Recognising research and leadership excellence

As the 2022 academic year begins, Flinders University is proud to announce several new Matthew Flinders Professors and a new Matthew Flinders Fellow, all of whom will build the University’s research efforts through 2022 and into the future.

The seven new Matthew Flinders Professors and new Matthew Flinders Fellow have been recognised for their ongoing and considerable research performance, along with the leadership they have shown over the past five years to help realise Flinders University’s vision for recognition as a world leader in research.

Flinders University President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Colin Stirling wrote to all the awardees to formally notify them about the recognition. A ceremony to recognise these awardees will be scheduled as soon as practicable.

The new Matthew Flinders Professors are:

Professor Mark Shephard

• Professor Mark Shephard (CMPH) is Director of the Flinders University International Centre for Point-of-Care Testing and is Course Co-ordinator for the world-first Graduate Certificate in Global Point-of-Care Testing.

Professor Karin Nordstrom. Image: Flinders Foundation

• Professor Karin Nordstron (CMPH) and her team at the Motion Vision group use hoverflies to understand how the nervous system codes visual information. They use a range of techniques, such as electrophysiology of single neurons in the fly nervous system, quantitative behaviour, free flight experiments and field site measurements. Professor Nordstrom was awarded more than $500,000 as part of an Australia Research Council grant to further her collaboration with Macquarie University, to determine how honey bees and hoverflies make quick decisions in flight with their project “Life or death decisions: making fast, accurate choices in a complex world”.

Professor Janni Petersen

• Professor Janni Petersen (CMPH) is a Biochemist and Cell Biologist whose research is focused on understanding the two major signalling networks that are implicated in tumourigensis and diabetes in humans. Professor Petersen was recently awarded an Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Project worth nearly $500,000 to further her project “How do cells survive nutrient stress? Insight into mechanisms” and a National Health and Medical Research grant also worth nearly $500,000 for her project “Determining the role of Target of Rapamycin Complex 2 (TORC2) in cancer cell proliferation”.

Professor Nick Spencer

• Professor Nick Spencer (CMPH) focuses his research on understanding the neurophysiological basis of pain pathways in visceral organs, and the neural control mechanisms that underlie control of the gut-to-brain axis. Professor Spencer is currently Chief investigator-A on two NH&MRC project grants and two ARC discovery grants examining the gut-to-brain axis.

Professor Justin Chalker

Professor Justin Chalker (CSE), as lead of the Chalker Research Lab, focuses his research on making renewable materials that benefit the environment and sustainability in the broadest sense. Three active projects include waste valorisation, pollution capture and sustainable gold mining. In 2020, Professor Chalker was awarded the Prime Minister’s Prize for New Innovators, one of the top science prizes in Australia.

Professor Luciano Beheregaray. Image: Ashton Claridge

• Professor of Biodiversity Genomics and Research Section Lead of Ecology, Evolution and Environment Luciano Beheregaray (CSE) focuses his research and teaching interests on evolution and conservation biology. Professor Beheregaray helped establish the Molecular Ecology Lab at Flinders University (MELFU) in 2009, which has so far included 22 PhD graduates, 30 Honours students, and produced more than 220 refereed publications.

Professor Lily Xiao

• Professor Lily Xiao (CNHS) is an expert in dementia care and chronic disease management, and is passionate about dementia education for health professionals and caregivers. With an established record in cross-cultural care for older people and people with dementia, Professor Xiao serves on the WHO Dementia Knowledge Exchange peer reviewer panel.

Dr Oren Griffiths

In addition to these recipients, Dr Oren Griffiths – Senior Lecturer in the College of Education, Psychology and Social Work – has been named a Matthew Flinders Fellow for his research into trial-and-error learning. His work also examines how attention biases and short-cuts can result in erroneous or problematic beliefs. Dr Griffiths’ current project is “Uncertainty and learning, selective attention, and their implications for our understanding of psychotic illness”.

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