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platform to produce Timor-Leste's future
leaders," he said.
"An important part of that platform is to
assist students to develop networks in our
own public sector. That the size and scale of
South Australia's public sector is comparable
to that of Timor-Leste underscores the value
in having a cohort, a critical mass of students
who can build networks here over time."
Professor Barber and CDU Vice-Chancellor
Professor Barney Glover earlier this month
visited Timor-Leste, where they met with
President Ramos Horta and other
"In particular I met the Vice-Minister of
Finance who specifically mentioned their
students at Flinders and how pleased he was
with their progress," Professor Barber said.
FBS Associate Dean (International), Associate
Professor Sarath Delpachitra said unlike other
developing countries, Timor-Leste has
physical resources such as oil and gas, "which
will lead to reasonable economic outcomes
in the future".
"Apart from the need for infrastructure
development, the biggest problem facing
Timor-Leste is the lack of human resources,"
Associate Professor Delpachitra said.
"The banking and financial services sector,
for example, is weak at the moment. Once
we develop this cohort of students, they
will immediately be mobilised to perform
important tasks," he said.
In addition to gaining academic
qualifications, Associate Professor
Delpachitra said the students would
undertake a comprehensive professional
"Over the course of their studies, the
students will visit various public sector
organisations, including the State
Parliament, and undertake a placement
with at least one of a variety of government
agencies," he said.
One of the students, Mr Bernardino Da
Costa Pereira, is a recruitment adviser in
Timor-Leste's Ministry of Finance.
"Our government is managing to invest in
education by sending young people to
countries such as Australia to study," Mr Da
Costa Pereira said.
"I speak on behalf of the group when I say we
are very happy to be studying at Flinders. We
have excellent mentors and advisers in
Associate Professor Sarath Delpachitra from
FBS and Ian Sebastian from the University's
International Office. They are very good at
looking after us," he said, adding that the
skills, networks and informal learning he
gains here are as important as the formal
qualifications of his MBA.
The opportunity to meet and mix with
people from other countries and cultures
has also been an unexpected boon.
"Meeting and knowing other people here
from different cultures are essential points
to creating a good relationship with people
from other countries. This helps us to
develop our connection in the future," Mr
Da Costa Pereira said.
Ms Merve Hosgelen, a PhD student under
the supervision of Dr Udoy Saikia and
Associate Professor Gour Dasvarama in the
School of the Environment, is currently
collecting data in Timor-Leste for her
population-environment research project.
Dr Saikia and Associate Professor
Dasvarama have published several reports
and articles on population and fertility in
Timor-Leste, including work commissioned
by Australia's Defence Science and
Cover photo: (from left) Timor-Leste students
Bernardino Da Costa Pereira, Sandra Fatima Ribeiro
Lay (National Petroleum Authority) and Basilio
Carvalho with Associate Professor Sarath Delpachitra.
To the untrained eye, the spreadsheet sitting
on Luke Humphris' desk appears to be a
mishmash of meaningless numbers.
But the information at hand is actually a
powerful teaching tool that provides
comprehensive, up-to-the-second data on
the accuracy, skill and precision of aspiring
Mr Humphris, an honours student in
software engineering at Flinders University,
has developed a new computer program that
assesses the performance of surgical
students based on three key elements; the
proximity to a target, the ability to trace a
steady line using the right amount of force
and the ability to detect a hard mass in a
seemingly even surface.
Unlike other, more realistic virtual simulators
that are currently being used in the medical
field, Mr Humphris' haptic device is
comprised of basic tasks that mimic surgical
movements, with the difference that the
software can actually record the test results
on a spreadsheet for analysing.
"One of the tests looks like a big, skin-
coloured square on a computer screen but it
actually contains a harder area within it,"
Mr Humphris said.
"The idea is for the student to find that
hard spot in the square, similar to a
surgeon looking for hard mass in the body,"
"Another experiment looks at a person's
ability to follow lines so it works out
where the closest point from the line to
the tip of the tool is and records that data
approximately every 15 milliseconds.
"Not only does it record the average
distance from the line but it can
determine if you are better at tracing a
particular type of pattern or direction."
Mr Humphris said he eventually hoped to
add his assessment program to existing
"virtual surgery" simulation devices to
create an all-in-one training and
"Haptic virtual simulation is relatively
unused in surgery at the moment and
while there are projects investigating how
it can be used, it's mostly for practice
rather than assessment," he said.
"The other key thing is the objectiveness
of the testing -- if 10 surgical students
did this testing with a teacher their
marks would be relative to who is
The project was among about 50
student works on display at the
Computer Science, Engineering and
Haptics gives a feel to surgery simulation
The simulator s creator, Mr Luke Humphris, with fellow
software engineering student Mr Babak Jaber (seated).
From poetry to looking after PhDs
In just six months as Flinders University's
Dean of Graduate Research, Jeri Kroll is
already making significant headway in her
goal of expanding opportunities for both PhD
students and research staff.
Since taking on the role, Professor Kroll has
helped implement an international "cotutelle"
scheme that gives students the chance to
achieve a joint PhD degree from Flinders and
partnering institutions across the globe.
Amongst all this, she still finds time to pursue
her own writing -- both academic and creative.
A collection of children's poems will be out
soon, while Research Methods in Creative
Writing hits the shelves early next year.
Despite her busy schedule, Professor Kroll said
she is excited to be the University's first-ever
Dean of Graduate Research, and in particular
roll out the cotutelle program.
Under this initiative, students undertake a
portion of their PhD at Flinders and a portion
at an overseas institution, and so earn a
double-badged degree. One student has
already started at the prestigious French
university, Paris Déscartes.
"Domestic and international collaboration is
something we're working hard to develop,"
Professor Kroll said.
"It gives us the chance to enhance students'
prospects, both in their actual experience
here at Flinders and in their future careers,
and at the same time create pathways for
research staff to work collaboratively across
institutions, which ultimately benefits the
Aside from the cotutelle, Professor Kroll has
her sights set on further strengthening
research training and supervision,
coordinating programs across the University
and, in particular, establishing a dedicated
Supervisors' Register that will become a key
resource especially for prospective students.
Off campus, the award-winning creative
writer has just returned from her birth
country, the US, to see an adaptation of her
verse novel Vanishing Point produced at the
Kennedy Centre's 'Page to Stage' Season of
New Work. She is now working with the
director towards a full staged production in
If this isn't enough, Professor Kroll, who is
the longest-serving member of the
Fleurieu Horse and Pony Club, also
competes in show jumping and other
equestrian activities, including the recent
Yankalilla Show and the 13th Australian
Masters Games in October where she
won three gold medals and one silver.
Wide-ranging ARC grants for Flinders projects
Kangaroo Island's phases of connection and
disconnection with the mainland make it of
special interest to palaeontologists, and a
Flinders University project that will track
the resulting effects on the island's fauna
and flora has received funding from the
latest round of Australian Research Council
The project, led by Dr Gavin Prideaux, is one
of 10 Flinders projects to receive funding
worth $1.9 million from the ARC.
Dr Prideaux said that analysis of the
patterns of extinction, changes in the
adaptations and genetic diversity of animal
species, and the composition of plant
communities deduced from fossil pollen
will improve the ability to predict the
effects of long-term habitat fragmentation.
"Our project will be unique because its focus
is the only land-bridge island on earth
known to have highly complete vertebrate,
vegetative and associated environmental
records spanning not only the last 9,000
years of disconnection, but most of the Late
Quaternary period (the last 125,000 years),"
Dr Prideaux said.
"Combined, Kangaroo Island's history and
rich fossil record offer insights into the
long-term impacts of environmental
change on native animal and plant
Biologist Professor Mike Bull has continued
an extraordinary record of funding success
by securing one of the University's three
Linkage grants, which are made to
collaborative programs with industry.
Professor Bull's project received $510,000 to
continue research into the biological
knowledge of the pygmy bluetongue lizard,
making vital contributions to programs
dedicated to the species' conservation.
Flinders Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research)
Professor David Day said the projects to win
funding came from all four of the
University's faculties, representing a wide
range of the University's research
"It is also particularly pleasing to see
numerous early career researchers among
the teams of applicants," Professor Day said.
Among the seven Discovery grants is a
project led by Professor Fran Baum that will
look at applying recommendations by the
World Health Organisation on the social
and economic factors affecting health, and
how governments can shape policy and
implementation processes in Australia to
improve public health.
Other projects include an examination of
the mechanisms of movement in the
digestive tract; a study of delayed sleep
phase disorder; and an analysis of the
interaction between Australia's justice
system and its security organisations. The
remaining Linkage grants comprise a
comparative study of food trust -- public
confidence in the food supply -- in
Australia and the UK, and a history of
computer games and their role in
familiarising the public with new
For full details, see: www.flinders.edu.au/
Dr Gavin Prideaux
Professor Jeri Kroll
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