RMIT University

2016 Research Awards recipients


Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Research Excellence

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Distinguished Professor Sarah Pink

College of Design and Social Context, School of Media and Communication

Distinguished Professor Sarah Pink is Director of the Digital Ethnography Research Centre. Sarah brings together theoretical scholarship and applied practice to create new interdisciplinary understandings and insights into how people experience and use digital technologies in everyday life and to consider the implications of this for digital futures.

She is a world leader in the development of innovative ethnographic research methodologies. Her research has been funded by national research councils in the UK, Spain, Sweden and Australia and through a number of industry partnerships internationally (including Suncorp, Unilever and Volvo cars).

She currently holds a Swedish Knowledge Foundation funded Visiting Professorship at Halmstad University, Sweden. Sarah’s latest books in the fields of digital technologies and applied research include Digital Materialities (2016), Digital Ethnography (2016) and Theoretical Scholarship and Applied Practice (2017).


Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Research Excellence – Early Career Researcher

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Dr Flora Salim

College of Science, Engineering and Health, School of Science

Dr Flora Salim is a Senior Lecturer at the Computer Science and IT discipline, School of Science, RMIT University. Her expertise is in human mobility and behaviour analytics of spatio-temporal sensor data from mobile, pervasive computing, and smart cities and environments. She was a recipient of the prestigious Australian Research Council (ARC) Postdoctoral Fellowship (Industry) in 2012-2015.

As an Early Career Researcher (ECR), she has a solid research track record in attracting and managing research funds and delivering high-quality research outputs. Dr Salim has been awarded nationally competitive grants from the ARC, IBM Smarter Cities Lab, and numerous industry contracts, with the total amount awarded of over than $1 million in the last five years.

Her research in spatio-temporal data analytics, context recognition and behaviour recognition and prediction from sensor data is evaluated across a diverse source of data sources, such as from smartphones, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth Beacons, road sensors, and parking sensors, and across multiple projects, including indoor monitoring and analytics in university and retail environments, driving behaviour recognition, road risk analysis, and passenger movement analysis in airports.


Vice-Chancellor’s Prize for Research Excellence – Higher Degree by Research

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Dr K M Mohibul Kabir

College of Science, Engineering and Health, School of Science

Supervisor: Dr Samuel Ippolito, Dr Ylias Sabri, Professor Suresh Bhargava

Thesis title: Surface acoustic wave based sensors for selective detection of low concentration elemental mercury vapour

Dr Mohibul Kabir was a doctoral student in the School of Applied Sciences and is currently a postdoctoral research fellow in School of Chemistry of University of New South Wales. The main focus of Dr Kabir’s PhD work was to design and develop surface acoustic wave (SAW) devices for sensitive and selective detection of low concentrations (<3.5 mg/m3) of elemental mercury vapour.

He successfully developed SAW devices with various structural designs and integrated them with noble metals such as gold, silver as well as gold nanomaterials and investigated their performance for mercury sensing applications. The developed sensors showed promising results to be implemented as potential mercury sensors within industrial process. Dr Kabir published 13 journal articles and three conference papers during his PhD candidature.


Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Research Supervision Excellence

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Professor Felicity Roddick

College of Science, Engineering and Health, School of Engineering

Professor Roddick has a sustained record of providing an environment and opportunities which enable HDR students to leave RMIT with well-developed skills for undertaking research, enhanced verbal and written communication skills, tangible outcomes in terms of peer-reviewed publications, and high employability.

Her weekly HDR research group meetings provide a forum for the students to learn from visiting and RMIT experts, to participate in personal development activities, and to increase their presentation skills. Weekly supervisory meetings with individual students and their Associate Supervisor contribute to their steady progress and timely completion.

Felicity has also contributed to training in HDR student supervision and policy development at College and University level. In total, she has supervised 45 HDR students (34 as Senior Supervisor) to successful completion.


Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Research Impact

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Professor John Handmer

College of Science, Engineering and Health, School of Science

Professor John Handmer is a geographer, economist and lawyer. He undertakes research with fire and emergency services to reduce risk and to improve the safety and resilience of people and communities. His research was one of 20 cases nationally selected for its impact on policy and practice by the Excellence in Innovation for Australia 2014 report.

He led the development of bushfire community safety research in Australia with the Bushfire CRC, in close collaboration with end-users, shortlisted for the CRC Association’s 2014 Innovation Award. He co-led the post-fire Human Dimensions research after Black Saturday. This work, on behalf of all Australian fire agencies and the Royal Commission, was instrumental in re-shaping Australia’s safety policy and warnings for bushfires.

He works in a variety of national and international committees including the disaster committee for the International Council for Science. He also updates the National Emergency Risk Assessment Guide. Recently, he completed the development of a new dataset for Australian disaster impacts, and is working on identifying factors underpinning losses including fatalities.


Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Research Impact – Early Career Researcher

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Dr Karyn Bosomworth

College of Design and Social Context, School of Global, Urban and Social Studies

Dr Karyn Bosomworth worked with five of Victoria’s Catchment Management Authorities (CMAs) and several research colleagues to help these CMAs plan for the uncertainties and dynamics associated with a changing climate.

The research helped CMAs apply the concept of ‘Pathways Planning’, which helps explore how robust current and potential management practices are across multiple possible futures, and how well they leave future options open. Such planning provides a long-term perspective, while guiding immediate and medium term action. The concept is changing approaches to climate change planning.

Like several other CMAs, Corangamite CMA used the concept to inform their recent Climate Change plan. Karyn is now working with all of Victoria’s CMAs in further applying and refining the approach to help implementation of their climate change plans.


Vice-Chancellor’s Prize for Research Impact – Higher Degree by Research

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Mr Kristof Crolla

College of Design and Social Context, School of Architecture and Design

Supervisors: Dr Jane Burry, Dr Charles Anderson

Thesis title: Building Simplexity

Kristof Crolla is a PhD candidate in the School of Architecture and Design. He is a Belgian Hong-Kong based architect who combines his architectural practice Laboratory for Explorative Architecture & Design Ltd. (LEAD) with an Assistant Professorship in Computational Design at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, School of Architecture (CUHK). His work focuses on strategic implementations of computation and local construction idiosyncrasies into the architectural design and construction process.

He is best known for the projects ‘Golden Moon (Mid-Autumn Festival, Hong Kong, 2012)’, which received over 400,000 visitors during its six-day lifespan, and the public event space ‘ZCB Bamboo Pavilion (Hong Kong, 2015)’, a unique bending-active shell structure built from 3 kilometres of hand-tied bamboo poles. Both projects internationally received over two-dozen design awards and accolades, including the G-Mark (Japan) and Architizer A+ (USA) Awards.


RMIT Award for Innovative Research Supervision

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Associate Professor Craig Batty

College of Design and Social Context, School of Media and Communication

Associate Professor Craig Batty is HDR Director in the School of Media and Communication. He has published widely in the areas of screenwriting practice and pedagogy, creative practice research and the creative practice research degree. He is an international advocate for the screenwriting practice PhD, and for developing shared understandings that support excellence in the supervision of practice-based PhDs.

In 2016 Craig was the recipient of a national AAUT Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning, for his work in developing a peer-to-peer pedagogy that assists creative writers in their transformation to becoming creative writing researchers.


RMIT Research Excellence – Team Award

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Associate Professor Sharath Sriram and Associate Professor Madhu Bhaskaran

College of Science, Engineering and Health, School of Engineering

The Functional Materials and Microsystems Research Group is adept at growing ultra-thin materials, controlling their properties, and harnessing these to enable electronics, sensing, and photonic technologies. The Group’s vision is to be internationally recognised for outcomes and impact and to nurture the next generation of research leaders.

The Group has created nanoscale electronic memories, wearable sensor patches, flat optical devices and more. The results have appeared in over 80 journal articles in the last five years with an average impact factor >7.5 with five patents. Fifteen articles have featured on journal covers, with many appearing on television, radio, and print and online media (with well over 2500 mentions). The significance and impact of the Group's outcomes is evident from members receiving 48 fellowships, awards, and prizes in recent years.


RMIT Award for Research Excellence (Design)

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Distinguished Professor Sarah Pink

College of Design and Social Context, School of Media and Communication

Distinguished Professor Sarah Pink is the Director of the Digital Ethnography Research Centre. A key strand of Sarah’s work involves bringing together design, ethnographic and documentary video practice to create innovative methodologies for research, intervention and dissemination of her work.

This has been developed in national research council funded projects, as well as through a series of industry partnerships, including the Energy and Digital Living website (2014) based on an EPSRC funded project in the UK, her design ethnography film Laundry Lives (2016), created through partnership with Unilever, and the Design for Wellbeing Project with Bendigo Hospital and Exemplar Health in Victoria (2016-18).

Sarah’s latest books in the design field include the Un/Certainty ibook, Digital Materialities: anthropology and design (2016), Future Anthropologies (2017) and Making Homes: ethnography and design (2017).


RMIT Award for Research Excellence (Enterprise)

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Dr Yolande Strengers

College of Design and Social Context, School of Global, Urban and Social Studies

Dr Yolande Strengers is an ARC DECRA Fellow and co-leader of the Beyond Behaviour Change Research Program at the Centre for Urban Research, School of Global, Urban and Social Studies. Her research is clustered around a series of applied and theoretical projects exploring the impacts of smart technologies in everyday life, and their energy and sustainability outcomes.

Yolande has led and co-led a series of projects with industry partners including energy utilities and advocacy organisations, the ANZ Bank, environmental authorities and state government departments. She is the author of Smart Energy Technologies in Everyday Life (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013) and co-editor of Social Practices, Intervention and Sustainability (Routledge, 2015).


RMIT Award for Research Excellence (Technology)

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Professor Stefan Kasapis

College of Science, Engineering and Health, School of Science

Stefan Kasapis is a Professor of Food Sciences. His research interests focus on bridging the gap that has emerged between advances in fundamental knowledge and direct application to product situations with a growing need for scientific input.

Since joining RMIT in 2009, he has published in excess of 80 articles in learned journals, edited two books, acted as principal supervisor of nine doctoral and three Masters by Research graduates, and delivered five Plenary Lectures at main events in his field, including those organised at the Universities of Guelph and Wageningen. He is the Editor of Food Hydrocolloids, which is the highest impact-factor research journal in food sciences.

His lifetime citation number of published work is 4,349 with the h-index being 38. He received four ARC grants mainly in collaboration with industry in developing innovative breakfast foods.


RMIT Award for Research Excellence – ECR (Design)

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Mr Craig Douglas

College of Design and Social Context, School of Architecture and Design

Craig Douglas is a Senior Lecturer in the Landscape Architecture Program, and Co-Director of the Office of Urban Transformations Research (OUTR) Laboratory, a School of Architecture + Design d_Lab research team in the Centre for Design Practice Research.

His research explores design as an activity of making and as an agent for understanding and responding to the challenges of the built environment in a rapidly changing complex world through live projects in collaboration with community, industry and government stakeholders.

The research focus is for the generation of sustainable urban futures conceived through a practice of design informed through a careful and rigorous exploration of economic, environmental, and social systems that constitute the dynamic medium of the landscape and the landscape of the city.


RMIT Award for Research Excellence – ECR (Enterprise)

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Dr Larissa Nicholls

College of Design and Social Context, School of Global, Urban and Social Studies

Dr Larissa Nicholls is a Research Fellow in the Centre for Urban Research. She investigates the health, wellbeing and environmental issues emerging from the nexus of energy, housing and urban planning policies. As a member of the Beyond Behaviour Change research program, her research aims to reorient policy and programs to achieve social and environmental change.

Dr Nicholls has been a chief investigator on several industry-funded applied research projects investigating household vulnerability and the role of energy policy in Australia. She is leading a research project to understand and manage the health impacts of heatwaves on vulnerable households. Dr Nicholls received the Peter Harrison Memorial Prize at the 2015 State of Australian Cities Conference for contribution to knowledge and capacity for sustainable urban development in Australia.


RMIT Award for Research Excellence – ECR (Technology)

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Dr Jianzhen Ou

College of Science, Engineering and Health, School of Engineering

Dr Jianzhen Ou is an ARC DECRA Fellow in the Centre for Advanced Electronics and Sensors (CADES), School of Engineering. His research focuses on exploring functional materials and nanotechnology enabled systems.

He also co-leads the commercialisation of an innovative medical device – “Human Gas Sensor Capsule”, supported by an Accelerating Commercialisation grant, DIIS. In the past five years, Jian has published over 70 peer-reviewed publications in prestigious journals and international conference proceedings. His works have received more than 2200 citations so far with an h-index of 25.

His research has also attracted exceptional public media attention from hundreds of international media outlets, including those reported by TIME Magazine, CBS News, NPR and ABC News.


RMIT Prize for Research Excellence – HDR (Design)

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Dr Cindy Louise Bennett

College of Design and Social Context, School of Media and Communication

Supervisors: Dr Linda Daley, Dr Rebecca Hill

Thesis title: Lotjpa Yorta Yorta! Retrieving, reclaiming, and regenerating language and culture through the arts

Dr Bennett explored the centrality of the performance arts in retrieving, reclaiming and regenerating Cultural Heritage community languages, specifically Yorta Yorta.

Her research found that: Cultural Heritage community languages are alive, developing, and evolving; Cultural Heritage communities and people must be at the forefront of creating their language programs; and the arts are critical to the health and wellbeing of Cultural Heritage community’s languages and culture.

Dr Bennett’s PhD brought her creative professional practice into the academy as a place where urgent questions of cultural survival and maintenance could be investigated.


RMIT Prize for Research Excellence – HDR (Enterprise)

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Dr Thanh Hoa Le

College of Business, School of Economics, Finance and Marketing

Supervisors: Professor On Kit Tam, Dr Meg Sato

Thesis title: Attracting Foreign Direct Investment: A Critical Analysis of Vietnam's Performance

Dr Thanh Hoa Le completed his doctoral studies in the School of Economics, Finance and Marketing at RMIT University. His research dealt with issues critical for Vietnam’s development and reform in that he investigated the factors which determine success in attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) to the country, and the efficacy of government policies towards FDI.

Dr Le’s research will enable policy developers in government departments and elsewhere in Vietnam to increase the focus on economic reform and development to improve the competitiveness of the country’s FDI location advantages.

Since completing his PhD, Dr Le has taken a senior position as Dean of Supporting Justice Division, Justice Department of Can Tho City, in southern Vietnam.


RMIT Prize for Research Excellence – HDR (Technology)

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Dr Andreas Boes

College of Science, Engineering and Health, School of Engineering

Supervisors: Professor Arnan Mitchell, Dr Elizabeth Soergel, Mr Giang Thach Nguyen

Thesis title: Laser light induced domain engineering of lithium niobate for photonic and phononic applications

Dr Andreas Boes was a doctoral candidate with the ARC Centre of Excellence for Ultrahigh bandwidth Devices for Optical Systems (CUDOS) within the School of Engineering, RMIT University. He has pioneered an extremely novel approach for modifying lithium niobate, a material of great interest for optical and acoustic applications.

The modified structures can control and manipulate light and sound waves within microchips, enabling new devices in the thriving fields of quantum photonics and phononics, ultra-broadband communications and plasmonics.


RMIT Award for Research Impact (Design)

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Distinguished Professor Mike Xie

College of Science, Engineering and Health, School of Engineering

Professor Mike Xie is an RMIT Distinguished Professor, Director of Centre for Innovative Structure and Materials and Fellow of Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering. The work of his research team focuses on design optimisation and advanced manufacturing of novel structures and materials.

His team has a strong and continuing track record in securing Australian Research Council grants and other competitive grants. Professor Xie and his colleagues Dr Pannirselvam and Dr Xu and PhD student Mr Ren have successfully developed a novel method to test the strength of waffle pods used in the construction industry.

This joint research project with Unipod arose from a commercial testing conducted at RMIT's Rheology and Materials Characterisation laboratory. Their developed method is currently adapted as a testing standard in Unipod. The research has provided a practical solution to a significant industry problem.


RMIT Award for Research Impact (Enterprise)

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Associate Professor Babak Abbasi

College of Business, School of Business IT and Logistics

Babak Abbasi is an associate professor of Business Analytics and Operations Management at School of Business IT and Logistics. His research focuses on industry-motivated quantitative modelling and decision making under uncertainty applied to healthcare delivery improvement, supply chain coordination, resources allocation, service operations management and manufacturing.

He holds an h-index of 16 in Scopus. He has recently developed a large scale mathematical/simulation model for the Australian Red Cross Blood Service (ARCBS). This research used data from 105 hospitals in Australia and provided a simulation tool for the ARCBS that can evaluate the impact of any operational policies such as reducing the shelf life of red blood cells, changing the trans-shipment network and blood substitution policies.


RMIT Award for Research Impact (Technology)

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Dr Suelynn Choy

College of Science, Engineering and Health, School of Science

Dr Suelynn Choy’s research focuses on precise satellite positioning and navigation. She is the lead investigator in a research project with the Australian Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) for Spatial Information and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, investigating the capability of the Japanese regional satellite navigation system to deliver precise positioning services.

Dr Choy and her research team successfully demonstrated that augmentation data generated by Australian infrastructure and transmitted by the regional satellite navigation system can be used to provide accurate positioning anywhere outdoors in Australia at any time. Her research is laying the foundation of a basic discovery for innovative augmentation solutions and development of technological capacity for Australia to deliver nationwide precise position information.

Dr Choy was recently awarded the 2016 Australian National Measurement Institute Prize.


RMIT Award for Research Impact – Early Career Researcher (Design)

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Dr Jonathan Duckworth

College of Design and Social Context, School of Media and Communication

Dr Jonathan Duckworth has established a strong reputation for his practice-based design research that forges synergies between digital media art, science, rehabilitation, disability and game technology.

Dr Duckworth has designed two highly successful projects called Elements and Resonance funded by the Australia Research Council and Australia Council for the Arts. Both works provide a medium for rehabilitation of movement and cognition for individuals with an acquired brain injury. Elements was recognised for its design innovation as a recipient of the 2015 Victorian Premier’s Design Award and 2016 Good Design Award.

These projects have yielded significant innovations within rehabilitation, the arts and technology field, and have generated applications with significant impact in other cultural and community sectors relevant to disability, performance, and participation in the arts.


RMIT Award for Research Impact – Early Career Researcher (Enterprise)

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Dr Rebecca Seah

College of Design and Social Context, School of Education

Dr Rebecca Seah is a lecturer in mathematics education in the School of Education. As part of the research team in Reframing Mathematical Future II, an Australian Mathematics and Science Partnership Program Competitive Grant Project (2015–2018), Rebecca leads the work on reasoning in geometry and measurement.

Rebecca is responsible for developing the draft learning progression for spatial thinking, the trial assessment tasks and the accompanied learning activities/resources currently being used across Australian schools. She acts as a mentor to five research schools in Queensland and is in the process of completing the recording of five videos to provide quality professional learning for teachers and to be housed on AAMT’s online professional learning portal where they will be accessible by 4500 individual and institutional members.


RMIT Award for Research Impact – Early Career Researcher (Technology)

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Dr Sumeet Walia

College of Science, Engineering and Health, School of Engineering

Dr Sumeet Walia is a researcher in the School of Engineering and specialises in the use of metal oxides for next-generation nanoelectronics. Having completed his PhD in 2013 from RMIT University, he has several high impact publications and his research has appeared on the cover of many prestigious journals.

His work has also been featured in over 800 national and international media outlets with one of the discoveries being featured in the Top 100 innovations list released by Netexplo in partnership with UNESCO. Sumeet's commercially oriented research has also attracted interest from industry. He was awarded the 2014 Vice-Chancellor's Award for Doctoral Excellence.


RMIT Prize for Research Impact – Higher Degree by Research (Design)

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Miss Siti Hana Nasir

College of Design and Social Context, School of Fashion and Textiles

Supervisors: Associate Professor Olga Troynikov, Dr Nicola Massy-Westropp

Thesis title: Therapeutic gloves for patients with arthritis

Siti Hana Nasir is a doctoral student in the School of Fashion and Textiles. Her doctoral research significantly contributed to establishment of an evidence-based framework for design and engineering of therapeutic gloves for individuals suffering from hand arthritis.

Hana adopted a unique and innovative user-centric study design in her approach to the development of the evidence-based framework. She engaged with a number of industry partners, professional bodies and interdisciplinary researchers during her studies and her research work received attention from health, engineering and design scientific communities, both in Australia and internationally.

Hana was awarded ‘Outstanding Student Paper Award’ at a conference and also is the recipient of the RMIT European Union Centre HDR Travel Grant in 2015.


RMIT Prize for Research Impact – Higher Degree by Research (Enterprise)

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Mr Duy Dang-Pham

College of Business, School of Business IT and Logistics

Supervisors: Dr Siddhi Pittayachawan, Mr Bruno Vincenzo

Thesis title: Investigating the formation of information security climate in a large Vietnamese construction company: a social network analysis approach

Duy Dang-Pham completed his Bachelor of Business (Information Systems) at RMIT Vietnam and also an Honours degree at RMIT University with a Vice-Chancellor’s List Award in 2013. He is currently a doctoral candidate in the School of Business IT and Logistics.

For his thesis, Duy is collaborating with TTT Corporation - one of the largest construction enterprises in Vietnam - to enhance their information security systems. The research utilised network analysis techniques to improve security awareness of hundreds of employees within a short time. Important mechanisms of the security awareness diffusion process were also explored in the research.

Duy has been publishing in high impact journals and engaging with industry partners in Vietnam. His research interests include information systems, security management and supply chain management.


RMIT Prize for Research Impact – Higher Degree by Research (Technology)

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Mr Robert Chapman

College of Science, Engineering and Health, School of Engineering

Supervisors: Dr Alberto Peruzzo, Dr Steven Flammia

Thesis title: Developing Photonic Quantum Information Technologies

Robert Chapman completed his Masters degree at the University of Bristol (UK) and is currently undertaking a PhD with the Quantum Photonic Laboratory at RMIT University.

Robert has demonstrated several key quantum information protocols and developed novel integrated photonic devices which manipulate the state of single photons for quantum information applications.

During the final year of his PhD, Robert will integrate single photon emitters onto these photonic devices. This will present a scalable architecture for generating and manipulating photons on a single integrated device, opening future pathways towards quantum computing and quantum communication.

Robert has presented at conferences in the US and Europe and has published several peer reviewed journal articles, including in Nature Communications, Physical Review Letters and Scientific Reports.


Malcolm Moore Industry Research Awards

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Dr Karyn Bosomworth

College of Design and Social Context, School of Global, Urban and Social Studies

Dr Bosomworth will use the grant to work with Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority on a project titled "Enabling sustainable management of our natural resources under a changing climate".

In partnership with the Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority (GB-CMA), this project aims to provide practical guidance for natural resource managers in an approach to planning for climate change known as adaptation pathways planning. 

It will also support GB-CMA’s role as coordinator of the Victorian CMA Climate Change Forum in piloting such guidance for all CMAs; produce and begin implementation of GB-CMA’s own climate change plan; provide state-wide guidance for Natural Resource Management adaptation policy and practice; provide a tangible case study for Victoria’s Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) of the state’s Adaptation Plan principles in practice and government action on climate change; and provide the basis for specific DELWP guidance on future planning for the state’s waterways and estuaries.

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Dr Sumeet Walia

College of Science, Engineering and Health, School of Engineering

Dr Walia will use the grant to work with Johnson & Johnson on a project titled "Smart Contact Lenses".

Dr Sumeet Walia, a researcher with the Functional Materials and Microsystems Research Group, will commence an industry-partnered research project with Johnson & Johnson Inc, headquartered in USA.

The work will involve the development of flexible, smart contact lenses. In line with the industry engagement strategy of RMIT University, this project will explore potential pathways to advance the research into a marketable product in partnership with a leading company. The project also has the potential to generate commercially important intellectual property.