SSN 2022 Grant announcement

Congratulations to the successful applicants to the 2022 round of the SSN Incubator and Establishment Grants. We look forward to bringing you more updates from this fantastic cohort and to supporting their important work. A strong pool of applicants from across Deakin University resulted in the success of 6 Incubator and 2 Establishment projects. 

2022 Incubator grantees 

5°: The Adaptation Trap

Chief Investigator: Dr Martin Potter, Senior Lecturer, Deakin Motion Lab Fellow, Screen and Design

5°: The Adaptation Trap will create a prototype participatory community game, where scenarios based on incremental temperature increases from 2° to 5°C will be ‘played’ in real and virtual environments. The game will be the centrepiece for a transmedia project, extended across diverse media platforms and forums. It will assess risks and test responses, generate knowledge, develop community preparedness and strategic partnerships, and public awareness.

The project will create a prototype ready for implementation, designed to be iterative and scalable. This project asks if participatory transmedia, games and performance can serve to rehearse and prepare for climate adaptation and help close the theory and practice gap (TPG) between scientific knowledge and policy making. This project is aligned with The Australian Security Leaders Climate Group report ‘Missing in Action‘ calling for urgent action, specifically a National Climate and Security Risk Assessment, and National Prevention and Resilience Framework.

COLLABORATORS: Dr Misha Myers, Senior Lecturer, Screen and Design; Brett Bryan, Alfred Deakin Professor of Global Change, Environment and Society, Dr Rebecca Patrick, Senior Lecturer in the School of Health and Social Development; Euan Ritchie, Professor in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation; Stefan Greuter, Professor of Screen and Design; Richard Frankland, Professor of Interdisciplinary Arts and Ben Pederick, Researcher, School of Communication and Creative Arts all at Deakin University. David Spratt, Research Director, Breakthrough: National Centre for Climate Restoration Joseph Purdam, Co-Founder & Experiential Director, PHORIA – immersive technologies Emma Morris, Senior Producer and Strategist, Australian Broadcasting Corporation and Eleanor Loudon, Chief Executive Officer, Engineers without Borders.

All in this together? – COVID public health measures, diverse communities and practices of care

Chief Investigator: Dr Kiran Pienaar, Senior Lecturer in Sociology

 COVID-19 has laid bare existing inequalities, highlighting the pressing need for inclusive health responses. As the pandemic unfolds, government leaders frequently remind us that we are ‘all in this together’. Yet despite this emphasis on solidarity, experiences of the pandemic have exposed fault lines of socio-cultural differences, with culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities among the most severely impacted. Although Australia’s public health measures typically address the public in universal terms, their implicit understandings of care, ‘essential’ work, and family do not adequately represent the diverse everyday practices of CALD communities. Moreover, Australia’s harshest restrictions have targeted areas with a high proportion of CALD residents, including South-West Sydney and Melbourne’s public housing complexes. The disproportionate impact of COVID measures on such communities threatens the effectiveness of Australia’s epidemic governance, prompting pressing questions for health equity as we look to a future of living with COVID-19.

Combining the interdisciplinary insights of sociology, epidemiology and feminist science studies, this project will explore the racial and cultural politics of Australia’s COVID-19 response. It will focus on the lived experiences of COVID-19 public health measures among CALD communities in public housing, and the findings will inform the development of more equitable health interventions.

COLLABORATORS: Professor Catherine Bennett, Deakin University, Professor and Chair of Epidemiology; Dr Jaya Keaney Research Fellow in Feminist Science Studies at Deakin University/ Monash University; Professor Dean Murphy, research fellow in Public Health at the Kirby Institute, UNSW.

Epistemic evolution in multi-organisation development of software with Artificial Intelligence components 

Chief Investigator: Dr Jessica Rivera Villicana, Research Fellow of the Applied Artificial Intelligence Institute 

A multi-organisation approach towards the creation of specialised software products with Artificial Intelligence (AI) components has become popular in recent years. These products are novel and bespoke, and require detailed communication between clients and developers. Moreover, such products are often complex, and they bring into conversation experts from different disciplines and epistemic cultures. However, there is little research on the interaction between organisations and between people with different areas of expertise towards such products, and on how differences in epistemic cultures and practices shape the interactions and the products they collaboratively develop. 

Knowledge and practice gaps between data analysts, software engineers and business stakeholders are costly as they affect timelines and often increase the cost of development and maintenance. The aim of this project is to analyse the Applied AI Institute’s development journey of an AI-based software product with an industry partner and investigate potential solutions to these problems.

This project would make theoretical contributions to STS through a study of epistemic cultures and industry-academia collaborations, and develop theoretical understandings and practical strategies to facilitate clearer communication to enable efficient and productive interactions between industry and academia (and specifically between software engineers and data analysts) in developing specialised AI products.

COLLABORATORS: Dr Scott Barnett and Mahdi Babaei of Applied Artificial Intelligence Institute and Associate Professor Radhika Gorur of the School of Education, all at Deakin University.

Moving the Next Generation: Secure Data Management

Chief Investigator:  Dr Ahmad Abu Alqumsan, Research Fellow in Medical Robotics and Human Robot Trust

Motor competence (MC) plays a crucial role in development for an active lifestyle. MC is an individual’s ability to execute gross motor and is positively associated with healthy weight status and higher levels of physical fitness. low level of MC in children is still a global health concern. Investing in better MC assessment should be a global research priority. Usage of varied MC assessment tools impedes direct comparisons, and existing MC assessment is challenging due to time, cost, and needed training. Objective assessment will reduce time and cost and provide accurate and immediate feedback. An MC assessment tool has been recently developed by an interdisciplinary research team at Deakin University. Children were able to be assessed in seven common movement skills using two wrist and two ankle sensors. The tool development is still in ongoing research and at this stage of prototyping, further research is needed to create a secure data management system for students’ performance and a log-in system for teachers. These systems will ensure limited access to the tool and maintain records of students’ assessments.

COLLABORATORS: Dr Darius Nahavandi and Associate Professor Shady Mohamed of the Institute for Intelligent Systems Research and Innovation (IISRI), Dr Natalie Lander of the School of Education, and Associate Professor Lisa Barnett in the school of Healthy and Social Development, all at Deakin University.

Towards Effective Legal Scrutiny of Public Health Interventions

 Chief Investigator:  Dr Rebekah McWhirter, Senior lecturer in Health Ethics Law and Business Professionalism

Courts in Australia and internationally struggle to engage with empirical evidence and risk when examining public health interventions, instead defaulting to deference to medical opinion. Further, they inevitably provide point-in-time decisions, severely limiting the ability to account for changing risk-benefit ratios as evidence about the efficacy and impact of a particular intervention or disease emerges over time. As a result, the law currently provides little protection from overly-restrictive policies, or policies that do not meet the standards for good public health practiceLegal epidemiology, a discipline emerging out of the United States that seeks to bring rigor to the evaluation of legal interventions that affect public health, brings a transdisciplinary approach to public health law and offers a potential framework for dealing with this problem. This project will investigate the extent of this problem in Australian public health law, using doctrinal, sociolegal and qualitative research methods to identify potential mechanisms for improving the integration of epidemiology and law, in order to bridge the gap between disciplines in a way that assists courts in evaluating the impacts of specific public health laws.

COLLABORATORS: Professor Catherine Bennett, Professor and Chair of Epidemiology and Associate Professor in Law and History, Gabrielle Wolf, both of Deakin University.

Understanding the determinants of health: an Indigenous systems science approach

Chief Investigator: Dr Jennifer Browne, Research Fellow, Faculty of Health

The gap in life expectancy between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians is one of Australia’s most significant challenges. Indigenous scholars have critiqued biomedical and social determinist approaches to health, arguing they do not fully represent the multitude of factors contributing to health inequity. Concurrently, commercial determinants of health research demonstrates how the profit-focused practices of commercial interests impact health outcomes internationally. However, the commercial determinants of health are scarce in current Indigenous health research and policy.

This project aims to: 

  • Develop a methodological approach, grounded in Indigenous Knowledge, for conceptualising and examining the interactions between the overlapping factors influencing Indigenous health and wellbeing.
  • Apply this Indigenous systems thinking approach to identify the ways where commercial activities are influencing Indigenous health and wellbeing.

This interdisciplinary project will combine innovative systems thinking approaches from Western and Indigenous knowledge systems to produce more holistic understandings of the determinants of Indigenous health. Data will be drawn from existing literature on the determinants of Indigenous health and small group yarning workshops with Indigenous health staff/community members. We will use Deakin’s purpose-built Systems Thinking in Community Knowledge Exchange software to develop a visual representation of the interconnected sociocultural and commercial factors influencing Indigenous Health.

COLLABORATORS: Troy Walker and Dr Karen Hill of the Institute for Health Transformation; Professor and Chair of Race Relations Yin Paradies (Deakin University); Dr Tyson Yunkaporta of the National Indigenous Knowledges Education Research Innovation Institute (NIKERI) at Deakin University, Professor Doug Creighton of Deakin University’s Institute for Institute for Intelligent Systems Research and Innovation (IISRI) and Simone Sherriff of the Sax Institute (University of Sydney).

2022 Establishment Grantees

Australian nuclear heritage: The theory and practice of records, knowledges, and memory (RK&M) in uranium extraction, as well as its contamination, remediation and waste management

Chief Investigator: Dr N.A.J.  Taylor, Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Contemporary History

This project asks how and why records, knowledges and memory (RK&M) preservation of environmentally remediated uranium mining and contaminated sites are managed over immediate, intermediate, and possibly even far-future (e.g. 10,000 or more years) timeframes. It does so by engaging STEM-based collaborators from Environmental Engineering with both knowledge and practical experience of the legal and regulatory landscape for archiving records, knowledges and memory (RK&M) relating to uranium extraction, as well as its contamination, remediation and waste management in the Australian and international contexts.

COLLABORATORS: Engineering Professor Chu Xia Lin, Alfred Deakin Professor of Contemporary History David Lowe and Associate Professor of Literary Studies Emily Potter at Deakin University, in collaboration with Associate Professor of Engineering Gavin Mudd at RMIT University and Honorary Professor of Environment and Society Paul Frederick Brown at The University of NSW-Sydney.

The Beauty in Disease: a collaborative project of Medicine and Art

 Chief Investigator: Luke C Barclay, Lecturer in Medical Imaging and Clinical Practice, Faculty of Health

Traditional 2D/3D medical image(s) of the disease processes of cancer, are often mysterious and an uncoupled concept to a patient. Traditionally used as a diagnostic, prognostic, and treatment tools by traditional medicine, they frequently remain mysterious and abstract to the individuals to which they portray. The images mean nothing. Patients feel disconnected. They wonder what the tissue growing inside them that concurrently and robs them of physical health, strength and possibly life, looks like.

What remains a dichotomy is that the most horrendous oncology diagnosis can produce to the viewer, the most interesting structures. By transforming these images into artistic forms that depict the hidden beauty in their forms there will be a destigmatisation of them, making them ‘visible’ and ‘nameable’. These new visualisations offer alternative insights, communicate the nature of disease, and enable creative and innovative diagnostics unconstrained by immediate needs in healthcare. Viewers will be able to interact and respond to visualisations in many forms, incorporating aspects of virtual and augmented reality. Dynamic elements will show the development and response of the disease and communicate aspects of its invisible workings across a range of scales.

COLLABORATORS: Professor of Screen and Design, Sean Redmond, Dr Lienors Torre, Senior Lecturer in Screen and Design and Dr Shaun Bangay, Senior lecturer in the School of Information Technology, all at Deakin University.
“Coloured 3D diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan of nerve pathways in a brain with a cancerous glioblastoma tumour”.