Filter articles by:
Date published
Article keywords
Article type

The Real Shark Tank: Elite researchers Pitch 4 Funds in 90 seconds

22 October 2019: What causes children to become picky eaters? What are the challenges black South Africans experience in saving for their retirement? How are chemicals affecting our aquatic systems?

Join us at this year’s Pitch for Funds (P4F), a University of Canberra competition that is designed for elite researchers to pitch their research topic in just ninety seconds and in a way that attracts interest and potential funding from the audience.

With a stellar judging panel watching on, the Canberra community will learn about exciting research taking place at UC and discover how researchers are finding practical solutions to real world problems.

“Researchers are all working towards making the world a better place through their research but need the funds to follow through with it,” said Ms Rosanna McCall, Research Development Advisor at the University.

“This is a great way for industry experts and the Canberra community to come together and hear about the fantastic research being undertaken at the University of Canberra.”

On Thursday 24 October, researchers will try to convince the judges to invest real money in their project, from a total prize pool of $12,000.

Click here for more information and to register for free.


Dr Rati Jani - Lecturer, Nutrition & Dietetics

Pickiness is extensively examined as a behavioural/appetite trait and predominantly been studied in relation to vegetable intake. We could not identify any literature/questionnaire examining parental perception of pickiness in relation to all core foods: fruits, vegetables, protein-rich, complex-carbohydrate, dairy, which is representative of a nutritionally balanced diet. Moreover, no study has simultaneously examined environmental (feeding practices) and genetic (phenotype-supertasters)
determinant of picky eating in children, and its relationship to parental perception of pickiness for all core foods. This study aims to examine environmental and genetic determinants of picky eating which will support researchers to develop dietary interventions addressing picky eating.

Dr Bomikazi Zeka – Assistant Professor, Business

Dr Zeka’s research interest is in the field of retirement planning, particularly among black South Africans. In South Africa, few individuals reach retirement financially independent (only 4%) and the remainder are forced to contribute working or rely on family for financial support. She is interested in understanding the challenges black South Africans experience in saving for their retirement and the strategies applied in overcoming those challenges. This research is important because poor retirement planning has a transgenerational impact on families, societies and economies. By focusing on this area, the financial well-being of individuals at retirement can be improved.

Dr Rebekah Ogilvie – Assistant Professor, Nursing

Rebekah Ogilvie is a clinician academic with expertise in major injury management. Rebekah offers valuable insight into what really matters for patients and clinicians to achieve our main goals; to provide patients with the tools they need to feel empowered to help themselves, while being able to communicate to healthcare providers with quantifiable data about their recovery, aiding decision making and in turn expediating recovery.

Rebekah completed her Doctor of Philosophy in 2016 with the University of Sydney. Her thesis was titled: Major traumatic physical injury in young people during the initial six month injury trajectory: an explanatory sequential mixed methods study, which resulted in an additional $5.3 million dollars funding for ACT Trauma Services.

Ms Bella McGoverne – Sessional, Faculty of Science and Technology

After studying for 5 years at the University of Canberra, Bella decided that still wasn't enough, so signed up for a PhD in researching novel cancer therapeutics. Bella works in a supportive team of researchers who all have a passion for reducing the burden of cancer. Two of her friends under 30 suffered but survived cancer, and she want to help enable the survival and increase the quality of life of other cancer patients. Her dream is to pursue a combined career of medicine and research.

Dr Rod Ubrihien – Research Fellow, Faculty of Science and Technology

Rod is a water scientist focusing on the chemical-biological interactions in the aquatic environment. The overarching goal of his research is to improve our understanding of the effect of chemicals on aquatic systems so that we can better manage how we interact with these systems. Rod has worked in various aquatic environments ranging from intertidal marine, freshwater rivers, and lake systems. His work includes developing biomarkers of ecosystem health, assessing changes to community composition, understanding chemical cycles and assessing genomic response of organisms to contaminants.  

Dr Jacquelin Bousie - Assistant Professor, Physiotherapy

Dr Bousie is a physiotherapist, researcher, and teacher. She is interested in researching musculoskeletal conditions because being in pain is not fun. She is also passionate about providing great patient care. To that end, teaching UC physio students to be exceptional future physios is what this research idea is all about. Physios need to be good at a range of skills to be able to provide great patient care. But these skills are complex and difficult to learn, so, she is keen to find out if there are better ways to teach, even if they are a little left of centre.

Dr Catherine Knight-Agarwal – Clinical Assistant Professor – Nutrition and Dietetics

Dr. Cathy Knight-Agarwal is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Nutrition and Dietetics at the University of Canberra and is Advanced Accredited Practising Dietitian. She holds qualifications in Applied Science (at Bachelor and Masters level, UWS), Nutrition and Dietetics (Masters, USyd) and Maternal weight management (PhD, UC ). Cathy has worked as a senior lecturer at the University of Canberra, Australia since 2007. From 2001, she worked for over a decade as a clinical Dietitian, both in Australia and the UK, in the areas of paediatric nutrition, critical care, mental health, dietetic education and diabetes management. She has published her research in a number of peer review journals and presented at both national and international conferences. She regularly provides research and teaching expertise to countries in the South Pacific mainly in the area of maternal and paediatric nutrition.

Ms Elena Smertina – PhD candidate, Science

Rabbit haemorrhagic disease virus is used in Australia as a biocontrol tool to reduce the population of European rabbits. Rabbits threaten native plant and animal species competing for feed and shelter. Successful biocontrol requires surveillance and the introduction of new viral strains. This virus encodes nine proteins in its genome and functions of half of the proteins are unknown, because this virus does not grow in cell culture and therefore is a challenging studying object. For my PhD project I use mass spectrometry-based proteomics approach to find out what effects viral proteins have on cells and hence deduce their functions.  

Dr Maya Gunawardena – Education

Ethical and respectful behaviour or practice is not just a desirable skill, but an imperative for 21st century. Values are grounded in universal human needs for our wellbeing and survival. Little is known about teacher cognition of Australian values and they are incorporated as learning intentions to enhance students’ affective skills. The proposed project aims to inquire about teachers’ approaches to fostering values and propose an innovative storytelling model to foster values. The stories help students see ‘mirrors’ into themselves and ‘windows’ into other people to build empathy. Knowledge does not equal understanding, but we see delight in deepening students’ insights and wisdom.

Mr David Hinwood – PhD candidate, Science and Technology

Fast fashion has become one of the largest industries on the planet, worth three trillion dollars annually while making up two percent of the worlds GDP. In Australia alone, six tons of clothing waste is sent to landfill every ten minutes. Recycling processes based around fabric have recently been introduced to prevent a significant amount of clothing being sent to landfill. However, these processes are limited by the required labor involved in preparing the waste for recycling. This work is centered around building technology to autonomously sort and prepare to clothe for these processes.

In robotics, fabric manipulation is a difficult and multi-faceted task that has many challenges. One specific challenge is the mechanics of grasping fabric. In the past, devices have been built specifically designed to grasp and manipulate fabric for a variety of domestic purposes. Early works in this area have noted how fabric manipulation is a series of actions that are primarily performed by humans, thus any attempts to design devices for this task should consider bioinspired features. By observing fabric manipulation from a human-centric perspective, we can significantly improve the mechanics and functionality of end-effectors designed to manipulate deformable objects.

Dr Blooma John – Assistant Professor, Science and Technology  

Diabetes is one of the leading chronic diseases. Early detection and proactive management of diabetes is essential. Using big data in healthcare could change the future of diabetes. Big data is an enormous amount of information gathered from many sources, compiled in a computing system and run through advanced analytics and algorithms to reveal underlying trends and patterns. By gathering big data, we can now more quickly identify diabetes in patients and benefit from a shift in treatment.