Areas of Research Strength - Murdoch University Senate

Areas of Research Strength
Murdoch University has a strong and diverse research culture. The following list is an
example of our key areas of research strength.
Established Areas of Research Strength
Agricultural and Veterinary Biotechnology (this group includes a potential
emerging area of strength in Bioinformatics and Biostatistics)
Contemporary Asia
Social Change and Social Equity
Technologies and Policies for Sustainable Development
Terrestrial and Aquatic Ecosystem Management and Restoration
Emerging Area of Research Strength
Intelligent Systems
Process Operation
Agricultural and Veterinary Biotechnology
This established research area encompasses plant biotechnology, plant pathology,
animal production and the disease control; and biomedical research. These groups
interact and use state-of-the-art facilities in the WA SABC, which fosters productive
collaboration. The common feature is the use of molecular techniques including
molecular genetics, genomics, biochemistry and cell biology. The areas of research
include animal production including the effects of nutrition on meat quality and disease,
animal disease control including oncology, bacteriology, virology and parasitology, plant
gene mapping and marker assisted selection and engineering plants for resistance and
plant-microbe interactions, including pathogenic and symbiotic bacteria, fungi, insect,
nematodes and viruses. It also includes bioinformatics and statistics in biomedicine.
Contemporary Asia (Asia Research Centre)
The Asia Research Centre is a focal point for research of contemporary Asia, drawing
on scholars from across Murdoch campus. Since its inception in 1991 as one of only two
federally funded centres of excellence in Australia, the Centre's research strengths have
been the study of emergent social forces (Middle classes, labour and business) in Asia
and their impact on the region; the implications of theses forces for Australian-Asian
political and economic relations; and the effects of the Asian financial crisis on political,
economic and social structures and the environment. This focus has enabled the Centre
to build an international reputation based on numerous publications of very high quality.
In recent months, however the Centre's board has decided to broaden its strategic vision
to encompass other academic disciplines where Murdoch scholars are at the cutting
edge of research on Asia.
The work of the centre is now focussed on seven key interdisciplinary research projects.
These projects are:
telecommunications in the region;
reverse migration;
governance and capacity-building (which includes the traditional areas of
research strength);
environmental and population;
culture, socialisation and national identity;
community, environment and law; and
animal diseases and their human consequences.
This group focuses on the unit operations and processes for the leaching, separation by
ion-exchange and solvent extraction, electro-winning and refining, and environmental
remediation in the field of hydrometallurgy. The research focus has been well
established and includes most, but not all, aspects of hydrometallurgy. It is undoubtedly
the largest academic group involved in hydrometallurgical teaching and research in the
Western world. The activities of the group are such that there is no real duplication of
effort. On the contrary the group consists of a loosely knit conglomerate of
complementary skills which can span activities from fundamental aspects of
thermodynamics and kinetics of hydrometallurgical reactions to actual pilot-plant test
work on sites. With one or two minor exceptions, the group is capable of tackling most
problems and exploring opportunities across a wide spectrum of commodities.
Social Change and Social Equity
This major research initiative is concerned with the social and psychological problems
that follow major social, economic and technological change, specifically the processes
whereby major sections of society may be deprived of resources due to psychological
and social biases which may interfere with the understanding and identification of
problems associated with the adjustment of those sections to change. Change effects
the processes of distributing resources to significant and disparate groups within the
community, dealing with different priorities and justifications for allocation. This research
targets a number of specific issues. These are first, the social and psychological
processes of discrimination on the grounds of race and gender together with aspects of
equality and multiculturalism and the act of changing cultural awareness of indigenous
issues. This also subsumes the issues inherent with social justice accorded to people
with disabilities. Second, it is concerned with the identification of the changes in
community which accompany ageing and the facilitation of the need to maintain such a
health ageing population. Finally, we are concerned with the consequences for the
community of the significant movement of permanent migrants dues to social and global
change, together with the consequences for education of significant numbers of
international students in global economy.
Technologies and Policies for Sustainable Development
Sustainable development is a process that involves research, development and
implementation of new technologies to meet the needs of society without compromising
the needs of future generations to meet their needs. This process ensures that new
technologies are economically viable and also that they simultaneously bring social and
environmental benefits. This area is of crucial international importance as the world
struggles to overcome problems caused by population growth, inefficient and polluting
industrial processes and unsustainable consumption of resources.
Sustainable development seeks to reduce such impacts while improving the economy
and quality of life. Murdoch University has a long history of involvement in this field and
has four active research groups working on various aspects. These groups work closely
together on major projects and interact regularly on research and teaching projects. In
the future these groups will formalise and coordinate their operations in order to
enhance the University's capacity to bid for major projects in the area of sustainable
development, in the international, national and local market.
Terrestrial and Aquatic Ecosystem Management and Restoration
The core function of this group is the generation of basic and strategic science and
technology relevant to the maintenance and repair of ecosystems and their components,
and the sustainable development of natural resources in the western regions of
Australia, and their future applications in other parts of the world.
Western Australia encompasses regions of the highest biodiversity on the continent and,
indeed, on the planet. The State also has very extensive mining, petrochemical,
agriculture, forestry and fisheries industries that supply large components of Australia's
overseas earnings. Development of the region's renewable natural resources in a
sustainable way and the maintenance and repair of its natural and managed
ecosystems is essential to the long-term prosperity of the region. Lessons learned in
Western Australia can also be transferred of modified in other regions of Australia and
internationally. Murdoch University has a very substantial research effort directed at
supplying the basis and strategic science required for this endeavour, and its work on
diverse and unique ecosystems has both national and global significance. The research
grouping allows for integration across systems and disciplines. Western Australia
represents a unique natural laboratory, in which issues of development and
sustainability come into sharp focus against a flora, fauna and other natural resources of
global significance.
Intelligent Systems and Software Development for Process Operation
The group brings together experts from three areas (Process Control, Pattern
Recognition/Machine Learning/Computer Vision, and Software Engineering), with an
aim to pool the expertise to solve complex industrial problems, which cannot be solved
by either sub-discipline in isolation. Our aim is to research and develop methodologies
and on-line tools/software that support the following in the process industry:
Automatic detection of poorly performing application by providing information for
checking if performance targets are being met by the controlled process variable
(ie maintenance of control loops).
Automatic detection of abnormal process situations as soon as they arise and
tools to aid in the problem diagnosis.
Prioritisation of control problems and aid process operators in carrying out the
remedial actions.
Analysis of sensors that use vision that has not been incorporated in process
plants until now.
Formal methods for process control.
Risk analysis for designing, managing and maintaining new technologies.