Honours Project Booklet - School of Life and Environmental Sciences 2021 - Deakin University

 
Honours Project Booklet - School of Life and Environmental Sciences 2021 - Deakin University
Honours
Project Booklet
School of Life and
Environmental Sciences
2021

Deakin University CRICOS Provider Code: 00113B
Honours Project Booklet - School of Life and Environmental Sciences 2021 - Deakin University
School of Life and Environmental Sciences
                                   Honours 2021 Information Booklet

What is Honours?
During Honours, students undertake independent research, under supervision, that forms the majority (75%)
of their activity for the year. The research may involve field work, laboratory work and data analysis,
depending on the nature of the project. The major assessment component is the written thesis produced at
the end of the year. Honours students also must present their research via oral presentations. There are also
two coursework units (comprising the remaining 25% of activity) which vary according to the Honours program
you are enrolled in.

Why do Honours?
An Honours degree provides an important year for further acquisition of scientific skills. In addition to the
specialised research training you obtain during your research project, all Honours students gain further
competence in critical thinking and data analysis, information technology, computer software, and scientific
communication via oral and written presentations. These skills are recognised by external employers as
essential in the workplace. Thus, completion of an Honours year will make you more employable. An Honours
degree also exposes you to research of national and international significance, and is the springboard to
further study as a postgraduate student undertaking Masters or PhD level research.

How do I get into Honours?
Admission to the Honours program normally require students to have a Bachelor’s degree with an average of
at least 65% or greater in their level-3 units. There is an alternative entry pathway with consideration of
relevant work experience through an interview process. Furthermore, admission to the Honours program is
dependent on a suitable research project and the availability of a supervisor.

Honours structure
There are three Honours courses:
    • S400 Bachelor of Science (Honours)
    • S401 Bachelor of Forensic Science (Honours)
    • S494 Bachelor of Environmental Science (Honours)

All three Honours courses run on a semester structure, with Honours requiring 2 semesters of study. In each
semester you will do 4 credit points. Two of these credit points in semester 1 or semester 2 will be for the two
stand-alone coursework units. The remaining 6 credit points will be for your research project running across
both semesters.

Activities for Semester 1 Honours will commence on Monday 22nd February 2021 with thesis submission in
mid-late November. Semester 2 Honours commence on Monday 28th June 2021 with thesis submission the
following April 2022. You must be available to commence Honours on the specified start dates.

Applications
The first step in securing a place in the program for 2021 is to contact supervisors and discuss projects. Once
you have met with a supervisor and agreed on a project, please complete the application form on the website.
Application forms must be completed and signed by the nominated Supervisor and attached to your online
application via the Deakin applicant portal.
Applications close on Monday 1st February 2021 for the Semester 1, 2021 intake and Friday 4th June 2021 for
the Semester 2, 2021 intake.

Further information
Contact your local Honours coordinator (Burwood: Assoc Prof Peter Beech; Waurn Ponds: Dr Annalisa Durdle;
Warrnambool: Assoc Prof Julie Mondon) and via the School Honours website at deakin.edu.au/les-honours

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Burwood Projects
   Prof John Arnould ........................................................................................................................... 5
   A/Prof Lambert Brau ....................................................................................................................... 5
   Dr Damien Callahan ........................................................................................................................ 5
   Dr Adam Cardilini ............................................................................................................................ 6
   A/Prof Raylene Cooke and A/Prof John White ............................................................................... 6
   A/Prof Raylene Cooke, A/Prof John White and A/Prof Mike Weston ............................................ 7
   Dr Bernhard Dichtl .......................................................................................................................... 7
   Dr Georgia Dwyer............................................................................................................................ 7
   Dr Galen Holt................................................................................................................................... 8
   Dr Scarlett Howard.......................................................................................................................... 8
   A/Prof Rebecca Lester..................................................................................................................... 9
   Dr Ashley Macqueen ....................................................................................................................... 9
   Dr Alex McQueen .......................................................................................................................... 10
   A/Prof Kelly Miller ......................................................................................................................... 10
   Dr Nick Porch................................................................................................................................. 11
   Prof Jenny Pringle ......................................................................................................................... 11
   A/Prof Euan Ritchie ....................................................................................................................... 11
   Dr Anthony Somers ....................................................................................................................... 12
   A/Prof Matthew Symonds ............................................................................................................ 12
   Dr Stacey Trevathan-Tackett......................................................................................................... 13
   Dr Susanna Venn ........................................................................................................................... 13
   Dr Mark Warne ............................................................................................................................. 14
   Dr Liz Weldon ................................................................................................................................ 14
   A/Prof Mike Weston ..................................................................................................................... 14
   Dr Tricia Wevill .............................................................................................................................. 16
   Dr Desley Whisson ........................................................................................................................ 17
   A/Prof Barbara Wilson and A/Prof John White ............................................................................ 17
   Dr Kaori Yokochi ............................................................................................................................ 17

Waurn Ponds Projects
   A/Prof Luis Afonso ........................................................................................................................ 18
   Dr Ben Allardyce and Dr Stuart Linton .......................................................................................... 18
   A/Prof Peter Biro ........................................................................................................................... 19
   Prof Kate Buchanan....................................................................................................................... 19
   Dr Adam Cardilini .......................................................................................................................... 20
   Dr Georgia Dwyer.......................................................................................................................... 20
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    Prof Paul Francis............................................................................................................................ 21
    A/Prof Michelle Harvey ................................................................................................................. 21
    Prof Luke C. Henderson................................................................................................................. 22
    Dr Galen Holt................................................................................................................................. 24
    Dr Tim Jessop ................................................................................................................................ 25
    Prof Marcel Klaassen..................................................................................................................... 25
    A/Prof Rebecca Lester................................................................................................................... 26
    Dr Stuart Linton ............................................................................................................................. 26
    Dr Ashley Macqueen ..................................................................................................................... 27
    Dr Matthew McKenzie .................................................................................................................. 27
    Dr Adam Miller and Dr Craig Sherman.......................................................................................... 28
    Dr Ryan Nai ................................................................................................................................... 28
    A/Prof Fred Pfeffer ........................................................................................................................ 28
    Dr Justin Rizzari ............................................................................................................................. 30
    Dr Aaron Schultz............................................................................................................................ 30
    Dr Aaron Schultz and A/Prof Luis Afonso...................................................................................... 32
    Dr Aaron Schultz and A/Prof Fred Pfeffer ..................................................................................... 32
    Dr Madeleine Schultz .................................................................................................................... 33
    A/Prof Craig Sherman ................................................................................................................... 33
    A/Prof Cenk Suphioglu .................................................................................................................. 35
    Dr Erica Todd ................................................................................................................................. 36
    Dr Eric A Treml .............................................................................................................................. 36
    Dr Mark Ziemann .......................................................................................................................... 37

Warrnambool Projects ........................................................................ 38
    Dr Adam Miller and Dr Susanna Venn .......................................................................................... 38
    Dr Adam Miller, Dr John Morrongiello and Dr Eric Treml............................................................. 38
    Dr Adam Miller and Dr Craig Sherman.......................................................................................... 39

Queenscliff Projects ............................................................................ 40
    A/Prof David Francis...................................................................................................................... 40
    Dr Ty Matthews............................................................................................................................. 40
    Dr Erica Todd ................................................................................................................................. 41
    Victorian Fisheries Authority ........................................................................................................ 41

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Burwood Projects
Prof John Arnould
Campus: Burwood
Contact details: john.arnould@deakin.edu.au

Project or research area description:
My research interests focus on the physiological and behavioural adaptations of higher vertebrates to
environmental variability, with a focus on marine mammals and seabirds. I have ongoing research
programmes on numerous seabird and marine mammal species covering aspects of their foraging ecology,
habitat use, breeding biology and demography. There are always opportunities to run Honours thesis projects
that align with these programme aims. Most of my Honours projects are mid-year starts, to match with the
breeding seasons of the various study species. Students interested in any of these research areas are
encouraged to contact me by email to discuss potential project opportunities.

A/Prof Lambert Brau
Campus: Burwood
Contact details: lambert.brau@deakin.edu.au

Project or research area description:
The group’s research focus is on plant growth promoting bacteria PGPBs, nitrogen fixation, soil microbiology and
plant microbe interactions to improve crop production and reduce fertilizer inputs in farming systems. Plant
growth promoting bacteria facilitate plant growth via numerous via various mechanisms and this interaction
occurs in the rhizosphere, a specialised micro-niche for bacteria immediately adjacent to the plant roots that is
characterized by an active exchange of signals between host plant and bacteria. PGPBs use a variety of
mechanisms to facilitate plant growth and one of the major mechanisms used by these bacteria involves the
enzyme 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylate (ACC) deaminase which cleaves the compound ACC, the immediate
precursor of the phytohormone ethylene in all higher plants. PGPB strains that contain ACC deaminase provide
a wide range of different plant species with a significant level of protection from the damage caused by various
environmental stresses including pathogens, flooding, heavy metals, drought, and high salt.

Dr Damien Callahan
Campus: Burwood
Contact details: damien.callahan@deakin.edu.au

Project or research area description:
The research conducted by Dr Callahan’s laboratory is spans environmental chemistry, chemical ecology and
advanced analytical chemistry. This includes the application of metabolomics, lipidomics, elemental profiling
and trace chemical analysis. The analytical methods used are applied to projects that are focused on improving
our understanding chemicals in the environment and to study the biochemical mechanisms that support
extreme traits in organisms which have potential practical applications, such as, metal hyperaccumulating
plants. This is multidisciplinary research and involves analytical chemistry, biochemistry and bioinformatics and
has many potential applications. For this reason the methodology applied in this research area enables a
diverse collaborative research portfolio.

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Specific projects on offer:
    1) Per and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are an emerging pollutant of concern and are used solar
       panels. This project will determine if roof top solar panels are a source for human PFAS exposure.
    2) The Forensic Identification of Illegal Firewood: An elemental ‘fingerprint’ can be developed from wood
       taken from a particular location. Matching a fingerprint could provide a novel tool for identifying the point
       of origin of a wood sample.
    3) MALDI-TOF to identify insects - This project aims to evaluate the potential for MALDI-TOF MS (a mass
       spectrometry technique) to identify insects that cannot be efficiently and rapidly identified to species-
       level using existing methods. This project will be carried out Dept Ag, Water and the Environment and will
       include a $5,000 scholarship.

Dr Adam Cardilini
Campus: Burwood and Waurn Ponds
Contact details: adam.cardilini@deakin.edu.au

Project or research area description:
I am an environmental scientist working on questions related to ecology, conservation and society. I am
interested in how our relationship with non-human Animals shapes science, the environment and society. My
current research focusses on how concern for Animals informs environmental values and practice, and
critically assessing how the sciences consider Animals. A simple provocation drives my research: how would
research, the environment and society change if we meaningfully considered the moral claims of other
Animals?

Specific projects on offer:
    1) Transparency of animal use in ecology, conservation and environmental science publications:
       developing a methodology and metric
    2) Investigating the role for compassionate conservation in urban biodiversity and conservation
       initiatives
    3) Do individual animals matter: the role of intrinsic value in peoples acceptance of conservation
       initiatives

Each project is desktop based and Covid-19 ready. You will need strong desktop research skills and attention to
detail. Some projects involve social research skills, so an understanding of, or interest and willingness to learn,
social science methodologies will be valuable. Finally, each project requires a critical understanding of human-
animal relationships and respect for the lives of Animals.
The list of projects above is not exhaustive, if you have an idea that aligns with the themes above please get in
touch and we can chat about it.

A/Prof Raylene Cooke and A/Prof John White
Campus: Burwood
Contact details: raylene.cooke@deakin.edu.au and john.white@deakin.edu.au

Project or research area description:
    1) Determining the spatial ecology of powerful owls within urban environments using GPS technologies.
    2) Determining the diet of powerful owls within urban environments through the analysis of regurgitated
       pellets collected from beneath their roosting sites.

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    3) Identifying the remaining populations of long-nosed potoroo and southern brown bandicoot in the
       Grampians (Gariwerd) landscape. Requires a manual license, experience with GIS would be useful.
    4) Investigating the long-term (14 years of data) impact of fire and climate on small mammal
       communities in the Grampians (Gariwerd) landscape. Requires a manual license.

A/Prof Raylene Cooke, A/Prof John White and A/Prof Mike Weston
Campus: Burwood
Contact details: raylene.cooke@deakin.edu.au, john.white@deakin.edu.au and mike.weston@deakin.edu.au

Specific projects on offer:
    1) Assessing the effectiveness of quail-callers in attracting stubble quail. This project will be based in the
       western district of Victoria, requiring a student who can drive and spend periods away from campus.

Dr Bernhard Dichtl
Campus: Burwood
Contact details: bernhard@deakin.edu.au, http://dichtllab.com

Project or research area description:
The Dichtl lab is investigating the function and assembly of molecular machines. We study protein complexes
involved in gene expression and use yeast and human cell culture systems. Major areas of investigation
include:
    1) Function of Set1C histone methyltransferase. Post-translational modification of histone proteins is a
       central regulatory mechanism of chromatin-associated processes and we linked meiotic
       recombination to histone methylation (Acquaviva, Science, 2013). The Set1C methyltransferase
       methylates lysine 4 on histone H3 and chromosomal translocations of the human MLL gene, encoding
       a homologue of Set1, give rise to acute myeloid and lymphoid leukemia. Studying Set1C and H3K4
       methylation in yeast thus provides important insight into the underlying causes of cancer.
    2) Alternative polyadenylation in health and disease.
    3) 3’ end formation is an essential RNA maturation step that impacts all aspects of mRNA function. The
       process adds 250 adenosines to the 3’ end of primary transcripts and determines the length of the 3’
       untranslated region (3’UTR), which is targeted by regulatory factors. Control of 3’UTR length via
       Alternative Polyadenylation (APA) is an important mechanism to control gene expression. We
       identified factors that mediate APA (Turner, RNA, 2020) and now study how APA it is integrated with
       cellular signaling pathways.

Dr Georgia Dwyer
Campus: Burwood and Waurn Ponds
Contact details: G.Dwyer@deakin.edu.au

Project or research area description:
My prior research is in the field of nutritional ecology. A key concept in nutritional ecology is that organisms
are able to select foods based on nutritional content to increase fitness. This has been demonstrated in a wide
range of organisms under laboratory conditions, but demonstrating this in the wild and relating this to the
ecology of organisms is more difficult. A new interest of mine, is linking host selection by pathogens to host
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nutrient composition. In particular, I am interested in the ability of the pathogen Saprolegnia to locate
caddisfly hosts via chemical cues. Freshwater ecosystems are ideal systems to investigate this, as the aquatic
environment allows movement of pathogens to reach potential hosts. Further, both Saprolegnia and
caddisflies have complex life cycles, which allows us to investigate nutritional dynamics in a wide range of
research avenues.

Dr Galen Holt
Campus: Burwood and Waurn Ponds
Contact details: s.howard@deakin.edu.au

Project or research area description:
I study how biodiversity depends on the large-scale outcomes of interactions between environmental
conditions and life history. Specifically, I am interested in how species’ responses to variable environmental
conditions affect local interactions, and how those interactions scale up to affect the dynamics of ecological
communities. I study these issues using a combination of empirical studies, community dynamics models and
coexistence theory. My recent projects include theoretical investigations of the maintenance of diversity at
regional scales in stream networks, modelling studies of community dynamics in caddisflies, large-scale models
informing management of aquatic environments, and empirical work (field and laboratory) with caddisfly
communities. A current focus of my research is characterising an emerging disease affecting caddisfly eggs, and
how the disease process might depend on the environment and caddisfly egg-laying behaviours. This is an
emerging area of research, with a wide range of potential directions and methods, including field, lab, and
modelling approaches. Additional projects related to my broader interests are also possible.

Specific projects on offer:
    1) Investigation of post-hatching drift behaviour in response to predators, density, or environmental
       conditions (flow speed, temperature, etc) in a flume
    2) Investigation of stressors increasing susceptibility of caddisfly egg masses to Saprolegnia infection,
       such as temperature, damage, or dessication, and their duration
    3) Isolation of Saprolegnia life stages to investigate their differing ability to initiate infection of caddisfly
       egg masses
    4) Studying density-dependent infection processes at one of several scales. Possibilities include
       Saprolegnia chemotaxis responding to egg density, or how the number and distance of nearby egg
       masses affect transmission.

Dr Scarlett Howard
Campus: Burwood
Contact details: s.howard@deakin.edu.au

Project or research area description:
Dr Scarlett Howard is currently conducting research on the effect of anthropogenic environmental change on
native and introduced pollinators with a focus on bees. She is examining the impact of urbanization on native
bee morphology, distribution, behaviour, pollination ability, floral preferences, and evolution. By implementing
both novel and traditional techniques, she will map the distribution of pollinators across urban, rural, suburban
and native habitat using surveys, trap nests, pan-traps, sweep netting, observation, community/citizen science,
and social media. Her past and current research explores conceptual learning, neurobiology, and visual
perception in honeybees as well as insect diversity, pollinator preferences, and plant-pollinator interactions.

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Specific projects on offer:
    1) How do bees adapt to anthropogenic change?
    2) Utilizing community science and social media to track pollinators

A/Prof Rebecca Lester
Campus: Burwood and Waurn Ponds
Contact details: Rebecca.Lester@deakin.edu.au

Project or research area description:
I am an ecologist with experience in freshwater, estuarine and marine systems. I have wide-ranging research
interests, but am primarily focused on the management of aquatic ecosystems. My current research is focused
on understanding how an emerging infectious disease is altering population and community dynamics in
aquatic insects (specifically caddisflies). Specifically, I am interested in identifying where and in which caddisfly
species the disease occurring, which mechanisms of transmission allow the disease to proliferate, and what are
the effects of this on caddisfly populations. This work is in its early stages and will require further field surveys
and laboratory experiments to continue to answer these questions. Other research related to my broader
interest are also feasible. These projects would require an enthusiastic student who is open to learning a range
of skills from a variety of disciplines (ecology, microbiology, and genetics).

Specific projects on offer:
    1) Understanding how an emerging infectious disease (Saprolegnia) is altering population and
       community dynamics in aquatic insects (caddisflies) using field surveys and laboratory experiments.
    2) Investigating chemotaxis of Saprolegnia to aquatic insect eggs under static and turbulent conditions
       using laboratory experiments.
    3) Using a laboratory experiment to investigate the effect of temperature on Saprolegnia infection in
       caddisflies to gain an understanding of how climate change might influence the arms race between
       these organisms.

Dr Ashley Macqueen
Campus: Burwood and Waurn Ponds
Contact details: ashley.macqueen@deakin.edu.au

Project or research area description:
I have a strong interest in understanding the drivers of spatial and temporal variability in populations of
freshwater organisms and how these can be distilled and combined with remotely sensed and other large-scale
datasets to provide insights into the likely distribution of organism under various future scenarios.
Furthermore, I ask how empirical data can be soundly scaled up to catchment level, and potentially
extrapolated to data-poor locations, to inform management decision making. I am currently supervising PhD
students working on ecosystem and food-web models in the Three Gorges Dam. Potential projects could
involve leveraging large datasets collected for EPA and Murray-Darling Basin Authority to interrogate
management-relevant problems through an ecological lens.

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Dr Alex McQueen
Campus: Burwood
Contact details: a.mcqueen@deakin.edu.au

Project or research area description:
Birds can increase blood flow to their highly vascularised bills to dissipate excess body heat, allowing them to
keep cool in hot conditions. Having a large bill is advantageous in hot weather, but bill size also varies widely
among species in warm climates, suggesting small-billed species can use other means to avoid heat stress. In
particular, it is predicted that small-billed species rely on behavioural strategies to minimise heat stress, such
as seeking shade or cooler microhabitats and becoming less active in hot weather. Such adaptations may be
useful in the short term, but come at the cost of time spent on other activities, such as foraging, and may be
impractical during prolonged exposure to hot conditions. Determining whether species differ in their
strategies for avoiding heat stress is important for predicting their survival in a warming world.
Our research (as part of Matthew Symonds’ lab) uses a combination of fieldwork involving observations of wild
birds and comparative, literature-based studies. We aim to assess the evolution of bird bills, and how birds use
their bills to mitigate heat stress. We further consider how different thermoregulatory strategies impact
species survival.

Specific projects on offer:
Potential field-based projects include:
    1) Assessment of whether birds use human-made roosting platforms as thermal refuges
    2) Whether bill size impacts shorebird foraging behaviour in hot conditions.

Comparative research projects on bill size and/or shorebird ecology are also possible, to be discussed with the
applicant.

A/Prof Kelly Miller
Campus: Burwood
Contact details: kelly.miller@deakin.edu.au

Project or research area description:
Projects focusing on sustainable behaviours and the human dimensions of wildlife/environmental
management (e.g. human values, attitudes, perceptions) are available and will be developed around the
student’s specific interests e.g. wildlife, conservation, sustainability, environmental protection. Previous
Honours projects have focused on wildlife/wildlife management e.g. bird feeding, threatened species, wildlife
tourism; habitat management/conservation e.g. gardening practices, park/reserve visitation; and
environmental education in a range of contexts.

Specific projects on offer:
Human Usage of the Wyndham Coast
Wyndham City Council manages a diverse coastline from little River to Skeleton Creek on the western side of
Port Phillip Bay. The coast is backed by nature reserve, residential and agricultural development, and
recreational infrastructure. The municipality is one of the fastest growing human populations in Australia. This
project will quantify human usage of the coastline, explicitly documenting variation in that usage in time and
space. The successful student will need to travel to the area frequently (even better if they live nearby), and

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would ideally have some basic GIS capacity. The results of this project will contribute to sustainable coastal
planning in the municipality and offers strong connections with a local government.

Dr Nick Porch
Campus: Burwood
Contact details: nicholas.porch@deakin.edu.au

Project or research area description:
Human impact on island ecosystems: projects in this area are laboratory-based investigations into the nature
of the recent fossil record of plants and animals on Indo-Pacific oceanic islands. Materials for projects in this
area are in hand and projects would be laboratory based.
Diversity and ecology of Australian insect faunas: wide range of potential projects including studies examining
patterns of invertebrate richness and endemism, taxonomic revision of beetle genera, and projects assessing
the ecology/conservation of invertebrate species or communities. Some projects would require fieldwork,
some laboratory work and others could be entirely desktop.

Prof Jenny Pringle
Campus: Burwood
Contact details: jenny.pringle@deakin.edu.au

Project or research area description:
Our research group makes new electrolytes for next generation “beyond lithium ion” batteries. The
development of advanced, high performance rechargeable energy storage devices, such as lithium metal or
sodium batteries, is important for reducing our reliance on fossil fuels as these devices can support renewable
technologies such as solar, wind etc.
Good electrolytes are critical for efficient batteries, and our research involves making new kinds of cations and
anions for these electrolytes and investigating their physical, thermal and electrochemical properties when
mixed with different lithium or sodium salts (i.e. for lithium or sodium batteries). These new salt mixtures may
be used neat, or dissolved in solvent, or the new ions may be most beneficial as additives to improve existing
battery electrolytes.
The honours projects on offer would investigate the effect of the new ions, made by other members of the
group or by our Industry partners, on electrolyte properties such as viscosity, conductivity and melting point
for different salt mixtures and compositions. Understanding how different ion structures influence these
electrolyte properties is very important for developing more efficient, longer lasting batteries. The insights
from this project will benefit the novel battery prototyping work led by our team in the StorEnergy centre and
Deakin’s new BatTri-Hub facility.

A/Prof Euan Ritchie
Campus: Burwood
Contact details: e.ritchie@deakin.edu.au

Project or research area description:

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Our research group, the Applied Ecology and Conservation Research group https://euanritchie.org/, is focused
on addressing a range of issues that apply to wildlife management, environmental policy and biodiversity
conservation, and these include: fire ecology; invasive species; landscape ecology; mammal ecology; predator-
prey interactions; species reintroductions and urban ecology.

Specific projects on offer:
We have a range of exciting and well-supported honours projects on offer in 2021 and in collaboration with our
industry partners (DELWP, Parks Victoria, Phillip Island Nature Parks, The Mornington Peninsula Shire and Zoos
Victoria). We are also very happy to discuss project ideas that students may have.

Dr Anthony Somers
Campus: Burwood
Contact details: asomers@deakin.edu.au

Project or research area description:
Our research group makes new multifunctional inhibitors to mitigate both abiotic and microbiologically
influenced corrosion. With the drive to more eco-friendly methods of inhibition and the ever-increasing cost of
corrosion there is a need to discover new compounds to meet these challenges.
The research within our group has concentrated on the synthesis, evaluation and characterisation of new
inhibitors in order to discover the structural requirements for improved performance. The problem and its
investigation require a multidisciplinary approach through the use of a range of chemical, electrochemical,
biological and surface analysis techniques.
The honours projects offered would investigate the performance of a new family of corrosion inhibitors. Such
an investigation would involve electrochemical, chemical and surface analysis techniques in order to evaluate
the performance and determine mechanisms of protection. In conjunction with comparisons to previous work,
the findings of this study will elucidate structural aspects of inhibitors that result in the protection of metal
surfaces from corrosion.

A/Prof Matthew Symonds
Campus: Burwood
Contact details: matthew.symonds@deakin.edu.au

Project or research area description:
I’m interested in trying to explain, from an evolutionary perspective, what has generated differences in
behaviour, morphology and physiology between closely related species. Much of my research involves using
phylogenies (evolutionary trees) to answer questions about how and why traits have evolved, either by looking
at the mode of evolution and extent of phylogenetic signal in the trait of interest (e.g. insect
pheromone chemical composition), or by carrying out phylogenetic comparative analyses to identify
ecological traits that are correlated with that trait (e.g. identifying that bird species that live in warm climates
tend to have larger beaks). For 2021, especially in the light of potential Covid-based restrictions on research, I
am offering Honours projects that involve analyses of large cross-species datasets (and hence can easily be
done from home) – be they on insects (e.g. evolution of host breadth in parasitoid wasps), mammals (e.g.
influence of hibernation on mammalian life-history evolution) or other vertebrates, or even plants. I’m open to
suggestions! Feel free to contact me to ask me more about these. If you want to get the best idea of the
breadth of my research interests and projects, look no further than the publications page on my website
www.symondslab.wordpress.com/publications/

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Dr Stacey Trevathan-Tackett
Campus: Burwood
Contact details: s.trevathantackett@deakin.edu.au

Project or research area description:
Wetland habitats provide important ecosystem services, including building biodiversity, filtering toxins and
removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. However, continued wetland degradation and loss pose a
serious threat to the ecological, human and climate-protecting services they provide the world. Our research
examines the factors that have the potential to maximise wetland carbon preservation and biosequestration in
the fight against climate change.
The Honours project will focus on carbon cycling in coastal and freshwater wetlands using ‘tea litter’
decomposition. As part of the global TeaComposition H2O initiative, the student will assess how the process of
decomposition differs across ecosystems and plant types, and how that could affect carbon and nitrogen
preservation in the soil. The student should have a basic understanding of statistics, as well as knowledge in
chemistry, biogeochemistry and/or a willingness to learn. We are looking for an independent and motivated
student, with skills in organising and managing data, and an enthusiasm for working in the lab and in a team
environment.

Dr Susanna Venn
Campus: Burwood
Contact details: susanna.venn@deakin.edu.au

Project or research area description:
I’m a botanist and plant ecologist with a keen interest in the processes that shape vegetation patterns in alpine
areas, and I lead the eXtreme Plant Ecology Research Team at Deakin Burwood. I’m interested in testing
ecological theory in the mountains and investigating the ways in which alpine plant communities are coping
with environmental change. This could involve focusing on community (re) assembly patterns, how snow drives
community composition, ecological function or ecological processes in the mountains, treeline dynamics,
vegetation responses to heat, frost, drought or fire, and regeneration strategies of alpine plants. These topics
can be undertaken using experimental manipulations in the field and/or lab. I’m happy to discuss ideas for
honours projects that overlap with any of these topics – or possibly other plant ecology projects in extreme
environments. In general, a field based project will require a mid-year (July) start to accommodate the alpine
field season over summer. More info: https://susannavenn.wordpress.com

Specific projects on offer:
    1) Investigating the interactions between freezing resistance and high light levels in Australian alpine
       plants.
       Test the freezing resistance of various alpine species in a series of lab-based and field-based
       experiments, and determine how high-light levels interact with freezing temperatures to cause plant-
       tissue death, using a range of real and simulated scenarios.
    2) Alpine shrubs as facilitative nurse plants.
       Using data from a global field experiment, determine how alpine shrubs act to facilitate the growth of
       adjacent plants as they create a windbreak and allow for extra snow to build up on their leeside.
    3) Investigating the germination niche of alpine species.
       Using a Temperature Gradient Plate in the lab, test the germination strategies of several alpine
       grasses, forbs and shrubs which are known to be distributed over a wide geographical range,
       compared with those that are more narrowly distributed.

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Dr Mark Warne
Campus: Burwood
Contact details: mark.warne@deakin.edu.au

Specific projects on offer:
    1) Early Pleistocene marine palaeoecology of the Werrikoo Limestone, western Victoria.
       Early Pleistocene sedimentary rocks known as the Werrikoo Limestone occur in cliffs along the Glenelg
       River valley of southwest Victoria. These rocks are 2.6 to 1.8 million years old, and contain a very rich
       fossil fauna including abundant fossil shells of marine Ostracoda (microscopic crustaceans). This
       project will involve (1) the description of ostracod fossils from the Werrikoo Limestone, and (2) fossil-
       based interpretations of sea level history and past coastal maritime climates for western Victoria. This
       project offers an opportunity to develop skills in the systematic description of invertebrate taxa, and
       (ii) in the use of fossils for assessing coastal landscape and seascape evolution.

         Note: This project will require sample processing and microscope work in a Deakin University
         Laboratory. Field work is optional.

Dr Liz Weldon
Campus: Burwood
Contact details: l.weldon@deakin.edu.au

Project or research area description:
Research supervision capabilities in palaeontology, earth science, and geoconservation.

Major themes:
   1) Geodiversity and geoconservation.
        Projects centred on raising awareness of the significance of our geoheritage and geodiversity. The
        research involves developing regionally and culturally appropriate quantitative methodology to assess
        geosites and geoheritage for geoconservation, in different international contexts. This research is
        suitable for both Honours and Master of Sustainability students.
   2) Palaeontology.
        Ttaxonomic studies or quantitative analysis of marine macro-invertebrates applied to
        palaeobiogeography or palaeoecology. The projects can be developed with Museum Victoria.
   3) Quaternary Lancefield megafauna site.
        Research investigating the processes and causes of the accumulation of an estimated 10,000
        individuals from a range of extinct species in a Victorian swamp deposit. The research can be applied
        to understanding changing climate patterns and its impact on ecosystems over time. This research will
        be co-supervised with Dr Sanja Van Huet.
   4) Morphology of extinct and extant kangaroos and emus.
        This research involves quantitative analysis of teeth and bones. The aims are to devise methods that
        determine age and gender in the fossil record, and record biotic responses to environmental change,
        such as dwarfism or disease. This research will be co-supervised with Dr Sanja Van Huet.

A/Prof Mike Weston
Campus: Burwood

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Contact details: mweston@deakin.edu.au

Project or research area description:
The ecology of fear. Fear (propensity to escape) is a major force in the way animals live their lives and is also a
management and conservation issue. A range of projects are available on measuring flight-initiation distances
among wildlife. Some of these projects have occurred overseas, and most (but not all) require good bird
identification skills, a driver’s license, and access to a vehicle. Please discuss specifics with Mike and see
www.avianbuffer.com.

Specific projects on offer:
    1) Examining responses in relation to different stimuli or stimulus behavior. In particular, wildlife
       photography and the use of drones are growing and controversial aspects of human behavior which
       may disturb wildlife.
    2) As part of ongoing efforts at mapping fear among birds globally, many countries require data
       collection. These projects require excellent birdwatching skills, preferably local experience or support,
       and the ability to contribute to some costs.
    3) As part of documenting the fear responses of Australia’s avifauna, many interstate and remote parts
       of Australia require data collection. Again, excellent bird identification skills are required.

Project or research area description:
The ecology of Red-capped Plovers and Masked Lapwings
Marked populations of Red-capped Plovers and Masked Lapwings have been studied for over 9 years and a
series of key questions remain regarding their behavioral, breeding, general and conservation ecology. Some of
these projects require banding experience, all require some training, a driver’s license and access to a vehicle.
Some Red-capped fieldwork is available in SA. Lots of field work, and great species and questions to work on!
Contact Mike for more details.

Project or research area description:
The conservation of Hooded Plovers and sandy shore ecology (including beach invertebrates)
Hooded Plovers are a threatened sandy shore obligate which is nationally Vulnerable. A range of projects are
available exploring the conservation ecology and testing management effectiveness of a variety of
conservation tools.

Specific projects on offer:
    1) The role of parental footprints in egg crypsis. Human disturbance is known to increase the amount of
       adult footprints around a nest. This project will examine if this is associated with heighten rates of egg
       depredation.
    2) The features of non-breeding flocking sites. Current evidence suggests some locations are used as non-
       breeding flocking sites, while others are not. This study will compare the biophysical and ecological
       attributes of flocking and non-flocking sites to establish the habitat requirements of this species during
       winter.
    3) The distribution of beach invertebrates in time and space.

Project or research area description:
The ecology of Venus Bay and it’s dunes
There are few studies of the ecology of life in coastal sand dunes, especially those adjacent to high-energy
ocean beaches. Venus Bay, in southern central Victoria, represents an ideal study system. Several human
settlements and long unbroken sections of dunes enable the assessment of how human habitation may modify
dune fauna. Key questions include:

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    •    Is there zonation in dunes, in terms of habitat and occupancy by birds/mammals/reptiles?
    •    Do human settlements alter the occupancy of dunes by birds/mammals?
    •    Do the above patterns occur in terrestrial vertebrates, mammals and birds?

Project or research area description:
The ecology of gardening
Several projects have been developed in conjunction with Whitehorse City Council and a private landscape
gardening provider regarding eco-friendly gardening. These projects aim to provide input into guidelines for
eco-friendly gardening. All projects require the capacity to conduct fieldwork and a driver’s license.

Specific projects on offer:
    1) Invertebrate/skink abundance in different garden mulches (no mulch, pinebark, natural mulch -
       pitfalls)
    2) Nestbox use in gardens (and how this is affected by nestbox dimensions)
    3) Use of "bee hotels" in parks vs gardens
    4) Bird baths and disease
    5) Habitat characteristics of gardens with skinks
    6) Effects of dogs/cats on reptile/bird/frog fauna in gardens
    7) Pond characteristics and frog use in gardens
    8) Invertebrate/skink abundance and understory cover in gardens
    9) Invertebrate/skink abundance and pesticide use in gardens
    10) Bird bath characteristics and position and use in gardens
    11) Aggression at bird baths and feeders
    12) Health of birds that regularly use feeders (cholestrol, fat, etc).

Dr Tricia Wevill
Campus: Burwood
Contact details: tricia.wevill@deakin.edu.au

Project or research area description:
Plant ecology. Students who are interested in working in the area of fire and vegetation management should
contact Tricia Wevill to discuss the potential to develop other projects.

Specific projects on offer:
    1) Mapping and assessing Phytophthora dieback in the eastern Otways
    2) Assessment of long-term condition and changes in the habitat of the threatened New Holland mouse
       in the eastern Otways: impacts of fire management and rainfall variability
    3) Developing spatial models to estimate regional bryophyte richness trajectories in Victoria: This project
       will develop models to predict regional bryophyte richness as a function of ecologically relevant
       predictors, under various future climate and landscape composition scenarios.
    4) Ecophysiological limitations of asexual reproduction in a rare moss: This project will measure the
       ecophysiological thresholds of asexual recruitment in a rare moss—Trachyloma planifolium—under
       various microclimate conditions. Results will assist to better understand the conservation needs of
       bryophytes.

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Dr Desley Whisson
Campus: Burwood
Contact details: dwhisson@deakin.edu.au

Project or research area description:
I am broadly interested in the ecology and management of terrestrial wildlife with a focus on their spatial
ecology (home range, movements, distribution). I am particularly interested in arboreal species (koalas and
gliders) and impacts of landscape change and anthropogenic factors on their distribution. I also am interested
in using bioacoustics for wildlife survey. This method allows for the survey of more sites than can be achieved
through traditional methods. I can offer honours projects that are GIS-based and/or utilise bioacoustics as a
survey approach. A few options are provided below.

Specific projects on offer:
    1) Using bioacoustics to assess biodiversity values in modified landscapes
    2) The influence of bushfire on habitat suitability for koalas (mid-year start)

A/Prof Barbara Wilson and A/Prof John White
Campus: Burwood
Contact details: barbara.wilson@deakin.edu.au and john.white@deakin.edu.au

Project or research area description:
Assessment of the characteristics of habitat refuges for threatened mammals in the Otways: impacts of fire
management and rainfall variability

Dr Kaori Yokochi
Campus: Burwood
Contact details: k.yokochi@deakin.edu.au

Project or research area description:
Finding ways to minimise the impacts of urbanisation on wildlife, especially those posed by our infrastructure.
Ongoing and previous research includes investigating impacts of ALAN (artificial light at night) on microbat
communities, and investigating and mitigating impacts of roads on arboreal mammals.

Specific projects on offer:
    1) Impacts of intense temporary lighting on microbats of Melbourne (2021 S2 start), co-supervised by
       Anthony Rendall (Deakin) and Dr Lindy Lumsden (Arthur Rylah Institute/ DELWP)

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Waurn Ponds Projects
A/Prof Luis Afonso
Campus: Waurn Ponds
Contact details: luis.afonso@deakin.edu.au

Project or research area description:
Individual variation in stress response in fishes: molecular and endocrine responses.
I am interested in understanding the stress response in fish to aquaculture-related and environmental
stressors. An integrated and multi-level approach, including physiological, endocrine, and cellular responses, is
used to: 1) examining the ability of fish to cope with stress, and 2) developing novel and reliable biomarkers of
stress in fish for a variety of applications. Projects will allow learning opportunities in field sampling collection,
and techniques such as standard and quantitative polymerase chain reaction (PCR), enzyme-linked
immunosorbent assays (ELISAS) for determining hormone levels, other biochemical assays for determining
enzyme and intermediate metabolites levels, SDS-PAGE and Western blot. Stressors to be studied include
thermal stress, crowding, transport, hypoxia, and environmental pollutants.

Specific projects on offer:
1) Changes in gill Na+,K+ ATPase levels in Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) prior to and after transfer to saltwater;
2) Endocrine and molecular responses in Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) exposed to short and long-term
   stressors, and
3) Sex differentiation and sex reversal in Atlantic salmon.

Dr Ben Allardyce and Dr Stuart Linton
Campus: Waurn Ponds
Contact details: ben.allardyce@deakin.edu.au or stuart.linton@deakin.edu.au

Project or research area description:
My work focusses on the development of silk based biomaterials, most notably the “silk eardrum” a graft
material to support tissue regeneration after chronic eardrum perforation. I am interested in understanding
silk’s unique biochemistry and biophysical properties and how this understanding can lead to new and
innovative biomedical materials.

Specific projects on offer:
    1) Development of new extraction methods to purify fibroin, the main structural protein in silk, from
       silkworm cocoons. The use of regenerated silk materials can be challenging due to limitations in our
       ability to remove sericin and extract purified fibroin without causing extensive degradation.
    2) Development of a “gold standard” method to measure the molecular weight of silk. Accurate
       characterisation of silk’s molecular weight is critical for designing biomaterials with controllable
       degradation within the body. Current methods involve SDS-PAGE, however, electrophoresis is not
       ideal for silk since it produces a heterogenous molecular mass range. Chromatography offers higher
       resolution but is better suited to globular proteins. This project would understand how silk behaves
       during chromatographic separation and design a set of protocols to inform the silk research
       community.

Both projects would offer a chance to learn key protein purification and characterisation principals including
FPLC and low pressure chromatography and SDS-PAGE.

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A/Prof Peter Biro
Campus: Waurn Ponds
Contact details: pete.biro@deakin.edu.au

Specific projects on offer:
    1) Growing up athletic: developmental effects of exercise on metabolism and personality traits in
       zebrafish.
       Recent research suggests that personality traits in animals are linked to metabolic physiology, and
       emphasize the genetic basis for these links. Less well known is how developmentally plastic this
       association is. That is, can we use a developmental programming approach to possibly ‘engineer’
       individuals with greater physiological capacity for work and behavioural tendencies for higher levels of
       activity? Results will have ramifications for human lifestyles given the well-known and various health
       benefits of activity.
       The project will involve measuring activity of fish using state of the art tracking systems, and possibly
       also metabolic rates; there is also an option to induce cancer in these fish to study if innate propensity
       to exercise affects cancer risk and progression as literature suggests it may. Student will also learn
       about general fish husbandry.

    2) Evolution of song in female birds.
       While birdsong is a model system for animal communication studies, our knowledge is derived
       primarily from the study of only one sex and is therefore incomplete. Bird song has long been
       considered a male trait, sexually selected to enhance attractiveness to females. However, in some
       species, females may also produce songs even with comparable complexity to that of males. This
       study will examine song and singing behaviour in both male and female grey fantails, with the aim of
       contrasting song complexity and singing behaviour between the sexes. This project may make use of
       existing recordings from which to gather data, or include field work such as song recording,
       behavioural observations, and trapping and banding birds. Field work will be conducted in Brisbane
       Ranges National Park (30 min drive from the Geelong Campus).

    3) Avian Nest Construction.
       Nest structures are essential for successful reproduction in most bird species. Many bird species go to
       great lengths to camouflage their nests in order to avoid detection by predators, such as building
       nests that are shaped to blend into their surroundings. Using an experimental approach, this study
       will examine the effects of nest shape on nest predation rates. This project can be a lab or field based
       project.

Prof Kate Buchanan
Campus: Waurn Ponds
Contact details: Kate.buchanan@deakin.edu.au

Project or research area description:
I am interested in the impact of early developmental conditions on long term health, welfare and fitness in
birds. I use zebra finches as a model species to ask questions about developmental conditions, early life
constraints and the evolution of signals of quality.

Specific projects on offer:

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