Flinders University’s DocFest celebrations last week showcased higher-degree research projects breaking new ground on many fronts – from crime scene investigations and nano-scale power generation to child nutrition and Indigenous health.
For example, forensic science is taking a leap forward with a new DNA detection technique discovered as part of PhD research at Flinders University’s College of Science and Engineering, making contact tracing possible on items as small as SIM cards, mobile phones, zip-lock bags and cartridge cases.
‘Touch DNA’ is one of the most common sample types submitted for DNA profiling but there is currently no process to visualise the presence of DNA deposited when a person makes direct contact with items of forensic relevance.
The novel system detects the smallest traces of latent DNA deposited by touch at any crime scene, making the invisible ‘visible’ using the fluorescent nucleic acid dye ‘Diamond dye’ staining and visualised by a portable fluorescence microscope.
“We expect the highly portable system, such as dye spray and mobile microscope devices, to be used in the field in coming years,” says lead researcher Piyamas Kanokwongnuwut, who was awarded a Higher Degree by Research (HDR) Student Publication Prize in DocFest.
Since the first paper was published, Ms Kanokwongnuwut, with Flinders supervisors and colleagues including Professor Adrian Linacre and Professor Paul Kirkbride, have published a further nine papers to refine the technique.
Winners of the 2019 Flinders University Best Higher Degree by Research (HDR) Student Publication Prizes were announced and awarded on Thursday 10 September, together with the winner of the Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in HDR Supervision. Recipients of the HDR Student Research Impact prize and VC’s Awards for Doctoral Thesis Excellence (announced earlier in the year) were also awarded at the event.
Flinders University Best Higher Degree by Research (HDR) Student Publication Prize winners:
Piyamas Kanokwongnuwut – College of Science and Engineering – for ‘Shedding light on shedders’ by Piyamas Kanokwongnuwut, Belinda Martin, K. Paul Kirkbride and Adrian Linacre published in Forensic Science International: Genetics; DOI: 10.1016/j.fsigen.2018.06.004
Dr Lito Papanicolas – Medicine and Public Health – for ‘Bacterial viability in faecal transplants: Which bacteria survive?’ by Lito E. Papanicolas, Jocelyn M. Choo, Yanan Wang, Lex E.X. Leong, Samuel P. Costello, David L. Gordon, Steve L.Wesselingh and Geraint B. Rogers published in EBioMedicine (DOI: 10.1016/j.ebiom.2019.02.023)
Victoria Bridgland – Education, Psychology and Social Work – for ‘Expecting the Worst: Investigating the Effects of Trigger Warnings on Reactions to Ambiguously Themed Photos‘ by Victoria M. E. Bridgland, Deanne M. Green, Jacinta M. Oulton, and Melanie K. T. Takarangi published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology (DOI: 10.1037/xap0000215).
Dr Brittany Johnson – Nursing and Health Sciences – For ‘Examining Constructs of Parental Reflective Motivation towards Reducing Unhealthy Food Provision to Young Children’ by Brittany J. Johnson, Gilly A. Hendrie, Dorota Zarnowiecki, Elisabeth K. Huynh and Rebecca K. Golley published in Nutrients 2019, 11, 1507; DOI: 10.3390/nu11071507
Mohammad Khorsand – Science and Engineering – for ‘Simulation of high-output and lightweight sliding-mode triboelectric nanogenerators’ by Mohammad Khorsand, Javad Tavakoli, Kudzai Kamanya, Youhong Tang has been published in Nano Energy (DOI: 10.1016/j.nanoen.2019.104115)
Stephen Muller – Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences – for ‘Childness’: An Alternative Approach to the Archaeology of Childhood through Cemetery Studies‘ by Stephen Muller, Heather Burke, Cherrie De Leiuen, Helen Degner and Zandria Farrell published in Religions 2019, 10, 451; doi:10.3390/rel10080451
Dr Sian Troath – Business, Government and Law – for ‘Bonded but not embedded: trust in Australia- Indonesia relations’, Keating & Suharto to Turnbull & Jokowi by Sian Troath (published in Australian Journal of International Affairs, 73:2, 126-142, DOI: 10.1080/10357718.2019.1583168)
Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in HDR Supervision:
Dr Helen McLaren
Dr Lauren Meyer (Science and Engineering)
Dr Sarah Fraser (Nursing and Health Sciences)
Vice-Chancellor’s Awards for Doctoral Thesis Excellence (most pictured below):
- Education, Psychology and Social Work: Dr Sasha Quayum and Dr Cara Rossi
- Nursing and Health Sciences: Dr Darryl Sellwood and Dr Jennifer Slape
- Science and Engineering: Dr Lisa Alcock, Dr Alex Newcombe, Dr Elen Shute and Dr Meruyert Beknazarova
- Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences: Dr Matthew Tieu, Dr David Turnbull and Dr Sean Gilbert
- Business, Government and Law: Dr Simone Deegan