Our Higher Degree Research students

Anita Jane Marks

Supervisors: A/Prof. Ross Goldingay, Dr David Newell

Anita is doing her PhD on the ecology of small populations of aboreal gliding mammals in urban settings. Her study species is the squirrel glider. The aim of the PhD is to broaden the understanding of population dynamics in small populations of squirrel gliders, particularly in areas where urban disturbances increase the likelihood of local extinctions. Her study will investigate population modelling, genetic testing, stress hormone analysis, PVA, and the use of glide poles.

Bonnie Mirisch

Supervisors: Dr Anna Scott, Dr Paul Butcher

Bonnie’s research looks at the fine-scale movements of juvenile white sharks along the east coast of NSW and the use of photo identification and dorsal imagery to identify individuals. Shark management is a growing concern with the public, therefore, being able to track and accurately identify these animals is important for both shark conservation and bather protection.

Brendan Cox

Supervisors: A/Prof. Kathryn Taffs, Dr Amanda Reichelt-Brushett

Brendan’s research investigates how establishing reference data for assessing river health using aquatic macroinvertebrates as biological indicators has been affected by increasing human-dominance and modification of the landscape. There is a need to assess, revise, and update the method to address the consequences of continued freshwater ecosystem decline.

Brooke van der Wildenberg

Supervisors: Dr Cherise Addinsall, Dr Natasha Weir

Brooke’s research looks at how Ni Vanuatu women experience intersections of marginalisation because of gender, ethnicity, capitalism, colonialism and development. She examines how these intersections are impacting the ability of Ni Vanuatu women to adapt and build resilience to the challenges they are facing because of COVID-19 and Cyclone Harold.

Chamara De Silva Benthotage

Supervisors: Prof. Kirsten Benkendorff, A/Prof. Kai Schulz

Chamara’s research focuses on leaf oysters (Isognomon ephippium), a reef-forming native bivalve in Australia, and its resilience against various water quality stressors in NSW estuaries. Distribution and habitat characteristics are investigated. The immunological strength of the leaf oysters is used to assess their potential application in shellfish reef restoration.

Colleen Rodd

Supervisors: Prof. Peter Harrison, Dr Steve Whalan

Colleen’s research investigates the role of larval energetics in coral reef restoration.

Darren McHugh

Supervisors: A/Prof. Ross Goldingay, Dr Mike Letnic

Darren’s research is focused on how dingoes and introduced predators (feral cat and red fox) influence threatened marsupials and interact with each other. He also investigates how threatened marsupials and their predators respond to prescribed burns and wildfires. This knowledge is essential to help guide the conservation and management of threatened marsupials.

Endang Jamal

Supervisors: Prof. Amanda Reichelt-Brushett, Prof. Kirsten Benkendorff

Looking at pesticides and trace metals contamination in the Richmond RiverEstuary, New South Wales, Australia, and ecotoxicology responses of the SydneyRock Oysters (Saccostrea glomerata) and phytoplankton.

George Jose Mattamana

Supervisors: Dr Ricardo Vasquez Padilla, Dr Jeremy Novak

Along with the growth of renewable energy, the accidents are also increasing in the sector. Human factors and poor management practices are found to be one of the significant factors that lead to accidents. My PhD aims to improve management practices in the renewable energy organisations to mitigate human factors to reduce accidents.

Grace Russell

Supervisors: Dr Daniele Cagnazzi, Prof. Peter Harrison

Grace’s PhD uses unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to assess body condition and migration timing of humpback and blue whales in Australian waters. She will look at the north and southbound migrations of humpback whales on east & west coasts of Australia, and the migration of blue whales in Western Australia.

Jacob Yeo

Supervisors: Prof. Brad Eyre, A/Prof. Joanne Oakes, Dr Judith Rosentreter

With the growing focus on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and their contribution to climate change, the pursuit to understand natural and human-impacted GHG sources and sinks have never been more important. Using underway measurements, Jacob aims to understand the significance of Australian estuarine GHG emissions as part of the global coastal ocean.

Jedda Woodrow

Supervisors: Dr Marie-Chantale Pelletier, Prof. Amanda Reichelt-Brushett

A life cycle assessment analysing the impacts of methods used to clean and sanitise in clinical settings. Steam and ultra-microfibre cloths are heralded as more sustainable than cotton cloths with chemicals. This study will provide a comparative assessment of the impacts of both methods from cradle-to-grave.

Jian-Jhih (Kenji) Chen

Supervisors: Prof. Brad Eyre, A/Prof. Dirk Erler, Dr Naomi Wells

Kenji’s PhD topic is “Unravelling benthic biogeochemical interaction across a disturbance gradient in South-East Queensland estuaries”. He uses sediment core incubations, isotope paring technique and gel probe equilibrium method to understand nitrogen pathways across the different land-use intensity in estuaries. He also investigates the role of greenhouse gas in estuaries.

Jubilee Smith

Supervisors: Prof. Bill Boyd, Dr Wendy Boyd

Jubilee is completing her PhD about Digital Interactive Technology in Early Childhood through researching Early Childhood Educators (ECE) decision making with this technology. Her PhD study involved interviewing ECE regarding their decision to include technology in their practice with young children. It is hoped that the findings from the study will create a model for decision making to inform educators’ future decisions regarding technology

Kate Bradshaw

Supervisors: Prof. Kirsten Benkendorff, Dr Jessica Browne

Kate’s research focuses on the pharmaceutical potential of molluscan extracts for the treatment of human respiratory diseases mediated by pathogens and inflammatory immune responses. It will involve a range of in vitro cell culture and antimicrobial assays to assess the bioactivity of brominated isatins and hemocyanins from Dicathais orbita.

Laura White

Supervisors: A/Prof. Kathryn Taffs, Dr Claudia Catterall

Arthraxon hispidus is designated as a threatened species in Australia, but there are many knowledge gaps about the species in its North Coast NSW range. This research aims to investigate its distribution, habitat preferences and population dynamics to gain an improved understanding of its ecology and conservation status, and hence to inform management approaches for the species in North Coast NSW.

Louise Hunt

Supervisors: Dr Hanabeth Luke, Prof. Allan Curtis, A/Prof. Catherine Allen

Louise’s research is about negotiating complexities of farming in the 21st century: what is driving broad trends in farmer decision-making? This research takes a mixed-method approach through analysis of quantitative and qualitative data from 6 Australian regions. This research is part of the SCU led, Soil CRC project, Surveying on-farm practices.

Mathew Alexanderson

Supervisors: Dr Hanabeth Luke, A/Prof. David Lloyd

Mathew’s research explores regenerative agriculture as an alternative approach to conventional farming. It looks to synthesise the principles, practices and agricultural system overlaps, while investigating the evolving understanding of knowledge between farmers and industry professionals.

Martinus Hollanders

Supervisors: Dr David Newell, Dr Cathy Nock

Matt’s PhD project is focused on understanding factors that allow an endangered frog to persist in the face of disease.

Masesh Edla

Supervisors: Dr Yee Yan Lim, Dr Ricardo Vasquez Padilla, Prof. Mikio Deguchi

Masesh’s research focuses on enhancing the efficiency of the rectifier by multilevel switching for piezoelectric energy harvesting system. The objective of this study is to improve the efficiency of piezoelectric materials by using electronics circuits. This is highly beneficial for the low power electronics industry.

Melissa Tan

Supervisors: Prof. Brendan Kelaher, Dr Karina Hall

Melissa’s PhD project focuses on investigating climate change impacts to fisheries on the east coast of Australia, specifically Eastern School Whiting and Stout Whiting. The project will involve dissecting and examining fish samples from wild catch, analysis of otolith microstructures and microchemistry, and setting up mesocosm experiments at the National Marine Science Centre.

Merlyn Larkin

Supervisors: Prof. Stephen Smith, Dr David Harasti, Dr Tom Davis

Merlyn’s research topic is “The biology, ecology, and conservation of the threatened soft coral Dendronephthya australis”. It focuses on investigating the decline of the rare soft coral species Dendronephthya australis in the Port Stephens estuary. It aims to gain a better understanding of its biology and ecology and ultimately, to identify potential conservation measures that can be employed to aid its recovery.

Mohammadreza Sedighi

Mohammadreza Sedighi

Supervisors: Dr Ricardo Vasquez Padilla, Prof. Andrew Rose, Dr Maree Lake, A/Prof. Robert Taylor

Mohammadreza’s research focus is on environmentally-friendly/renewable energy sources. His current PhD research is conducted on the development of a novel high-temperature solar receivers/reactors utilising semi-transparent spheres as a volumetric absorption medium. The main aim of this research is to achieve a more efficient/economic integration of solar energy into thermal/electrical power.

Nathan Burton

Nathan Burton

Supervisors: Dr Ricardo Vasquez Padilla, Prof. Andrew Rose, Habib Habibullah

Increasing the efficiency of solar powered water electrolysis through the application of pulsing electric fields, pulsating magnetic fields and novel solar to electrolyser electrical couplings for the production of renewable hydrogen for sustainable power generation.

Nick Sirach

Supervisors: Dr Ahmed Thabet, Prof. Scott T Smith, Prof. Tao Yu

Nick researches the development of a new form of hybrid structural column that utilises advanced composites materials (i.e. FRP composites) in combination with concrete and steel. This hybrid column significantly outperforms traditional RC columns in terms of strength and ductility. The project involves both experimentation and numerical analysis.

Noble Pasi

Supervisors: Dr Ken Doust, A/Prof. Peter Coombes

Nobel’s research topic is “Developing Critical Success Factors Influencing Project Success: An Analysis of the Impact of Employee Engagement in Mining Industries in Australia.”

Parya Samadi G

Supervisors: Dr Lachlan Yee, Dr Dirk Erler

Parya’s research topic is “Converting soft plastic waste into fuel/energy using the pyrolysis process”. The research is about soft plastics waste and converting them into energy using pyrolysis.

Praktan D Wadnerkar

Supervisors: Dr Isaac Santos

Prakatan’s PhD investigates the links between land-use, hydrology, nutrient pollution and greenhouse gases in rivers, estuaries and groundwater. He also uses Radon (222Rn), and Short-lived radium Isotopes (223,224,228Ra) as a natural groundwater tracer to estimate groundwater inputs to surface waters. These works build on his previous studies in environmental management.

Rafiqul Islam

Rafiqul Islam

Supervisors: Dr Ricardo Vasquez Padilla, Dr Habib Habibullah

Rafiqul is studying a Masters by Research on Robotics/Mechatronics. His research aims to improve the existing navigation problems of autonomous agricultural robots, especially, issues including localisation, mapping and path planning for a shaded or low-light environment using a stereo vision camera.


Supervisors: Dr Yee Yan Lim, Dr Mona Malekzadeh

Saloni’s research focuses on non-destructive strength and damage evaluation of Geopolymer concrete structures using piezoelectric materials. The cement industry is responsible for the release of approximately 7% of total greenhouse gases, which makes it environmentally unsustainable. A potential solution to the above predicaments is to reuse these waste materials as innovative Geopolymeric construction materials. It is highly beneficial for the concrete industry.

Sebi Abi

Sebi Abi

Supervisors: Dr Ricardo Vasquez Padilla, Dr Jeremy Novak

Sebi specialises in engineering management with his research topic “Mitigating the issues of Counterfeit Parts in the Aerospace Industry: A Resilience Engineering and Quality Management System Perspective”.

Shae Brown

Supervisors: Dr Hanabeth Luke, Dr Shawn Wilson, Dr Zan Hammerton

Complexity thinking, understanding and practical skills are needed to engage with the increasing complexity of life and challenges in the 21st Century. Shae’s project explores a patterns-based design, called Complexity Patterning, as a language, process and strategy for the teaching and learning of complexity competence for students.

Shane White

Supervisors: Prof. Isaac Santos, Prof. Symon Dworjanyn

In partnership with local and state government organisations, as well as grower groups, Shane investigates fertiliser use in intensive horticulture. He estimates pathways, transformations, environmental impacts and remediation options. Shane’s interests are greenhouse gases, aqueous nitrogen species, stable isotopes as source tracers and radioactive isotopes as groundwater tracers.

Stephen Conrad

Supervisors: A/Prof. Christian Sanders, Prof. Isaac Santos

Stephen’s research topic is “Heavy Metal, nutrient, and pesticide pollution from intensive horticulture and land use change.”

Steven Owen

Supervisors: Dr Lachlan Yee, A/Prof. Damien Maher, Dr Paul Molino

Increased atmospheric pollutant concentrations from the burning of fossil fuels are not only driving climate change, they also have pronounced impacts on the environment and human health. Steven’s research aims to develop biocatalytic coatings (paints) that will convert atmospheric pollutants such as NOx to other non-hazardous compounds.

Tagor Hossain

Tagor Hossain

Supervisors: Dr Ricardo Vasquez Padilla, Dr Habibullah Habib

Tagor’s research topic is “Vision Based Path Tracking and Motion Control of an Autonomous Agricultural Robot”. This research proposes a vision-based real-time path tracking and motion control techniques to gain a high accuracy obstacle avoidance trajectory tracking system for autonomous agricultural vehicles which will be able to avoid obstacles and keep the mobile robot deviation error within an acceptable range that will satisfy the expectations for farming jobs.

William Elrick

Supervisors: Dr Hanabeth Luke, Dr John Grant

William is doing an Honours of Regenerative Agriculture in Science and Research at SCU. His aim is to research and identify the strengths, weaknesses, and lessons the organic industry has discovered over time, for future certification frameworks of the Regenerative Agricultural industry.

William Terry

Supervisors: A/Prof. Ross Goldingay, Dr David Newell

William is researching the impacts to the endangered marsupial carnivore, the Brush-tailed Phascogale in central Victoria. He coordinates a number of research projects including the use of chainsaw hollows, radio tracking, arboreal mammal bridges and climate modelling.

Contact the Faculty of Science and Engineering

Executive Assistant to the
Dean of Faculty
National Marine Science Centre
Kristy Cocks Reception
T: +61 2 6620 3557
E: [email protected]
T:  +61 2 6659 8100
E: [email protected]

Please direct all faculty enquires to:

T:  +61 2 6620 3650
E:  [email protected]