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Research profile

At ECU, we concentrate our research efforts and expertise in priority areas of research strength to deliver tangible outcomes.

The following are ECU’s current areas of research strength, as validated by external evaluation of our research quality.

Our research in Clinical Sciences focuses on preventative health, early detection, intervention and rehabilitation. This includes mechanistic and applied research, clinical trials and epidemiological studies in clinical health. Well established collaborative partnerships with government and industry health care providers ensures the Clinical Research conducted at ECU directly impacts the health outcomes of individuals and improve community-wide health.

Areas of expertise include:

  • Aphasia rehabilitation;
  • Infectious diseases management;
  • Simulation and professional preparation; and
  • Nutrition as medicine.

Research units

ECU has developed a reputation as one of the leading institutions for cyber security research, delivering immediate and high impact outcomes in the areas of digital forensics, cyber security, critical infrastructure security and human security. Our researchers deliver immediate and high impact outcomes in the areas of computer and digital forensics, network and wireless security, information warfare, physical security, risk management and aviation security.

The Federal Government announced in September 2017 that ECU would be home to the Cyber Security Research Centre (Cyber CRC).

Areas of expertise include:

  • Computer network and systems vulnerability testing;
  • Network attack modelling;
  • Honeypots;
  • Digital Forensics; and
  • Critical infrastructure security.

Research units

ECU’s research encompasses biological and environmental areas and the integration between ecology and human health. Research focuses on a range of environments from woodlands to wetlands and the ocean, our ecologists aim to protect vulnerable native species and improve the sustainable use of our natural environment in the face of urban development and climate change. Applied research addresses problems of mine site rehabilitation, habitat degradation, pollution, forest and coastal management and threatened species. In addition, natural resources modelling and simulation is a growing cross-disciplinary area.

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; and
  • microbiology and biotechnology.

Research units

Engineering research at ECU encompasses a broad range of areas across the core disciplines of chemical, electrical and electronic and materials engineering. Through close links with industry, government and environment sectors, our researchers develop novel, integrated intelligent structures for applications in a range of areas. This has led, for example, to the development of a highly innovative photonics-based weed sensor that will allow for an accurate approach to weed control in agriculture, and a better outcome for the environment and our health.

Chemical Engineering research includes:

  • solar energy conversion;
  • environmental nanotechnology;
  • mining and mineral processing; and
  • hydrocarbon synthesis from methane and carbon dioxide.

Electrical and Electronic Engineering research includes:

  • communication networking technologies;
  • microelectronics;
  • optoelectronics and microphotonics;
  • visual information processing and
  • smart energy systems.

Materials Engineering research includes:

  • material research design;
  • synthesis and advanced characterisation of materials;
  • mechanical behaviour and deformation mechanisms;
  • lightweight alloys and their composites;
  • functional nanomaterials for water treatment;
  • biomaterials and composites; and
  • corrosion behaviour.

Research units

Exercise is a synergistic medicine that should be integrated with traditional medical care to further improve treatment and potentially survival. ECU is internationally recognised for its research in Exercise Medicine. This research focuses on understanding the use of physical activity in preventive health, rehabilitation and chronic disease management.

Cross-disciplinary alliances with world leading researchers and extensive national and international linkages has ensured that this research has direct influence in improving exercise prescription guidelines and patient outcomes.

Areas of expertise include:

  • Cancer management;
  • Preventive health;
  • Prostate cancer and men’s sexual health; and
  • Sports injury prevention.

Research centres

ECU has developed a strong reputation in neuroscience with mechanistic and applied research in neuronal development, neurodegenerative disorders and acute neurological damage.

Multidisciplinary research focuses on rehabilitation from acute neurological damage, including spinal cord injury, acquired brain injury and stroke. Research is examining the effectiveness of established and novel technologies, robotics, neurostimulation and physical activity to understand the control of human voluntary movement. ECU has also established a strong research profile in the assessment of neuromuscular function and fatigue.

Significant national and international competitive funding has also been provided to support projects in speech pathology which are examining very early aphasia rehabilitation after stroke and communication difficulties after stroke and traumatic brain injury in Indigenous Australians.

Applied research is also examining the mechanistic, therapeutic and diagnostic understanding of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s diseases. Strong collaboration with the Australian Alzheimer’s Research Foundation will allow further growth of this research with ECU staff being located at the newly completed Ralph and Patricia Neuroscience Research Institute (Sarich Institute) at QEII Medical Centre.

Areas of expertise include:

  • Alzheimer’s Disease;
  • Parkinson’s Disease;
  • Huntington’s Disease;
  • Spinal Cord Injury;
  • Acquired Brain Injury and Stroke;
  • Autism;
  • Neurorehabilitation;
  • Aphasia rehabilitation; and
  • Motor control and Robotics.

Research units

Through the Centre for Nursing, Midwifery and Health Service Research, our research in the fields of chronic disease management, child and family health, workforce and health services are recognised as innovative and relevant to national and international audiences.

We collaborate with world-class researchers, industry leaders and clinical experts in the development, conduct and application of our research in our drive to conduct high quality research with real world impact.

We undertake innovative research to develop knowledge, evaluate effectiveness and implement change in healthcare through interventions, treatments and knowledge to transform and shape policy and practice in three key areas:

Oncology and Carcinogenesis research primarily focuses on cancer diagnostics as well as the application of exercise in the prevention and management of cancer. Research in this area is identifying biomarkers to assist in patient monitoring, treatment decisions, allowing better patient prognosis.

Research in Exercise Medicine is also examining the effectiveness of physical activity in the prevention, management and treatment of various forms of cancer. Research at ECU has helped to shape international guidelines on exercise prescription to counter the treatment-related adverse effects of cancer and enhance health outcomes.

Areas of expertise include:

  • Exercise Medicine and cancer; and
  • Circulating Melanoma Cells.

Research units

The following are additional priority areas which are being developed by ECU and are emerging research strengths.

Kurongkurl Katitjin is our focus for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People Australian Education and Research.

The team aims to provide excellence in teaching, learning and research in a culturally inclusive environment that values the diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People Australian history and cultural heritage.

Research is a high priority for Kurongkurl Katitjin, most notably, but not exclusively, through the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet.

The Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet is working to 'close the gap' by providing the evidence base to inform practice and policy in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.

The Systems and Intervention Research Centre for Health (SIRCH) undertakes research into Aboriginal and Community Health, working with the community to develop and evaluate innovate models of care, and challenging models of healthcare provision.

Other examples of our research include:

  • Evaluation of the Attendance Grants Program;
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait students and the Western Australian Literacy and Numeracy Assessment (WALNA Project);
  • Quality schools for Aboriginal and Torres Strait students;
  • Communication difficulties after stroke in Aboriginal and Torres Strait People; and
  • Creating cultural empathy and challenging attitudes through Indigenous narratives.

Research units

ECU’s analytical chemistry research uses sophisticated instrumentation and involves strong collaborations with scientists across the globe to undertake high quality, multidisciplinary research that is internationally recognised. Our research is diverse, including dating sediment cores around the globe, discovering biomarkers in clinical settings, and monitoring plant metabolites. Our researchers, through the exciting emergence of metabolomics technology, are examining complex biochemical processes that form the building blocks for life, and determining how this knowledge can be applied to solve issues in both health and the environment.

Strengths

  • Environmental radiochemistry;
  • Biogeochemical cycles in the ocean;
  • Sediment dating;
  • Metabolomics;
  • Data Science;
  • Biomarker discovery;
  • Mass spectrometry; and
  • Plant chemistry.

Research units

ECU’s research into artificial intelligence and image processing spans the domains of computer games, health information technology, resource mining, software engineering, security and biometrics. Our researchers create intelligent solutions in various domains such as computer games and biometrics, and are improving business decisions through the use of web-based intelligent decision support systems. Researchers have strong links to community, industry and government agencies thus ensuring they tackle real-world problems.

Strengths

  • Artificial intelligence;
  • Games;
  • Mobile technology;
  • Optimisation and simulation; and
  • Image and signal processing.

Research units

Biochemistry and cell biology research at ECU has focus on Alzheimer’s Disease, Huntington’s Disease and Melanoma detection. A newly established laboratory will focus on neuroplasticity post-neurological damage through the use of robotics and non-invasive brain stimulation.

Strengths

  • Huntington’s Disease prognostic and diagnostic assessments;
  • Circulating Melanoma Cells;
  • Beta Amyloid Detection;
  • Alzheimer’s Disease Biomarkers; and
  • Neurorehabilitation and Neuroplasticity.

Research units

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.

Strengths

  • Finance and capital markets in Australia and the Asia-Pacific region;
  • Services, especially financial services, marketing and tourism;
  • Information and Communication Technologies and Innovation; and
  • Innovation in Small and Medium Enterprises.

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.

Research units

ECU’s research in communications and media studies provides innovative research solutions and knowledge transfer that helps solve real-world problems through collaboration with the community, government and industry.

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.

Research units

ECU education researchers are recognised nationally, particularly for their expertise in research and program development in literacy and science teaching.

Education research and development is conducted in collaboration with state and national education bodies to improve policy, curriculum, teaching effectiveness and student learning outcomes.

Strengths

  • Early Childhood Education;
  • improving the teaching of literacy, numeracy and science;
  • behaviour management; and
  • using 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 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.

Research units

Civil engineering research at ECU aims to provide practical solutions to real-world problems related to geotechnical and geoenvironmental engineering.

Civil Engineering research includes:

  • complex soil retention and stabilising technologies for foundation design; and
  • vibration research for tall buildings.

Research units

Researchers use a multi-mode approach to studying human athletic performance using techniques in the fields of physiology, biomechanics, psychology, motor control and learning, neurophysiology, biochemistry, medical imaging and others to improve understanding. Research is examining the effectiveness of established and novel technologies, robotics, neurostimulation and physical activity to understand the control of human voluntary movement. ECU has also established a strong research profile in the assessment of neuromuscular function and fatigue.

Strengths

  • Strength and conditioning;
  • Physiology of sports performance;
  • Psychology of Sports and Exercise;
  • Sports Biomechanics; and
  • Neuromuscular function and fatigue.

Research units

ECU’s Nutrition and Dietetics research seeks to improve health outcomes for all Australians by translating nutritional research into practice with a view to improve health outcomes for all Australians.

Strengths

  • Public Health Nutrition;
  • Nutrition Education and Food Literacy;
  • Gut Health;
  • Chronic Disease and Clinical Nutrition;
  • Food Security; and
  • Life Course Nutrition.

Research units

  • Nutrition and Dietetics Research Group
  • Nutrition, Lifestyle and Clinical Trials Research Group
  • Glycomics and Suboptimal Health Research
  • Occupational Health Research
  • Environmental Health Research
  • Clostridium Difficile
  • Grandparent Research
  • Health Promotion

Researchers in the creative arts have been proactive in the development of a practice-based research culture. Outputs include public exhibitions, performances, musical recordings, installations and publications.

Strengths

  • Practice-led research;
  • Composition and music technology;
  • Music performance practices;
  • Theatre-making and choreography;
  • Visual arts and new media; and
  • Creative writing.

Research units

Research in psychology includes clinical, forensic, developmental, community and social psychology.

Strengths

  • Memory;
  • Decision-making;
  • Skill acquisition;
  • Expertise;
  • Music perception;
  • Interpersonal communication;
  • Psychological influence of media;
  • Resilience;
  • Emotional processes; and
  • Psychopathology.

Research units

Publications

Links

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