Community - 2015, Edition 3 | UniSC | University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

Accessibility links

Community - 2015, Edition 3

Community: Edition 3 2015

Vice-Chancellor’s Comment

“USC’s new strategic plan recognises that this institution is ready for an exciting new phase in its growth and development.”

New strategic plan to give USC ‘2020 vision’

As the University of the Sunshine Coast prepares to celebrate the 20th anniversary of opening in 1996, it is fitting that we are in the process of launching a new strategic plan.

USC’s Strategic Plan 2016–2020 will outline the University’s goals in a way that recognises that this institution is ready for an exciting new phase in its growth and development.

Previous strategic plans have laid a strong foundation for the opportunities and challenges we now face.

This new blueprint will contain some ambitious objectives and feature some specific and measurable outcomes, such as achieving a student population of 20,000, expanding our campuses, and increasing our research productivity and impact.

The University’s vision for its continued maturation, growth and development and its commitment to the region is explicit in the new strategic plan.

This vision is reflected in three strategic goals and six imperatives that outline how these goals will be achieved. The three strategic goals are for the University to be: a comprehensive university of 20,000 students by 2020; positioned in the global tertiary education community as a top–100 university under 50 years of age; and a primary engine of capacity building in the broader Sunshine Coast region, from Brisbane to the Fraser Coast.

The University’s imperatives will be to: increase student enrolments and improve student success; increase research productivity and impact; expand campuses and study locations; improve institutional effectiveness; strengthen leadership in sustainability for the region and beyond; and strengthen engagement with our communities.

While the 20th anniversary celebrations next year will involve a fair amount of retrospection in pondering our remarkable achievements to date, 2016 will be the important starting point in a new chapter for USC, particularly with the exciting recent announcements that we will soon have campuses in both Fraser Coast and Moreton Bay regions.

With a new strategic plan to guide us, we will be able to look to the future with ‘2020 vision’.

Professor Greg Hill
Vice-Chancellor and President

Around USC

01 Almost 20 international students from USC SouthBank travelled to Sippy Downs recently to attend a special completion ceremony for international students. The group included students from Pakistan, India, Nepal and other countries, with the majority celebrating the completion of a Master of Professional Accounting. USC SouthBank, which started offering full degrees in 2013, this semester had students from 20 different countries, including Australia.

02 An innovative health project led by USC was one of three national finalists in its category of the 2015 HESTA Australian Nursing Awards. The project, called CEDRiC (Care coordination through Emergency Department, Residential aged care and primary health Collaboration), has developed a new model of care for the elderly. It involves a USC team, led by Professor of Nursing Marianne Wallis, Nambour General Hospital and Sundale’s Nambour Residential Care Centre. The project won a $1.15 million grant from the Australian Government in May.

03 USC is introducing a range of new study programs in 2016, including a Bachelor of Environmental Management, a Bachelor of Serious Games, and a Bachelor of Sports Studies. New combined degrees will be the Bachelor of Education (Secondary)/Bachelor of Recreation and Outdoor Environmental Studies and a Bachelor of Criminology and Justice combined with either a Bachelor of Laws, Bachelor of Social Science (Psychology) or Bachelor of Social Work. For more details go to

04 Paramedic Science students from USC showed they were a force to be reckoned with at an international emergency simulation competition in Melbourne recently. A team of third-year students — Cassie Luck, Fran Watt and Laura Bitcon — finished second out of 10 teams in the annual Ferno Australian Simulation Challenge. The challenge is run as part of the Student Paramedics Australasia International Conference, and sees student paramedics enter simulated emergency scenarios ranging from a heart attack to a trapped and injured patient.

05 USC Gympie, which opened for business in 2013, is celebrating the completion of degrees by its first cohort of students. Among the two dozen students set to graduate in April next year are eight who have completed a Bachelor of Nursing Science. Meanwhile, USC Gympie will offer first-year Science and Engineering subjects from the start of 2016. Students will be able to complete the first year of a Bachelor of Science or a Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) (Civil or Mechanical) in Gympie, before studying the rest of the degree at USC’s main campus at Sippy Downs.

USC wins tender to build new campus
Moreton Bay Regional Council impressed by USC’s proposal

The University of the Sunshine Coast has won the tender to partner with Moreton Bay Regional Council in establishing a new university campus at Petrie, north of Brisbane.

The campus is to be built on a 200-hectare site of the former Amcor Petrie Paper Mill on Gympie Road, alongside the scenic North Pine River.

It is planned to open by 2020, with initial offerings ranging from engineering and information technology to sociology and psychology, as well as a tertiary bridging program to assist those who have not studied for some time.

Moreton Bay Regional Councillors voted on 17 November to approve USC’s tender for this project, which is expected to be similar in size to the University’s Sippy Downs campus and reach a student population of about 10,000 by 2030.

USC’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Greg Hill thanked the Council for awarding the tender to USC, which has experienced sustained rapid growth since opening in 1996.

“This is wonderful news for the people of Moreton — a community of 400,000 people — to soon have a full-service campus that we’d see as becoming much the same size as our Sippy Downs campus over the first 10–15 years,” he said.

“We feel we’re already a big part of this community. About 15 percent of our students already come from the Moreton Bay region. And roughly a quarter of the students from the region who attend university come up the road to us.”

Moreton Bay Regional Council Mayor Allan Sutherland said USC had been selected through a competitive Expression of Interest and tender process managed by accounting firm KPMG.

“There could be no better early Christmas present for the people of our region than today’s exciting announcement,” he said after the Council’s decision to partner with USC.

Universities sign for Fraser Coast campus transfer

The University of the Sunshine Coast is now a big step closer to having a Fraser Coast campus following the recent signing of documents to enable the transfer of the University of Southern Queensland’s campus at Hervey Bay to USC.

The transfer of lease forms were signed by USQ’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Jan Thomas and USC’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Greg Hill in early November but the handover of the campus is still subject to final government approvals. These will give USC the green light to move into the Fraser Coast campus on 1 February 2016 in time for Semester 1.

Professor Hill said this was an exciting opportunity for USC, which is keen to continue the great work done by USQ in the region over the past 18 years.

”We will be committed to servicing demand in the region for a diverse higher education offering to support future education, skills and workforce requirements,“ he said. “Because of regional proximity and its regional strategy, USC is well placed to maximise higher education opportunities at the Fraser Coast campus.”

About 250 people attended information events at Hervey Bay and Maryborough late last month to hear USC’s plans to deliver eight study programs at Fraser Coast from 2016.

University to celebrate turning 20
USC gears up for a special commemorative year in 2016

The University of the Sunshine Coast will next year celebrate the 20th anniversary of its official opening in 1996.

Current and past students and staff, friends of the University and the community in general are invited to join in celebrations throughout the year to mark this significant milestone.

The commemorative year will be launched on Friday 26 February—exactly 20 years to the date since the first lecture was delivered at the fledgling Sippy Downs campus.

The launch event will include a public lecture, the official launch of USC’s 20th anniversary book and a cocktail function.

USC Vice-Chancellor Professor Greg Hill encouraged the public to join the University community for this significant celebration.

“USC is now a thriving campus, and we have nurtured more than 12,600 world-class graduates,” he said. “Join us as we celebrate the past 20 years of achievement, and look forward to another 20 years of innovation, expansion and accomplishment."

 “This anniversary presents an important opportunity to reflect on where we’ve come from, endorse our commitment for the future and strengthen connections with internal and external stakeholder communities. The value in looking back will be in reaffirming our direction and strategy for the future.”

More details about the 20th anniversary launch event are available on the USC website.

There will also be 20th anniversary themed events throughout the year, including Graduation ceremonies and Imaginarium/Open Day.

Honours gives Scott the edge for rescue role

Being winched down from a helicopter on to the side of a mountain isn’t usually part of a graduate’s job description, but it is for former USC student Scott Ford.

Scott, 24, of Meridan Plains, completed his Honours in Biomechanics at USC in late 2014 after having previously graduated with a Bachelor of Sport and Exercise Science.

He moved to north Queensland in January this year to take up a role as a rescue crew officer aboard a Queensland Government Air Rescue helicopter. He is now based in Cairns.

The aircraft performs a wide range of tasks, from hospital patient transfers to beacon searches, and Scott’s role often requires him to go “down the wire” to retrieve a person who is sick or injured.

He said his studies at USC had helped prepare him for key aspects of the job.

“Any degree gives you discipline, time management skills and personal development,” he said. “But the process of learning how the human body operates and an understanding of anatomy and physiology are really valuable when you are working alongside doctors and paramedics every day.”

A decade of five stars for teaching quality

The University of the Sunshine Coast is celebrating 10 years of gaining five stars for teaching quality in the annual independent Good Universities Guide.

This impressive, consistent result highlights the University’s status as a national leader in the educational experience it provides students.

The 2016 Good Universities Guide based its star ratings on data from the Commonwealth Department of Education and Training, Graduate Careers Australia’s annual Australian Graduate Survey and other sources.

USC was ranked in the top 20 percent of Australian universities for three key categories of ‘The Educational Experience’.

This annual guide, produced by Hobsons, awarded USC five stars for teaching quality, overall graduate satisfaction, and graduates’ satisfaction with the generic skills they gained while at university.

USC also gained four stars for staff qualifications, while its star rating for ‘getting a full-time job’ jumped from two stars to four this year—a result that has delighted Vice-Chancellor Professor Greg Hill.

USC unveils $37m high-tech building
Engineering Learning Hub contains world-class technology

A $37.2 million purpose-built facility packed with world-class technology to transform student learning and staff teaching at the University of the Sunshine Coast has been officially opened.

Australian Special Minister of State, Minister for Defence Materiel and Science, and Federal Member for Fisher Mal Brough declared the three-storey Engineering Learning Hub open on Friday 25 September.

It is one of only four facilities in the world with the CAVE2TM, a massive, 320-degree immersive environment that combines visualisation techniques with three-dimensional and virtual reality technology.

USC Vice-Chancellor Professor Greg Hill said the University was the first in the world to use the technology for teaching and learning, rather than solely for research.

“This is part of the technology revolution in education,” Professor Hill said. “Our new hub is capable of totally reimagining teaching, learning and research across diverse faculties and disciplines, starting with engineering.

“Visualisation using 3D and virtual reality allows students to see and interact with complex data in more easily understood ways, reinforcing powerful learning.”

Another feature of the hub is its Collaboration Studio, with a huge 3D-enabled screen that can connect with multiple sources such as laptops, tablets and phones.

The building is a joint initiative of the University and the Australian Government’s Education Investment Fund, which contributed $30 million to the project.

Corinna earns top medal for excellent work

A German backpacker who fell in love with Australia and then decided to study three degrees over eight years at the University of the Sunshine Coast has received USC’s top student award, the Chancellor’s Medal.

This medal is presented to a graduating student who has made an outstanding contribution to USC or the wider community while achieving a high academic level.

Buderim’s Corinna Bürgin-Maunder, 29, now has a Bachelor of Science (Biomedical Science), Honours in Science and a Doctor of Philosophy in Science.

Her parents travelled from Germany to join her husband in the audience to watch her receive the medal at USC’s graduation ceremony on 1 October.

USC also presented Honorary Senior Fellowships in October to Queensland Folk Federation Executive Director Bill Hauritz and retired auditor Phil Procopis.

Justice officially opens moot court
Court is now officially in session at the University of the Sunshine Coast

President of the Queensland Court of Appeal Justice Margaret McMurdo AC opened a purpose-built moot court on campus on 23 September in front of members of the Sunshine Coast legal community, USC staff and Law students.

The facility, which has a bar table, judges bench and witness box, will be used for hands-on teaching and student assessment activities. It will be the venue for mooting competitions and other events run by the USC Law Students’ Association.

Justice McMurdo — who also delivered the inaugural USC Law Oration to a crowd of 150 people on the topic ‘A Human Rights Act for Queensland?’ — said the moot court would be a valuable facility for students throughout their degrees.

USC Law School Co-Head Professor Anne Rees said the space was designed using the Caloundra Magistrates Court as a guide.

Students swim with whales off Tonga

Six University of the Sunshine Coast students and three academics recently spent 11 days in Tonga for cross-disciplinary research into the country’s well-established swim-with-whales tourism industry.

The group collected data, interviewed tourists, business operators and community members, and swam in the ocean with humpback whales as part of a project that is set to benefit the fledgling industry in Queensland.

USC International Relations Projects Manager Dr Sheila Peake organised the trip with Lecturer in Tourism, Leisure and Events Dr Vikki Schaffer and Lecturer in Clinical Psychology Lee Kannis-Dymand using funding from an Australian Government New Colombo Plan mobility grant.

Two of the students, Brianna Lenton and Jordyn Archer, reported on the experience at a New Colombo Plan forum in Canberra, where they even chatted with Australia‘s Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop.

Five national citations for teaching excellence
Academics awarded for enhancing student learning

USC has gained five of the highly competitive annual citations for teaching excellence presented by the Australian Government’s Office for Learning and Teaching. Each has a prize value of $10,000.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Birgit Lohmann congratulated each of the recipients:

  • Associate Professor of Nursing Patrea Andersen for leadership in innovative simulation learning that enhances student engagement in nursing and health;
  • Senior Lecturer in Indigenous Studies Adjunct Professor David Hollinsworth for challenging and supporting social science students to critically examine racism, social justice and positionality, transforming their personal and professional lives;
  • Lecturer in Entrepreneurship Dr Retha De Villiers Scheepers for inspiring students to create their future by crafting learning opportunities that motivate, engage and empower;
  • Senior Lecturer in Education Dr Susan Simon for mentoring postgraduate education students to become effective leaders through professional expertise, guidance, collegiality, collaboration and promoting critical reflection;
  • Lecturer in Regional and Urban Planning Dr Nicholas Stevens for establishing curricula and digital resources that prioritise student access to town planning principles, practice and projects, enabling them to ‘plan for great places’.
Mass movement of marine life forecast

Marine life will be thrown into chaos by ocean warming by the year 2100, according to a new international study co-authored by a USC expert in quantitative ecology.

Associate Professor of Biostatistics Dr David Schoeman said the study predicted a massive reorganisation of marine species by the end of this century. Species losses in waters near the equator would contrast with far richer biodiversity in other ocean regions.

The paper, ‘Climate velocity and the future global redistribution of marine biodiversity’, involved 10 global scientists including Associate Professor Schoeman. It was published on 1 September in the journal ‘Nature Climate Change’.

Mosquito project gains Gates funding
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation supports USC-led research

Research led by University of the Sunshine Coast Senior Lecturer in Molecular Engineering Dr Joanne Macdonald has received a Grand Challenges Explorations grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Dr Macdonald’s innovative global health and development research project is titled ‘A rapid field test for detecting infected mosquitoes’ and is the first USC project to gain funding of this kind. The project will use its US$100,000 (A$138,000) grant to develop a world-first rapid test kit for detecting multiple pathogens, such as deadly malaria and dengue, in infected mosquitoes.

“Research will be done in labs at Sippy Downs and in Brisbane, followed by field tests on wild mosquitoes in Cairns,” she said. “We’ll be using new dipstick technology built at USC by PhD student Jia Li (Jessie).”

The project will also draw on the expertise of key collaborators from Queensland Health, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, University of Western Australia and the University of Queensland.

Scientist wins Tall Poppy award

A USC Research Fellow working to prevent young driver road crashes was recently named joint winner of the 2015 Queensland Young Tall Poppy Scientist of the Year award.

Dr Bridie Scott-Parker, who leads USC’s Adolescent Risk Research Unit, won the top science accolade with a QUT researcher during the presentation ceremony at the Queensland Museum in Brisbane in late August.

Dr Scott-Parker was delighted to be one of 11 recipients of this year’s prestigious Queensland Young Tall Poppy Science Awards and stunned to hear her name read out for the top gong.

Queensland Chief Scientist Dr Geoff Garrett AO and Queensland Science and Innovation Minister Leeanne Enoch attended the awards, held annually in each state by the Australian Institute of Policy and Science to celebrate intellectual and scientific excellence.

Dr Scott-Parker said she hoped the award would inspire people to think more broadly about what constitutes science.

“We use different theories, from fields such as psychology and criminology, and we use different techniques such as surveying people, using cameras and devices in vehicles, hosting focus groups and interviews,” she said.

Researchers land prestigious grants

USC academics Dr Anna Potter and Dr Tomer Ventura were successful in the latest round of prestigious Australian Research Council (ARC) grants, announced recently by the Federal Government.

Dr Potter, USC Senior Lecturer in Communication, received a $373,500 ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) to focus on her project, ‘International transformations in children’s television 2013-18’.

“This project is the first transnational analysis of key trends in the production and distribution of contemporary children’s television, with Australian content at its core,” she said.

Dr Ventura, already a DECRA Research Fellow at USC, gained a $148,000 ARC Discovery Project grant to further research into the genetic development of an Australian lobster species.

His team and collaborator Dr Quinn Fitzgibbon, of the University of Tasmania’s Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, are working on a project entitled ‘Redefining the molecular mechanism underlying crustacean metamorphosis’.

Researcher develops test to detect deadly diseases
PhD candidate invited to present at UNESCO summit

A new test being developed by a University of the Sunshine Coast researcher could dramatically reduce the time taken to diagnose some of the world’s deadliest diseases.

PhD student Ameh James is working on a rapid molecular diagnostic test for infectious diseases, including Ebola and West Nile Virus, which can be used in low-resource settings.

 Ameh’s promising results to date resulted in him being awarded a competitive sponsorship to attend the UNESCO Merck Africa Research Summit in Geneva, Switzerland, in October.

Ameh delivered a presentation on his project at the conference, which involved scientists from around Africa.

“Getting a sponsorship from an organisation like UNESCO is rare, and it shows that the test I’m developing is in line with infectious disease research internationally,” Ameh said.

 “The gold standard for Ebola testing cannot be used in most labs because of the expense and training needed. The technology I’m developing doesn’t require skilled personnel or expensive equipment — the equipment already exists in most labs.”

Ameh plans to travel to Nigeria soon to test his techniques in clinical settings.

Art inspires care for environment

Having environmental art in the community encourages people to look after their environmental surroundings, USC researcher Megan Marks has declared.

This was a major finding of Ms Marks’ PhD thesis that she summarised recently for the annual Three Minute Thesis competition held as part of USC’s 2015 Research Week.

Ms Marks won the competition, ahead of eight other Higher Degree by Research students, with her talk ‘Environmental art–not just weaving baskets’.

The Noosa Council employee investigated whether or not environmental art could change the behaviour of people and if it encouraged a sense of place that created a greater desire to look after the environment.

“I wasn’t a greenie when I started the project, and I was dubious about the impact of environmental art on an audience,” she said. “But I actually discovered that it made people proud to live in an environmental community which caused them to act more sustainably—so now I’m a greenie and I’m converted!”

Young scientists impress at USC research awards

Experiments on matters ranging from dog biscuits to gamma rays were on show at USC’s 2015 Science Research Awards recently.

Seventy-seven budding scientists from 14 Sunshine Coast primary and secondary schools presented their research in poster displays.

St Andrew’s Anglican College student Emily Korrum won the Senior Scientist award for her experiment entitled ‘Coral Surface Area and Morphology’. The Junior Scientist award went to Mapleton State School Year 6 student Jack Watson for his experiment, ‘A Woofy Project’, which investigated different types of dog food.

Para-cyclist is standout sportsperson
World champion now sets his sights on competing at Rio

Inspirational para-cycling world champion Kyle Bridgwood has been named the University of the Sunshine Coast’s Sportsperson of the Year for 2015.

The International Relations student from Buderim was presented with the prize at USC’s annual Sports Awards ceremony in early November for his outstanding results this year.

Bridgwood, 26, won gold in the Men’s C4 Time Trial at the Para-Cycling World Championships in Nottwil, Switzerland, in July in his debut for the Australian team. He backed up this performance at last month’s World Cup in South Africa, taking out gold in the same event.

USC’s Team of the Year award went to the men’s futsal team, which won bronze at the Australian University Games on the Gold Coast in September-October after an unbeaten run into the semi-finals.

Medal rush for athletes at Australian University Games

USC’s mixed touch team scored an impressive 66 tries in just seven matches on its way to winning gold at the recent Australian University Games on the Gold Coast.

The USC team was undefeated in its division, simply outclassing many of its opponents during the round matches before edging out Deakin University 6-5 in the grand final.

Taekwondo competitor Cameron Taylor won USC’s other gold medal at the games by taking out the 74kg division to bag his second consecutive title.

In other results, swimmer Rory Sanders claimed silver in the 50m backstroke and bronze in the 100m backstroke, while USC’s men’s beach volleyball pairing of Korey Apps and Gabriel Cicchi, hurdler Summer Johnson and triple jumper Amay Baldwin won silver.

Bronze medals went to the men’s futsal side, 10,000m runner James Kelly and sprinter Courtney Geraghty in the 200m.

USC athletes selected for honorary Australian sides were Shahna Hamment and Lucy Balfour (hockey), Cameron Taylor (taekwondo), Angela Johnson (volleyball) and Yoel Jogiono, Selma Ugland and Lindsay Dombrow (futsal).

On a per capita basis, USC placed sixth out of 42 universities.

Raindrops help aspiring engineer win award

Holding a smart phone in the rain, day and night, to research rainfall intensity for his University of the Sunshine Coast Honours degree has helped Jordan Andrews claim the top spot at Engineers Australia’s 2015 Michael Woodhouse Undergraduate Award Evening.

USC students dominated the recent awards, hosted annually by the Queensland Water Panel, with fellow Bachelor of Civil Engineering Honours student Scott Roy taking second place for his innovative floating wall for use in flood mitigation.

Jordan, 22, a Siena Catholic College graduate from Mooloolaba, won for his thesis, ‘Design of a Rainfall Software App: Analysis of digital audio recordings of rain to determine intensity’.

“It’s the latest step in a project supervised by Dr Helen Fairweather to create a software app that can be used by people everywhere to measure rainfall intensities and locations, then upload the data to the internet,” he said.

“I put my iPhone 6 in a waterproof case and used it like a digital audio rain gauge at different times of the day and night. After recording the raindrop sounds, we used two methods to determine intensity and then compared the results to real recorded rainfall intensities provided by the Sunshine Coast Council.

“We were surprised by how well one particular method worked.”

USC to establish Mind and Neuroscience Institute
Philanthropists enable University to develop mental health facility

The University of the Sunshine Coast has found a home for its planned Mind and Neuroscience Institute.

A generous donation from philanthropists Roy and Nola Thompson has enabled USC to purchase a property on Innovation Parkway, Birtinya, to set up a world-class facility that will focus on addressing mental health issues in the community, particularly depression and dementia.

USC Vice-Chancellor Professor Greg Hill said the three-storey building, with about 4,400 square metres of floor space, would become a hub for mental health research, teaching and clinical services.

It will be called the Sunshine Coast Mind and Neuroscience–Thompson Institute.

“This is a wonderful outcome for the Sunshine Coast which is recognised as a hot spot for youth suicide and where there is a very large cohort of ageing people who have their own mental health challenges,” Professor Hill said. “Now that we have a home for the institute, we will concentrate on populating it with the very best talent and laboratories available and delivering outcomes to our community.”

USC’s Head of School of Social Sciences Professor Doug Mahar will oversee initial appointments and the development of research facilities and outreach activities at the Institute. His first appointment was Associate Professor Mathew Summers, who specialises in the neuropsychological assessment of children and adults for disorders of brain function, the diagnosis of dementia in older adults, and early detection of adults at risk of developing dementia.

Student secures prime role with accounting firm

USC student Laura Ehsman has the corporate world firmly in her sights after securing a graduate accounting position with global professional services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers.

In her final year of a combined Business and Commerce (Accounting) degree at USC, Laura, 22, of Buderim was offered a graduate role after completing a summer internship at the firm’s Brisbane office.

The former Siena Catholic College student said studying at USC meant she could remain close to her family and combine her learnings with part-time work.

At USC’s Faculty of Arts and Business Awards and Prizes ceremony, Laura took home four prizes totalling $2,500 earlier this year. They were the Holmans Accounting and Taxation Bursary, the ANZ Bank Prize for the Highest Achieving Student in Corporate Governance and Social Responsibility, the BDO Prize for the Highest Achieving Student in Auditing and Professional Practice, and the Garland Waddington Prize for the Highest Achieving Student in Retirement and Superannuation.

Alumni enjoy tour
More than 60 alumni, family and friends returned to USC for the annual Alumni Relations VIP campus tour on 7 November

As well as hearing about USC’s new campuses, developments in research and other initiatives, guests experienced the new 3D visualisation theatre in USC’s Engineering Learning Hub and inspected state-of-the-art clinical teaching facilities for nursing. “I was so impressed with the number of changes and new facilities in the short time since I graduated last year,” graduate Simone Wilcox said after the tour.

USC’s Alumni Relations can be contacted at or +61 7 5459 4564.

Superintendent is 2015 top alumnus
Graduate rises through ranks of Queensland Police Service

A police chief superintendent who won a scholarship to Cambridge University, a senior environmental scientist focused on sustainable urban design and a business entrepreneur renowned for his tourism leadership have won the University of the Sunshine Coast’s Outstanding Alumni Awards for 2015.

Debbie Platz, Dr Chris Walker and Bill Darby are Coast-based success stories who each have two degrees from USC and were recognised at the Outstanding Alumni of the Year Awards on 24 September.

Chief Superintendent Platz, who was named the Outstanding Alumnus, said she had used her USC Master of Business Administration (MBA) and Graduate Diploma of Education to rise through the ranks of the Queensland Police Service (QPS), launching community policing strategies and researching best practice.

She now works in Brisbane as the executive manager of training and development of the QPS and Public Safety Business Agency, responsible for training about 800 police recruits each year and 15,000 service personnel across the state.

“All of the training and education I did at USC stood me in good stead for a whole range of opportunities I’ve had in policing,” she said. “And if it wasn’t for USC, I wouldn’t have gone to Cambridge last year to study applied criminology.”

Dr Chris Walker graduated in 2006 with a Bachelor of Science (Environmental Science) and in 2012 with a PhD that focused on urban lake design and stormwater quality modelling. He said he was delighted to be recognised in 2015 with the USC Rising Star Alumnus award.

Dr Walker, who is environmental manager for Covey Associates, an engineering consultancy with national and overseas clients, has worked on commercial, residential and industrial projects across Queensland to reduce the environmental impacts of large urban developments and improve the health of water courses.

Bill Darby, who received the Regional Achievement award, graduated with an MBA in 2007 following his 2006 Graduate Certificate in the same field.

His involvement in both the University and the Sunshine Coast has been forged in many ways, including current co-ownership and management of Caloundra’s only five-star resort, Rumba, which has won many industry awards.

Scholarship seals move to study Antarctic science in Tasmania

A Former OP1 student of Mountain Creek State High School who fast-tracked her University of the Sunshine Coast degree has launched an exciting career in Antarctic science in Tasmania.

Veda Malpress had to miss her recent USC graduation ceremony, where she was awarded a Faculty Medal for her grade point average of 6.73 out of a possible 7, because she had already started a degree at the University of Tasmania’s Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS).

Veda, 19, completed her Bachelor of Science (Accelerated) six months early and moved to Hobart in July after she won a $9,000 scholarship for an Honours degree on flora and fauna far removed from the Sunshine Coast.

“My research is a mix of ecology and oceanographic modelling, examining the characteristics of big holes in the Antarctic sea ice called polynyas,” Veda said.

“Not much is known about these open water regions because they’re so isolated, but they are vital foraging grounds for marine predators such as elephant seals.”

Veda, who was accepted in 2013 into USC’s Dean’s Scholars Program for high-achieving science students, said she hoped her research would help address the projected impacts of climate change on the world’s polar regions.

Veda received a Renouf Family Scholarship when she started at USC and said she also benefited from a smooth transition from high school to university without leaving home.

Katherine’s busy creating little miracles
Former fitness trainer starts new role as clinical embryologist

After a career delivering fitness results as a personal trainer, University of the Sunshine Coast graduate Katherine Thompson is now delivering results of a different kind.

Katherine, 24, of Sippy Downs started work this year as a clinical embryologist at a Brisbane fertility clinic after completing a Bachelor of Biomedical Science with minors in clinical embryology, medical microbiology, physiology and anatomy.

“I started with City Fertility at Sunnybank in April and now I’m lucky enough to be working in a laboratory helping to give people the opportunity to have a family—I help create little miracles!” she said.

USC Senior Lecturer in Biomedical Science Dr Mark Holmes said the new Clinical Embryology course was well supported by the Queensland IVF industry.

“The students are trained in assisted reproductive techniques under the guidance of experienced IVF scientists and university staff,” he said. “Students also have the opportunity to undertake two days of observational placement in an IVF clinic in Brisbane during the course.”

Katherine completed a placement at City Fertility in Brisbane’s Sunnybank and was later offered a job there during her final months of study.

“The theory components have prepared me with an in-depth understanding of the science behind embryology, and the practical components helped me gain valuable laboratory skills necessary for the field of embryology,” she said.

Katherine said she’s proud of her achievements, especially after taking an indirect route to university studies.

“I attended Mountain Creek State High School but didn’t finish my schooling in favour of studying at TAFE to become a personal trainer,” she said.

“I hope that my educational journey shows people that there is more than one way to do things in life and, even though I didn’t finish school, I was able to gain entry in to USC by completing my studies at TAFE.”

USC Art Gallery Exhibitions

USC Art Gallery  |  USC Art Gallery Facebook page 

Random Transitions: fibre. rust. skin.
26 November–18 December

German-born Sunshine Coast artist Katrin Terton’s exhibition features her work that has been created using elements from the natural world such as fibre, rust and skin. It also includes a series of digital photographs that explores the process Katrin follows in using the tactile medium. “I’m drawn to nature’s discards, her forgotten remnants, which many of us absentmindedly overlook,” Katrin said. “These materials, often fragile, always precarious, continue to shift and change with the elements. You can’t ‘force’ them into a predetermined stable form. Nor would I want to. Even as I gather them and integrate them into something new and therefore connect them with my own personal journey, they have already begun another transition.”

Kinship: Jandamarra Cadd
18 February–2 April

After touring throughout Australia, this exhibition by Sunshine Coast artist Jandamarra Cadd explores the deeply complex and important connections of kinship within Aboriginal culture. Aboriginal kinship ties, values, belief, identity and language are maintained by the community and the continuance of Aboriginal society is dependent on keeping Aboriginal families strong and healthy, both physically and culturally. It is the kinship ties that determine a person’s rites, responsibilities, interactions and behaviour. Jandamarra hopes to reach as many people as possible to share his dream and passion for a united Australia where the beauty and value of Aboriginal culture is viewed with equality and respect.

Nikon-Walkley Awards for Excellence in Photojournalism
7 April–14 May

The Nikon-Walkley Awards are the highest honour in Australian journalism, celebrating excellence across all media. Since 1956, when the first Walkleys were presented in five categories, the awards have grown to more than 30 categories, including photojournalism. The awards recognise the work of photographers across a range of genres. A judging panel of senior photographers and picture editors selected the images for the awards and subsequent exhibition from entries submitted in 2015, based on newsworthiness, impact, creativity and technical skill.

Summer closure

The USC Gallery will be closed over summer from 19 December 2015 to 18 February 2016. Entry to the University of the Sunshine Coast Gallery is free and the public is welcome. Open: 10am to 4pm Monday to Saturday. Closed: Sundays and public holidays.