Areas of research activity
1. Health and Wellness
ECU's health research focuses on preventative health; early detection, intervention and rehabilitation and on developing strategies and programs which impact on community-wide health. Specific expertise exists in Alzheimers Disease, covering onset, causes, treatment, and support mechanisms for both AD patients and the ageing. Multidisciplinary teams in exercise and sports science, nutrition and psychology are researching new wellness approaches to chronic disease management. Strong research centres exist in palliative cancer care, nursing, midwifery, Indigenous health, and child and adolescent health. Stem cell and melanoma research is also well advanced. ECU has nationally and internationally recognised health researchers, supported by extensive collaborations and partnerships.
Education research and development at ECU is conducted in collaboration with state and national education bodies to improve policy, curriculum, teaching effectiveness and student learning outcomes. Particular strengths include improving the teaching of literacy, numeracy and science, behaviour management and the use of learning technologies to maximise learning outcomes. Other strengths include research on school resourcing, school effectiveness and the improvement of student retention and participation, especially for Indigenous students. ECU education researchers are recognised nationally, particularly for their expertise in research and program development in literacy and science teaching.
3. Environment and Sustainability
ECU's research encompasses biological and environmental areas and the interaction between ecology and human health. Specific areas of expertise include coastal marine and estuarine ecology, freshwater ecosystems, macroalgae and seagrass ecology, forest, woodland and wetland ecology, semi-arid environments, plant and animal ecological genetics, microbiology and biotechnology. Applied research addresses problems of minesite rehabilitation, habitat degradation, pollution, forest management and threatened species. A growing cross-disciplinary area is natural resources modelling and simulation.
4. Engineering & ICT
Engineering and ICT research at ECU encompasses a broad range of areas across the core engineering disciplines as well as computing and security science. Electrical and Electronic Engineering includes research in communication networking technologies; microelectronics, optoelectronics, and microphotonics; visual information processing; and, smart energy systems. In Mechanical Engineering there is research into nano-engineered materials, thermofluids research for energy generation and transfer, and research into production technologies and machine configuration to improve the efficiency of production systems. In Civil Engineering there is research into complex soil retention and stabilising technologies for foundation design, and vibration research for tall buildings. Research is also undertaken in software engineering, computer networks, information security, intelligent systems and information and knowledge management.
5. Social and Community
ECU's social and community research includes Indigenous studies, applied social research and political science. Indigenous studies include Indigenous health, education, mission and colonial history, Aboriginal linguistics and policy issues. Applied social research and evaluation among special populations (children and young people, women, people with disabilities, rural and regional), with a social justice focus, is also a significant research strength within the University. Research in psychology includes clinical, forensic, developmental, community and social psychology.
6. Business and Society
With a focus on business in society, nationally and internationally recognised researchers undertake a range of applied research that influences government policy, organisational behaviour and decision making, and develops frameworks, processes and skills for businesses and individuals. Areas of expertise include finance and capital markets in Australia and the Asia-Pacific region; financial behaviour, particularly related to superannuation; e-commerce and e-business; and small and medium enterprise research. Social marketing research concentrates on issues such as mental health, positive parenting, and positive ageing. Sustainable tourism research focuses on social and environmental impacts of tourism, sustainable destination management and eco-tourism.
Areas of opportunity
1. Communications and Creative Arts
ECU's research in communications and creative arts combines traditional research paradigms in communications with an emerging focus on practice-led research in the creative arts. Communications research includes the social and cultural implications of the media and technology, audience studies and ratings research, and the implications of communication in building community. Researchers in the creative arts have been pro-active in the development of a practice-based research culture; outputs include public exhibitions, performances, musical recordings, installations, and publications. Specific strengths exist in movement and sound, the visual and performing arts, new media and creative writing.
2. Security, Law and Justice
ECU's security research includes information security, computer and network security, biometrics and ballistics imaging, critical infrastructure, aviation and border control security, counter-terrorism, intelligence and risk management. Particular strengths include digital forensics, forensic analysis of network and mobile device data, and information operations and terrorism. Law and criminology research includes the administration of justice, investigative interviewing, minority interests and human rights, family legal issues, ethics and legal reform. Other research includes scientific evidence and advocacy, forensic psychology, and employment and property law.