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2014 Research Award Highly Commended

Excellence in Research – Science & Engineering

Dr Andrew Barron, Faculty of Science

Dr Andrew Barron, Faculty of Science and Engineering

Understanding the Bee Brain

How do honey bees think? We discovered remarkable similarities between how bees and humans make choices, and the cognitive processes they use when making decisions. We modelled these thought processes in the known circuitry of the bee brain. Our research is revealing the cognitive abilities of animals, how brains operate, and establishing models of how simple brains work. This is laying the foundations for understanding the far more complex human brain.


Professor Jane Williamson, Faculty of Science

Dr Jane Williamson, Faculty of Science and Engineering

Ensuring Sustainability Of Our Sharks Through New Ageing Methods

Humanity's growing demand for protein has led to substantial pressure on oceanic ecosystems. Harvesting of predatory fish by industrial fishing techniques has lowered populations to less than 10% of their historic numbers. Sharks are especially vulnerable due to their low reproductive rates and delayed maturity. Their importance in marine ecosystems has led to considerable resources being directed towards their management and conservation. Underpinning such efforts is the need for valid ageing techniques for stock assessment. Our research has questioned traditional ageing techniques that use shark vertebral development, and has pioneered a new and accurate method for ageing sharks.


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Excellence in Research – Social Sciences & Humanities

Professor Josephe Pugliese, Faculty of Arts

Professor Joseph Pugliese, Faculty of Arts

State Violence And The Execution Of Law

This research exposes how the institution of law was, in the waging of the War on Terror, perverted in order to legitimate, officially, a range of violent practices that contravened US law, international law and international treaty obligations. It offers a forensic analysis of how the political divide between human and animal has played a fundamental role in enabling torture, secret imprisonment and killing via drones. It demonstrates how the scripting of the victims of the War on Terror as non-human animals often resulted in their being tortured, killed and disappeared with impunity.


Professor Wendy Rogers, Faculty of Arts

Professor Wendy Rogers, Faculty of Arts

Promoting Best Practice in Surgical Innovation

Surgical innovation is an essential part of modern healthcare. New techniques, such as laparoscopic surgery, and new devices, such as joint replacements, have improved the health of millions of patients. But surgical innovation can be risky for patients, some of whom have been harmed by their surgeons “trying something new”. Our research supports the safer introduction of surgical innovations by creating an original and reliable way of identifying prospectively when surgical innovation occurs. This allows appropriate supports to be put into place, thereby meeting the twin aims of both fostering innovation and enhancing patient safety.


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Excellence in Research - Business, Management & Economics

Dr Sharron O’Neill,  Faculty of Business and Economics

Dr Sharron O’Neill, Faculty of Business and Economics

Informing Work Health and Safety Decisions

Dr O’Neill’s research applies accounting principles to the management, evaluation and reporting of work health and safety (WHS). She explains why the safety measures traditionally described as ''the gold standard'' of WHS performance measurement actually fail to provide valid, relevant and reliable information for managerial decisions and why they are generally inappropriate for understanding WHS risk. Offering an alternative approach to WHS performance evaluation, Dr O’Neill is working with government and industry partners on a program of inter-related WHS research projects. These aim to help improve both policy and practice of WHS measurement, WHS reporting and WHS governance.


Dr Nick Parr, Faculty of Business and Economics

Dr Nick Parr, Faculty of Business and Economics

Family policies, fertility and work in Australia

This research empirically examines the effects of the Baby Bonus and the Child Care Rebate on fertility rates and parental workforce participation in Australia, finding these effects were most probably minor. The case for significance of the research, which was published across a range of highly-respected journals, and publicised through media releases, interviews and op-ed articles, rests largely on its ongoing impact on Australia’s public debate and policy-making relating to family policies. Its impacts include its informing of legislation passed in the Federal Parliament and the deliberations of a Senate Committee, as well as the positions of community groups.


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Excellence in Higher Degree Research - Science & Engineering

Audrey Adji MB MBiomedE, Faculty of Science

Audrey Adji MB MBiomedE, Faculty of Human Sciences

Effect of age on the relationship between ascending aortic pressure and flow

With increasing age, the central elastic aorta stiffens progressively; ill-effects include higher systolic blood pressure and impairment of left ventricular function. The former is attributable to the increasing peak of the ascending aortic pressure wave, while the latter is apparent from subtle alteration of cardiac ejection pattern manifested as ascending aortic flow wave. These can be estimated non-invasively using applanation tonometry (pressure) and ultrasound or cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (flow). By exploiting the near-linear relationship between pressure and flow, we can estimate ascending aortic impedance as an accurate measure of left ventricular hydraulic load, and study its change with aging.


Xavier Zambrano-Puyalto, Faculty of Science

Xavier Zambrano-Puyalto, Faculty of Science and Engineering

Characterization of nano-structures with light's symmetries

Light beams can be symmetric under different transformations: translations, rotations, mirror symmetries, duality transformations, etc. In my research project, a systematic way of characterizing these symmetries has been developed. Then, it has been shown that symmetric light beams can be used to control light-matter interactions at the nano-scale. Particular applications have been developed, both theoretically and experimentally. Inducing a dual behaviour on a non-dual sample, the excitation of high multipolar order resonances and the measurement of circular dichroism using vortex beams are among them.


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Excellence in Higher Degree Research - Social Science, Business & Humanities

Ms Laura Hammersley, Faculty of Science

Ms Laura Hammersley, Faculty of Science and Engineering

Responsible learning and ethical engagement: connecting undergraduates with indigenous community-based organisations

Ongoing issues of social justice, poverty and inequality mirror the increased civic participation in social, environmental, economic and community development initiatives. This research examines the increased civic participation in community development through the higher education initiative, community-based service-learning (CBSL). CBSL integrates experiential learning and academic goals with organised activities designed to meet objectives of community partners. A continuing bias however, of research toward student learning objectives, means little is known if programs support community interests. This research works with, and focuses on, the perspectives of Indigenous community-based organisations in Sabah, Malaysia and the Northern Territory, Australia who host students through the Macquarie University Professional and Community Engagement Initiative to ensure ethical and reciprocal CBSL practice.


Ms Carly Johnco, Faculty of Human Sciences

Ms Carly Johnco, Faculty of Human Sciences

Learning cognitive restructuring in later life

The Role Of Cognitive Flexibility On Cognitive Restructuring Skill Acquisition In Older Adults With Anxiety And Depression: Cognitive-behaviour therapy is effective for treating late-life anxiety and depression, although some suggest a need to adapt or eliminate one treatment component, cognitive restructuring, due to declines in some cognitive abilities in older age. This research examined the role of cognitive flexibility on cognitive restructuring skill acquisition and treatment outcome in older adults with anxiety and depression. Findings suggest that older adults with poorer cognitive flexibility skills could still learn cognitive restructuring, however found it less beneficial to alleviate emotional distress, although they did still benefit overall from cognitive-behavioural therapy to address their anxiety and depressive symptoms.


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Early Career Researcher of the Year Award - Science & Engineering

Dr Trevor Keenan, Faculty of Science

Dr Trevor Keenan, Faculty of Science and Engineering

Climate change impacts on global ecosystems

The Earth’s climate has changed dramatically in the past 50 years, with even larger changes expected in the near future. Such changes greatly impact the global ecosystems on which we depend. In order to better understand those impacts, scientists are collecting unprecedented amounts of data on ecosystem health and function. The data deluge is leading to groundbreaking discoveries, but also presents new challenges to conventional ecological analysis approaches. My work focuses on harnessing this ecological ‘big data’ to both answer key questions regarding the state of the Earths ecosystems, and to build models capable of accurately predicting their future.


Dr K-Lynn Smith, Faculty of Science

Dr K-Lynn Smith, Faculty of Science and Engineering

Communication technology benefits elephants and birds

Communication is a central part of the daily lives of all social animals. However, providing normal social interactions for many animals kept in captivity is extremely challenging. This project demonstrates that modern communication technology can provide a solution to this widespread problem. For Asian elephants, social media creates virtual herds that allow females at distant zoos to communicate. For the endangered Australian bird, the regent honeyeater, virtual mentors teach captive-reared juveniles the wild dialect in preparation for their introduction to the wild. Both projects provide new techniques for captive animal management and ways to improve animal welfare.


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Early Career Researcher of the Year Award – Social Sciences, Business & Humanities

Dr Celia Harris, Faculty of Human Sciences

Dr Celia Harris, Faculty of Human Sciences

Autobiographical and Social Memory

Celia’s research focuses on how and why people remember and share events from their lives (autobiographical memory). Traditionally in cognitive psychology memory is studied in an individual context. Where social influences are studied, they are often seen as distorting individual memory. Celia is currently engaged in a series of distinct, but related, research projects that build on robust laboratory paradigms and extend them to study “real-world” remembering and forgetting in individuals and groups. She also focuses on applications to real-world problems, like cognitive decline with age, and examine the function of remembering – what memories mean to individuals and to groups.


Dr Tom Murray, Faculty of Arts

Dr Tom Murray, Faculty of Arts

The Other War: Representations of Indigenous soldiers in WW1

Dr Tom Murray’s research addresses the aspirations of Indigenous communities tot overcome historical injustice and contemporary inequality, and provides a forum for non-indigenous understanding of indigenous cultural and political perspectives. His research utilises visual anthropology--based research techniques to investigate historical and Contemporary representations off ''otherness'', particularly with respect to indigenous communities and individuals. Some off his recent research has also applied these techniques tot non--indigenous urban Australian Communities.


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Jim Piper Award for Excellence in Research Leadership

Professor Amanda Barnier, Faculty of Human Sciences

Professor Amanda Barnier, Faculty of Human Sciences

Amanda has an international reputation for innovative contributions to cognitive science and psychology in two distinct fields. She has pioneered the use of hypnosis to develop compelling laboratory versions of a catalogue of clinical delusions, enabling us to test ideas about the birth, maintenance, and treatment of false beliefs. She is at the forefront also of new “collective” memory research on the benefits of remembering together, which may protect people from the effects of cognitive decline and dementia. Since arriving at Macquarie she has built two thriving research teams and trained, mentored, and inspired the next generation of researchers.


Professor Michael Withford, Faculty of Arts

Professor Michael Withford, Faculty of Science and Engineering

Professor Michael Withford was awarded a PhD from Macquarie University in 1995 for his investigations developing high power metal vapour lasers. His current research explores femtosecond laser modification of transparent materials, and the development of novel 2D and 3D lightwave devices. Outcomes include fibre Bragg gratings, monolithic waveguide lasers, high power fibre lasers, quantum photonics and interferometric chips for astronomy. His awards include two Fellowships funded by the Australian Research Council. He holds 2 patents and has published over 100 refereed journal papers and several hundred conference papers. Dr. Withford is currently the Director for the MQ Photonics Research Centre.


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