Research Engagement and ImpactAiming to catch criminals as never before


New technology being developed at Flinders is aiming to help identify suspects from a simple touch on items that have rarely been used for DNA testing before.

Identification of criminals and terrorists from traces of material that they leave behind at crime scenes and on items that they touch is a cornerstone of forensic science. Typically, fingerprints and DNA in body fluids such as blood yield the most valuable crime-solving leads. Flinders, through the leadership of Professor Adrian Linacre, Chair in Forensic DNA Technology, is at the cutting-edge of DNA analysis where invisible traces containing just a few cells deposited by criminals as a result of a single and brief touch can yield valuable evidence.

With $205,193 in funding from the Defence Science and Technology Group (DST) – Defence Science Partnership program, the School of Biological Sciences’ Professor Adrian Linacre and Professor Paul Kirkbride will initially aim to gain useful DNA profiles from items such as cartridge cases, timing devices, circuit boards, tapes and wires. These crucial pieces of evidence are especially relevant to investigation of terrorist bombings and other serious crimes yet it has been notoriously difficult to obtain DNA from these objects in the past. The innovative method uses a specifically devised micro-swab combined with a process that greatly enhances the sensitivity of the genetic testing. The outcome is that DNA profiles are generated from items of forensic interest where it has not been possible using standard methods.

A further aim of the project, Informative genetic data from trace material collected from a range of forensically informative substrates, is to include genetic testing that examines areas of the genome that determine certain physical features such as eye and hair colour as well as where in the world the person leaving the DNA may have come from. The ultimate goal of that work is to provide law enforcement agencies with a new type of intelligence that can help them identify unknown criminals and terrorists. Combining all the DNA testing will ultimate provide highly informative genetic data if persons touch any of a wide range of surfaces during a criminal and terrorist action.

Flinders Research NewsEngagement and Impact at Flinders

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Engagement and Impact are more than just new buzz words around research. They are key for the future of Australian Research. With the Federal Government implementing an Engagement and Impact Assessment alongside the next Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) round in 2018, now is when universities and researchers should be preparing for this new type of research outcome measurement.

The Research Services Office has been working with a number of disciplines across Flinders to develop responses to the Australian Research Council's Engagement and Impact pilot assessment. Developing an understanding of the diverse types of engagements and impacts made by our research community is critical to the way we develop our overarching responses to these types of assessment processes.

Professor Claire Smith and Associate Professor Heather Burke, from the Department of Archaeology, have kicked off a series of articles that will discuss the types of engagement that Flinders researchers have undertaken and the impacts of these and other research projects.

Susan Arthure, Doctoral candidate in the Department of Archaeology, provides a personal account of her experience in building relationships with community members and highlights the importance of allowing time for relationships to develop.

We are encouraging comments on these posts as a way to open dialogue on this new form of measurement and we encourage you to contribute your own articles and examples of engagement and impact within your disciplines.


Seminars Conferences and WorkshopsResearch Data & Systems Drop-in Session - June 2017

Where: Research Services Office - Room B2, Basement, Union Building
When: Tuesday 20 June 2017
Time: 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM

Research Data and Reporting

The next Research Data and Reporting Team’s monthly drop-in session for interested academic and professional staff will be held on Tuesday 20 June 2017.

The aim of the session is to provide one-on-one assistance to staff who want either a refresh on the research data systems used at Flinders or to learn some new skills.

Research Data and Reporting staff will be available from 12 PM to 1 PM on Tuesday 20 June 2017. Participants are encouraged to register at ienrol if they are interested in attending.

New OpportunitiesResearch in the MD program – support our students and the School of Medicine

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The School of Medicine is calling for projects and potential supervisors for the Doctor of Medicine (MD) Advanced Studies students.

Advanced Studies (AS) is a compulsory research and scholarship theme integrated across all four years of the Flinders MD program as required by the Australian Medical Council for our students to graduate.

The AS students’ progress heavily depends on the Flinders research community to offer research projects. As part of a team with a well-defined research question, Flinders MD students have demonstrated the ability to substantially aid in the progress of many projects, including quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods research.

There are many tasks that are appropriate for students to undertake as part of a research team and these include, but not limited to:

  • Literature critiques/ meta studies/ systematic reviews;
  • Adding a longitudinal or a parallel component to your project;
  • Wet lab bench work (restricted to time commitments);
  • Collaborative or single data collection;
  • Data analysis and interpretation;
  • Undertaking a survey;
  • A group of students running a small clinical trial under the umbrella of your supervision.

We are now calling for projects and potential supervisors to be part of Advanced Studies.

Projects broadly related to Medicine from all areas of the University are welcome.

Detailed information can be found here - 2017 Advanced Studies Information for Staff.

Contact Dr Hakan Muyderman for further information (e-mail: or phone: 0452199965

Applications close June 15, 2017.

Seminars Conferences and WorkshopsARC Rejoinders and NHMRC Rebuttals - ‘the Good, the Bad and the Ugly’

Regardless if it is ARC or NHMRC, there are still the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly in the comments from assessors that have to be dealt with.

Where: The Studio, Ground Level, Professional Services Building (behind Grind & Press Cafe)
When: Thursday 25 May 2017
Time: 9:00 AM – 10:30 AM
RSVP: via iEnrol

RSO Rejoinder and Rebuttal seminar

The Research Services Office (RSO) aims to help researchers in the ARC Rejoinder and NHMRC Rebuttal process by providing a upcoming comprehensive workshop, with plenty of opportunities for Q&A.

The workshop will be split into three sections.
Preparing your Rebuttal or Rejoinder
will be presented by Eva Kemps, Professor, School of Psychology, and Associate Dean (Research), Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences.
ARC Rejoinders
will be presented by Maya Roberts, Senior Grants Officer, RSO.
NHMRC Rebuttals will be presented by Gareth Rees, Senior Grants Officer, RSO.

New OpportunitiesGSK Award for Research Excellence

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The 37th GSK Award for Research Excellence are now open. The award acknowledges outstanding Australian researchers and their work and provides an $80,000 (tax free) independent research grant to the award recipient’s employing organisation to further the recipient’s work and knowledge.

The award targets high calibre mid-career clinicians and researchers undertaking human medical health research predominately in Australia.

The judging criteria are weighted as follows:

  • 40% - potential for the researcher’s contribution to science to directly or indirectly lead to improvement in human health
  • 30% - potential for the nominee to continue to make research contributions in the field of human health; and
  • 30% - nominee’s accomplishments based on academic and employment record, research grants and awards received, cited publications and other examples of research productivity.

Further information about the award and the online nomination form are available at GSK Award for Research Excellence website

Nominations close at midnight on Friday 10 July 2017. The award will be presented at the Research Australia Awards Night,Thursday 12 October 2017.

Please direct any queries regarding the award to

Application support is provided by the Research Services Office. Please contact Brodie Beales in the Research Services Office on extn12275 or via email ( to discuss your application support needs.

Flinders Research NewsAustralia to drive forward on research infrastructure

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The 2016 National Research Infrastructure Roadmap has now been released. As part of the National Innovation and Science Agenda, the Roadmap outlines what support and infrastructure is required over the next decade to ensure that Australia remains or improves on our current research expertise. Chaired by Australia's Chief Scientist, Dr Alan Finkel AO, the Expert Working Group undertook extensive consultation with relevant stakeholders across Australia before delivering the Roadmap to the Federal Government in February 2017.

The Roadmap identifies nine focus areas that will require support over the coming decade. They are:

  • Digital Data and eResearch Platforms
  • Platforms for Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences
  • Characterisation
  • Advanced Fabrication and Manufacturing
  • Advanced Physics and Astronomy
  • Earth and Environmental Systems
  • Biosecurity
  • Complex Biology
  • Therapeutic Development

The Roadmap can be accessed from the Department of Education and Training website.

Seminars Conferences and WorkshopsConstructing your research grant budget - ‘the Nuts and Bolts’

Do you spend too long worrying about getting the budget right for your grant application? Not sure what help there is for you and how to construct the best budget for your application?

Where: Rm 152, Social Sciences South Building
When: Thursday 1 June 2017
Time: 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM
RSVP: via iEnrol

RSO workshop Budgets

The Research Services Office (RSO) invites you to attend a workshop on constructing a research grant budget as part of a applying to a research funding body. The workshop is intended to introduce the basics of budget construction, grant funding rules and Flinders budget requirements.

The nuts and bolts of research grant budgets will be presented by Gareth Rees, Senior Grants Officer, RSO
Constructing your budget – a worked example will be presented by Mary Lyons, Senior Grants Officer, RSO

There will be plenty of opportunity for Q & A.

New OpportunitiesCall for Papers-International Conference on RDI for Sustainable Energy

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The 3rd International Conference on Research + Development + Innovation for Sustainable Energy is calling for extended abstracts on any of the following areas of study - Habitat: Sustainable Intermediate Cities, Mobility: Efficient urban and intercity transportation, Industries: Energy optimization, and Energy Production: Use of non-conventional energy sources. The conference will be held in Quito, Ecuador from 20-22 September 2017.

Further details on the past conferences and the call for papers can be accessed via the documents below or the conference website -

International Conference on RDI for Sustainable Energy information

Call for papers - International Conference on RDI for Sustainable Energy

New OpportunitiesThe Antarctic Frontier - developing research in an extreme environment

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Does your research push the boundaries? Do you want an opportunity to learn about and form cross-disciplinary collaborations? Would you like an opportunity to network with the nation’s next generation of science leaders? Then apply to take part in the 2017 Theo Murphy Australian Frontiers of Science – The Antarctic Frontier: developing research in an extreme environment to be held in Hobart 13 —15 September by the Australian Academy of Science.

Antarctica represents a unique and powerful natural laboratory for science and international collaboration. This symposium will bring together Australasian early- and mid-career researchers (EMCRs) from all fields relevant to Antarctic and Southern Ocean science.

Over two days, EMCRs will share their latest research findings, build networks and create pathways for future interdisciplinary research. This symposium is an outstanding opportunity for EMCRs to take part in shaping the future of Antarctic science.

Approximately 70 EMCRs (up to 15 years post-PhD, excluding career interruptions) will be chosen to attend the conference. The Theo Murphy (Australia) Fund will support the attendance costs of all successful applicants.

Find out more and apply to attend this year’s Frontiers of Science by Thursday 25 May and take part in this unique event which will enhance your career development. Applicants will be notified of the selection outcomes by 30 June. If you require any further information please contact Dr Sandra Gardam on 02 6201 9426 or via email


Seminars Conferences and WorkshopsScience at the Shine Dome - Tickets still available!

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Tickets are still available for the Australian Academy of Science's (AAS) annual flagship event - Science at the Shine Dome to be held in Canberra from 23 - 25 May 2017.

As part of this three day celebration of Australian science, scientific networking and professional development opportunity a symposium on the theme of Life on the Loose: species invasion and control will bring together a diverse set of players in the fight to understand, eradicate or control invasive species in Australia and what the world has to learn from the giant ecological experiment taking place on our shores in real-time.

The symposium will feature prominent speakers Professor David Richardson, Professor Rick Shine, Professor Emma Johnston and others who will take the audience on a journey of why or how species were introduced, the point they became invasive, impacts they are having and the management controls being implemented.

The three day program includes:

  • An opportunity to hear inspiring research from 21 of our nation’s best scientists, inducted as New Fellows into the Academy, and 15 recipients of the prestigious Academy awards
  • An early- to mid- career researcher professional development program
  • A one-day symposium on invasive species, with talks from leading Australian scientists including Professor Emma Johnston, Associate Professor Kerrie Wilson and winner of the 2016 Prime Minister’s Prize for Science, Professor Rick Shine
  • A gala dinner attended by senior policymakers, politicians, heads of scientific agencies, fellows and other luminaries of science (almost sold-out)

For more information or to register for the event, see the AAS event website.

Research Engagement and ImpactExcavating with and in a Community

Article by Susan Arthure
Doctoral Candidate, Archaeology Department
Flinders University

Even the young can excavate a straight trench wall!

I’ve just returned from leading an archaeological excavation at Baker’s Flat near Kapunda, South Australia, as part of the research for my PhD in archaeology. 

Today, it’s a wheat paddock on private land, but in the nineteenth century Baker’s Flat was a vibrant Irish community. Although its residents made up a large proportion of the broader Kapunda community, they weren’t very popular locally. In the recorded histories, where Baker’s Flat gets mentioned at all, the predominant message is of fights and hovels, animals running wild, drunkenness, lawlessness, and dirt. The Baker’s Flat community was first written off, and then written out of the histories.

Which is where community comes in. The story of Baker’s Flat was remembered by just a few local historians, who shared it with me. And in the 'heel of the hunt', as we say in Ireland, those historians and I embarked on an historical and archaeological journey of exploration about this site. A journey that has now encompassed old and young, academics and community members, archaeologists and artists.

Volunteer crew hard at work in the trench.

When I first looked at the site, I was told that there had been dugouts, but I couldn’t see it. I was thinking of dugouts like those at Burra, very defined and easy to see the remains of in the creek bed. However, a geophysical survey of part of the site showed anomalies consistent with the size of houses, and when we excavated one of these, it turned out to be a dugout. Not the same as at Burra, but one that was dug lightly into the side of the hill to form shelter walls, which were then used as the foundation for other walls made of flattened tin and hessian. And all consistent with oral histories collected in the 1970s and folklore passed down by the Kapunda historians.

Talking to the landowner, he remembered his father telling him how he was able to buy the land cheap after the last war because it was so full of junk and big holes that it was impossible to work. He covered the land with 10cms of top soil, but where there were large holes from the dugouts, he pushed in the "junk" (wheelbarrows, bedsteads, bathtubs) and added up to a metre of top soil to level the land. These memories helped explain the stratigraphy of the site, and helped me to determine where to work.

And the important thing here is time. The landowner and I have spent a lot of time standing and thinking, looking at holes in the ground. If you don’t allow the time to build trust with people, then you really miss out.

It shows the importance of communication and collaboration, and the fact that effective public engagement demands time and the ability to wait, generosity of spirit, trust, and the ability to ask good questions and listen well to the answers. 

Historical archaeologists are in the fortunate position of working in a truly multidisciplinary field. I would argue that because we can combine texts and archaeology, oral histories and public involvement, we are really able to help archaeology to live in the public arena, and allow different stories and voices to be heard. One of the most enjoyable research outputs so far has been a series of 12 oil paintings by artist Lynn Mack, which is based on ceramic and glass artefacts excavated at Baker’s Flat. The exhibition, Unearthed, is currently on display in the Flinders University Central Library.

Unearthed: an exhibition of paintings by Lynn Mack based on artefacts excavated at Baker’s Flat.

New OpportunitiesResearch Week call for abstracts

The upcoming Research Week at Flinders Medical Centre (FMC) is designed to showcase research already occurring in the southern health region, to enhance collaborations between researchers here at Flinders University, SALHN, and the FMC Flinders Foundation, and to promote engagement with the broader community about research at the FMC.

Abstracts for poster and/or oral presentations are being sought, with the deadline for submissions being 5 pm Friday 19 May 2017. Further details, including the guidelines, can be found on the SALHN website.

Research Engagement and ImpactWhat does engagement look like? Community-initiated research.

The Departments of History and Archaeology are thinking about engagement. In 2017, the Field of Research code 21 History and Archaeology will be submitted for the Australian Research Council’s Pilot Engagement Study.

The pilot aims to examine how universities are translating their research into economic, social and other benefits and encourages greater collaboration between universities, industries and other end-users of research.

The ARC defines research engagement as:

'the interaction between researchers and research end-users (including industry, government, non-governmental organisations, communities and community organisations), for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge, technologies and methods, and resources in a context of partnership and reciprocity’
(ARC 2017:11)

Much of the research in the Department of Archaeology is initiated by community groups, government departments and other end-users. People regularly approach us to record historic shipwrecks, identify the graves of their relatives, record Aboriginal rock art and excavate under the floor boards of historic buildings.

For archaeology, engagement is less about researchers engaging with the community than the community engaging with researchers.

The Department of Archaeology receives around one community request per month. Many of these are translated into student research projects, Archaeology Society training exercises, field schools or voluntary projects undertaken by staff members. Many of the contacts made by communities are the result of media coverage of our research and our web presence.

Sometimes engagement is a single project. This may involve recording a cemetery, assisting with the digitisation of the records of a local museum or excavating an air raid shelter.

Sometimes engagement is a long-term relationship. These research partnerships can last for decades. Claire Smith has worked with the Barunga community in the Northern Territory since 1990 and Ngadjuri people since 1998. Associate Professor Amy Roberts conducted her Honours research with the Mannum community in 1998 and still works with this community. Similarly, Dr Mick Morrison is still conducting research with the Aboriginal people in west Cape York whom he first worked with in 2000. DECRA Fellow Dr Daryl Wesley has worked with Aboriginal people from Western Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, since 1991.

Among other things, community-initiated research has the capacity to significantly increase Flinders University’s public profile. Heather Burke’s research in 2011 and 2012 with the Catholic Church, the Sisters of Saint Joseph and the Mary Mackillop Penola Centre sought to locate the stable school where Mary Mackillop founded the Sisters of Saint Joseph. This research generated more than 65 media interviews, including television segments with WIN 9, National 9 News and Channel 10 News.

Dr Alice Gorman’s research on space archaeology and space junk has led to her playing a leading role in the Space Industry Association of Australia, which in 2017 is hosting the world’s largest space gathering, the International Astronautical Congress, in Adelaide. In this capacity, she has been invited to mentor small satellite start-up companies in Melbourne and New Zealand and to collaborate with lunar research teams in India.

Most importantly, community-initiated research points to both the needs and wants of local communities.

Often, people identify research opportunities but don’t have the capacity or the specialist knowledge to take advantage of these themselves. They seek support from the University as a regional authority and archaeology as a specialist discipline. If the archaeologist takes on the research the community may provide small amounts of funding and/or in-kind support for the research. Sometimes the community may seek funding for a longer-term project. Sometimes they will co-fund or co-host a workshop or symposium, co-present at a conference or co-author a publication or other product. These activities produce a wide variety of output from research undertaken on the basis of a ‘mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge, technologies and methods, and resources in a context of partnership and reciprocity’ (ARC 2017:11).

Article provided by Professor Claire Smith and Associate Professor Heather Burke, Department of Archaeology


Australian Research Council 2017 Engagement and Impact Assessment Pilot 2017. Submission Guidelines. Available at

Seminars Conferences and WorkshopsResearch Grants and Contracts Drop-in Sessions - May 2017

Where: Research Services Office - Room B2, Basement, Union Building
When: Tuesday 9 May 2017 and Tuesday 23 May 2017
Time: 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM

Fundings and Contracts
The first Research Grants and Contracts team monthly drop-in session for interested academic and professional staff will be held on Tuesday 9 May 2017.

These twice monthly sessions are designed to allow staff to receive one-on-one assistance or advice on any aspect of the services provided by the Research Grants and Contracts team, including: assistance with research grant applications, searching for funding, grant budgets, establishing collaborative contracts and other research related contracts, terms and conditions of award, confidentiality and material transfer agreements etc.

Research Grants and Contract staff will be available from 12 PM to 1 PM on Tuesday 9 May 2017 and Tuesday 23 May 2017. Participants are encouraged to register at ienrol if they are interested in attending either of the sessions and are asked to please email to give RSO staff advance notice of the nature of the assistance they require.

Research Engagement and ImpactPlanning for one of the world’s youngest nations

Timorese youths
Timorese Youths

There are not many people who can claim to have directly influenced the way the United Nations measures development, but Associate Professor Udoy Saikia, School of the Environment, and his research team (Dr James Chalmers, Associate Professor Gour Dasvarma and Dr Merve Hosgelen, a Flinders PhD graduate and the Project Manager - National Human Development Report (NHDR), United Nations Development Programme, Dili, Timor-Leste) can say just that.

The work of Saikia et al has expanded the applicability of standard United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) indicators to more accurately reflect the circumstances of the people in developing nations. In so doing they have opened a new, more accessible, field of development research able to include many more people in a wider diversity of circumstances.

Female Timorese youthsTimorese Youths

From their innovative work with the United Nations Development Programme in Bougainville pioneering the use of food security as a proxy for income when calculating the Human Development Index (HDI) to include the local bartering culture, to designing and implementing a wellbeing index for Assam in India they have joined forces with the UNDP once again to lead Timor-Leste’s 4th National Human Development Report. The development report (due to be finalised in November 2017) is designed to help Timor-Leste plan for its burgeoning youth population in a way that will ensure the future prosperity of their nascent nation.

Timor-Leste’s population has a median age of just 16.8 years old (by way of comparison Australia’s median age is 37.4), making it one of the youngest national populations in the world. Saikia and his team have worked closely with the Timor-Leste government to combine the standard quantitative UNDP HDI statistics and measures with qualitative research into the lives, aspirations and experiences of Timor-Leste’s youth. The evidence they collect and present in their report will be crucial to the government’s evidence-based policy development process, a process that will allow Timor-Leste to take advantage of the opportunities that its young population will offer as they age.

The results of this research will shape government investment and priorities in areas such as education, training and infrastructure. For a new nation this information will prove truly defining and there are precious few research projects that can demonstrate nation-shaping influence.

Flinders Timor-Leste team

From left to right: Associate Professor Udoy Saikia, Mr Knut Ostby (United Nations Resident Coordinator, Timor-Leste), Ms Noura Hamladji (Former Country Director, UNDP Timor-Leste), Dr Merve Hosgelen, Associate Professor Gour Dasvarma, and Dr James Chalmers.

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