Ignite - 2017, Edition 2 | UniSC | University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

Accessibility links

Ignite - 2017, Edition 2

Ignite: Edition 2 2017

The breath of life
2017 USC OUTSTANDING Alumnus of the Year Captain Jan Becker

By Jarna Baudinette

For Captain Jan Becker, life is about “the extra 15 percent”.

The qualified commercial helicopter pilot takes the saying from the amount of engine power a helicopter uses to fly.

“When you fly a helicopter, you’re using 85 percent of the engine’s power to hover above the ground,” she said. “You’re using almost all your power, but you’re not going anywhere.

“It’s the extra 15 percent that makes you move forward. That extra effort is what makes you fly.” 

For the past 20 years, Captain Becker has used her extra 15 percent to pursue two careers: one as a nurse and midwife, and another as CEO of the largest helicopter pilot training academy in the Southern Hemisphere.

In September, the Bachelor of Nursing Science graduate’s successes were recognised at the USC Outstanding Alumni Awards ceremony, where she was named the 2017 USC Outstanding Alumnus of the Year.

Captain Becker’s nursing career began in New Zealand in 1985. She completed her diploma the same year her now-husband, Captain Mike Becker, began flying helicopters.

Over the next decade, his work took the Beckers to Sydney, the Northern Territory and then to Papua New Guinea, where Captain Jan Becker worked as a midwife in Kimbe Hospital’s labour ward and on medevac operations.

In 1996, they moved to Marcoola and launched Becker Helicopter Group.

Captain Becker had long been interested in aviation – her father was an aeroplane pilot who flew cropdusters – and soon took on the role of CEO, overseeing the growing company’s strategic planning, marketing, finance and administration.

She also set her sights on a new goal: qualifying as a pilot.

“I came from an aviation family, but when Mike and I started dating it was the ‘80s, and it never occurred to anyone that I would want to fly,” she said. “But when we started the company, I decided I wanted to learn.”

She completed her first solo flight in 2000.

“Aviation is my business, but the flying itself is such a bonus for me,” she said. “You enter a different world, and I love that.

“People often say that aviation and midwifery are very different passions, but the thing I love about both professions is that you play by certain rules, you follow checklists, and you do things predictably. I love that focus; it’s settling.

“Flying a helicopter is focused and all encompassing, like when you perform resuscitation.”

Not surprisingly, her dual passions have rubbed off on her two daughters: Chase, 21, plans to study medicine after completing a combined degree in midwifery and nursing at USC, while Michaela, 22, is a first officer with Jetstar.

Captain Becker’s leadership as Becker Helicopters Group CEO earned her national recognition, including the 2014 Telstra Business Women’s Queensland Business Owner Award, the 2013 Telstra Australian Medium Business Award, and the Queensland Premier’s Innovation Export Award.

As the company grew, she also kept up her first career, taking on casual shifts as a midwife at the Sunshine Coast Private Hospital. In 2007, she decided to improve her training and ensure her knowledge was up-to-date through USC’s nursing program.

After graduating in 2009, Captain Becker returned to USC as an assistant lecturer in transcultural nursing and global midwifery, which reignited her passion for the excitement and challenges of nursing overseas.

She decided she would go where the help was most needed – a decision that took her to Amana Referral Hospital in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, which at the time was experiencing among the worst maternal and child health outcomes in the world.

Captain Becker now volunteers two to three times per year in the hospital’s labour ward, which delivers 80 to 100 babies each day, 365 days per year. There, she and Chase work alongside local midwives and help to train them in neonatal resuscitation, as part of the global ‘Helping Babies Breathe’ (HBB) program.

The experience has inspired her to found the non-profit organisation Midwife Vision, which offers education and support to midwives in some of the most under-resourced areas of the world.

She is also chairperson of the Cherish Women’s Cancer Foundation and still works as a casual midwife on the Sunshine Coast.

Her experiences in Tanzania recently prompted Captain Becker to begin a Higher Degree by Research at USC, focusing on “The silent voices of the midwives of sub-Saharan Africa – managing neonatal resuscitation and very early neonatal death”.

In addition, she continues to serve as Becker Helicopter Group CEO and on the board of Helicopter Association International.

Her dual careers make for a busy schedule – but that’s where the extra 15 percent comes in.

“My philosophy is that, like a helicopter, we use about 85 percent of our energy working or studying, or giving to our profession or family,” she said.

“But we never commit to going that extra distance. Becker Helicopter Group is my 85 percent, and my 15 percent is the midwives and mothers I work with in Tanzania.

“People often ask me why I would go there – the need is so great, what can one person possibly do to help? 

“But it’s because I get to change the face of a woman’s life. By going, I am saying, ‘you are not invisible, I see you and you are not forgotten’.

“If I can help one mother or one baby, that’s enough for me.”

USC honours outstanding graduates

Captain Becker was named the 2017 USC Outstanding Alumnus of the Year on Thursday 21 September 2017 before a crowd of almost 200 people.

The University also honoured two other exceptional graduates at the Outstanding Alumni Awards ceremony.

2013 Nutrition and Dietetics graduate Megan Leane of Gladstone received the Alumnus of the Year – Rising Star award, which recognises those who are under 35 years old or who graduated in the past five years.

Megan established herself as the only practising private dietitian in the Gladstone region when a GP Super Clinic opened there four years ago. Her clinic has grown from one day a week to a full-time practice and she has contracts with Queensland Health, Gladstone Ports Corporation, Gladstone Regional Council and Headspace Gladstone.

USC’s Alumnus of the Year – Regional Achievement award went to 2004 Environmental Science graduate Mathew Davis, who has worked in environmental management, especially water quality monitoring, across South-East Queensland and beyond.

Mathew founded Australian Coastal and Marine Ecology in 2013 and his team has worked on many infrastructure projects, including a major contract for the Moreton Bay Rail Link Project.

Update your details 

USC’s Alumni Relations Office is keen to ensure it has the current email addresses of graduates, so they can receive news of the University and opportunities to stay involved. Contact alumni@usc.edu.au to update your contact details.

USC community gives back on G-Day

The USC community dug deep for its annual giving day on 10 August, raising more than $27,000 for students in need.

This year’s G-Day included an online crowdfunding campaign, a community breakfast and a garden party at USC’s Sunshine Coast campus, featuring live entertainment by rising star Caitlyn Shadbolt and local duo Sam & Marnie.

All money raised on the day will fund USC Study Support Bursaries, which help undergraduate students in financial need to reduce their hours of paid work and focus on their studies.

Donations in the lead up to the event and on the day raised enough funds to provide an additional 13 Study Support Bursaries in 2018, which will directly assist students with study-related costs such as textbooks, food and transportation.

Event organiser Greg Bradley from USC’s Development Office said it was rewarding to see this year’s fundraising total top the amount raised at the first G-Day event in 2016.

“It’s been wonderful to see the USC community really get behind G-Day, and come together to support students in need,” he said.

The art of giving

By Jarna Baudinette

For USC alumnus and former staff member Bruce Williams, giving back is a way of life.

Since arriving at USC’s Sunshine Coast campus as a mature-age student in 1997, Bruce has looked for ways to support the community that helped him transform his future.

Bruce enrolled in USC’s Bachelor of Arts after his 17-year career as a church minister came to an end. He went on to study an Honours degree and worked as a sessional academic in what was then the Faculty of Arts.

He later took on roles as student adviser and in USC’s International Office, where he worked until 2014, when he launched his own coaching and consultancy business. He now works with individuals and teams to develop their leadership skills and help people maximise their own potential.

Bruce said that coming to USC during a “critical turning point” in his own life had inspired him to give back to the University, initially through volunteer roles on the University Council and Foundation Board.

“What I found at USC were the kinds of people who would go the extra mile for me,” he said. “And the only legitimate response to an experience like that is gratitude, and a desire to give back.

“So, I started looking for opportunities to do that. Serving on Council and the Foundation Board seemed like a natural fit.”

During this time, Bruce helped to develop the USC Starfish Program, which allows USC staff, alumni and the community to support low-income students through bursaries.

“Back when I was a student, there weren’t many bursaries available,” he said. “There was only one I was eligible for, and I missed out. I was a mature student with four kids at home, and to miss out on that bursary hurt.

“I remember thinking, when I’m in a position to do something about that, I want to. So, when the opportunity arose I jumped in with both feet.”

Bruce continues to donate to the Starfish program and is a member of the USC 1996 Society giving club. But he said the highlight had been giving his time to the USC Foundation Board, on which he still serves.

“USC gave me the opportunity to transform my life,” he said. “Through the Foundation Board I get to participate in and assist the University’s growth and expansion, and in turn make that opportunity possible for even more people.

“I came to USC when it had 800 students, 30 staff and four buildings. To have been here in the early days and have seen the impact, and to still be part of it, is both humbling and inspiring.” 

Thank you!

In 2017, USC provided students with more than $2.5 million in scholarships and bursaries. Scholarships help students succeed by reducing financial stress and confirming that the students’ efforts are worthy of support. Significant contributions come from USC’s generous donors, whose commitment to assisting students is immense.

$800,838 in donations went directly to students in 2017
  • 11 endowments produced a total of $345,250
  • 21 individuals gave a total of $163,276
  • 62 companies and organisations gave a total of $248,312
  • 155 Starfish and G-Day supporters gave a total of $44,000
  • 282 students received a donor-funded scholarship, bursary or prize
Supporting the futures of...
  • 66 teachers
  • 30 nurses
  • 22 business leaders
  • 20 scientists
  • 19 engineers
  • 18 paramedics
  • 15 lawyers
  • 13 accountants and financial planners
  • 13 researchers
  • 12 creatives and designers
  • 9 social workers
  • 8 environmental scientists and ecologists
  • 7 occupational therapists
  • 7 dietitians
  • 5 journalists and communicators
  • 5 midwives
  • 4 exercise physiologists
  • 3 criminologists
  • 2 psychologists
  • 2 town planners
  • and more ...
A vital sign for our region

By Terry Walsh

USC to introduce Medical Science degree in 2018 

Local students will have a pathway to study medicine on the Sunshine Coast thanks to USC’s new Bachelor of Medical Science, which will be offered for the first time in Semester 1, 2018.

The three-year undergraduate degree will provide provisional direct entry into Griffith University’s planned Doctor of Medicine program at the new Sunshine Coast University Hospital at Birtinya.

USC has moved quickly to deliver this study program following the Federal Government’s recent announcement that Griffith University will open a 50-place medical school at the Sunshine Coast Health Institute (SCHI), which is part of the hospital complex, in 2019.

USC’s Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Birgit Lohmann said the new degree was modelled on the Medical Science program offered by Griffith University at its campuses in Brisbane and on the Gold Coast.

“The launch of our Bachelor of Medical Science embodies the relationship we have with Griffith University, Queensland Health and TAFE Queensland at the SCHI to train the next generation of doctors for the region,” she said.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for people on the Sunshine Coast who want to study Medicine to study locally.

“It is expected that up to 20 guaranteed places per year will be available in the Griffith University medical program at the SCHI for successful graduates of USC’s Bachelor of Medical Science.” 

Professor Lohmann said she anticipated strong interest from high-performing students in the degree that will include subjects in anatomy, biochemistry, chemistry, disease, health, ethics, genetics, law, microbiology, pharmacology, psychology and physiology.

Griffith University’s Dean of Medicine Professor David Ellwood said he was looking forward to enrolling the first Doctor of Medicine students on the Sunshine Coast in 2019, subject to satisfying the accreditation requirements of the Australian Medical Council.

USC’s Head of School of Health and Sport Sciences Professor John Lowe said the Bachelor of Medical Science would be open to domestic school-leavers only (those who have completed Year 12 within the past three years and have not done any tertiary study).

Professor Lowe said those who were not school-leavers could still pursue a medical career through USC by studying Biomedical Science and then sitting the Graduate Medical Schools Admissions Test (GAMSAT).

For more information about the program, visit usc.edu.au/medicalscience

New clinical trials target common health conditions

The USC Clinical Trials Centre has partnered with specialists from across the Sunshine Coast region to conduct research on diagnostics and treatment for common health conditions, including digestive disorders, Influenza and strep throat.

Trials are now underway to research the safety and efficacy of two medications administered by a tablet or an injection to treat Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD).

USC Clinical Trials Centre Director Lucas Litewka said the partnership would provide ongoing opportunities for Sunshine Coast people with certain digestive disorders to join global research efforts without leaving the region.

“We are fostering this research environment with leading doctors to test some of the latest investigational medicines for these types of disorders,” Mr Litewka said.

Principal investigator Dr Hans Seltenreich, of Coastal Digestive Health, said three international randomised controlled trials were operating from the Maroochydore practice, involving patients with moderate to severe Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis.

IBD is a chronic autoimmune disorder that causes inflammation and damage to the lining of the digestive tract, a condition which affects more than 75,000 Australians. Common symptoms are diarrhoea, abdominal pain, cramping, tiredness and weight loss.

With cold and flu season in full swing in 2017, the Clinical Trials Centre also partnered with local doctors to test diagnostic methods for Influenza and strep throat.

Mr Litewka said the Centre was working with Eclipse Medical at Maroochydore to assess the use of a new device for the rapid detection of a bacteria that commonly causes sore throats in children.

The Streptococcus bacteria can cause an infection known as Strep A, which primarily results in acute upper respiratory infection in school-aged children aged between five and 15 years.

Mr Litewka said the new study would assess the use of a rapid-test device manufactured by ellume-lab with the aim of providing accurate, real-time testing for patients within 10 minutes in the convenience of their doctors’ offices.

Another recent study with Coastal Family Health at Buddina and Morayfield Family Doctors tested a similar detection device for Influenza A and B.

For more information about USC’s Clinical Trials Centre, visit usc.edu.au/trials

USC Psychology celebrates top national ranking

By Julie Schomberg

The overall experience of students in USC’s Psychology program has been ranked the best of all public universities in Australia in that study field.

USC Professor of Psychology Mary Katsikitis said the category ranking in the 2018 Good Universities Guide was providing a wonderful boost for the discipline’s students, academics, professional staff and clinical partners in the community.

“We were delighted to learn that Psychology at USC won the top spot as well as five out of five stars when its overall student experience was compared to psychology programs across the nation,” she said.

USC Psychology also ranked five stars in the categories of teaching quality, learning resources and skills development.

Professor Katsikitis said USC had award-winning, dedicated Psychology academics who acted on feedback provided by students and industry partners, ensuring quality degrees and optimal experiences.

The 2018 edition of the guide is the first to feature star ratings at a field of study level. A university receives five stars if it scores within the top 20 percent of universities in Australia for a particular field.

Engineering at USC was ranked first nationally across three categories of student experience for teaching quality, learning resources and student support, and among USC’s Business offerings, the field of Computing and Information Systems was ranked first nationally for both teaching quality and learning resources, while the field of Business and Management was ranked first of Australia’s public universities for overall experience.

Meanwhile, USC’s disciplines of Nursing and Science and Mathematics also ranked at number one for public universities in Australia in the category of overall student experience.

Graduation celebrations

More than 400 students crossed the stage to receive awards at USC’s final graduation ceremonies for 2017 on Thursday 28 September.

USC’s new Chancellor, Sir Angus Houston AK, AFC (Ret’d), conferred degrees on graduands for the first time.

Coolum signwriter Steve Hall received an honorary senior fellowship for his continued support of USC Design students, while retiring Head of USC’s School of Social Sciences Professor Doug Mahar became an Emeritus Professor.

USC also awarded honorary doctorates to renowned poet and U3A teacher Dr Bruce Dawe AO and to Fraser Island Defenders Organisation (FIDO) founder John Sinclair AO.

Mr Sinclair started FIDO in 1971 in response to applications for sand mining on Fraser Island. Under his leadership, FIDO led a number of successful legal campaigns to protect Fraser Island against environmental threats such as logging, and now focuses on the conservation of the whole Great Sandy Region.

“I left school when I was 15, so to be receiving a doctorate is not something one ever expects,” he said. “I’m highly honoured and extremely grateful to the University.”

Mr Sinclair said FIDO had developed a strong connection with USC over a number of years, including through the University’s Dilli Village research site on Fraser Island.

“It’s really an ever-growing list of collaborations,” he said. “Just recently, we’ve been able to fund a PhD scholarship to investigate sustainable transport options for Fraser Island.”

FIDO has funded the $100,000 scholarship at USC after receiving a generous bequest from passionate environmentalist Barbara Winkley.

Recipient Ross Waldron will spend the next three years exploring the best ways to reduce the effects of traffic on Fraser Island, which may include creative solutions such as light rail, cable car, and specially engineered roads.

“No conservation battle is ever won, so it’s important to have a new generation of people who are committed to, and passionate about, preserving the island’s natural environment,” Mr Sinclair said.

Cody is USC’s first Criminology graduate

Former Mundubbera schoolboy Cody Smith is USC’s first Bachelor of Criminology and Justice graduate. Cody, 23, originally enrolled at USC to study international relations and politics, but soon discovered a passion for the criminal justice system.

“I found that I had an affinity and great passion for the criminal justice system – how it’s run and managed – so I swapped degrees to be a part of that,” he said. “My favourite subjects were Homicide and Family Law. I liked dealing with the case law and was very interested in such complex and intricate topics.” 

Cody transferred with credit and graduated ahead of USC’s first full cohort of Criminology students, who will graduate in April 2018.

QUT and USC agree on Caboolture campus transition

USC is one step closer to realising its vision for the Moreton Bay region, after USC and QUT agreed to move towards a transfer of QUT’s Caboolture campus to USC from 8 January 2018.

QUT Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Coaldrake and USC Vice-Chancellor Professor Greg Hill welcomed the planned transition.

Both universities are committed to the future of higher education in the Caboolture region, and are resolved to act in the best interests of students, staff and the community.

Professor Coaldrake said QUT had proudly nurtured university education in the area having invested in the campus over 15 years of stewardship.

“In that time, QUT has provided the local community with undergraduate courses in business, nursing, education and creative industries at our shared campus with TAFE Queensland,” Professor Coaldrake said.

“This change comes at a time when USC is expanding its presence in the region, and it is appropriate for QUT to transfer its Caboolture campus to USC to facilitate this consolidation.”

Professor Hill said USC would maintain and expand the impressive educational platform established by QUT at Caboolture.

“USC already has a close relationship with schools and the community in Caboolture, and we see the campus transfer as an opportunity to consolidate and increase this engagement,” Professor Hill said.

“We currently have 400 students enrolled from Caboolture and Morayfield, and a total of 1,400 students from across the Moreton Bay region.”

Professor Hill said the campus transfer would give USC a strong presence in the Moreton Bay region ahead of its planned opening of a full-service campus at Petrie in 2020.

USC graduate Scott rides wave of success with Billabong

By Gen Kennedy

A USC Business graduate has turned his passion for surfing into a high-level marketing role for one of the world’s biggest surf wear companies in California.

Former Maroochydore resident Scott Hargreaves, who finished his USC studies in 2004, is now the Global Vice-President for Men’s Marketing at Billabong International.

Based in Orange County with his young family, Scott is responsible for developing strategic marketing plans to drive sales of the brand’s lines of surf clothing, accessories and wetsuits, including digital and retail consumer marketing, events and athlete management.

The former carpenter, 39, spent a number of years travelling and surfing overseas before enrolling in a Bachelor of Business (Management) at USC, which led to roles in event management at Surfing Queensland and Rip Curl.

Scott said he felt extremely fortunate to have built a career around his love for the ocean and surf culture.

“I feel like I’m the luckiest guy in the company, to be honest,” he said.

“It’s fantastic to be working for a company that lives and breathes my passion for surfing.”

More than a postgraduate business degree

For those building a business – or a career in one – a postgraduate degree is often a logical investment. And there’s a variety of choices available.

USC’s Executive Master of Business Administration (EMBA) can be a great option for those wanting to combine work and study. The EMBA is delivered as monthly weekend intensive sessions, with an opportunity to consolidate learning through an annual international study tour. There are also entry options for experienced business people who may not have an undergraduate degree.

But according to students, the main benefit is the relationships they form within the student cohort, which provides a sounding board of like-minded business professionals – both during the program and beyond graduation.

One such student is Mervat Quirke, who is the CEO of Bloomhill Cancer Care, a Sunshine Coast-based charity dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for people living with and beyond cancer. This year, Mervat was named the Professional Business Woman of the Year at the Sunshine Coast Business Women’s Network Business Woman of the Year awards.

At the start of 2017, Mervat had reached a point in her career where she was keen to extend herself. But with five children and a busy schedule, like a lot of people she had self-doubts.

“I have always wanted to study but I didn’t think I would be able to,” she said.

“I knew I couldn’t stay stagnant and because I was working at a higher level of strategic management, I felt I needed further acknowledgement of my ability to be sitting at that table.

“When I applied, I was very mindful of the fact that I had very limited academic experience but the application process was excellent – very respectful not only of my qualifications, but of the experience I have from my years in this career.”

Once Mervat started the EMBA, she realised that her cohort and teaching staff would be one of the best support mechanisms.

“I hadn’t expected to meet such a great group of talented people – all engaging, all with different styles, but all with a common outlook,” she said.

“They have all been encouraging and inspiring – both students and lecturers – and the collective skills set is so diverse.

“They believe in my ability.”

Mervat said that undertaking this line of study had given her a new perspective on learning, including the importance of adopting the mindset of ‘student’ as well as ‘leader’.

“My goals and the reasons I started studying have changed a bit since I first began – I was initially seeking confidence and a reinforcement of what I knew and what I had learnt through experience,” she said.

“But now, I am learning just how much more there is to learn and that, in itself, is eye-opening.”

To watch the experiences of Mervat and other USC EMBA students, visit usc.edu.au/emba

First USC Law graduate admitted to Supreme Court

by Gen Kennedy

Tony Hunkin has overcome serious injuries from a cycling accident to become the first USC Law School graduate to be admitted to the Supreme Court of Queensland.

The former pharmacist and father-of-two, who graduated from a USC Bachelor of Laws (Graduate Entry) in April 2017, signed his admission papers in front of his family and peers at a special ceremony at the court in September.

It was a major milestone for 45-year-old Tony, who enrolled in the USC Law School’s first cohort after running his own pharmacy at Maroochydore for 20 years.

Currently working for Sunshine Coast law firm Garland Waddington Solicitors, he is now authorised to practise as a lawyer anywhere in Australia.

He said that his admission ceremony, which followed a 16-week postgraduate Practical Legal Training course, had been particularly satisfying after having overcome a number of obstacles during his degree.

“There was certainly a lot of ups and downs on my way to being admitted,” he said. “In October of my second year of studies, I broke my neck and back in a cycling accident, and I was in a halo brace for nine weeks.

“It was a lot to recover from, but my lecturers were very supportive, letting me defer my assessments. I had to do my exams orally, as I wasn’t even able to write.

“It feels great to have started this new phase, being able to practise independently as a lawyer. I’m looking forward to building my career in commercial and property law.”

A place for creative growth

By Jarna Baudinette

Students looking to launch a creative career have come to the right place, as USC extends its reach in the creative industries.

In a knowledge-driven economy, more and more people are being drawn to creative careers. The global cultural and creative industries sector alone generates $2.25 trillion dollars annually, employs 29.5 million people, and plays a significant role in every other sector, from banking to aerospace. It is growing faster than any other sector of the global economy and is unlikely to slow any time soon.

But as the creative industries continue to grow and change, how do artists, designers, musicians and other creative practitioners build the foundations for long-term success?

USC is helping students answer this question through its industry-focused Bachelor of Creative Industries. Launched in 2014, it’s a flexible degree that lets students with a wide range of creative interests – including design, communication, music, theatre and performance, fashion, serious games, media, film and technology – develop their artistic and practical skills, while also building specialist industry knowledge and contacts.

Professor Phil Graham, who is Head of USC’s School of Communication and Creative Industries, said the degree was designed to give the fullest potential for students’ creativity, talent and innovation to flourish in the creative industries and prepare students for sustainable careers.

“A creative industries approach sees beyond art for art’s sake – it is a sector at the intersection between art, industry, technology, and business,” he said. “Students are getting their hands dirty and ‘doing’ art, but they’re also focused on entrepreneurship, the ongoing impacts of technology, changes in policy, and the complex laws that affect the field.

“So it’s a multidisciplinary degree, but always with a professional focus on building the audiences, markets and niches that will support students’ creative careers into the future.”  

All students complete industry-embedded projects and internships with their choice of one or two majors – including creative advertising, creative writing, drama, graphic and digital design, music, screen media, and games design.

From 2018, students will also be able to study new courses in fashion and music. The latter will be led by internationally acclaimed Artistic Director Sean O’Boyle AM and Director of Vocal Arts Suzanne Kompass.

The Music major includes courses in songwriting and composing, music production and sound engineering, and performance techniques and styles, including vocal and instrumental performance. Students will learn how to manage the recording process and build an audience through live performances and online. Then, they’ll put what they’ve learned into practice through a major music industry project, where they’ll make, produce and release their own recordings.

Professor Graham, an experienced musician and producer, said the new major exemplified USC’s approach to the creative industries in that it equally emphasises skill, theory, and entrepreneurship.

The same approach is reflected in new Honours programs in Communication and Creative Industries, which allow students who have completed their undergraduate degrees to tackle major creative research or industry projects with a strong practical focus.

“The vision is for a unique, artist-focused approach to the creative industries – an approach that is based in creative acts, but also focussed on developing entrepreneurially skilled artists who understand their industry and can make their way through the complex business opportunities emerging from a fast-changing digital environment,” Professor Graham said.

“We know that the future of the next generation of creative artists is bound up in the ability to create their own careers.

“Our goal is to help students build the skills they need to take advantage of those opportunities as they arise.” 

News bites

For a larger serving of news, visit usc.edu.au/newsbites

Study finds tomato waste at rotten levels

Supermarket demands for premium, unblemished fruit and vegetables are contributing to alarming waste in Queensland’s tomato growing industry, according to a USC study. Researchers followed two supply chains from Bundaberg, one of Australia’s largest tomato growing regions, and found up to 87 percent of undamaged, edible harvested tomatoes were rejected based on cosmetic appearance. Between 70 to 84 percent of produced tomatoes were left in the field, and only about 45 to 60 percent of the total harvestable crop reached consumers. USC Environmental Science Honours student Tara McKenzie conducted the research project with USC supervisor Professor of Horticulture Steven Underhill and Research Fellow Dr Lila Singh-Peterson. Professor Underhill said Ms McKenzie’s findings, recently published in the international journal Horticulturae, should be of deep concern. “While horticultural food loss is a well-publicised problem, Ms McKenzie’s research is one of the first to put some real numbers around the problem in Queensland,” he said.

USC staff named among nation’s best educators

Nine USC academics have been named among the nation’s best educators in the prestigious 2017 Australian Awards for University Teaching. Associate Professor of Law Dr Kelley Burton and Senior Lecturer in Occupational Therapy Dr Michele Verdonck were awarded individual Citations for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning, valued at $10,000 each. A third citation went to a team of academics teaching USC’s first-year Communication and Thought (COR109) subject – Mary-Rose Adkins, Dr Lee-anne Bye, Dr Gail Crimmins, Dr Noni Keys, Dr Gregory Nash, Ann Robertson and Janet Turley. USC staff have gained 46 national citations since 2006.

Study to help older victims of scams

A USC study is looking for ways to help restore the confidence and trust of older Australians in online technology if they become victims of scams that target personal information. PhD student Judy Watson aims to interview people aged 55 years and over who have had their identity stolen and would like to help others cope with similar situations. “Older Australians are required to become more and more digitally engaged, however as the amount of identity theft grows, there is evidence to suggest they are less happy about using online environments,” she said. “People who experience these crimes can feel violated and vulnerable. They may prefer to keep it to themselves, but then it becomes one of those hidden problems.” The study is supported by Australia and New Zealand’s National Identity and Cyber Support Service IDCARE, which is based at USC’s Sunshine Coast campus and supports individuals who have experienced identity theft and misuse.

Researcher seeks to grow new Qld seaweed industry

A USC researcher has established a laboratory at Bribie Island to explore a potentially lucrative new aquaculture industry off the Queensland coastline: seaweed production. Associate Professor of Aquaculture Nicholas Paul, a phycologist (seaweed scientist) who joined USC this year, said Queensland was ripe for a new ocean-based industry that was beneficial to people and the environment. “Seaweed is the largest aquaculture crop in the world but none is grown commercially in Australian waters,” said Dr Paul. “Queensland is the perfect setting, with the clean water of the Pacific Ocean, unique species including the prized red seaweed, and aquaculture facilities at the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries’ centre on Bribie Island.” Dr Paul said seaweed could be grown in commercial quantities in the sea, starting with seedlings tied in clusters to lines along the seabed.

Research into baby sleep routines to save lives

A USC research team is conducting one of the largest studies ever into sudden and unexpected infant deaths in Queensland. The researchers are sending surveys across the state to families with babies born during April and May 2017 asking how they care for their infants and the sleep routines they usually use. Chief project investigator USC Professor of Nursing Jeanine Young said despite two safe sleeping public health campaigns since 2002, Queensland had one of the highest rates of unexplained infant death in the nation over the past decade. “By better understanding how parents use advice and public health recommendations to care for their babies, we hope to reduce the rate of fatal sleeping accidents and sudden infant deaths,” Professor Young said. The study is the first of its kind in 15 years, and the findings will be used to shape future public health campaigns and safe sleeping messages.

USC research targets antibiotic-resistant infections

A USC researcher is using a 2017 Advance Queensland Fellowship to develop a cheaper, faster way of diagnosing antibiotic resistance in patients, particularly those with chronic lung infections. Dr Derek Sarovich received the $300,000 Queensland Government fellowship for his three-year project that will involve collaboration with the Sunshine Coast University Hospital (SCUH), QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute and USC colleagues Dr Erin Price and Professor Peter Timms. Dr Sarovich, who is an expert in molecular and microbial genetics, said his work aimed to help doctors at clinics and hospitals across the world fight the threat of antibiotic-resistant infections by examining how bacteria evolved resistance in chronic lung infections. While current diagnostic methods take between 24 and 72 hours to determine antibiotic resistance, his new test will provide results in just one to two hours.

USC launches new Master of Teaching

USC has launched two new postgraduate teaching programs that give aspiring teachers the opportunity to get qualified for the classroom. The Master of Teaching (Primary) and Master of Teaching (Secondary) programs are designed for university graduates who have completed non-Education bachelor degrees, and build on students’ qualifications with the skills needed to become a fully qualified primary or high school teacher. Professor of Education Shelley Dole said the degrees enabled people from a range of backgrounds to promote their expertise to the next generation. “This degree is perfect for both recent graduates building on bachelor’s qualifications, as well those who are looking to change paths after working in a different profession,” she said. “The USC programs allow students to get into classrooms, interact with students and teach small classes from the very first semester of their program.”

Students learn the science of wildlife photography

A four-day workshop on Fraser Island teaching students how to capture images of wildlife has highlighted the importance of photography in scientific research. The Fraser Island field trip was led by USC Lecturer in Animal Ecophysiology Dr Christofer Clemente and professional wildlife photographer and former zoologist Simon Pynt, who gave students real-life advice and shared his experience of transitioning from zoology to professional photography. The students were taught how to illustrate specific aspects of wildlife, such as anatomical features and habitats, while making the images visually engaging. As well as image composition, camera operation and editing, students learned techniques for stalking timid animals in the wild and for observing and capturing animals in a safe and ethical manner.

2017 Alumni Survey

A big thank you to everyone who participated in the 2017 USC Alumni Survey. The aim of the survey was to understand more about our alumni and how you stay connected to USC. We’ll use the results to create better programs and opportunities for alumni like you. In the meantime, here’s a snapshot of the results.


24% up to 29 years

30% 30-39 years

18% 40-49 years

18 % 50-59 years

8% 60-69 years

1% 70+ years


27% 2015-present

34% 2010-2014

24% 2005-2009

13% 2000-2004

2% 1995-1999

81% live in Australia

19% live overseas

Main area of study

Arts, social science and law: 178

Business: 231

Science: 74

Health: 58

Education: 57

Computing / IT: 15

Engineering / surveying / design: 15

Interested in mentoring a current student: 56%

Said that USC made a positive contribution to their life: 84%

Received a scholarship or bursary while studying: 16%

Satisfied with their student experience: 82%

“I am proud of saying I studied at USC, but I wish I was more involved.”

“Great part of the world. And great people!”

“I like knowing that I went to a great university that is only getting bigger and better.”

Getting involved

A goal of the survey was to understand more about how you, as alumni, want to be involved with USC.

The top results were: 

  • share your own experience or knowledge (69%)
  • serve on a University committee or advisory group (42%)
  • Provide a student with work experience (23%)
  • Assist with alumni activities (22%)

Alumni also expressed a range of motivations for getting involved. Here’s what drives you: 

  • To connect or network with others with similar interests, and to progress your career
  • To help current students, especially those who wouldn’t be at university without extra support
  • To support the areas of greatest need at USC
  • to support research from your discipline or to solve practical problems
Diversity celebrated with annual USC awards

USC celebrated its annual Diversity Week in August under the theme ‘I belong, you belong, we all belong’. The week began with the Diversity Week Breakfast and annual Vice-Chancellor and President’s Equity and Diversity Awards, which recognise staff, alumni and students who have made outstanding contributions to diversity and inclusion.

Several USC alumni were among the 2017 winners, including USC Associate Lecturer Emma Kill, who was recognised for her work to support young mothers to pursue education through Burnside High’s award-winning STEMM program. Fellow alumnus Dr Florin Oprescu and Dr Michele Verdonck from USC’s School of Health and Sport Sciences also received staff awards for their work with the Suncoast Spinners Reverse Inclusion Program.

Student group awards went to USC Amnesty International and the USC Law Student Association (LSA), with special mention to current LSA president Callum Lee.

USC Access and Diversity Officer and event organiser Marj Blowers said the awards were designed to recognise individuals and groups with a demonstrable commitment to equity and diversity within the University or its broader community over a sustained period.

“Diversity Week is held each August, and the Vice-Chancellor and President’s Equity and Diversity Awards are an opportunity to showcase the achievements over the previous year of our alumni, students and staff, who are working to create an inclusive culture across all USC study locations,” she said.

For more information about Diversity Week and the award process contact Access and Diversity at Diversity@usc.edu.au

The last word
Graduate profile: Karina Hamilton-Peel

Karina Hamilton-Peel grew up in Hervey Bay and moved to the Sunshine Coast in 2008 to study at USC. Over the course of eight years, the Urangan State High School graduate completed an accelerated Bachelor of Biomedical Science (via the Deans Scholars program), a Bachelor of Science (Class I Honours) and a PhD in Pharmacology. She also received several awards, including a Renouf Family Scholarship and a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) postgraduate grant, which enabled her to complete part of her PhD studies at Cardiff University, Wales. She fell in love with Cardiff and its people (one person in particular), so after completing her PhD at USC she moved back to Cardiff to pursue a career in medical writing. Recently married, she now works as a Senior Medical Writer at Health Economics and Outcomes Research (HEOR) Ltd, a Cardiff-based pharmaceutical consultancy.


When I was a kid I wanted to be… A professional tennis player. I think my dad was particularly devastated when we realised that dream would never come true.
My first job was… A laboratory class demonstrator and tutor at USC.
Now I spend my days… Writing publications and supporting the health economic research conducted at HEOR Ltd. Outside of work, my husband and I enjoy running, battling the time zones to follow the NRL, and searching for the best food, beer and coffee in Cardiff.
I can’t live without… Skype – it’s my lifeline to family and friends back at home.
My proudest moment was… Being awarded the USC Chancellor’s Medal at my PhD graduation last year. I loved the years I spent studying and working at USC, and it was an honour to be recognised for my hard work and achievements during that time..
The best advice I’ve been given is… From my dermatologist: always wear sunscreen! I also live by the golden rule: always treat others the way that you would wish to be treated.
In other people, I value… Kindness, respect, and the ability to listen rather than speak.
It’s daggy, but I love… My husband, Sean. He’s the daggiest person I know.
My hidden talent is… Extremely well-hidden. Besides, it wouldn’t be hidden anymore if I revealed it! 
I’m hopeless at… Tennis, sadly. And having hidden talents.
One day I’d love to… Spend a Christmas in New York.

Honouring a USC legend

The Gerard Mills Memorial Prize honours the memory of USC Honorary Senior Fellow, Mr Gerard Mills. Gerard devoted much of his life to education, art and photography. He spent almost four years taking more than 30,000 photos of wildlife activity, each week walking kilometres of USC’s 100-hectare Sunshine Coast campus to find rare and elusive species.

Tyler Nicholls, 21, of Cedar Pocket near Gympie, won the top prize package for his photo of a noisy miner flapping its wings on the lake on campus at Sippy Downs. Tyler is studying a Bachelor of Education (Secondary)/Bachelor of Recreation and Outdoor Environmental Studies.

Kate Berry, 21, of Cashmere in Brisbane, took second for her close-up image of a dragonfly on a leaf. She is a Bachelor of Animal Ecology student.

Jackson Weaver, 22, of Tanawha, was third for his photo of a tawny frogmouth perched on a tree branch. He is a Bachelor of Business/Bachelor of Commerce (Accounting) student.

USC ART GALLERY exhibitions

usc.edu.au/gallery  |  facebook.com/USCartgallery

The USC Art Gallery is located at the University campus on Sippy Downs Drive, Sippy Downs. It is open free to the public from 10am to 4pm Monday to Saturday and closed Sundays and public holidays.

Tracey Moffatt from the MAMA Collection
25 January to 17 March 2018

Tracey Moffatt is one of Australia’s most successful artists. This exhibition is drawn from the collection of the Murray Art Museum Albury and features photographs from Moffatt’s well known Something More, Scarred for Life and Some Lads series. A MAMA Touring Exhibition.

Ignite is a free publication published by the Office of Marketing and Communications at the University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia.
Tel: +61 7 5459 4558 |  Email: marketing@usc.edu.au   usc.edu.au

© University of the Sunshine Coast 2016 |  CRICOS Provider Number: 01595D