Rise to the Challenge

Rise Conference Mission Statement

“The Conference aims to provide a supportive and fun experience for postgrads researching the environment, engineering and core sciences to engage and share each other’s research, develop confidence and communication skills."

Rise Conference Key Objectives

  • Engage – RISE aims to involve as many students, academics and researchers to participate, in all the scheduled activities, throughout the conference.
  • Share – RISE will foster all to share their research and/or research stories.
  • Encourage – RISE will be a place for personal and professional development, encouraging supportive peer to peer constructive feedback.
  • Connect – RISE will provide opportunities to make connections and friendships with colleagues from common and other research fields.
  • Enjoy – RISE emphasises the importance of breaking up the pattern of postgrad life and will focus on fitting fun into the program.

Attend and Particpate

  • Anyone is welcome to attend as participate as part of the RISE conference audience.
  • Postgraduate students are the main target audience and are encouraged to participate.
  • Honours students are also welcome to submit entries.
  • Undergraduates may also submit entries. However, limited numbers will be accepted.
  • Registration is required for anyone wishing to attend the on-campus conference.

2022 Rise Conference Committee

Rise Committee Role

Rise Committee Delegate

Convener and Chair Colleen Rodd
Academic Advisors Joanne Oakes
Ben Liu
Secretary Miranda Altice
Finance Office Micha Nebel
Branding and Media Committee Sophia Ellis
Mona Andskog
Program Coordinator
Program Sub Committee Members
Daven Gopalan
Miranda Altice
Parth Patel
NMSC Co-ordinator Sophia Ellis

Secure your place today.

Register to attend

Video presentations from previous RISE conferences

Former students, Jacob, Gloria and Grace share some fascinating insights into their research areas and experience with the Faculty of Science and Engineering.

Researcher Jacob Birch discusses Australian native grass grains

Yama - my name's Jacob Burch and I'm doing a Bachelor of Science with Honors through the Faculty of Science and Engineering. 
Today I'm going to talk briefly about my honours research but first I just like to acknowledge that I'm on Guppy Dubby country I pay my respects to the ancestors of this country I pay my respects to you and I acknowledge the respect you show me.

So what's going on? Well we're on the banks of the Malula river and I'm cooking you some johnny cakes. What are johnny cakes? Like a damper flour pinch of salt water but you grill them over the coals sounds interesting eh? Well mine are because I've got a special ingredient my flower's made from native grass grain.

See, first nations people of Australia have been grinding grain for at least 55,000 years from the western desert to the tropics to the southern tip of Victoria and they're starting to emerge to reclaim this agricultural heritage. So for my project I thought how can I support this wedging industry and do it in a culturally appropriate way. Well I started off by analyzing the grain for nutritional quality but to do that you need lab access and that's been pretty difficult with covered so I adapted. I took the opportunity to reach out to first nations stakeholders to yarn with elders to learn how to do my research culturally. Appropriately a direct result of that is I'm not going to speak about what species I used. You see first nations people are severely underrepresented in the bush food industry and the native seed industry in particular is quite lucrative.

I'm also hesitant to talk about the species because they're actually quite hard to find and some are rare if you look behind me all of this grass it's non-native and this is just part of what is hundreds if not thousands of hectares of grassland. They're not just hard to find they're hard to work with and once you get the grain it's a fraction the size of commercial species like rice and wheat.

So why bother? Well there's the cultural environmental benefits but I've found that the nutritional quality is superior. Some of my species the protein is higher than chicken breast some of them have higher calcium and magnesium than full cream and in a better ratio for health. So you see these grains are good for you and this is what our elders have been saying all along but best of all they taste good.

Researcher Gloria Reithmaier discusses the importance of Mangroves

Gloria Reithmaier

I moved from Bavaria across the globe to study Australian mangroves. I love to study mangroves.

Every field trip is a real adventure the chemical processes happening in mangroves are absolutely fascinating but why should you care about mangroves? Mangroves mitigate climate change we pump a large amount of carbon dioxide in the air when we drive a car or burn coal this causes temperature rise and extreme events like droughts or floods.

Mangrove trees sequester and store carbon dioxide especially in their soil on an aerial basis. Mangroves store three times more carbon than rainforests. My research shows that carbon burial is not the only carbon sink in mangroves.

Dissolved carbon export is at least two times more important the majority of that exported carbon is alkalinity for those of you who have a pool.

Alkalinity is that chemical that you use to stabilize the ph of your pool. Alkalinity that is exported from mangroves has the potential to buffer ocean acidification ocean.

Acidification is a result of increasing carbon dioxide dissolving in the ocean. Decreasing ph jeopardizes corals and other marine organisms. Alkalinity increases the ph and protects therefore marine ecosystems.

Mangroves are good for our climate and they buffer ocean acidification but many mangroves are under threat. It's very important to protect and restore our Australian mangroves.

Researcher Grace Russel discusses the annual Humpback Whale migration

From late May to early December around 30,000 humpback whales make their way along the east coast of Australia in one of the longest migrations in the world of mammals. Traveling from their feeding grounds in Antarctica to their breeding grounds in the Great Barrier Reef. 

The body condition of humpback whales is an important factor both during migration as well as on their breeding grounds. Humpbacks rely on their stored energy cultivated in their feeding areas to undergo a successful migration. Better body condition in humpback whales increases reproductive success and is directly related to the growth and survival of offspring.

The goal of my phd project is to analyze the body condition of Australian populations of humpback and blue whales and to ascertain whether this has an influence on their migration timing. So for example do whales in better body condition migrate earlier or later compared to those in a poorer body condition? I'm using drones to video the whales from directly above at a height of around 20 metres.

Still images are taken from this footage and using an R script we are able to make accurate measurements of the whale. This technique is known as photogrammetry.

We have been flying the drone from Ballina and Evan's head as well as from a vessel out of Brunswick.

For each Whale I measure the total length and width at 5 increments along it's body. From this we can calculate its total body volume and assign a body condition in depth by plotting the observed and the expected body condition. Indices we can compare individuals in the same population to see what whales are in good or poor body condition. We are currently still in our first year of data collection but so far we've completed 61 survey days 95 hours of drone flying and collected still images on 521 humpback adults as well as 57 cow calf pairs.