well as pioneering new approaches to teacher, nurse, adult and community education.
Warren said he was flattered to receive the honorary doctorate. “I’m really delighted and honoured to have this award bestowed upon me and I’m most appreciative to the University for making this decision,” he said.
Warren affirmed that his passion for the education sector is fuelled by positive outcomes. “It’s great to see young people and not-so-young people develop and prosper in our first-class education system, through schools, TAFE and universities.”
Head of Coffs Harbour Campus, Professor Les Christidis said Warren was most deserving of the award.
“This award is well earned. It’s a credit to the work Warren’s done in the region. It is appropriate recognition of him as a champion of education in regional Australia,” Les said.
“He’s been so proactive not just in health but in education. So, it’s really fitting that he obtains the highest degree within education.
“He’s extremely humble. He’s not one to have tickets on himself. He is a statesperson in everything he does.”
Warren served as the Executive Director of the Coffs Harbour Education Campus for more than 10 years between 1995 and 2005. Prior to that, he held numerous senior positions in the NSW Government’s Education portfolio, including Executive Director/Chief Executive Officer of the NSW Ministry of Education and Youth Affairs and President of the NSW Board of Studies. Warren also served as Acting Chair of the NSW Education Commission.
Warren was a member of the Southern Cross University Council for over a decade and in 2011 was conferred the award of Honorary Fellow for his contribution to Southern Cross University.
In 1994, Warren was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for services to education as part of the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.
Flooded areas within the Northern Rivers region
Excellence was front of mind as the Vice Chancellor announced yesterday the successful applicants of The VC Flood Recovery Project Scheme.
Excellence in how the University has leaned into the challenges that the February and March floods presented to the broader University community. Excellence in how the University has dispatched its broad expertise to address the complexities of the rebuild. Excellence in the calibre of applications that were submitted to meet these challenges. So difficult was it to settle on only six projects, the scheme was extended to seven! With each project set receive $25,000 for delivery within 12 months.
“These projects will add to Southern Cross University's deep involvement in the recovery of the Northern Rivers after the devastating floods of early 2022,” Professor Carlin said. “The successful projects were selected due to their exceptional response to the brief which was to support or seed innovative solutions to assist the Northern Rivers Community into the future.”
The successful applicants and their projects are:
Associate Professor Adele Wessell – Digital archive of the Richmond Catchment
The creation of an online data repository accessible to researchers, government agencies, historians, local organisations and individuals. The result will be a strategic asset for those seeking to understand how to manage the catchment and restore its health.
Professor Amanda Reichelt-Brushett – Community voice on river health
Talking about the Richmond River - community values for river health in a post-flood environment.
Professor Amy Cutter-Mackenzie-Knowles – Children and youth flood experiences and its impact on education
This project seeks to understand and map the flood experiences of, and impact on, children and youth. Among its objectives is support for education and community services and the enabling of post-flood recovery practices, including a ‘Floods + me Education Framework’ and ‘Floods + me Community Exhibition’.
Professor Andrew Rose – Mapping the network of community resources contributing to flood recovery
Research into community support resources that have contributed to flood recovery – and those that will do so going forward – will help in the production of a graphic directory of service providers to support people in their recovery and rebuilding efforts.
Mr Brendan Cox – Improving the ecological health of the Richmond River Catchment
By creating and coordinating the first year of an ongoing whole-of-catchment citizen science program, this project will assess riverine ecosystem health across the catchment, identify areas of concern for targeted management, and reveal the impact of riparian restoration and replanting projects.
Dr Feifei Tong – Verify and improve the GIS flood evaluation model
Focusing on the Wilsons River catchment, this project will collect and analyse an estimated 10,000 photographs and videos taken during the flood by about 2,000 individuals and groups. An ensuing digital map will provide an asset to guide future flood forecasting research and emergency responses, as well as being a visualised memory asset illustrating community needs and bravery.
Associate Professor Mathew Leach - The experiences of extreme flooding and short/medium-term recovery efforts among marginalised groups
This project aims to measure mental health and wellbeing six months after the floods. Exploring the association between flood exposure, mental health and wellbeing will help to quantify and better understand the associations in relation to a proposed Flood Impact Framework, thereby informing current and future disaster support and mental health service provision.
Screenshot of the research impact clusters landing page
In rising to the challenge to create a better tomorrow for our community, the region and the planet, Southern Cross academics have identified four areas in need of urgent attention.
Known as research impact clusters, these four areas represent a targeted approach to a common goal: a better, safer and more sustainable world.
“The Harvest to Health and ZeroWaste clusters extend our areas of research excellence in different directions and create new synergies. I am very excited to see how these groups develop across Southern Cross University, broadening our research footprint across the region and beyond,” Professor Mary Spongberg, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research and Academic Capability) said.
With both producers and consumers in the spotlight, research projects conducted within the Harvest to Health cluster will contribute to improved human health alongside sustainable production.
Associate Professor Tobias Kretzschmar, the Harvest to Health research impact cluster lead, affirmed that having the University’s support on what now has become a reality was crucial: “For Southern Cross, this marks a significant milestone towards our development as a global leader in natural products and functional foods. It enables our existing capacities in plant and marine science, analytical chemistry and complementary medicine to join hands to support budding local industries in that space”.
“To me personally, it feels like I’ve come full circle. While working on rice across Asia for seven years, I realised that 21st century food security is more about nutritional security than calories. The cluster is a great step in that direction for me,” said Tobias.
The ZeroWaste cluster research addresses the barriers associated with integrating waste products into the circular economy, developing and implementing cutting-edge scientific, technical, social, economic and education-based solutions.
“After many months of methodical preparation, I’m genuinely excited to see the research impact cluster concept come to fruition. The clusters will reinvigorate research at Southern Cross University, allowing for greater collaboration, more efficient resource use, and ultimately leading to improved outcomes for researchers, students, and the University as a whole,” said Professor Dirk Erler, ZeroWaste research impact cluster lead.
“For me, the ZeroWaste cluster represents a chance to make real and lasting change. I’ve spent most of my career trying to understand how the natural world functions, but now more than ever I think it’s imperative to develop and implement solutions to the seemingly overwhelming list of problems we face as a society.”
Nepali student Yushmi Majhi during the Fusion Festival at the Gold Coast campus
The Student Equity and Inclusion team has been tirelessly creating a safe space to celebrate and learn about our diverse Southern Cross University community. Over the past few months the team has led on-campus events such as Fusion Festival, Wear it Purple Day, and R U OK Day, and many more.
International Gold Coast health student, Yushmi Majhi, who hails from Nepal, said that Fusion Festival gave her a strong sense of belonging.
“It was a great opportunity for me to show and represent my culture. I loved the feeling of being appreciated and honoured for being who I am and where I come from,” said Yushmi.
“I loved the face paint. I got my national flags on my face. It was such a proud moment to remember my home country while we are in a foreign land.”
Fusion Festival has been running since 2008 across all three main campuses and involves numerous activities such as cultural music, cuisines, dances, and art from all different backgrounds.
“Thank you so much Southern Cross University for organising such a beautiful platform for us to represent ourselves and our community,” Yushmi said.
Victoria Drury, Manager of the Student Equity and Inclusion team, was elated to hear that her team’s hard work doesn’t go unnoticed.
“Yushmi’s words bring a tear to my eye! We love the work that we do and to know it makes such a difference to the students’ experience of university is absolutely fantastic,” Victoria said.
What are the team up to next? You can view the Southern Cross Diversity Calendar here.
Graham Lancaster during one of his Waveski sessions
Southern Cross researcher Graham Lancaster switched out soils for sand at the Waveski Australian Open last month, placing third in the open division held in Yamba.
Graham is the Senior Manager of Laboratory Operations at Southern Cross University’s Environmental Analysis Laboratory and Analytical Research Laboratory, which provide a range of services including soil and plant testing.
When he’s not in the lab, you’re not likely to find him on land. Graham is an avid waveski surfer, a sport that hybridises kayaking and surfing. He is currently ranked seventh in the world in the Waveski Surfing Opens.
“It’s a fun sport, similar to surfing except you’re belted in and you’ve got to do the same manoeuvres – barrels, aerials, big slashes and big bottom turns,” Graham said.
The sport has taken Graham to Portugal and Spain to compete; with his passport ready to travel to the United States for this year’s World Titles in California.
The number seven isn’t so lucky for Graham, who is hoping to move up the ranks at the international competition in November. “I seem to be the one who is always the bridesmaid,” he laughed. “Always in the top 10 but I haven’t conquered anything more than that. It doesn’t mean I won’t be trying.”
The sport requires a high degree of athleticism, with Graham having taken up yoga, Pilates, long distance running and tennis to maintain his fitness for Waveski competition.
Graham said he and a friend discovered the sport at the age of 12 while living in Coffs Harbour. “I have a mate whose mum just wanted to get us outside. She didn’t want us playing computer games. And she picked this sport.
“From then on, we were up at 6am learning how to surf and she took us to contests up and down the coast.”
Graham was successful at Waveski surfing from the start and was crowned Australian Junior Champion in 1985.
Graham has continued competing and said he tried to balance work with catching waves at the week-long Australian Open in September.
“I try to do work in between and take client calls where I can. But it’s really about concentrating on the competition for that week,” he said.
Graham said what he loves about Waveski surfing is the fitness and the diversity of challenges presented by waves. “Living with nature and surfing with nature is extraordinary. Sitting in the ocean watching the sunrise or even sunset surfing into the dark is just a fantastic experience.”
Dr Peter Butcherine at the National Marine Science Centre
Mass mortality incidents in shrimp and prawn aquaculture inspired Dr Peter Butcherine to investigate how insecticides were affecting these populations. After completing a Doctor of Philosophy, his research is now being applied at a global level.
What did you research for your PhD?
My thesis was titled "The impacts of sublethal neonicotinoid exposure on shrimp" and reported on the behavioural changes, biochemical impacts and survivorship on shrimp and prawns. I aimed to evaluate the potential for these insecticides to affect shrimp aquaculture at environmentally relevant concentrations and assess the implications for shrimp aquaculture and consumer safety.
What inspired you to pursue this area of research?
My research stemmed from the observation that over the last few decades, mass mortality incidents in shrimp aquaculture, in the absence of pathogens, have become more common and appeared to coincide with the introduction of neonicotinoid insecticides. Globally, neonicotinoids are among the most commonly applied insecticides, and their prolific use has led to the unintended contamination of waterways. This contamination increases risks to non-target species and could impact aquatic food production systems, such as shrimp and prawn aquaculture. An additional influence was the global decline of insect populations and the role that neonicotinoids have purportedly had in this decline, particularly in bee populations.
What were the key findings of your research?
My research confirmed that shrimp were vulnerable to neonicotinoids from aqueous and dietary sources. Neonicotinoids reduced feed consumption which affected the nutritional status of the shrimp, altering fatty acids, carbohydrate metabolism and amino acid metabolism. Consequently, shrimp grew slower and moulted less frequently. Exposure to neonicotinoids reduced allergenic and pathogen response protein expression in shrimp which could affect food safety and increase susceptibility to pathogens. Overall, the changes in shrimp after exposure could have a significant impact on food safety and shrimp aquaculture productivity. This research has been incorporated into maximum residue limits for pesticides by the European Commission and in the ongoing review of neonicotinoid use in Australia.
Now that you have graduated, what is next?
Currently, I am based at the National Marine Science Centre as a Post-Doctoral researcher working in the Reef Restoration and Adaptation Program (RRAP) cooling and shading subprogram. I enjoy this project's interdisciplinary and collaborative nature and love the challenges that this research presents.
Gabi Edwards, Administration Officer (Quality), Office of Business Intelligence and Quality
Deborah Colaso, Business Intelligence Developer (Power BI), Office of Business Intelligence and Quality
Katie McDonough, Learning and Organisational Development Coordinator, HR Services
Carla Valério, Lecturer, Faculty of Education
Karlah Norkunas, Lecturer, Faculty of Health
Lana McCarthy, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Education
Aidan Coleman, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Education
Laura Rodriguez Castro, Vice Chancellor Senior Research Fellowship, Faculty of Education
Laura Webb, Alumni Experience Coordinator, Office of Engagement
Brad Christensen, Partnership Officer, Office of Engagement
Ayushi Modia, Graduate Accountant, Financial Services
Michael Walker, Applications Delivery and Support Administrator, Technology Services
Jarrod Leu, Cyber and Information Security Specialist, Technology Services
Michael Hidden, Student Management Coordinator, Student Administration Services
Tanya Griffin, Student Administration Officer, Shared Services Hub
Amanda Hazlett, Student Administration Officer, Shared Services Hub
Petra Nowak, Student Administration Officer, Shared Services Hub
Angela Lacey, Client Services Coordinator, Shared Services Hub
Michelle Pradhan, Student Administration Officer, Shared Services Hub
Professor Tyrone Carlin, Vice Chancellor and President
Last week I travelled to Canberra to meet with Australia’s Minister for Education, the Hon Jason Clare MP. I was very pleased, on our behalf, to have the opportunity to sit and reflect with him on some of the forces that are converging to shape the future of Higher Education in Australia, and some of the factors that are of particular significance to Southern Cross University as we plan for our role in that future.
I took the opportunity to explain to the Minister some of the challenges that we have been facing as an institution as a result of the Jobs Ready Graduate reforms, as well as the ongoing impact of COVID and this year’s floods.
I also outlined details of the journey we are taking as we continue to implement the Southern Cross Model and why we have elected a revolutionary rather than evolutionary path forward in learning and teaching. In addition, I explained our impact agenda in research, and why our engagement with industry and our adoption of a genuinely cross disciplinary approach to framing research opportunities through the Impact Clusters is such a core part of our strategy for excellence.
The Minister asked very pertinent and searching questions throughout our conversation, and it was clear to me in particular that he is very focused on academic success and completion, especially amongst those students from less privileged backgrounds.
Over the coming year, there will be a formal process of dialogue between Universities and government in relation to our role, our priorities, how we are funded for our work and how we may measure success.
It will be astonishing to me if the outworking of this process is accompanied by a major surge in resources invested into Universities by the Commonwealth. It will be far less surprising if there is a redistributive element to future funding architectures and still less if an even more overt link between funding and performance hurdles emerges in due course.
Over the past two years, through pandemic and natural disasters, we have worked hard as a University community to chart our own course to the future based on the things that matter most to us and that we understand to be consonant with our sense of purpose. As we move forward, it is that sense of purpose and our values that will continue to guide us and inform the choices we make. It is my conviction that these will also shine through as we engage in continued dialogue with the Commonwealth about ongoing support for our important and impactful work.
I hope you find this month’s edition of Southern Cross Matters enjoyable and insightful and as always, I look forward to feedback and ideas for future editions.
Students at Sydney graduation
There were tissues and handkerchiefs aplenty at Southern Cross University’s Sydney graduation ceremonies last month. It was the first graduation event to be held in Sydney in more than three years and marked an important milestone for our new alumni.
Breaking records seemed to be the theme of the ceremonies on Saturday 20 August 2022. More than 530 graduates crossed the floor over the two ceremonies, which was the highest number seen at a Sydney graduation. Celebrations of record-breaking continued when four-time world-record-holding sailor Lisa Blair gave an occasional address.
The graduation event saw some inspiring stories come to light. Of note, law lecturer Dr Alessandro Pelizzon’s mother, 69-year-old Ida Piovesan, followed in her son’s footsteps by graduating the Bachelor of Laws. Meanwhile, a University Medal was also presented to Bachelor of Laws graduate Christopher Murray.
Over 20 staff members took part in the Academic Procession across the two ceremonies. Chair of Academic Board Professor Andrew Rose said for staff and students alike it was an emotional event. “There’s the graduates who get super excited and are skipping across the stage and the ones who look like they’re almost overwhelmed with emotion,” he said.
“That’s the reason why I try to make the effort to participate because it is such a big deal for the students involved and it signals to them that we care about it and we recognise the significance for them in their lives.”
Andrew said there was a strong sense of camaraderie among the graduates. “That really stood out to me, the closeness of the group that were graduating. All of the students who were sitting there waiting for their turn across the stage, they were really clapping and yelling out to support their fellow students,” he said.
The Sydney event was the first metro graduation ceremony to take place this year. Over a quarter of the graduates were from The Hotel School, a unique partnership between Southern Cross University and Mulpha Australia, with campuses in the heart of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, and Hayman Island.
Andrew said it was important to celebrate the University’s presence in Sydney. “Our students are from all over Australia. I think holding a graduation event in Sydney says to the students that you care about them, that you’re going to go out of your way to have a graduation ceremony that they can get to.”
He said it’s inspiring to see students transition from starting their degree to graduating. “It reminds you that academia is more than just a day job,” he said. “It reminds you that universities have been around for centuries and serve this really important purpose in society and can transform people’s lives.”
Coffs Harbour graduations will be held this coming weekend.
The 'Barefoot Biogeochemists' Dr James Sippo and Dr Luke Jeffrey on campus at Lismore
Dr James Sippo and Dr Luke Jeffrey have much in common. They share an office at the Lismore campus, launched their careers from unconventional backgrounds, are recipients of the Chancellor’s Medal, and belong to one of Southern Cross University's more curiously named research groups – Barefoot Biogeochemistry.
“The name came after Luke and I and some fellow biogeochemists were discussing ways we could support each other’s research,” said James. “At one stage, we happened to look under the table and saw that not one of us was wearing shoes.”
Before coming to Southern Cross University, James worked for Greenpeace – “hounding people in Brisbane’s CBD”, while Luke travelled the world as marketing manager for iconic surf brand Billabong. From such diverse backgrounds, two significant research careers have emerged.
After graduating with a Bachelor of Environmental Science – followed by Honours and a PhD – James began his career studying mangroves in Australia’s Top End in relation to mangrove dieback, carbon sequestration and ocean acidification. His latest research is focused on blue carbon, highlighted by a major role in the development of BlueCAM.
“BlueCAM is an accounting model that allows farmers, businesses and industries to earn Australian carbon credit units by establishing and rehabilitating ecosystems such as mangroves, saltmarshes, seagrass and Melaleuca forests that sequester carbon,” he said.
Luke transitioned from big waves and Billabong to his own Bachelor of Environmental Science, also completing Honours and a PhD. His research into tree-based methane emissions – or ‘treethane’ – represents a new frontier for the global methane and carbon cycles.
“Although trees are capable of releasing methane from their trunks, we recently discovered ‘methane-eating’ communities of bacteria living within the bark of the common Australian paperbark tree,” said Luke. “By converting the methane to carbon dioxide, the bacteria are mitigating about a third of the total methane emissions.”
James’ and Luke’s research is typical of the world-leading standards being delivered by researchers within the Faculty of Science and Engineering who, barefoot or not, are kicking goals as they lead the next wave of knowledge and action on the environment.
Student reporting team Blake, Deb and Michelle with student ambassador Star at the Byron Writers Festival
The pen proved mightier than the sword at this year’s Byron Writers Festival, which saw progressive and dynamic discussions take place across 26-28 August. Southern Cross University further established itself as a significant partner of the event with students, staff and alumni involved throughout the festival.
Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research and Academic Capability) Professor Mary Spongberg, Course Coordinator for the Associate Degree of Creative Writing Dr Lynda Hawryluk, media and journalism Lecturer Jeanti St Clair and Emeritus Professor Judy Atkinson all spoke at various panel discussions. Meanwhile, alumnus Emily Brugman, author of The Islands, and Jessie Cole, author of Darkness on the Edge of Town, Deeper Water, Staying, and Desire, were also featured onstage.
The Southern Cross University Student Reporting Hub was a hive of activity. Students were set up in the University’s electric Kombi recording podcast interviews with authors such as Evelyn Araluen, Jessie Cole, Matthew Evans, Saul Griffith, Dylin Hardcastle and Ben Quilty. Member of the student reporting team and Bachelor of Education student Blake Skuse said it was a fantastic experience. “I learnt so much from such a wide range of people. Talking to Evelyn Araluen, she was just great because she had so many different bits of inspiration,” he said.
The conversations continued on-campus at the University’s satellite event, ‘How Do We Transform the Future’, which took place in the Whitebrook Theatre on 25 August. More than 100 people gathered to listen to Saul Griffith, author of The Big Switch, and Claire O’Rourke, author of Together We Can, discuss how to achieve a green future. The panel was moderated by Ben Roche, Vice President (Engagement).
Dr Hawryluk has been the Southern Cross representative on the Byron Writers Festival Board for nine years. She said it is a beautiful festival of words. “It’s a bit like a country fair for books, language, talking, communicating and storytelling,” Lynda said. “I love that aspect of it.”
“Our students have been involved from the ground up from the beginning as interns, volunteers and doing paid work. In the past, one of our students wrote the welcome letter to writers that was put in their welcome package. An Arts/Business major organised the green room and opening night party. Our students have also been involved with the SCU Sunflower, with blogging and the music students worked on sound production,” Lynda said.
“Being part of the board, I love that I’m able to provide opportunities for students to get involved with the festival, including being on the stage when they publish their work.”
Indigenous Research Academic Kylie Day
Engaging Aboriginal high school students in science and maths through dance, art and storytelling inspired Dharawal woman Kylie Day to complete her Doctorate of Indigenous Philosophies (DIP) with Gnibi College.
What are you researching?
I am in the final stages of my DIP which is titled ‘Realising the potential of cultural safety in the classroom’. My aim is to create better ways of enhancing learning in the classroom for Indigenous students by privileging the voice of local elders and knowledge holders. My research is positioned in the fields of Indigenous Knowledge education and pedagogy development to address a distinct need to honour the students' own reality into their learning.
What inspired you to pursue this area of research?
Through developing a relationship with an Aboriginal Reference Group, I realised the potential of cultural safety in the classroom. This underpinned my inquiry about how to make education more engaging for Indigenous students, promote quality teaching, and build cultural identity.
What does cultural safety in the classroom look like in practice?
I have looked at how Aboriginal culture and tradition can be incorporated into pedagogy to enhance student learning. So, through dance, art, storytelling, weaving and yarning students can follow my design but also add their own creativity, critical reflection and cultural reality into what they’re learning about. As I come from a science background, I am looking at incorporating totems such as the white owl into STEM learning as they are an example of amazing aerodynamics.
I also recently co-delivered a workshop with local Elders and Gnibi staff for Year 10 history students from Trinity Catholic College where we incorporated yarning and weaving into their learning about the Uluru Statement from the Heart.
What I have learned from the Bundjalung Elders is that these need to be long term workshops to provide students with consistency and positive role modelling.
What has been your highlight while researching at Southern Cross?
Learning with Elders, localised knowledge and feeling a strong sense of cultural safety. I find that when you feel culturally safe you don’t have those glass ceilings that can exist in other institutions. I love that there is so much space and potential to showcase the culture of our University and it’s very much appreciated by the students and Elders.
Professor Richard Dunford, new Interim Executive Dean of the Faculty of Business, Law and Arts
Professor Richard Dunford joined Southern Cross University in August as Interim Executive Dean of the Faculty of Business, Law and Arts. The six-month appointment will alleviate the transition to the next Executive Dean, when he or she is appointed.
His outstanding career has featured leadership roles across education, industry, research and business. Highlights include the University of Newcastle (Pro Vice-Chancellor, Business & Law) and senior positions at Macquarie University, the University of Sydney, and the University of NSW.
Nationally, he has been an active member of research assessment panels, most recently as Chair of the Social Science Panel in the Australian Research Council's Engagement and Impact process. He was also twice a member of the Business Panel for Excellence in Research, Australia.
Internationally, Professor Dunford has served on business school accreditation panels in the UK, Europe, Asia and Australia.
He was attracted to Southern Cross University in light of opportunities and challenges arising from the dynamic environment provided by the Northern Rivers and Gold Coast regions. Factors include the new Business course offering at the Lismore campus in 2023 and the unique nature of the University’s ongoing role after this year’s floods.
Professor Dunford is also eager to make the most of life outside the University.
"Like a lot of Australians, I’ve only experienced the Northern Rivers and the Gold Coast through the fleeting perspective of a holiday-maker, so I’m looking forward to a more enduring engagement with such a great part of Australia.”
Professor Charles Lemckert at Lismore campus
Appointed Chair of Discipline of Engineering and Information Technology in August, the same month he relocated to the region with his family, Professor Charles Lemckert brings to Southern Cross University a multidisciplinary approach along with a broad range of experience in the higher education sector.
“I became an academic to pursue my strong interest in solving problems and to help educate undergraduate and postgraduate students as this in turn helps us improve our society,” said Professor Lemckert.
“I like the challenges and opportunities academia brings. We have a lot of freedom to pursue areas of interest which doesn’t really occur in other jobs. In academia I get the opportunity to engage locally, nationally and internationally to learn, investigate and solve various problems.”
Asked about some of his goals in the new appointment here at Southern Cross, Charles affirms that he would like to “grow these society-important disciplines, enhance staff engagement with industry and our external communities, deliver high-quality education so that our students are our stars and excelling ambassadors, support the development and growth of the wonderful staff we have, so they can achieve their desired goals, and have fun!”
Charles said his biggest career highlight so far has been seeing students and staff succeed. He’s also taken part in coastal engineering research using one of the world’s largest wave tanks (in Hannover, Germany); working with a multidisciplinary team to help improve the design approaches for wastewater treatment maturation ponds; supervising an array of HDR students on projects such as understanding whale migration patterns, bull shark movements, spanner crab catchability, improving engineering teaching/learning approaches using new techniques and approaches, and even how to design better office spaces.
Professor Lemckert said his family was his pillar: “The absolute and most important thing for me has been my family. Without them I would never be where I am today. They are a great bunch of eggs and Susan (my loving wife) has led the charge and been my rock, partner and better three-quarters throughout. Our five (yep, five!) children have been exceptional, and are really great people who have achieved so much already in their lives”.
Chithira Johnson, Director, Student Support, Office of VP (Students) & Registrar
Adriana Ikeda, Administrative Assistant, SCU College
Rikki Quinn, Lecturer (Teaching Scholar), SCU College
Evelyn Barnes, Data Coordinator, Office of Business Intelligence and Quality
Linda Collins, Finance Business Partner, Financial Performance
Tiffany Phan, Reporting Performance Analyst, Office of Business Intelligence and Quality
Courtney McGowan, Lecturer, Faculty of Health
Sam Lapkin, Associate Professor, Faculty of Health
Professor Tyrone Carlin, Vice Chancellor and President
I think it can genuinely be said that this month’s edition of Southern Cross Matters reflects both the diversity and the excellence that define our University. The material that touches on our work in research strikes a balance between illuminating the kind of dedication and focus necessary to build up authoritative expertise in a domain of knowledge and examining the new approaches that the University is beginning to adopt, building platforms for research and enquiry that harness expertise in new ways and genuinely engage industry and other stakeholders to drive collaboration and impact.
Moving in this direction will challenge us to reflect very carefully on the areas in which we have or can generate capability that is either unique or which in a tangible sense gives us some other basis for comparative advantage in delivering insights and solutions in partnership with others. It is for this reason that we are beginning to focus with such intent on better approaches to engagement with the many organisations and institutions with whom we can work to leverage our capabilities to better effect, and to more systematically strive to draw upon insights from multiple disciplines in the pursuit of solutions.
We are redefining and repositioning ourselves in the domain of research, just as we have been doing in education through our work in realising the vision of the Southern Cross Model. More profoundly, perhaps, we are doing this on the basis of a belief in excellence and a rejection of the notion, to the extent that it has ever been part of our institutional zeitgeist that our scale, age and location should somehow constrain our level of ambition.
We all know that we face a series of constraints and pressures because of these and other factors. None of us can wish away the raw fact, as an example, that in Australia there exist enormous economies of scale in Higher Education and that we are well below the size threshold at which those kick in.
We can either confront our reality with timidity and resignation, or with boldness and creativity. We can choose to believe that the constraints we experience define us, or that our defining character is evinced in how we cleverly transcend these in our quest to do better for our students and to improve our world through our research.
We don’t have walls of money to throw at our problems. We do have something far more potent. Each other. We are blessed with a wealth of talent at our University, and perhaps more importantly than that, a very widely shared and very deep commitment to our cause and purpose.
That is why, in my opinion, so many made time in their busy schedules to participate in the creation of our new television commercial. It is why we have such vibrant programs on offer at our virtual and on campus open days this year. It is why we have managed so swiftly and with such broad participation to imagine and build out our distinctive and revolutionary curriculum model. It is why we are seeing such positive affirmation for our journey in all of the key global University rankings.
In the coming months, there will be an opportunity to reflect together as a University community on the course we will chart together as we move towards 2030 and beyond. That will involve careful consideration of our priorities, our strengths and the many opportunities that lie ahead of us. Most importantly, it will involve reflection on our purpose and our values and how we will draw upon these as we work to transform from the University that we are, to the one that we can be.
I hope you find this edition of Southern Cross Matters interesting, informative and engaging and I look forward to your continued suggestions for content and in relation to how we can continue to improve.
Dr Erica Russ on campus at Lismore
Hybrids are all the rage and Open Day this year is embracing the trend. For the first time, the University is holding both an on-campus and online Open Day where future students get to know not just the courses on offer, but the academics behind them.
Dr Erica Russ is one such academic. A senior lecturer in social work and community welfare and a social worker for more than 30 years, she is passionate about working with vulnerable, marginalised people, influencing social change and helping improve people’s lives.
Erica will be speaking at the Social Work and Community Welfare Open Day panel at the Gold Coast. The course-specific panel sessions are part of this year’s Open Day revamp and include speakers such as academics, students, alumni and industry representatives.
Erica said she has attended previous Open Days and enjoyed engaging in conversations with people and answering their questions. “It’s really about connecting with people. I’ve had lovely conversations with people who go, ‘yes, this is where I know I want to be’, and others who say they are thinking about it but not sure. And as you talk to them, they understand what it’s about and gain interest,” she said.
“Social work and community welfare are areas where we need workers now and into the future. The workforce is really rapidly growing. So, if people are unsure, then it’s at least opening their minds to thinking ‘this might be a really good opportunity for me in the future’
“It’s about working with individuals but it’s also about me contributing to social change that will affect larger groups of people and have a benefit for people more broadly,” Erica said.
As an academic, Erica has continued to advocate for social justice and change. “It’s wonderful to be training the next generation of people who are going to be out there making a difference,” she said.
For the Future Students team, being able to open the doors and welcome prospective students on to campus is very important. Future Students Senior Manager Evan Crandon said it’s one of the best experiences they offer each year.
“It’s really important for us because most of the Future Students activities throughout the year involve us being out in an environment,” Evan said. “Having our Open Days and inviting people to our house is something our team gets really excited for.”
The Open Day online platform is now live, with course information and student-led videos. On-campus Open Day events will be held on August 5 to 7.
National Centre for Naturopathic Medicine PHD student Nicole Hannan in the Gold Coast research lab
After many months of conversation, collaboration and preparation behind the scenes, the University’s research clusters have taken an important step forward.
A pitching session was recently held with key members of the research team and University Executive to introduce the proposed clusters and take them from incubation to implementation.
Researchers are well acquainted with pitching their work, but why pitch a cluster? Deputy Vice Chancellor Research and Academic Capability Professor Mary Spongberg provides some background: “The clusters will provide a new framework that brings together the University’s key and emerging research strengths. The aim is to drive innovation, enable interconnectedness and multi-disciplinarity, bringing together researchers and HDR students from different backgrounds to create new opportunities and amplify our research impact. This model will allow us to harness our resources and collaborate better, both internally and beyond SCU.”
“The clusters are also critical for the University to generate build reputation and diversify research funding, and to show how distinctive we are on a global stage,” Professor Spongberg said. “The pitching session was a way to present the work to date and give the Executive a chance for feedback on their structure and purpose.”
The Waste Management in the Circular Economy cluster was presented by Professor Dirk Erler and brings together research expertise in geochemistry, environmental science, engineering, business and education to develop solutions for our global waste problem by integrating circular economy principles.
The Harvest to Health research cluster, presented by Associate Professor Tobias Kretzschmar, focuses on better health for plants, people and communities and adds value for producers and consumers.
There will be further pitching sessions as new clusters come together. The teams from the ODVCR and Engagement will work with the newly minted clusters to finalise their research plans, to co-design investment and governance models and connect them with researchers across the university who signalled their interest in these clusters through the survey that was undertaken late last year. There will be further rounds of pitching later this year and in 2023.
Dr Liz Goode on campus at Coffs Harbour
A community of teaching and learning scholars, deeply invested in student success, has spent years developing the Southern Cross Model. Now, a series of academic papers documents the rationale behind this seismic shift in curriculum and course delivery at the University.
The first edition of the Southern Cross Scholarship of Learning & Teaching Papers explores the impact of the new Southern Cross Model on university student learning, academic achievement and experience. They are a window onto the Model’s complexity and academic rigour, underpinned by data showing how students – on-campus, online, international or domestic – have performed in the Model.
One of authors of the series is Liz Goode, who has been actively involved with the Model’s implementation. It’s the culmination of many years dedicated to student success for Liz. She has taught and developed enabling programs like the University’s Preparing for Success Program (PSP) for thousands of aspiring university students.
“When it comes to preparatory or enabling programs, a key part of their rationale is this idea of equity in access and participation in higher education. It’s been very exciting to be part of that movement,” she said.
After teaching English in South Korea and work in Sydney and Melbourne as well as a stint at Newcastle Uni, Liz moved to the Coffs area in 2019 with her young family. “Living near the coast and working at a forward-thinking university like Southern Cross, it’s the best of both worlds,” she said.
Liz says it’s been a challenging couple of years for many colleagues as they have redesigned units and, in some cases, complete courses for the Southern Cross Model. “Colleagues have been amazing and I think it’s important to acknowledge that incredible and significant body of work,” she said. “Especially as we are so close to the critical milestone of implementing the model across all courses next year.”
Behind the scenes of the Transforming Tomorrow commercial
You might soon spot a few familiar faces while watching TV, thanks to the participation of Southern Cross University staff, students, and alumni in the new Transforming Tomorrow TV commercial. More than 180 people were involved in the extensive three-day filming, as either talent, technical advisors, or extras.
The planning of the new Transforming Tomorrow commercial began as early as February, with the Office of Engagement marketing department determined for the video to be 100 per cent staff, students and alumni.
“The decision to use real people instead of actors added a few more levels of planning and logistics. We needed to find the right mix of people to best depict the Southern Cross University community,” said Marketing Manager, Bill Key.
The most extensive shoot occurred at Whitebrook Theatre in Lismore, where more than 100 students and staff drove far and wide to be audience extras in a ‘TED talk’ scenario. The commercial will show the Southern Cross community cheering and taking photos of Business student Sophie Fischer, who got up nice and early, despite being her 21st birthday the night before!
“Transforming Tomorrow talks to the essence of Southern Cross University, through our teaching, studies, research, and through all the external and internal environments that the university operates in,” said Bill.
The advertisement, which reflects just that, is set to hit the screens in September. There will be two 30-second ads and an extended 60-second version for the Southern Cross University website, presentations, events, and of course to show off to your friends and family.
Next stop, Hollywood!
Dr David Newell at the purpose-built frog breeding facility on Lismore campus
“Bop. Bop. Can you hear that?” Dr David Newell’s eyes light up as the tiny rainforest frog - no larger than a thumbnail - replies to his call. “He’s talking to us, and he’s happy. That’s good.” He replaces the lid carefully on the tank. It’s one of a row of tanks in this purpose-built breeding facility on Lismore campus, where a flow-through water and cooling system keeps the environment just how these little amphibians like it: chilly and wet.
This is HQ of the Gondwana Rainforest Amphibian Survival Program (GRASP), the beating heart of a conservation effort to breed rare and threatened frogs from the mountainous rainforests of northern NSW before releasing them back into the wild. It’s the culmination of decades of research and experience accumulated through Dave’s study and monitoring of frogs in the rainforests of our region.
“I was the kind of kid who was always down the creek catching things and bringing them home,” says Dave. “I was always fascinated by ecology and I loved being outdoors. Then it turned into a career.” Along the way, Dave has also become an expert in acoustic ecology and uses audio recordings to monitor frog populations. “It’s actually quite difficult to find these frogs as they mostly live underground but we can use their calls to locate and monitor them in these really remote locations.”
Dave’s field work resulted in a surprising find this year. He was part of a team including colleagues from the Department of Environment and Science, the University of Newcastle, CSIRO and the South Australian Museum, who described an entirely new species of frog, the Mount Ballow frog Philoria knowlesi, named in honour of Australian environmentalist Ross Knowles. “It is amazing to think that there are still new species being discovered in these forests. It’s a testament to the incredible biodiversity of these ancient rainforests and their World Heritage status,” said Dave.
“Unfortunately, this species will need to be recognised as endangered due to its incredibly small distribution and the projected impacts of climate change.”
Read more about the GRASP project here.
Dr Ernest Du Toit and Susan Lang-Lemckert are the newest additions to Southern Cross University’s ReCirculator project.
Universities have a knack for bringing together people from vastly different career paths, and that is certainly the case for Dr Ernest Du Toit and Susan Lang-Lemckert – the newest additions to Southern Cross University’s ReCirculator project.
Technical Manager Ernest joined in April, bringing years of scientific, engineering and industrial experience in South Africa, the Middle East and Australia.
Program Manager Susan arrived in June with a CV that includes roles as speechwriter for former Gold Coast Mayor Ron Clarke, communications officer for the ACT Government, and editor of Hansard, which documents proceedings in Australia’s Federal Parliament.
Working together on ReCirculator, they join Professor Dirk Erler, Professor Andrew Rose and Dr Shane McIntosh as part of an academic-industry initiative that is helping Northern Rivers businesses to overturn their approach to waste management via sustainable resource use and reuse.
Born in South Africa, chemical engineer Ernest has worked in sectors including oil and gas, coal, petrochemical, agriculture, biopharma and food. An energy specialist, he is impressed by the energy driving the ReCirculator.
"This is something new for me, moving into the area of renewables and the principles of the circular economy. I see it as an opportunity to make a positive difference," he said.
"There are clearly strong connections between the University and our partners, especially the shared appreciation of how the principles behind the ReCirculator can benefit not just these businesses alone, but the entire region.”
Originally from Perth, Susan lived on the Gold Coast for twenty years before heading to Canberra. Now based at the Bilinga campus, part of her role will be to liaise closely with the ReCirculator’s industry participants.
“I will be optimising the flow of information and ideas to ensure our objectives and deadlines are on track,” she said.
"What immediately impressed me about the project is how it is working for regional benefit in terms of reducing waste, creating jobs and supporting new thinking and techniques.
“It is also scalable, and that is a key factor to communicate as we go forward."
Outside University life, Ernest's and Susan's interests are as diverse as their careers so far, with Susan's love of jazz and theatre in contrast with Ernest's passion for sport.
Dr Peita Hillman at the Gold Coast graduation in June
What are you researching?
My thesis is about ‘The role of active leisure events in positive lifestyle transformation’. It’s focused on the stories of 30 individuals who were previously physically inactive and decided to make a change in their lifestyle to engage in regular, self-directed physical activity such as triathlons, swimming and long-distance walking festivals. This study explored the role that these events played in that transition.
What was your inspiration to pursue research in this area?
I was previously physically inactive, I didn’t exercise at all until the age of 34 when I had my second child. I decided I wanted to be a healthier role model for my children. A friend invited me to join her on a 12-week program where I learnt about healthy food and how to follow a consistent exercise routine, pretty soon I was hooked on physical activity and how good it made me feel. I discovered I loved running and have gone on to complete three marathons and 16 half marathons.
I became fascinated by the epiphanies people experience and their motivations to transform their lifestyles. Physical inactivity has become the fourth leading cause of death worldwide, spurring a range of chronic diseases and costing millions in healthcare.
What are some of the key findings you have uncovered?
There were several reasons why people decided to make a change. For some it was a critical health incident, for others a feeling of dissatisfaction with their life, a milestone birthday or a divorce.
Many participants began their journey by being invited or ‘dared’ to take part in a physical activity with a friend, such as a Zumba class, Parkrun, or even just going for a walk at lunchtime. Once they got started they felt the benefits, both physical and social and were inspired to keep going. By taking part in these activities their self-belief grew and their behavioural regulation tended to shift towards internal regulation as physical activity became ingrained into their lifestyles and part of their self-concept.
As a community, we all need to reach out to a friend or family member who may also enjoy an activity we like to do and invite them along. This simple act can be life-changing and I encourage everyone reading this to extend that invitation to someone you know soon.
You completed your PhD and attended the Gold Coast Graduation in June. What’s next?
I currently teach a research unit online to MBA students and I am a volunteer Outreach Ambassador for Parkrun in Northern NSW/Gold Coast where I encourage first-timers to participate in the events. I’m also running the London Marathon in October so now that events are back on the calendar, I am eager to enjoy them once again and appreciate all that they have brought to my life.
Peita’s thesis is available to read here.
Felix Bachmann, Project Administration Manager, Centre for Teaching & Learning
Jodie Cochrane Wilkie, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Health
Jena Buchan, Lecturer, Faculty of Health
Charles Lemckert, Professor, Faculty of Science and Engineering
Raghava Reddy Kakarla, Lecturer in Engineering, Faculty of Science and Engineering
Lachi Crosbie, Business Analyst, Financial Performance
Thomas Valin, Manager, Procurement Services, Financial Services
Lindsay Barnes, Grants and Contracts Officer, Office of Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research)
Cezanne Laidlaw, Website Experience Manager, Office of Engagement
Alba de Sadaba Alvarez, Communications Officer, Office of Engagement
Mario Santini, Web System Administrator, Technology Services
Professor Tyrone Carlin, Vice Chancellor and President
An important component of this month’s edition of Southern Cross Matters is a reflection on the graduation ceremonies that occurred this past week at the Gold Coast Convention & Exhibition Centre. I will do my best not to repeat that material in my own comments, but given the significance of these events in the life of our University, particularly after all of the disruptions associated with COVID, it would seem strange if I did not venture my own perspective.
As I do so, I want to particularly acknowledge and thank the many dozens of staff from across the University who supported and attended the ceremonies. I was especially delighted that at each of the graduations, we were able to form impressive academic processions. This added real gravity and showed respect to our newest graduates and their families. We should work hard to ensure that all of our future ceremonies follow the pattern set this year at the Gold Coast.
At graduations, we often focus on the vital work of our academic colleagues in bringing students to the point of successful graduation. That is absolutely as it should be. But it is also true that every single colleague at the university contributes to this outcome in some way. That is why I adopt the approach of encouraging academic and professional staff alike to join together in graduation ceremonies. The success of our students is something we can all take pride in and celebrate. It was great to see a good number of professional staff colleagues joining the processions at last week’s ceremonies and I hope that this is something that will become a very well-established tradition at Southern Cross University.
For me, some of the most enlivening elements of graduation ceremonies come after their conclusion, as the families and graduates mingle and celebrate. I like to take the opportunity to meet many of these, and this year I was struck by how many mums and dads told me just how delighted they had been with the experience that their son or daughter had enjoyed whilst at Southern Cross. Several also explained that they had children at a number of different universities and that in their mind, Southern Cross stood out as the one they would recommend to others.
This is feedback that I wanted each of you to hear, not because any of us have an interest in self-congratulation but because it affirms the hard work we have all been doing and the boldness of the decisions we have been taking to build a better, more genuinely distinctive university that truly serves our regions with excellence and integrity.
I hope you really enjoy this month’s edition of Southern Cross Matters, and I hope to see many of you at the graduation ceremonies that are yet to occur across the remainder of 2022!
Graduating students at Gold Coast ceremony
Vice Chancellor Professor Tyrone Carlin snapping a selfie on stage with Honorary Doctorate recipient Jennene Buckley
We’ve got about a thousand reasons to celebrate after holding the largest ever series of Gold Coast graduation ceremonies. A sea of mortarboards swept through the Gold Coast last week, with a record number of around 950 students attending graduation ceremonies.
In fact, there were so many graduates that the four events had to be moved off campus to the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre.
This round of graduates saw some inspiring stories come to light. Of note was international student from China, Dr Qi Guo, whose doctoral thesis examining membrane remodelling at the subcellular model in plants with the aim of engineering salt-tolerant crops, was awarded the Chancellor’s Medal.
The ceremonies saw 18 PhD recipients cross the stage. Additionally, Jennene Buckley was conferred the award of Honorary Doctor of the University. Jennene is the Founder of Feros Care and CEO for 20 years before starting her own company, Enkindle Consulting.
Other stories of note included mother and daughter, Rose and Maddie Smith, graduating the Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Education together.
More than 70 staff members took part in the Academic Procession across the four ceremonies. Associate Dean of Research, Faculty of Health Professor Marianne Wallis AM said she felt privileged to give the occasional address at one of the ceremonies.
“It was fantastic to be able to be there, to share that moment with them and to be able to talk to them about their future career and their development and where they go from here,” she said.
“I spent a bit of time thanking the family members and getting the graduates to thank the families and friends and support people. And I had noticed at the beginning of the ceremony somebody’s younger sibling or child had actually run a bottle of water right across the auditorium to one of the graduates. And I thought that just says it all, they’re always there.”
Chair of SCU College Faculty Board Dr Johanna Nieuwoudt said it was exciting to attend.
“It was great to be there to celebrate with the students. They’ve put in so much hard work,” Johanna said.
“We're in this journey together. And I wanted to be there at the end too. I hope they felt special because it is such a special time. We are so proud of our students and everything they achieve.”
Congratulations to our Gold Coast graduates!
iSISTAQUIT Project Manager Rebecca Hyland
To see a project like iSISTAQUIT reach a major milestone last month was immensely satisfying for project manager and proud Kamilaroi woman, Rebecca Hyland.
“Our women are strong, resilient and motivated to quit smoking. This project starts the conversations between friends, family and health professionals, as it’s often the support systems in place that can help a smoker quit for good,” she said.
On World No Tobacco Day (May 31) the Faculty of Health project, led by Professor Gillian Gould, launched a compilation of campaign video clips to raise awareness about the importance of culturally appropriate care in assisting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander pregnant women to quit smoking.
“We’ve had more than 25 Health Services from across Australia participate in the iSISTAQUIT training and these videos go that extra step in terms of resources,” said Rebecca. “It’s supporting a new Closing the Gap target to increase the number of babies born at a healthy weight by 2031, as we know tobacco smoking is the major contributor to low birthweight.”
Following her extensive experience in Indigenous health, engagement and reconciliation action plan implementation, Rebecca has recently been appointed co-chair of the Global Alliance for Chronic Diseases (GACD) Indigenous Populations Working Group. GACD brings together major international research funding agencies specifically to address the needs of vulnerable populations in high-income countries.
Rebecca said working with an Indigenous creative agency gave the finished iSISTAQUIT product an important edge. “From the start of this project, community consultations and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled health organisations and health professionals have advised and guided our work. It’s really important to our women that we create a culturally safe and inclusive approach imbedded with the knowledge and expertise from our frontline workers.”
The initial six videos launched on the YouTube Channel iSISTAQUIT TV will showcase the importance of culturally appropriate care and communication in supporting women to quit smoking. Research has found education and advice on their own are insufficient, and women are needing practical help and support with quitting.
Visit the iSISTAQUIT website to find out more www.isistaquit.org.au
Aerial view of Lismore during flood
A new project is being launched by Southern Cross University to revive and recover the Northern Rivers after the floods.
Expressions of interest for the VC Flood Recovery Project Scheme are now open, with funding available for projects designed to support specific segments of the Northern Rivers community in the process of recovery. Southern Cross University researchers and academics are strongly encouraged to apply.
“The Recovery Project Scheme will fund up to six projects that combine research and engagement to align with the academic and research strengths of the University,” Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research and Academic Capability) Professor Mary Spongberg said.
Successful projects will involve intentional engagement with those communities most impacted by the recent disasters. Funding can be used to seed new projects or to extend projects that are already supporting the communities in the Northern Rivers region.
Project teams must be led by Southern Cross University staff, but should also involve community or industry groups based on the Northern Rivers.
“The project lead and co-lead must be Southern Cross University staff members employed on a continuing basis, or on a fixed term basis for three years or more, with clear ties to the Northern Rivers community,” Professor Spongberg said.
“Preference will be given to projects led by staff with direct experience of the disaster; our staff are not just able to add value to the recovery process by way of their expertise but are also members of the community in recovery.
“We know that many Southern Cross staff were on the frontline during the floods, both as rescuers and researchers. This scheme is the perfect opportunity for them to expand their work with the local community and contribute in a meaningful way to our recovery from these devastating floods. We implore those with the capacity, ideas and expertise to consider submitting an application.”
Project applications are simple for a quick turn-around. It is intended that projects be completed within 12 months of funding approval.
Find out more about the VC Flood Recovery Project Scheme.
Future students on campus at Gold Coast open day
Future students will be able to scroll the web and stroll through campuses at Southern Cross University’s first ever hybrid Open Day.
It is exciting to be welcoming students back to campus for Open Day, as the past two years have been solely online.
This year, flexibility is the name of the game with the hybrid Open Day catering to both students on campus and online.
The virtual events will launch from July 8, with course information, virtual campus tours and the popular on-demand videos. Students will then be welcomed on campus for Open Day events at Coffs Harbour, Lismore and the Gold Coast from August 5 to 7.
Of note this year is the course-specific panel sessions, with speakers including academics, students and graduates working in the industry.
Southern Cross University Vice President (Engagement) Ben Roche said this year’s Open Day events are more refined and focused on specific areas of interest, marking a point of difference from previous years.
“As the main vehicle for considering future study, it is vital that we continue to innovate our approach to Open Day. Future students and their parents have told us they want more targeted and personalised engagement and our new approach to Open Day On-Demand will deliver that,” Mr Roche said.
“At Southern Cross University, we work back from the needs of students and their families when considering how to improve. Over the past two years, we have had the opportunity to reflect and refine the way in which we engage prospective students in the unique education experience we offer. The approach has been well received, with the highest levels of registrations and engagement to date achieved in 2021,” he said.
“Building on this, Open Day 2022 will, for the first time, be delivered as a hybrid offering, enabling continued engagement with a broader audience online and the rollout of a streamlined on-campus approach.
“The on-campus experience will centre on a series of panel sessions providing a student perspective to study at Southern Cross and, importantly, a real-world view from graduates and industry partners.”
Find out more about our 2022 Open Day.
River water and vegetation samples on display at the Smelling Rivers workshop
Professor Amanda Reichelt-Brushett presenting at the Sydney Biennale 'Smelling Rivers' workshop
A multidisciplinary team of Southern Cross University academics have taken art-lovers on a journey of olfactory discovery at the Sydney Biennale with their ‘Smelling Rivers’ Workshop.
Environmental scientist, Professor Amanda Reichelt-Brushett, media artist, Associate Professor Grayson Cooke, and author and Adjunct Lecturer, Moya Costello teamed up to bring a taste (or a smell) of both Sydney city and the Northern Rivers through two workshops.
Participants were invited to collectively invent new vocabulary for interpreting river aromas and watery sediments.
Under the guidance of wine writer Moya Costello, participants took part in a warm up act before the workshop. “We invited them to smell and taste a prosecco and a shiraz, as Amanda said that the familiarity of this activity would enable participants to respond to smelling samples of river water.
“The main act was smelling a large variety of river water and vegetation samples that Amanda had gathered across Lismore and surrounds, including at Barangaroo/The Cutaway, the event precinct,” Moya said.
Amanda also gathered test tubes, jars, flasks, filter paper, pens, petri dishes, and especially a ‘fountain’ of glassware from Shoppe One in Lismore, including glasses covered in river mud/silt from the 2022 flood.
“We asked participants then to write down what wine and river smells reminded them of, and if they would share their responses. Most did. Biennale curator José Roca wrote and contributed his response, saying that the prosecco reminded him of afternoons of forbidden lemonade (aka champagne),” Moya said.
Grayson said they had been working on new ways to understand rivers and river systems across art, science, history, law and Indigenous knowledge.
“The concept of sense, and smell especially, came up as a really rich, and fun, way of making people think about rivers differently. We had a blast at the Biennale, people loved pouring this sticky mud into beautiful glasses and having a good sniff, it feels so wrong but it works!”
Dr Sally Ashton-Hay, Lecturer (Teaching Scholar) in the Learning Experience Team and an expert on ‘translanguaging’
We’re lucky to have several amazing language teachers at the University. One of them is Dr Sally Ashton-Hay, Lecturer (Teaching Scholar) in the Learning Experience Team and an expert on ‘translanguaging’, a technique she’s sharing on the global stage.
Originally from Pennsylvania, Sally began working with the US Department of State after teaching high school students. When the organisation offered Sally work overseas, she expected to be sent to a Francophone country as she had studied French for years. She was a bit surprised when she found herself in Turkey, despite not speaking Turkish!
Her adventures in language continued, driven by a passion to see English students from all backgrounds succeed.
Calling Australia home since the 1980s, Sally recently teamed up with the US Department of State again as part of the Virtual English Language Specialist Program, presenting her work on translanguaging at a global English teaching conference as well as virtual teacher training sessions to pre-service education students and their lecturers.
Translanguaging is a novel teaching method used to support bilingual Southern Cross students studying Southern Cross business curricula in China.
The project was a prestigious appointment as the US Department of State only funds around 200 projects each year, and is now taking steps to publish Sally’s presentation.
“It was professionally exhilarating. It’s a highlight of my career, I’d have to say,” she said.
Sally said she received positive feedback for both her virtual presentation and teacher training sessions, with the US Department of State now taking steps to publish her presentation.
The project was a prestigious appointment as the US Department of State only funds around 200 projects each year.
Sally said she has always been passionate about teaching English to students of varying backgrounds.
“As I progressed in my teaching career, it just seemed that there was more and more diversity in classes. And many people didn’t know how to teach those students,” she said. “I had a heart for it and wanted to see them succeed.”
PhD candidate Irani de Alwis
With industry and academic experience in software engineering in information technology, Irani has moved from Sri Lanka to the sunny Gold Coast to pursue her PhD with the Faculty of Business. Her research interests lie at the intersection of software engineering and information system development industry best practices.
What are you researching?
My research title is ‘The Balancing of Minimum Viability and Innovation in Information System Development Context’.
The minimum viable product (MVP) is a key concept in lean start up methodology and represents a basic but launchable version of a product with minimal, yet must have features, that provides maximum amount of validated learning about target customers.
In the information system development (ISD) industry, MVP helps software development product teams to receive customer feedback as quickly as possible to improve the product in their next iterations.
In my research, I explore how to balance MVP and innovation inside ISD organisations to achieve competitive advantage while managing the risks and costs of innovations.
What was your motivation to pursue research in this area?
While working as a software engineer, I have experienced project failures and customer contract terminations. I have seen how the organisations failed to balance minimum viability and innovation, and encounter failures as a result of it. I noticed the research gaps in identifying and handling tensions between MVP and innovation in ISD context. Therefore, I have a motivation to improve the software product development and delivery process in ISD organisations while utilising intrapreneur capabilities for the betterment of the organisation.
What do you love about your research?
I love everything about my research. Southern Cross University has provided me with a better learning environment. I am truly grateful about the everyday learning opportunities I get by conducting this research, my work station and the facilities provided to carry on my research, the guidance and supervision I received from my supervisor Professor Darshana Sedera and the valuable constructive feedback received from my information systems research group.
Why did you choose to pursue your research at Southern Cross University and what have been some of your highlights so far?
I received my bachelor degree from the University of Westminster in the UK and I wanted to pursue my postgraduate studies in a globally recognised, highly ranked university. Therefore, I carefully selected Southern Cross University to get guidance to improve my style of learning. I found that the research degrees at Southern Cross are aligned with my research interests. I saw endless opportunities at SCU and during the first six months of my study, I wrote several research-in-progress papers targeting information systems conferences around the world. Also, I presented my research progress at the PRAXIS Conference on 24 June 2022 at the Gold Coast Campus which was a great experience.
Amanda Barnes, Associate Lecturer, Faculty of Health
Elizabeth Besgrove, Associate Lecturer, Faculty of Health
Adi Brown, Associate Lecturer, Faculty of Education
Brenda Happell, Professor, Faculty of Health
Chithira Johnson, Director, Student Support Office of Vice President (Students) and Registrar
Mark Krnjaic, Director, Organisational Development HR Services
Susan Lang-Lemckert, Program Manager, ReCirculator Faculty of Science and Engineering
Tina Marcoionni Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Education
Kelly Menzel, Senior Lecturer, Gnibi College Indigenous Australian Peoples
Callum Moore, Infrastructure Administrator, Technology Services
Georgia O'Connell, Digital Performance Specialist, Office of Engagement
Morgan Pearson, Associate Lecturer, Faculty of Health
Babu Pillai, Lecturer, Faculty of Science and Engineering
Jason Shipway, Applications Delivery and Support, Technology Services
Menka Tsantefski, Associate Professor, Faculty of Health
Professor Tyrone Carlin, Vice Chancellor and President
On Thursday May 12, members of the SCU team joined together with people from around the world to mark International Nurses Day. It was in that context that I had the good fortune to attend a celebratory barbeque at the Lismore campus and spend some time with Professor Jennene Greenhill and members of the Nursing discipline team.
It was delightful to meet again with colleagues who I had not seen in quite some time, and to meet others for the first time other than on Zoom! I imagine that this has been an experience that many at the University have shared in recent months. It underscored for me the importance, even as we embed a more flexible approach to working, of ensuring that we invest together in building a community and maintaining the liveliness of our campuses as hubs for engagement.
What struck me most about the events of the day, though, was the opportunity to meet with a number of our students. I found this to be enormously inspiring and I wanted to share this with our community as a whole because I believe that you will be similarly moved.
I first met Melissa and Bronwyn, two third-year nursing students normally based at the Gold Coast campus. During the height of the flooding, these amazing members of our University were so concerned for the wellbeing of community members that they decided to travel to Lismore and help out wherever they could in the evacuation centre that was at that stage home to many hundreds of people in deep need. I could tell as I spoke to them about this that their experiences in doing this had impacted on them to a very profound degree, but that they were so proud to have been part of a large team effort to respond to a terrible disaster.
Their efforts, though, did not end there. Whilst volunteering in the evacuation centre, they became very concerned about their fellow students from Lismore who had lost everything, including their trademark Faculty of Health shirts. So, they worked to raise funds for the purpose of ensuring that our Lismore students who’d lost these could be provided with new ones. That money, matched dollar for dollar by the University is now being used by the Faculty of Health for precisely that purpose.
After spending some time with Melissa and Bronwyn, I met Jason – one of our Lismore based Bachelor of Nursing students. I asked him how he was travelling with his studies and his eyes lit up with passion and excitement. He told me how he often finds study daunting and challenging, and how much he has valued the support and mentorship of the academic team at the University – for who he expressed enormous respect and gratitude.
Jason is 48 years old. In the decade before he commenced our nursing program, he was a long-haul truck driver. He described his week to me. He told me that on a Sunday morning, he would be up before dawn, for a 45-minute drive to the depot. Then after a further 45 minutes or so of preparation time, he’d be on the road. If he was lucky, he would arrive back home by footy kick off time on a Friday night – but very often wasn’t home until Saturday morning.
He was proud of that work and proud of the discipline that he learned in doing it for so long. But he wanted something different. So, having not been in a classroom or engaged in any formal learning for two decades, he took a leap of faith. When he found himself beginning to receive distinctions for his academic work, he was enormously surprised, but also found a deep sense of affirmation and purpose. He wondered out loud to me as to whether he would in the end succeed in completing his studies. I told him without equivocation that I was absolutely certain that he would, and how proud he should be of what he is accomplishing – but perhaps more than that, what he will accomplish when he realises his dream.
When we boil it all down, we can perhaps say two things about our University. First, that we are blessed to work and study in a community that has care for each other so deeply rooted in its value set and in which that is lived out every day. Second, that we work together in a community that makes dreams come true as we transform lives through education and research. How many organisations can genuinely say that?
I hope you find the content of this month’s edition of Southern Cross Matters informative and inspiring and look forward to your continued feedback and suggestions for future topics for inclusion. Thanks for all the outstanding work each of you continues to do to advance our University.
Associate Lecturer Lisa Siegel
Lisa Siegel, an Associate Lecturer and doctoral candidate in the Faculty of Education has been named the 2021 NSW Environmental Educator of the Year.
But the road to that accolade actually started in a concrete playground in California.
As is the case in many schools, Lisa’s early school breaks were spent in concrete surrounds. It wasn’t until a pivotal moment in Year 4, when a teacher took the class to a nearby stream for a hike, that something shifted in her. Walking through the creek she experienced contact with nature she hadn’t felt before.
Later, when she was moved into a class for gifted children, Lisa met another teacher who also inspired her; and whose approach to teaching she emulates to this day. This teacher began each class ‘shooting the breeze’, asking what the kids wanted to talk about, and then using this to guide the day’s lessons. He also taught the class to assess their values and led regular discussions about them. It was a student-led, but teacher-guided experience that harnesses students’ passion and curiosity – an approach Lisa now uses herself.
“Environmental education at its core is interdisciplinary and intra-connected. If we feel connected to nature we have more of a desire to take care,” she said, “and I’ve seen it born out again and again.”
Lisa is on the leadership team of the Sustainability, Environment, and Arts Education (SEAE) research cluster at Southern Cross and on the verge of finishing her PhD, which examines how women develop into environmentalists. Her work even touches on the principles of quantum physics.
“Every moment that we meet is different, has potential, so that’s also what’s very exciting about environmental education. People can feel overwhelmed that we’re not going to be able to make the changes we need to in time, but quantum field theory – physics – says there’s potential in every moment for something to change, and that’s very heartening,” said Lisa.
Associate Professor Tobias Kretzschmar
Hemp’s formidable nutritional and fibre qualities are supercharging a recalibration of its reputation and research. Amid global demand for higher quality natural foods and medicines, Associate Professor Tobias Kretzschmar’s hemp research has Southern Cross University at the forefront of a growing phenomenon.
Based at Southern Cross Plant Science in Lismore, Tobias said hemp is “a crop of a hundred uses” and that Australia could lead its multi-faceted cultivation and development.
"Hemp has massive potential as a food and medicinal crop,” he said. “The seeds are rich in oils of a similar quality as fish oil, except they are vegan and do not have the smell. They also contain high amounts of essential amino acids. Like soy, hemp can be used as a protein crop. Like canola, it can be used as an oil crop. In addition, its flowers are rich in nutraceutical and medical compounds.
“Hemp also produces high-quality fibres that can serve as fabric for clothing or be used in composite materials to replace single-use plastic. As Hempcrete, it can replace concrete or other non-renewables in certain building applications. Developed correctly, hemp can help us reach zero waste goals and implement circular and sustainable economies.”
A plant geneticist and plant physiologist, Tobias’s career has ranged from studying pineapples in Townsville and rice in the Philippines to petunias in Switzerland, where he also did his PhD in plant molecular physiology. At Southern Cross, his research has covered passionfruit, coffee, mustard, tea tree and rice. He is currently leading a project into the drivers of nutritional quality in black rice.
In supporting plant breeders to make better crops, particularly for nutrition and medicine, Tobias is also investigating how plants produce their plethora of specialised natural compounds that are healthy for humans. Despite years of over-regulation and stigmatisation, he said hemp was an ideal crop for Australia.
“Currently we are involved in two large cannabis projects. One is investigating the effect of agronomic and chemical interventions on cannabis productivity and the other is on genetic control of hempseed nutritional quality.
This will involve looking at seed size and nutritional composition. Importantly, the work will also link hemp’s genetic makeup to its visual or chemical characteristics and traits through quantitative genetic approaches. “This will help in making better hemp seed varieties for Australia down the track.”
Students on campus at the Gold Coast
As we approach the half-year mark of 2022, some exciting new courses and course changes are on the horizon.
A new Bachelor of Clinical Exercise Physiology commences in Term 1 2023. This four-year degree enables registration as a Clinical Exercise Physiologist – one of the fastest growing allied health specialisations – and represents the evolution of the existing Bachelor + Masters pathway.
Other new health degrees in 2023 include the Master of Naturopathic Medicine, the postgraduate complement to the Bachelor of Health Science (Health and Lifestyle) introduced in 2022 for students interested in practising clinical naturopathy.
The suite of Engineering degrees will see some important new changes, with the extension to the Gold Coast campus for the Bachelor of Engineering Systems (Honours), the Associate Degree of Engineering and the new Master of Engineering Practice.
The Associate Degree of Engineering will be sporting a new name and a new structure, with two new specialisations in civil construction and intelligent machines. The new degree structure is suited to those looking to enter the civil construction or manufacturing and production industries in a supervisory management or technical role, or as a pathway to the Bachelor degree and accreditation under the Washington Accord.
An expanding suite of pathway programs launches in Term 1 with two new Diplomas – the Diploma of Information Technology and the Diploma of Regenerative Agriculture. These join our current suite of Diplomas and Undergraduate Certificates as pathways into linked Bachelor studies.
Finally, the Bachelor of Business and Enterprise makes a welcome return to Lismore campus with a planned major in Entrepreneurship and Innovation.
Next year will also mark a significant milestone in our academic portfolio with the extension of the Southern Cross Model to all courses, including all Health and Law undergraduate degrees.
Pro Vice Chancellor (Academic Innovation) Professor Erica Wilson said the early data from the Southern Cross Model showed increased student success and pass rates. “It’s an exciting year ahead. We’re looking forward to seeing the Model roll out across all disciplines. These new courses and the Southern Cross Model are part of the evolution and innovation of our growing academic portfolio. These changes will enable even greater success for our students at university and beyond,” she said.
Student Isaiah Koopmans training for the Gold Coast Marathon
After two years of COVID interruptions, the Gold Coast Marathon is back on 2-3 July, with Southern Cross University a major sponsor for the 15th year running (pun intended).
You’ll be able to spot Southern Cross University from a mile away as our partnerships team go all out with merch, the starter gun, our converted electric Kombi, and the recovery hub. The 100-point recovery program is designed by our health experts and run by our Osteopathy and Exercise Science students, who get to apply their classroom knowledge in a real-world race setting.
More than 100 students and staff are expected to participate in Team SCU this year, where they reap the benefits of a discounted entry fee, colourful SCU branded singlets, and access to our team marquee with a healthy breakfast and post-race sports massage.
A notable Southern Cross student is Isaiah Koopmans, the current Australian 20-24-year-old National Champion of the standard distance triathlon event - involving a 1.5km swim, 40km bike ride, and 10km run. Isaiah, who hails from Coffs Harbour, said the Gold Coast Marathon has a fantastic vibe.
“Not only is the Gold Coast Marathon event a fast and flat course, but the atmosphere at this event is unreal from both an athlete and spectator perspective, and it allows me to meet with and compete against fellow SCU teammates as well, who study across all campuses or online,” he said.
“My personal best at this 10km event was the last time I competed in 2019, which was just on 34 minutes, so this year I am aiming to run around 31 to 32 minutes.”
Engineering student Tayla Preddey
This year’s Engineering Honours students are focusing their theses on an area of research that’s close to home: flooding.
“There was a really strong response from students when considering their thesis topics. After the floods hit at the beginning of Term 1, the majority of students were really keen to do something that they thought would help with the recovery and future flood resilience,” said course coordinator Professor Andrew Rose.
With a combination of civil and mechanical engineering students, topics range from building design approaches to withstand flooding, development of flood-resistant materials for more resilient roads, to machine learning to predict floods.
“The great thing is that they are really practical projects and there is genuine research to be done which the students are really excited about. They are coming up with solutions for real world applications and hopefully some will be adopted,” Professor Rose said.
“One student who currently works for the Richmond Valley Council is looking at the effects of heavy rainfall events within the Casino urban catchment during major flood events within the Richmond River Basin. So, the outcomes of that project will be directly relevant to their flood modelling.”
Another student, employed by Transport for New South Wales, is researching the development of open-graded unbound granular materials suitable for base and sub-base application in Permeable Pavement Systems to provide flood-resistant and resilient roads.
“In theory they are just research topics and there is no obligation for students to have those sorts of connections with community. But in reality, a lot of students are involved by either working in the industry or with community groups. So, several projects already have a direct connection,” Professor Rose said.
Engineering graduates are required to complete a thesis to gain professional accreditation with Engineers Australia. According to Professor Rose, completing their thesis gives students the opportunity to develop a deeper understanding of “what it actually takes to generate new knowledge.”
“For students who go on to work in the industry, it’s crucial that they have that ability to innovate. If they can’t find the answer in a book, they’re not just going to get stuck and say ‘oh well, I can’t solve that problem’.
“By completing practical research at university, they learn how to generate knowledge, ideas, tools and techniques when they encounter difficult problems, and that’s a lot of what engineering work is all about.”
Pro Vice Chancellor (Academic Innovation) Erica Wilson
Pro Vice Chancellor (Academic Innovation) Erica Wilson has been appointed as the new chair of Council for Australasian Tourism and Hospitality Education. The organisation represents the interests of higher education providers and individual members of tourism, hospitality and events education and researchers at Bachelor degree level and above in Australia and New Zealand. Congratulations Erica.
Steven Doherty, Research Fellow, Faculty of Science and Engineering
Simon Eldridge, Senior Technical Officer, Southern Cross Analytical Research Services
John Hancock, Stakeholder Manager, Office of Engagement
Danielle Jones, Project Officer, Financial Services
Nathan Kempshall, Project Manager, Soil Research and Carbon Neutral Economy Project, Office of Engagement
Ruben Luakkonen, Lecturer, Faculty of Health
Jodie-Anne Mak, Partnership Officer, Office of Engagement
Suzanne McDonald, Lecturer, Faculty of Health
Chris Medcraft, Postdoctoral Researcher, National Marine Science Centre
Neville Mott, Head Chef, Catering and Unibar
Simone Newman, Senior library Coordinator, Library Services
Fendy Santoso, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Science and Engineering
Feifei Tong, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Science and Engineering
Professor Tyrone Carlin, Vice Chancellor and President
Recently, I wrote to the University community and announced the Commonwealth’s commitment to support the University with $27.5m in funding towards the realisation of the next stage of our vision for our Coffs Harbour campus. This is a genuinely catalytic moment for us, achieved in an era in which many competing priorities for potential investment have drawn the dominant gaze of government from Universities.
In these circumstances, I have come to believe that what marked out our proposal was not the cleverness of the design or the allure of the economic activity that naturally flows from a significant construction project, but rather, how it spoke to our ethos as a University and our orientation towards ensuring that as we work towards our own success, we use as a yardstick the benefit that we bring to others.
This is precisely the ethos that runs through the profile of Damien Maher in this edition of Southern Cross Matters. As you read that material, I’m sure you’ll derive a deep sense of the motivating force that pushes him to explore new frontiers of knowledge and the enormous significance for him of seeing that work translated into impact and application.
It is the same ethos that has informed the approach taken at the Lismore campus as we support the organisations and institutions that together provide the fabric that undergirds our community such that we protect and build upon our vitality and sustain our reasons to be optimistic as to the future.
I believe that the Southern Cross Model is also informed by this same approach – and that in our willingness to take risks and to expend enormous time and energy in the quest for a better way of learning and teaching, we will find our reward in the deeper engagement, intellectual development and success of our students and their subsequent contributions to society.
As we continue to prepare ourselves for our future, for our priorities in that future and for the challenging trade-offs that we will need to deliberate upon during that journey, it will serve us well to continue to remind ourselves of the power of looking outwards, of engagement with our communities and of the central importance of excellence through impact.
I hope you find this edition of Southern Cross Matters enjoyable and inspirational and look forward to your continued suggestions for matters of interest for future versions.
Professor Tyrone M Carlin
Vice Chancellor and President
Professor Damien Maher
Professor Damien Maher’s research has taken him from the Great Barrier Reef to the mangroves of Florida, small freshwater streams in Arizona, the Gulf of Carpentaria and even the Tibetan Plateau. But lately, it’s his research in our own backyard on the Northern Rivers that’s making an impact.
As a specialist in hydrobiogeochemistry, Damien’s work covers a range of topics from local water quality issues and solutions, to global biogeochemical and hydrological cycles. His research team have been working on a collaborative project with Rous County Council and the Department of Planning and Environment to monitor water quality in the Richmond River. Following the devastating weather events in February and March, the team have been busy investigating the chronic impacts of the flooding on the NSW North Coast, including the deoxygenation of the Richmond River catchment, resulting in extensive fish kill.
“My SCU colleagues and I are working with local and state governments to undertake regular sampling of water throughout the Richmond River, installation and maintenance of water quality loggers, as well as some experimental work to understand how the river responds to these kinds of massive floods,” Professor Maher said.
“We will use this information to develop and calibrate water quality models, with the ultimate aim of providing management options to government. As part of this project we are also looking to map out erosion in the catchment, which has been extensive. This will help inform government on where restoration works should be prioritised to reduce the long-term effects of soils being moved from the land to the waterways,” he said.
Damien has always had a passion for the environment, in particular rivers, estuaries and the coastal ocean. He has been exploring these relationships for the best part of two decades and new discoveries keep inspiring him to find out more.
“One of the discoveries we have found is that there are microbes living in the bark that can transform nitrogen gas into nitrogen that the trees can use to grow. This is a really exciting discovery, and may change the way we view the global nitrogen budget, and how forest ecosystems will respond to climate change,” Professor Maher said.
Damien credits his collaborations with University colleagues, industry and government as the backbone of delivering research with impact.
“It’s important to realise that good research cannot be undertaken in isolation. Collaborating with other researchers and industry partners has not only helped shape my research focus, but has also provided pathways for translation of research into practice. It is extremely rewarding to see the research I have been a part of being applied to real-world issues.”
Trinity Catholic College students
Students and staff returning to campus this week, ready for Term 2, will notice some big changes. The evacuation centre is now closed but the campus is actively supporting the recovery effort of the region as a hub of education, health and community services.
Two schools are now sharing the Lismore campus with us and a third is on the way. Trinity Catholic College and the Living School are now housed in R and E block respectively, while the Rivers Secondary College will shortly be housed in temporary classrooms adjacent to the Military Road gatehouse.
A recovery centre continues to operate out of V block, distributing donated goods, food and clothing. More than 30 services are using or have used the campus as temporary or semi-temporary accommodation, including Centrelink, Service NSW, insurance and banking facilities, LegalAid, community services organisations and emergency services including the NSW Police. “It's a version of the concept of town and gown in a way, where you're really bringing parts of the town to the university where it makes sense to do so. That's definitely the way of the future and I think it’s good for students as it provides opportunities for them as well,” said Allan Morris, Vice President (Operations).
Head2Health, the new mental health consulting space is operating out of P block, providing space for mental health services alongside general practitioners and allied health professionals who are operating from the P Block Health Clinic, where pathology services are also located.
The Business Hub in A Block’s Enterprise Lab, set up by Business NSW, is also providing an essential space for people to reboot and re-imagine commercial activities. Regional Manager of Business NSW Jane Laverty said between 20-50 businesses were accessing the hub every day to access workspaces, wifi, support and business recovery information. “The whole goal of the hub for us to retain as many businesses in the Northern Rivers as we possibly can,” she said.
Professor Dirk Erler and Professor Bradley Eyre
Ever since he was a child Professor Bradley Eyre has always asked ‘why?’
“I’ve always been fascinated by science, with a real interest in natural systems and how they work, but these days I’ve expanded my view to ask how natural systems work at a global level – there are still many unanswered questions,” Professor Eyre says.
The biogeochemist from Southern Cross University’s Faculty of Science and Engineering will lead two ARC Discovery Projects in the same round, taking him from Australia’s flooded inland deserts to the shallow ocean floor along the Great Barrier Reef.
Professor Eyre said he was thrilled to be collaborating with NASA, who will conduct satellite work for the $456,000 project ‘Resolving the role of dryland flooding in the global carbon cycle’ and CSIRO, who will use the findings to inform global carbon cycle modelling.
“This builds on our previous work at Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre in remote Central Australia when it flooded in 2019. My colleague Professor Dirk Erler and I hired a helicopter to gather water samples and became the first scientists to measure greenhouse gas emissions from an inland salt lake and associated flooded river systems,” Professor Eyre said.
“We’ll now prepare everything and wait for the next flood in the Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre’s catchment to do some more detailed sampling, as well as some sampling in the dry, which may lead to the discovery of some of the planet’s missing sources of methane.”
Meanwhile Professor Eyre’s $437,000 project ‘Shallow water carbonate sediment dissolution in the global carbon cycle’ – his latest on the Great Barrier Reef – will determine the amount of alkalinity and calcium released as sands on the continental shelf dissolve, which will also contribute to a better understanding of the global carbon cycle.
These grants are Professor Eyre’s 31st and 32nd ARC-funded projects, with three successful ARC projects in the past year, off the back of another ARC Linkage project awarded at the end of 2020.
With Term 1 of 2022 now complete, we take a moment to reflect on teaching and learning in the Southern Cross Model.
“Teaching into the new Southern Cross Model has been challenging, the fastest six weeks ever!” said Professor Bronwyn Barkla, who taught Plant Science in Term 1.
“Keeping to the rapid turnaround for marking is probably the most difficult task and ensuring students don’t fall behind on the modules. That being said, my students were very positive of the new model, and I like that my teaching commitment is over quickly so I can get back to a focus on research,” she said.
Responding to a survey about the Southern Cross Model on the University’s social media channels, students said they enjoyed having the module content ‘all in the one place’ as well as the more frequent breaks in the academic calendar. The ability to focus on fewer subjects and fitting study around full-time work were also a bonus for students.
The most frequent challenge students experienced was the amount of content to get through in six weeks.
Social Work and Community Welfare Course Coordinator Dr Darran Stonehouse, who taught his first Southern Cross Model unit in Term 1, said the balance between self-learning content and longer class hours required tweaking during the Term. “I had to make adjustments to the learning activities planned for the classes,” he said.
Subhi Pradhan and Monty Singh with Australia's Ambassador to Nepal, Her Excellency Ms Felicity Volk, at the Australian Embassy in Nepal
After a two-year hiatus, the International team have been back reconnecting and strengthening relationships in our key student markets around the world.
These areas have a rapidly growing youth population and a high demand for up-skilling, meaning that advancing our relationship has never been more important.
Our representatives Subhi Pradhan (Country Manager for Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and India) and Monty Singh (Chief International Officer), joined numerous events including the Gold Coast Education Destination Showcase Event and Networking Dinner in Mumbai.
The team showcased all the advantages of Southern Cross University and the Gold Coast as a study destination.
“We addressed our new courses, industry collaborations, employability opportunities for international students, and future partnership opportunities with Indian institutions,” Subhi said.
Other events included the Director's Meet and Networking Event in Nepal and plenty of agent reactivation visits in New Delhi, Gurgaon, and Noida.
Monty Singh met with Australia's Ambassador to Nepal, Her Excellency Ms Felicity Volk, at the Australian Embassy in Nepal and discussed strengthening overall relations. The International team has relationships with over 30 of the top colleges in Nepal for hospitality, finance, and management.
A new edition to the 2022 international strategy is the introduction of SCU Info Week, where the elected international agent decorates the whole office with Southern Cross branding and promotes the University for a week to prospective students.
So, what’s next for the International team? Sponsoring the biggest basketball league in Nepal, with an estimated reach of 1 million viewers globally!
Student Ambassador Chelsea with the interactive cube lightbox at SWIFF Festival
For the second year in a row, the Coffs Harbour campus transformed into a hub for filmmakers and enthusiasts for the Screenwave International Film Festival. As a proud sponsor, Southern Cross was involved in numerous ways for the two-week festival.
A highlight of the program, dubbed the ‘Oscars night for Coffs Harbour,’ was the Nextwave Youth Film Awards at the CHEC Theatre. The event saw a red-carpet arrival, live music, guest speakers, an awards ceremony, and a screening of finalists’ short films.
The Southern Cross interactive cube lightbox brightened the campus, with festival-goers invited to grab a piece of chalk and answer, ‘what is the most valuable thing you’ve ever learnt?’ Responses ranged from ‘bring a blanket into the cinema’ to ‘never stop learning’.
Another highlight was the inaugural Southern Cross Nextwave Accelerator workshop run by Digital Media Lecturer Uwe Terton. He led 30 finalists from schools across the region to create a short montage in the intensive three-hour workshop.
“I am very grateful to have been given the opportunity to facilitate one of the Nextwave Accelerator workshops around film montage. The event is important in nurturing creative talent within the Coffs Harbour community,” said Uwe.
Winding up two weeks of festivities was a panel discussion following the screening of 'Carbon: the unauthorised biography.’ The discussion featured many familiar Southern Cross faces, such as Associate Professor Christian Sanders, Environmental Analysis Laboratory Technical Manager Nadia Toppler, and Marine Science student Luke Austin, who was recently awarded the AgriFutures Horizon Scholarship.
The Solar Sunflower powers the stage at Ocean Lovers Festival
The Southern Cross Solar Sunflower took a road trip to sunny Bondi Beach to attend the Ocean Lovers Festival, a free festival of art, music, ideas and action. The Sunflower helped to offset power from the main stage of the festival, supporting entertainment, live music and talks to over 20,000 people.
Represented by our student ambassadors Max Den Exter English and Isobelle Gapp, the sunflower attracted a crowd of people interested to learn more about the mobile solar generator system, designed and built at our Lismore campus.
Carolyn Grant, Director of Engagement at Ocean Lovers Festival said the Sunflower was an attractive and engaging talking point.
“Bursting open next to our Sunshine Stage right on the beachfront, the solar sunflower symbolised our hope through solutions and science to improve the planet and particularly the ocean by doing our bit to reduce fossil fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions while promoting the adaptable ways to harness the energy of the gorgeous sunshine we enjoyed all weekend. Visitors loved engaging with the Southern Cross University team to find out more about how they powered our sound system which we were very grateful for.”
PhD candidate Katrina Campbell
What are you researching for your PhD?
My PhD is about ‘Diagnostic practice in mental health nursing: Understanding the factors that influence clinical decision making for nurses who make a provisional diagnosis of borderline personality disorder in assessment/emergency settings’. It explores how mental health nurses make decisions when providing a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder within the emergency department or crisis context.
Borderline personality disorder is characterised by unstable interpersonal relationships, emotional dysregulation and frequent attempts to avoid abandonment. Often people with this condition will engage in self harm as a way to regulate their emotions or to show people how they are feeling.
What was your motivation to pursue research in this area?
My motivation to explore this topic stemmed from my clinical background. I started working in the emergency department with the mental health crisis team and a presentation we saw a lot of was borderline personality disorder. I began to see a pattern of the same patients presenting to emergency who were also contacting us directly for crisis support and did not appear to be improving, instead they were faced with being labelled as ‘borderline’, compromising the care they sought. Borderline personality disorder is not recognised as a condition which requires treatment under the Medicare system so although these people utilise a disproportionate amount of mental health services, they can’t access to right treatment. The aim of my PhD is bring to light how frequently these people were seen in emergency departments, to look at the entry point to health services, and to establish the nurse’s role in assessing these patients.
What are your hopes for the future of healthcare and mental health?
When I first started out, I had big hopes that I could change the world, but the more I work through this PhD, the more I realise little steps are needed. I would like to see a mental health system where people can access the appropriate treatment at an appropriate time. As it currently stands, mental health treatment is difficult for most to access and it is costly.
Where to next? What are your plans once you’ve finished your PhD?
I think my first step is to take a break from studying! After that, I would like to get into a research position. I have grown to love writing so if I can do that and make a difference through my research in mental health, that would be amazing!
Ramon Braga, Research Fellow, Faculty of Science and Engineering
Holly Dowie-Ballard, Marketing Manager, Office of Engagement
Lily Guo, Lecturer, Faculty of Health
Brenda Happell, Professor, Faculty of Health
Rachel Hayes, Administrative Assistant, Southern Cross Analytical Research Services
Professor Tyrone Carlin, Vice Chancellor and President
When I wrote my introductory comments to accompany the February 2022 edition of Southern Cross Matters, I reflected on the importance and gathering pace and impact of our journey of reform and renewal, and my optimism for what we might achieve in the year that lay ahead.
Little could I have then imagined the events that would subsequently unfold in late February and throughout March. For all of us, the effects of these times will be long felt and remembered.
I have expressed to the University community on several occasions over past weeks my deep gratitude for the manner and spirit in which we have rallied together, looked out for each other and worked with incredible resolve and energy to play our part in helping our communities beyond crisis.
But I have also encouraged everyone at the University to reflect with hope and optimism on the strong progress we continue to make in our teaching and research and on the enormous reserves of talent and excellence we are blessed to be drawing upon and building as we do this work. I think that shines through very much in the pages of this edition of Southern Cross Matters.
This month, in addition to the written material, you will notice a link to a video that captures aspects of our experience of and response to the devastating flooding events of recent weeks. I think you will find it captivating and evocative, particularly because in the stories it reveals about a number of our amazing colleagues and students it captures the spirit of so many others at Southern Cross.
In facing the worst, we have given of our best and we have learned much. If we continue to encourage each other, exercise our creativity, maintain our ambition for the positive impact we can bring to the lives of others and hold on to our hope and optimism, there is very little that has the power to hold us back.
Professor Tyrone M Carlin
Vice Chancellor and President
Volunteers coordinate donations and supplies for flood evacuees
Two major flood events in the space of a month, five weeks of mud and heartache. In the middle of it all are the stories of our staff and students who stepped up when their community needed it most.
Students like Christa Morrow said she just couldn’t sit and watch. She rang her friends and organised mud armies of students to help with the first clean-up. “I just trawled Facebook for addresses that were popping up that needed help, where someone didn't have as many community connections. We started there with a team of students and then we just didn't stop for maybe seven days. You just go and go, you don't even think twice about it,” she said.
Staff members showed up in so many different ways and shone, taking on responsibilities far beyond their day-to-day duties. Faculty of Business, Law and Arts faculty manager Cindy Harvey worked for more than two weeks straight at the recovery hub on Lismore campus, accepting the truckloads of food, bedding and clothing that poured in, making sure they got to the people who needed them.
“Many donations were from people who were flood-affected themselves, who wanted to give back the extra they had to other needy people, it was really inspiring,” she said.
Dean of Health Julie Jomeen was among the many volunteers at the donation hub and she praised the tireless effort of staff. “It’s been very emotional and truly amazing how people come together, how people support each other, even under really difficult circumstances and how resilient our staff have been,” she said.
Together with the many health and community services now housed on Lismore campus are our colleagues in secondary education. Trinity College recommenced classes for all students on Lismore campus just two weeks after the first flood devastated their school buildings. Acting Principal Jesse Smith praised the University staff who had made the transition so easy. “It is wonderful to keep the education journey happening and alive for our students,” he said. Trinity School Captain Daniel Perreira (whose siblings are either past or present Southern Cross students) said the University campus had provided the calm they needed. “I think we all had a sense of relief just to know that we do have a place to be able to come together and still learn.”
Stories from the flood recovery at Southern Cross University
The second time we're better prepared. But after a month of mud and heartache it was a hard hit to take. The community pulled together in so many inspiring ways. From literally saving lives in the first flood to providing shelter, food, and a recovery where flooded schools and businesses could reopen and where essential services could operate. The university stood up when its community needed it the most. These are some of the stories.
When you first walk in you can't ignore the smell that's the first thing that you notice and then it kind of just clicks in that this is someone's life this is their reality.
We started there with the team of students and then we just didn't stop the adrenaline takes over and you just go and go you don't even think twice about it.
Yeah it's quite shocking. It's just seeing people with the whole world's possessions destroyed on the sidewalk so it's quite confronting. Uh yeah everyone's sort of working together and you know just pitching in because everyone just wants to help the community and help people get on with their lives.
We're taking community donations to actually provide to the community. We've had an outpouring of different regions come here and donate their products and goods for us to distribute out to the community. Some are even flood affected that have been given so many donations themselves which is really really inspiring.
I was born in Wee Waa and the flood drove us out in 74 I think it was and my family were affected by floods when I was a child so it holds strong to me so yeah.
They're doing such amazing work down here, I mean Cindy and all the people have been volunteering day in day out have just been truly amazing and the amount of donations coming in is also quite unreal.
I mean I actually over the last couple of weeks I found the whole thing quite emotional in so many ways how people come together how people you know support each other even under really difficult circumstances and also how resilient our staff have been.
Like the rest of the CBD and North and South Lismore, my was literally up to the ceiling. Business New South Wales in partnership with SCU is setting up this business hub we have hot desks we will be running Q&A sessions for insurance for commercial tenancies for the landlords for the tenants. There's a lot of very traumatised people in town but really the focus here is to actually get businesses up and running as soon as we can and to find out what businesses need to be able to do that I don't know where we would do this if the university wasn't here.
There was a lot of darkness that morning not just because the sun wasn't rising but simply because of the level of devastation so we had a total of eight classrooms on the third floor that did not have water in them. Uh the rest of the entire two campuses were inundated. It's wonderful to be here at Southern Cross University in wonderful facilities, working with wonderful staff from the university to keep the education journey happening and alive for our students.
I think we all had a sense of relief just to know that we do have to be able to come together and still learn. It's really great to just even see everyone and be around people that are going through things and we can really lean on each other.
English College students
Let’s pop the bubbly – this year SCU College celebrates 10 years as a stepping stone into higher education for thousands of students.
Beginning with a small offering of associate degrees, an English language program, and the foundation course Preparing for Success in 2012, the College was born out of Southern Cross University’s drive to increase access and participation in higher education across our campus regions.
“It’s an important role that the College plays and it’s really transformative in regional Australia where we know there are lower rates of higher education participation and higher numbers of non-traditional students, who might be the first person in their family to study, or those who come from low socioeconomic backgrounds or students who identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander,” Professor Thomas Roche, Pro-Vice Chancellor (Academic Quality) and Dean of SCU College said.
He believes providing a pathway to tertiary studies for all students, regardless of their previous educational background or ATAR score is at the heart of the College.
“What we do in the College is open up doors to study and future careers for students who otherwise wouldn’t gain admission to university,” he said.
“We track our students as they go on to further study and results show that students who have completed an SCU College pathway program are actually more likely to succeed in their studies than their peers,” Professor Roche said.
Professor Roche and Associate Dean (Education) Suzi Syme have presented research on this topic: ‘Bridging programs transform students’ lives – they even go on to outperform others at uni’.
SCU College now provides a suite of courses, including six diplomas, five undergraduate certificates, domestic and international preparation programs, and two English language units which were awarded a prestigious gold standard NEAS rating in 2021. Behind their success is a team of passionate staff, dedicated to seeing each student succeed.
“Our curriculum and pedagogy are underpinned by a culture of care that helps students develop into confident, independent and critical learners. The College is their starting point to connect to Southern Cross and gain a sense of belonging. They share a powerful message with their families and communities that it is possible to succeed academically, creating intergenerational change,” Associate Professor Suzi Syme said.
Happy 10th birthday SCU College!
Associate Professor Lynne McPherson
Working with vulnerable young people to improve their life trajectory is Lynne McPherson's life’s passion and work. She is an Associate Professor of Social Work and Community Welfare in Southern Cross University’s Centre for Children and Young People (CCYP) in the Faculty of Health.
When Lynne launches her ARC-funded project this year looking at practices in residential care that build trusting relationships and positive social connections, she will be working with some of the most vulnerable young people in the country.
Before becoming an academic, Lynne worked for more than 25 years as a senior social work manager and practice leader in child protection and the wider child, youth and family sector. She has extensive experience as a senior policy adviser, including a decade leading a state-wide unit in the Department of Human Services in Victoria.
The three-year project will see her research team working in nine residential sites across NSW, with the aim of finding practices that create a better life experience for teenagers who have experienced abuse and neglect within their families or within the care system itself.
She was ‘over the moon with excitement’ when she found out she’d successfully obtained her very first ARC Linkage grant, in conjunction with the CCYP’s lead researcher, Professor Anne Graham, as well as Dr Kathomi Gatwiri who received the University’s Early Career Researcher of the Year in 2019.
“It’s a wonderful endorsement. With this project we have a host of local talent and we are drawing on the expertise of a global team of experts who have joined the project by invitation,” she said.
The project has won more than $875,000 in contributions including $429,569 from the ARC, and $446,005 in cash and kind from the Centre for Excellence in Therapeutic Care – a division of the Australian Childhood Foundation.
Professor Mary Spongberg
As champion of research strategy and output at Southern Cross, Professor Mary Spongberg believes being a regional university provides an even greater opportunity to make a difference. From leading research to better understand our natural environment and address the impact of climate change and natural disasters on a local level, to supporting our children and young people, and building meaningful connections with our community and industry partners.
“I really love being in the region and being in a position to support amazing research that makes it a better place,” she said.
“In the wake of these devastating floods, it’s heartening to see that within our University we have the research expertise to support community and environmental recovery. Whether that’s Professor Damien Maher’s team investigating water quality in our river catchment, Professor Anne Graham’s work on processing of grief and trauma, or Professor Bradley Eyre’s research on stream metabolism and greenhouse gas emissions. All of these projects contribute to rebuilding the community, one way or another.”
In her expanded role as Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research and Academic Capability) Professor Spongberg will be focusing on embedding research deeply within each faculty and strengthening the University’s equity agenda.
“Research is critical to the future of the University and so it needs to be the bedrock of our strategy. We want to build and strengthen our research capabilities, make sure that we can attract and retain great staff and build a great community of higher degree research students across the university,” Mary said.
So, what’s on the horizon for research at Southern Cross?
“The two big ticket items are really building research in health and education, and rebuilding our edge in engineering. In science, we are seeing new success in our longstanding areas of excellence such as marine science and biogeochemistry, but also in emerging areas such as aquaculture and agriculture. We just submitted a large funding request for a Natural Products Hub, which would be unique in Australia, if we are successful. We’re doing well in both ARC funding as well as working more closely with industry,” she said.
“I think we’ve seen tremendous successes over the last couple of years despite some pretty big challenges presented by COVID and now the floods, but we’ve managed to continue building our capacity and even increase our HERDC (Higher Education Research Data Collection) income which is pretty incredible. I’m excited by what’s to come.”
Dr Johanna Nieuwoudt
As an international student from South Africa, Johanna Nieuwoudt was seeking a warm, subtropical climate where she could study exercise science when she found Southern Cross University. She had no idea she’d find herself, many years later, teaching in one of Australia’s most innovative academic models at the very institution where she completed her PhD.
Now in her seventh year as an academic at SCU College, Johanna teaches into the Preparing for Success program. She has seen firsthand the benefits of the Southern Cross Model for students. “We’re always thinking about students and how we can improve their experience. The Southern Cross Model gives them so much more control over the way they study and the satisfaction they gain from studying,” said Johanna, who has compiled an extensive set of data around time use as well as psychological wellbeing of students who are studying in the Southern Cross Model.
“Some stress is completely normal when you are studying and juggling different priorities, but what we have seen is a significant drop in the extreme or worrying stress and anxiety levels some people are experiencing,” she said.
Johanna credits the structure of the new model – where students are working on a maximum of two assessments at any one time and the ability to self-pace learning as critical. “I’ve been in the situation where I’ve taught in a session and a term concurrently and the motivation is just so different.
“In the Southern Cross Model, students are constantly testing their knowledge and receiving feedback and although the time commitment each week is around the same, the way they can organise that time is completely different. Healthy deadlines and manageable pressure can be extremely motivating.”
Read more about Johanna’s research here.
PhD candidate Colleen Rodd on the Great Barrier Reef
What are you researching for your PhD?
My PhD is about ‘The role of nutritional mode on settlement outcomes in coral larvae’. Basically, coral eggs are provisioned with a finite amount of energy to sustain them while they develop into larvae, search for a suitable habit to settle on, and then transform into a coral polyp. With funding from Southern Cross University and the Paul G Allen Family Foundation, I am exploring whether or not coral larvae are capable of using nutrients in the ocean water around them to supplement their own energy reserves. The idea is that if they can supplement their own energy stores, they may be more likely to survive their larval phase, transform into a coral, and grow into a healthy juvenile. At the moment most wild-spawned coral larvae die so, by increasing larval survival and coral settlement, we have the opportunity to enhance the effectiveness of coral reef restoration.
What’s your experience been like working on the Great Barrier Reef with Distinguished Professor Peter Harrison?
Incredible. We typically go out into the field with a large team and he takes great care in selecting team members. So, we all get along great. Coral spawning can be very intense! Late nights, a lot of anticipation, and a huge flurry of activity. Having a well-rounded, cohesive team makes all the hard work fun. We work hard, laugh a lot, and in the process do amazing, worthwhile research. And I love seeing the senior academics come alive with excitement at the sight of coral spawn. It shows me that the passion for our work likely won’t fade with time. Because, really at the end of the day, that passion for the reef is the driving force behind my work.
What are your hopes for the future of the reef?
It is going to take a combined effort of reducing carbon emission and human intervention to help turn the tide on reef decline. But I am hopeful for the future of reefs. The work Professor Peter Harrison is doing really does seem to be making an impact. The challenge now seems to be scaling up and reducing human input to streamline our larval restoration efforts. Getting more people involved, not just researchers but communities and local governments as well, will help make people aware of how each and every one of us can make a difference for the future of coral reefs.
Professor Jennene Greenhill
The new Chair of Discipline (Nursing) Jennene Greenhill brings a wealth of knowledge about aged care and building a healthcare workforce for rural and remote Australia to the University.
After fifteen years spent working in universities in South Australia and Western Australia, Jennene returns home to the Gold Coast, excited to take on a role that will make a difference in her community.
“I’m passionate about developing a distinctive difference in our research and education profile that focuses on rural and remote healthcare and getting our nursing graduates excited about these opportunities,” Jennene said.
“I want to link up with different communities to find out what their needs are for the healthcare workforce. We need hundreds more Indigenous nurse graduates, so I want to honour the Indigenous healing knowledge that goes back tens of thousands of years and build a program that’s integrated and attractive to Aboriginal people,” she said.
With a strong research background in aged care and improving outcomes for patients with dementia, Jennene is also focused on preparing nursing students with the skills and experience for a rewarding career in the aged care industry.
“I want be part of developing a culture where aged care is less stressed. Our nursing students can be excited about the possibilities of working in this field. It’s sometimes tricky and sophisticated, but it’s such a great place to work when you look at the difference you can make in people’s lives,” Jennene said.
In terms of the University’s research and education partnerships, Jennene believes developing connections within the Asia Pacific region is a critical step.
“International partnerships are really important. As we look towards a post-COVID world, we need to be developing stronger links with our neighbours in the Pacific nations, New Zealand and Indonesia to build regional connections, research and exchange opportunities,” she said.
Outside of work, Jennene is both an art and nature lover. “One of the first things I did when we moved back to the Gold Coast was join the Royal Queensland Art Society and do some art classes. I really missed the rainforest while I was living away, so I’m looking forward to bushwalks and nature paintings.”
Brenda Allan, SCU Health Clinic Manager
Jared Aquilina, Technical Officer, Southern Cross Analytical Research Services
Shelley Barfoot, Technology Facilitator, Centre for Teaching and Learning
Ramon Braga, Research Fellow, Faculty of Science and Engineering
Lisa Carey, Lecturer, Faculty of Health
Connor Clare, Data and Survey Coordinator, Office of Business Intelligence and Quality
Ellie Daley, Administration Officer (Quality), Office of Business Intelligence and Quality
Ernest Du Toit, Technical Manager, ReCirculator, Faculty of Science and Engineering
Janette Ellis, Educational Designer, Centre for Teaching and Learning
Amanda Evans, Educational Designer, Centre for Teaching and Learning
Rachel Findlater, Careers and Employability Consultant, Office of the PVC (Academic Quality)
Eric Holgate, Educational Designer, Centre for Teaching and Learning
Anuradha Khara, Educational Designer, Centre for Teaching and Learning
Isaiah Koopmans, Technical and Laboratory Officer, National Marine Science Centre
Liz Mackinlay, Professor, Faculty of Education
Timothy Magoffin, Technology Facilitator, Centre for Teaching and Learning
Nirit Marchand, Technology Support Officer (Audiovisual), Technology Services
Michelle Metanoia, Technology Facilitator, Centre for Teaching and Learning
Ana Munro, Manager Quality and Compliance, Office of Business Intelligence and Quality
Michelle Neaumann, Professor, Faculty of Education
Rebeka Piggott, Transaction Services Officer, Financial Services
Justin Richardson, Chief Information Officer, Technology Services
Pasi Sahlberg, Professor, Faculty of Education
Susan Walker, Professor, Faculty of Education
Professor Tyrone Carlin, Vice Chancellor and President
With more than a month of the New Year now behind us, I sense that many of us are reflecting on the enormity of the possibilities that lie ahead of us in 2022 and how precious each day is as we pursue them.
If we were to choose words to describe the past two years, challenge and adversity would likely spring quickly to mind for many of us. And while we have come to appreciate that the consequences of the events of this period will be persistent and profound, we have demonstrated through our actions and achievements that we do not intend to let that set us back from fulfilling our purpose.
It seems right then, that we make it our business to think of 2022 as a year of great opportunity, and to set our priorities and choose our actions accordingly.
It is clear that a very substantial element of our journey towards the realisation of opportunity this year will be what we do in taking the Southern Cross Model to the next stage of its development and in the further maturation and growth of our research capabilities – particularly through our Research Impact Clusters.
But as important as these large-scale initiatives are, and although they touch on so many of us in very direct ways, it is the level of ambition and aspiration that each of us brings to the institution every day that will most influence how far forward we travel in 2022.
This is not about dreaming the impossible and waking disappointed. Rather, it is about hard work, open communication, the courage to raise concerns when we see things that are not as they should be and the perspicacity to understand that often, our answer to a problem is better understood as an rather than the answer. Through these things, within the gift of each of us, we can keep our sights raised and elevate our University each day.
It is my hope that every member of the Southern Cross team thinks of themselves as an ambassador for our institution – and if you are looking for inspiration in relation to what you can tell friends, family and community members about us, you will find it aplenty in the pages of Southern Cross Matters.
We are leading curriculum innovation in Australia. We are asserting our place on the world and national stage with the incredible and impactful research that we do. We are strengthening our fabric and looking forward to making greater and greater investments to the benefit of our regions. We are changing lives for the better.
Finally, I hope that each of you will join with me in sincerely congratulating Professor Marianne Wallis AM whose outstanding contribution to nursing, higher education and research was recognised in the most recent Australia Day Honours list through being made a Member of the Order of Australia. News of this honour has been the source of enormous delight for those who know Marianne well, and is a source of deep pride for all of us.
Professor Tyrone M Carlin
Vice Chancellor and President
Associate Professor Lynne McPherson (top), Professor Bradley Eyre (middle) and Associate Professor Renaud Joannes-Boyau
Our research team is showing just what strategic work can deliver, securing more than $1.94 million in Australian Research Council (ARC) funding for three Discovery Projects and one Linkage Project.
This is a sector-leading outcome, with Southern Cross University achieving a 27 per cent success rate for Discovery Projects, compared to the sector average of 19 per cent.
“This is a stunning result for Southern Cross. Our grants team focused strategically on supporting the applications we deemed to have the highest possibility of success and this paid off, with a couple of near misses as well, and generally positive assessments across all the applications,” Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research) Professor Spongberg said.
“These results suggest that while we are still performing extremely well in the science disciplines where we have always excelled, we are now building transformative research in the health disciplines where we continue to grow student numbers. This has been part of a deliberate strategy to better align research with teaching to ensure that our student experience is informed by cutting edge research across the university,” she said.
Our successful research projects include ‘Strengthening relationships for young people in residential care’ led by Associate Professor Lynne McPherson from the Faculty of Health, awarded $429,569 (supplemented by $109,500 from the Australian Childhood Foundation); ‘Decoding the geochemical record of early human fossils’ led by Associate Professor Renaud Joannes-Boyau from the Faculty of Science and Engineering, awarded $368,118; and two research projects led by Professor Bradley Eyre, also from the Faculty of Science and Engineering, worth a total of $893,000, for ‘Shallow water carbonate sediment dissolution in the global carbon cycle’, and ‘Resolving the role of dryland flooding in the global carbon cycle’.
Congratulations to these research teams and all those involved in the funding application process. We will hear more of the passion behind these projects in upcoming editions of Southern Cross Matters.
You can read more about the Discovery Projects here.
Associate Professor Steven Purcell
Central to Southern Cross University’s success are its teachers. The 2021 Teaching Excellence Awards recognise educators who deliver a level of teaching that goes above and beyond.
Over what has proved to be a challenging period, our teachers and educators have shown great determination, delivering a quality of learning that inspires and encourages students to continue growing their knowledge.
The Outstanding Teaching Awards category recognises current Faculty and College staff identified in the top five percent of teachers based on student feedback.
Patrick Bruck from the Faculty of Education was one of the award recipients recognised for Outstanding Teaching.
“Perhaps the key to my teaching last year was to try and make the experience as interactive and collaborative as possible for all, whether the classes were online or face-to-face,” Patrick said.
Another outstanding recipient was Warwick Fisher from the Faculty of Business, Law and Arts.
Reflecting on his inspiration to become an educator, Warwick said, “As a young adult I was heavily influenced by John Dewey’s assertion that teaching should be a vocation rather than a job. To that end, I care for all students irrespective of their ability and am passionate about my subject – what’s not to love about contract law? I also tell lots of dad jokes though I doubt Dewey had anything to say on that.”
The Inspiring Educators Awards category was presented to colleagues nominated by the University’s Deans, recognising those who stand out and inspire others at Southern Cross for the quality and impact of their teaching.
Associate Professor Steven Purcell from the Faculty of Science and Engineering was one recipient recognised as an Inspiring Educator. Leading significant reforms to improve fundamental skills and student understanding was just one aspect of his teaching that was highlighted.
Congratulations to all our Teaching Excellence Awards 2021 recipients. A full list can be viewed here: scu.edu.au/staff/teaching-and-learning/teaching-awards/
Bachelor of Business and Enterprise student Lucia
One of the most innovative academic transitions in the Australian higher education sector hits full speed at Southern Cross in Term 1.
After a massive effort from work units across the whole institution, most disciplines are now well on the way to delivering their teaching in the Southern Cross Model.
The immersive Model will see most full-time students study up to two units in any one six-week Term, and study four Terms a year.
Selected pathway and undergraduate courses pioneered the Model in 2021 – the Bachelor of Business and Enterprise, Preparing for Success Program and SCU College Diplomas – with students reporting higher pass rates overall. Success rates for students in undergraduate units increased from 73.8% in 2020 to 82.5% in 2021, and pathway unit success rates rose even further from 56.5% to 73.3%. While satisfaction was already high in the units piloted in the new Model, in 2021 both unit and teaching satisfaction improved for International and Continuing students.
Academics have likewise reported greater satisfaction in teaching in the model. “It’s very gratifying as an education professional to see more students achieving their goals,” said lecturer Dr Liz Goode, who taught into the Bachelor of Business and Enterprise last year. “The shorter unit structure means students are achieving milestones quickly, and the more focused, active learning means they are more engaged with the material. I think this is really setting them up to succeed at university and beyond.”
With the exception of law, health and undergraduate programs at The Hotel School, all courses will be delivered in the Southern Cross Model in 2022, with the remaining courses slated for transition by Term 1, 2023.
Professor Marianne Wallis AM
Professor Marianne Wallis, Associate Dean Research for the Faculty of Health, has been recognised as a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for her significant service to tertiary education, to nursing, and to research.
Professor Wallis has been a chief investigator in numerous research projects aimed at improving the nursing care of hospitalised patients, those with impaired skin integrity, and improving health service delivery, especially for the frail elderly in the emergency department.
“My whole career has been at the forefront of bringing science and evidence into nursing. For 30 years I've been working in academia to not only prepare the next generation of nursing professionals but also to do the research that underpins practice and really provides an evidence-based for practice, which is all about improving the care of the health and wellbeing of our patients,” Professor Wallis said.
After winding down a rewarding career in nursing academia, Professor Wallis was compelled out of retirement following the COVID-19 outbreak.
“This was a worldwide pandemic and I really felt that I should be contributing, so I reversed my retirement and came back to work at Southern Cross University as the Associate Dean Research for the Faculty of Health,” she said.
She said receiving the Order of Australia Medal was really an acknowledgement of nursing and nursing academics.
“I was the person to receive this award, which is very humbling, but it's really not about me. It's about the great teams, the doctors, the nurses, the physios, and the dieticians that I've worked with for years and years and years to improve the care of our patients.”
Courtney Sousa ready to welcome visitors at the Gold Coast campus tour
Hundreds of future students have taken advantage of some innovative opportunities at Southern Cross already in 2022.
With the late release of ATAR results in NSW and a very disrupted 2021 overall, many prospective students responded to the campus tours and Q&A webinars held in January.
Across the board, there was a significant increase of visitors compared to previous years for the tours, with students reportedly travelling over eight hours to check out the campus facilities. Coffs Harbour campus hosted 50 attendees, Lismore had 35, the Gold Coast was showcased to 190 visitors, and the National Marine Science Centre opened its doors for the first time ever to seven guests.
Future Students Officer Ellen Fleeton said hosting the Coffs Harbour campus tours – under tight COVID protocols - was “a really lovely reminder of why we do what we do and the powerful role we all play at Southern Cross University in supporting our future and current students to achieve their dreams through higher education.”
Claudia Evans from the Future Students team assisted with the Lismore campus tours. Despite turbulent weather, many still toured the campus and enjoyed a barbeque by The Quick Brown Fox.
“The attendance and enthusiasm at the event are evidence that Southern Cross University’s reputation is building, particularly in the study areas of health and education,” she said.
The Q&A webinars had a combined total of 350 registrations. Interested students enquired about relocating, study options and pathways to university, orientation, life on campus, and accommodation.
Faculty of Education PhD candidate Thilinika Wijesinghe
Faculty of Education PhD candidate Thilinika (Thili) Wijesinghe has received a string of awards and acknowledgements for her contribution to the arts, sustainability, climate action and public speaking.
Thili was honoured to receive the award for Excellence in Fostering Creative Arts at the Study Gold Coast Student Excellence Awards, a merit achievement certificate and finalist award at the Gold Coast Women in Business Awards in two categories: Creating Change and Aspiring Young Leader. She was also named a finalist in the Southern Cross University Student Excellence Awards.
Recently, Thili also represented Southern Cross University Toastmasters Club and is now competing at Division level for the World Champion in Public Speaking.
“I always loved the arts. I have always believed that the creative arts can truly change one’s life. Coming to Australia, my biggest dream was to combine my love for the arts and the environment and this I have been able to do through my PhD at Southern Cross here on the Gold Coast. I consider myself privileged and fortunate to be in this space guided by two experts in the field as my supervisors, Professor Lexi Lasczik and Professor Amy Cutter-Mackenzie-Knowles,” Thili said.
As a PhD candidate and a member of the Sustainability, Environment and the Arts in Education (SEAE) Research Cluster in the University’s Faculty of Education, Thili is combining her love of drama and the creative arts, with her passion for climate change education and working with young people. Her PhD explores how speculative drama can be used to engage young people and understand their views and feelings towards climate change and the future.
Moving from Sri Lanka to pursue research at Southern Cross, Thili has found her home away from home within the vibrant international student community on the Gold Coast and among her research colleagues and fellow environmentalists at Southern Cross University. Thili is the leader of the University’s environmental club where she has developed new initiatives to promote sustainability; she is also a Founder of the drama club at the Gold Coast Student Hub, aimed at developing students’ skills in public speaking while fostering the creative arts and is also a 2021 Gold Coast Mayor’s Student Ambassador.
She speaks about her research, moving to Australia from Sri Lanka and what it was like conducting drama workshops with children from across the world during COVID on the SCU Buzz podcast. Listen on SoundCloud, Spotify, or Apple Podcasts.
Aspa Baroutsis, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Education
Melissa Wolfe, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Education
Marilyn Clarke, Academic Advisor, Faculty of Health
Jennene Greenhill, Chair of Discipline (Nursing), Faculty of Health
Mark Burtt, Business Intelligence Analyst, Office of Business Intelligence and Quality
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