Ignite - 2018, Edition 1 | UniSC | University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Ignite - 2018, Edition 1

Ignite: Edition 1 2018

The gift of giving back

By Jarna Baudinette

Property developer Roy Thompson spent his career building houses and hotels. Now, he and his wife Nola have dedicated their retirement to building the region they love.

Sometimes, you get the chance to change a person’s life. It might be through a simple act of kindness, or it might be through a grand gesture. But very few people get the opportunity to impact the lives of a whole community. For Roy and Nola Thompson, the decision to seize that opportunity was a simple one.

After almost four decades behind the helm of some of the Sunshine Coast’s most successful property developments, the Thompsons reached retirement with significant financial resources. With their adult children happy and settled, and no desire for a lavish lifestyle, they started thinking about how they could give back to the region that had given them so much.

The easy answer was to help educate local young people, in the hope that a new generation could unlock its own potential without having to leave the region. The growing local university seemed like a natural fit.

In 2011 and 2012, the Thompsons made their first donations to USC, which provided financial support to help 150 students reduce their hours of paid work and focus on their studies.

The scholarships were in part motivated by the Thompsons’ own humble beginnings. As a young father, Roy — who grew up in a working-class family in rural Victoria — often worked three jobs to make ends meet.

Despite their subsequent success, the Thompsons still remember the struggles young people face while trying to get ahead.

“Education is a big thing for the Coast and for kids in general,” Roy said. “But a lot of people don’t have enough money to go to university.” 

Over the past seven years, the Thompsons have made it their mission to change this, giving more than $15 million to a range of USC initiatives – including infrastructure projects that have been critical to achieving USC’s vision for its communities. In 2014, they donated half the funding for a multi-level carpark at USC, with an agreement for funds raised from the carpark to go towards student scholarships and bursaries.

This project has already supported 84 students through Thompson Excellence Scholarships, Thompson Study Support Scholarships and Study Support Bursaries, and is expected to provide more than $29 million to more than 1,000 students over the next 50 years.

In 2015, they donated a $7 million building to house USC’s Sunshine Coast Mind and Neuroscience Institute, an integrated clinical research and teaching facility focused on the mental health needs of underserviced regional communities.

And in 2017 – on the same day he and Nola were named Queensland Higher Education Philanthropists of the Year – Roy signed a cheque to help purchase an MRI machine that is vital for the Institute’s research.

USC Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Greg Hill said that without the Thompsons’ investment, the Sunshine Coast Mind and Neuroscience Thompson Institute would not exist.

“It is simply not possible to overstate the impact of their extraordinary generosity – not only in supporting our students, but in helping USC grow and serve more people across coastal South East Queensland,” Professor Hill said.

In recognition of this, and their wider philanthropy across many community sectors, the Thompsons were recently named Honorary Doctors of the University at USC’s April Graduation ceremonies.

In his address to the graduating class – which included some of the first recipients of the Thompson Excellence Scholarships – Professor Hill celebrated the Thompsons as exemplars of the belief in education and community that USC was founded on.

“Roy and Nola’s generosity, in terms of both their time and their significant financial investment, has been instrumental in USC’s growth and expansion,” he said.

“But just as important has been their tireless advocacy for, and belief in, our students. Those of you who have received a Thompson Excellence Scholarship or Thompson Study Support Scholarship will have experienced this first hand.

“I mention this not only to express our sincere gratitude to the Thompsons, but to remind our graduating students that there is an entire community of people – many of whom you have never met – who have supported you along your journey, and who believe in the impact you can make.”

In January, Roy was also appointed a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) for eminent service to the community.

Roy said that while he and Nola were honoured to receive these awards, their philanthropy has never been motivated by a desire for recognition. Instead, they just want to give back.

“The Sunshine Coast has been very good to my family and I think it is important we give back,” Roy said.

“I firmly believe one of the best ways to do this is by supporting the university that can do great things for our community.

“USC is going to be around for a long time, and if I can help kids get an education and a good job, or to care and find cures for mental health for young, old or returned service people, then that is what I am going to do.”

An extract from a letter to Roy and Nola Thompson, from Thompson Excellence Scholarship recipient and Bachelor of Biomedical Science graduate Brendan Boyd, who is now working at USC’s Clinical Trials Centre:

“It has been three years since I was awarded the inaugural Thompson Excellence Scholarship and I have now finished my Bachelor of Biomedical Science with a GPA 6.73. Without your support I would not have been in a position to attend university and my placement concurrently as I did. So once again, thank you for your support over the last three years and in helping me to get where I am today.”


to the 1,700 students who graduated from USC across 12 ceremonies in April. This Graduation season was filled with milestones, including our 20,000th graduate and the first Graduation ceremony for USC Fraser Coast.

Fourteen students graduated with degrees in Nursing Science, Marketing and Human Services at the inaugural USC Fraser Coast Graduation ceremony. The audience heard from special guest speaker Noeline Taurua, head coach of the Sunshine Coast Lightning, and Nursing Science graduate Elyse Bone.

USC’s 20,000th graduate Renee Barber took some time out for TV interviews before crossing the stage to receive her Bachelor of Social Work.

1 Marriage equality campaigner, USC Equity and Diversity Award winner, and Bachelor of Science (Honours) student Nina Ashfield (pictured with her supervisor Dr Ipek Kurtböke) received a Chancellor’s Medal for academic achievements, her role with human rights organisation Amnesty International and her work to make Australia a more inclusive place.

2 A Chancellor’s Medal also went to Nutrition and Dietetics graduate and Kamilaroi woman Tracy Hardy, for her work to improve the wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people through nutrition.

3 It was a big week for David Knobel, who delivered the Graduation address on behalf of his fellow USC Law School graduates in the same week he was admitted as a lawyer in the Supreme Court of Queensland. A poem he shared as part of his speech has been viewed more than 50,000 times – watch the video at facebook.com/unisunshinecoast 

4 Paralympic champion and USC alumnus Marayke Jonkers was awarded an Honorary Senior Fellowship for her sporting achievements, ongoing leadership, and commitment to supporting para-athletes via her Sporting Dreams foundation.

5 Former USC Chancellor John Dobson OAM was named an Honorary Doctor of the University in recognition of 20 years of service to the University Council. His fellow former Council members Bruce Cowley and Julie-Anne Mee were named Honorary Senior Fellows.

6 Police officer-turned-academic Dr Dominique Moritz became the first person to complete a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) through USC’s Law School, which opened in 2014.

USC graduates in Australia’s top three

USC graduates have been recognised as among Australia’s best, with the University finishing in the top three in the 2017 national Employer Satisfaction Survey.

The survey is administered by the Social Research Centre on behalf of the Department of Education and Training, and reflects 4,000 employers’ views on graduates’ work readiness and skills.

USC graduates ranked third in Australia for ‘overall satisfaction’, which measures the likelihood of employers hiring another graduate from the same course and institution. They ranked second for ability to adapt, apply skills/knowledge and work independently; third for teamwork and interpersonal skills; and fourth for ability to perform and innovate in the workplace.

Overall, USC graduates received an 88.8 percent approval rating – well above the national rate of 84 percent.

One of USC’s earliest accounting graduates, Craig McCulloch, is now a partner at Sunshine Coast accounting firm Poole Group, and said the results reflected his experience in employing fellow USC alumni.

“We have always found the graduates from USC have been able to quickly apply the skills and knowledge gained during their study directly into the workplace,” he said.

“They have always easily transitioned into our accounting practice, and their technical knowledge has been of a high standard.”

In recognition of this, Poole Group has been supporting USC accounting students through a scholarship since 2005.

Another local business that highly values USC graduates is Q Advertising (QA) in Maroochydore, which has employed six former students over the past few years.

In 2014, QA partnered with USC’s School of Communication and Creative Industries to offer the annual Queensland Advertising Communications Bursary, which gives a third-year student $2,000 to assist in establishing their career once they leave university.

Director Peppi Bueti said QA saw the bursary as a way to give back to the community and play a positive role in the future of the advertising, marketing and public relations sector in the region.

“Further to the financial incentive, we decided to also offer the opportunity for the winning student to participate in work experience with us,” he said.

“The goal is to expose them to the real-life workings of an advertising and public relations agency, and to develop and utilise the skills they have already learnt.”

The inaugural bursary recipient was Communication graduate Bridget McCulloch, who was quickly offered a permanent role. After 18 months with QA, she has since gone on to work for Facebook in Silicon Valley and on the Australian rollout of global online food delivery platform Uber Eats.

Peppi said the QA team couldn’t be prouder of Bridget’s accomplishments in such a short time, and feel honoured that they were able to contribute to and assist in her career journey.

Fellow bursary recipient and Design and Communication graduate Amanda Bear also impressed, securing a full-time role as QA’s Account Coordinator before her work experience was complete.

Peppi said the team was excited to see what future graduates could bring.

“It’s a commitment we are very proud of, and we look forward to enhancing the relationship and offering new opportunities in the future.”

ICT graduate rated one of the best students in Australia

By Tom Snowdon

A USC graduate from China who produced a video aimed at inspiring others to pursue their dreams has been named as one of Australia’s top students.

Michael Lin Liu, 26, (pictured right) took out the Information Technology and Computer Science category in Pearson’s 2017 Student of the Year awards, coming in runner-up overall behind a student in the Nursing category.

“I’ve been wanting to apply for this award for the past two years, but I had to wait because it was very competitive,” Michael said. “I needed to get better, so I spent a lot of time developing myself.

“The reason I entered was because I wanted to inspire other students to work hard.”

Michael, who was one of more than 3,000 international students studying at USC last year, had only a basic understanding of English when he arrived on the Sunshine Coast to study three years ago.

“When I came to Australia I didn’t even have good English,” he said. “I was really struggling and I thought I would not survive.

“But then I got better and better results and realised I could do more.”

In collaboration with USC senior ICT lecturer Dr Mark Utting, Michael went on to help create the Art Trail app, which won Sunshine Coast Regional Council’s annual HackFest competition late last year.

Dr Utting said Michael had worked hard to graduate with near perfect grades.

“Michael Lin Liu was an unusually dedicated student even in his first year at USC,” Dr Utting said.

“He did not have any computer programming background, and found some aspects of the first ICT courses quite difficult, so he asked to attend an extra workshop each week to get more practice and feedback about his programming until he improved.”

Master ICT with new degree

USC’s new Master of Information and Communications Technology is designed to boost your career prospects with high-level ICT skills, including data analytics, data science engineering, data and process management, domain knowledge and research methods. It’s a two-year program offered in the heart of Brisbane at USC’s South Bank campus. Find out more at usc.edu.au/mict

Nominate an outstanding USC graduate

Want to celebrate someone who has achieved great things since their time at USC? Nominate them for the 2018 Outstanding Alumni of the Year Awards.

These awards recognise our graduates’ achievements in business, industry, sport, science, the arts, service to the community and more.

Categories include: 

  • Outstanding Alumnus of the Year
  • Alumnus of the Year, Regional Achievement
  • Alumnus of the Year, Rising Star

Nominations close Monday 2 July 2018.

For more information or to nominate go to usc.edu.au/alumniawards

SAVE THE DATE: 2018 USC Outstanding Alumni Awards — Wednesday 12 September

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 athletes shine at Commonwealth Games

After incredible performances at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games, USC-based athletes came away with 12 medals and a new world record.

Between them, they won five gold, three silver and four bronze in the swimming pool, on the cycling track and on the netball court.

On the first day of competition, Australian Cycling Academy (ACA) riders Leigh Howard, Kelland O’Brien and Sam Welsford partnered with teammate Alex Porter to win gold in the Men’s 4000m team pursuit, setting a new world record of 3.49.804.

The three cyclists, who are part of the ACA’s high performance under-23 racing team based at USC Sunshine Coast, told Cycling Australia that to set a new world record in their home country was a “dream come true”.

“We’ve had our eye on the medal for such a long time, and to go under 3.50 – for that to happen is unreal,” said Sam, who also won gold in the men’s 15km scratch race.

In the pool, USC’s high performance swimmers brought home seven medals, including two gold.

USC Spartan Leah Neale and her Australian teammates took out the women’s 4x200m freestyle relay and set a new Games record of 7.48.04, while Jake Packard’s breaststroke leg helped secure gold for the Aussie men’s 4x100m medley relay team.

Blake Cochrane and Ellie Cole each won a silver and bronze, while Daniel Fox and Logan Powell each took home a bronze.

USC’s final medals came on the last day of competition, when Sunshine Coast Lightning players Geva Mentor, Caitlin Bassett and Stephanie Wood took to the court for the gold-medal netball match between the England Roses and the Australian Diamonds.

Geva won gold for England, while USC student Caitlin captained the Diamonds to a silver medal, supported by her teammate Stephanie. Fellow Lightning player Karla Pretorius helped South Africa to a fourth-place finish.

Three USC-based coaching and support staff also took part in the Games.

USC Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Greg Hill said the athletes’ efforts were a source of pride for the University community, the entire Sunshine Coast and for the whole of Australia.

Social justice advocate and academic leader is USC’s new Deputy Vice-Chancellor

By Terry Walsh

Professor Tim Wess has been appointed USC’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic).

Professor Wess joined USC in June from Charles Sturt University in New South Wales, where he was Executive Dean of the Faculty of Science.

His previous academic roles in the United Kingdom have included Pro Vice-Chancellor of Cardiff University, Co-opted Council Member of the University of Wales, Newport, and the Head of School of Optometry and Vision Sciences at Cardiff University.

As DVC (Academic), Professor Wess has broad responsibility for the academic activities of the University.

He takes over this portfolio from Emeritus Professor Birgit Lohmann, who retired from her role as USC’s Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor in February.
Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Greg Hill said Professor Wess has a substantial track record of academic leadership both in Australia and in the United Kingdom, and expertise in governance, strategy and policy development.

As a scientist, Professor Wess’s research has focused on the characterisation of biomaterials using large-scale infrastructure, such as synchrotron and neutron sources. His recent work has included studying the change of biomaterials in the context of cultural heritage and archaeological research.

Social justice and equity have also been strong components of Professor Wess’s work in and beyond the higher education sector.

He is a member of the Athena SWAN SAGE National Advisory Group for gender equity in Australia, building on his experience with this group in the UK.

He also has a strong interest in languages, and recently completed a Graduate Certificate in Wiradjuri Language and Nation Building to support his work in raising awareness of Close the Gap initiatives, his personal studies toward cultural wellbeing through language reclamation, and as an advisor to cultural science projects with the NSW Office of Environmental Heritage.

USC appoints new leaders in business and social sciences

USC also recently celebrated the arrival of two new Heads of School.

Professor Lorelle Frazer, previously of Griffith University, has become USC’s new Head of School of Business, while Professor Ken Greenwood, previously of James Cook University, is the new Head of School of Social Sciences.

Professor Frazer is regarded as one of Australia’s leading franchising experts and scholars.

She plans to deepen USC’s relationships with the region’s businesses, particularly in tourism, and to build on the school’s popular business short course offerings.

Professor Greenwood plans to use the international experience he gained from previously working in Singapore to inform the teaching agenda at USC’s School of Social Sciences.

“We are creating global citizens, so our objective is to prepare students for the global community in which they will operate,” he said.

Professor Greenwood is a registered psychologist, member of the Australian Psychological Society, foundation member and fellow of the College of Health Psychologists and fellow of the College of Counselling Psychologists.

USC 1996 Society

The USC 1996 Society is a giving club that inspires conversations and action – not just about what is needed today, but about how philanthropists can shape and secure the future of higher education.

For more information about the USC 1996 Society contact Kate Evans on +61 7 5456 5136 or visit usc.edu.au/1996society

USC trials potential vaccine for coeliac disease

By Janelle Kirkland

USC’s Clinical Trials Centre has launched a clinical trial of a new vaccine that aims to improve the lives of those with coeliac disease by ‘switching off’ the immune response to gluten.

Coeliac disease is a serious chronic medical condition in which the ingestion of gluten, even in small amounts, leads to an immune response that causes damage to the small intestine.

Sufferers struggle with various gastrointestinal symptoms and, if untreated, face potentially serious complications. Currently, the only way to manage the disease is by the strict avoidance of gluten in the diet.

USC’s Clinical Trials Centre Director Lucas Litewka said the investigational vaccine would be given to trial participants as an injection twice a week for seven weeks. He said the trial would be conducted alongside gastroenterologist Dr James Daveson at the Clinical Trials Centre on Sippy Downs Drive, Sippy Downs.
Dr Daveson said a gluten-free diet was exceptionally demanding for patients, expensive and difficult to maintain as gluten was used extensively in modern food production.

“There is a real unmet need for therapies other than the gluten-free diet for some people with coeliac disease,” he said. “This is a very exciting potential new therapy that has been undergoing clinical trials for several years now.”

Dr Daveson said the investigational vaccine might potentially restore gluten tolerance in coeliac disease sufferers.

Join the trial

If you are aged between 18 and 70, have medically diagnosed coeliac disease and have been following a strict gluten-free diet for 12 months or more, you may be eligible for the trial. To find out more go to joinourtrials.com or phone (07) 5456 3797.

GDay — Giving feels great!

This year, USC’s Giving Day will be celebrated on Thursday 16 August.

Join with the USC community of alumni, friends, staff and students as we aim to transform lives through education by supporting students in financial need with Study Support Bursaries.

For more information contact the Development Office: development@usc.edu.au | +61 7 5430 1104

Citizen scientists make waves with climate change research

By Tom Snowdon

A team of surfing ‘citizen scientists’ are helping USC academics measure water temperatures in surf zones as part of a worldwide project to understand the effects of climate change.

The surfers have been using Smartfins to collect data in the coastal environment, including sea surface temperatures, which have been previously difficult to measure.

The USC research is part of an international collaboration with scientists from the acclaimed Scripps Institute of Oceanography in California, the Lost Bird Project, the Surfrider Foundation, and Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML) in the United Kingdom.

USC lead researcher and Lecturer in Animal Ecology Dr Kylie Scales said near-shore water temperature was an essential climate variable that had been largely uncharted.

“The east Australian current is warming up very quickly, which is influencing the distribution of marine life,” Dr Scales said.

“If we can monitor this important variable in the coastal ocean, then we can figure out with better precision what is happening in marine ecosystems.”

Dr Scales said satellites currently collected broad-scale marine data, including water temperatures, but there was poor coverage in coastal areas where the data are most needed.

USC Senior Lecturer in Physical Geography Dr Javier Leon said he hoped the Smartfins, which attach to a board through a Futures fin box, would plug that gap.

“If you tried to fill that gap one scientist at a time, it would never happen,” Dr Leon said. “We need lots of data from lots of surfers to improve the information available.”

Dr Scales said data, collected by boardriders, could be downloaded via an app using Bluetooth and shared worldwide with other scientists.

Free-surfing enigma and Patagonia Ambassador Dave Rastovich is already on board, using a Smartfin and encouraging partnerships among surfers, scientists and environmentalists.

News Bites

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

Fellowship to study horse therapy for Indigenous people 

USC researcher and social worker Dr Bindi Bennett has gained an Australia Awards – Endeavour Research Fellowship for Indigenous Australians to investigate the therapeutic benefits of the relationship between horses and humans. She will travel to the University of Denver’s Institute for Human-Animal Connection, where an equine therapy program helping Indigenous American students complete university has experienced major success.

Dr Bennett, from the Gamilaraay (or Kamilaroi) nation in Northern NSW, hopes to eventually tailor the program to help Indigenous Australians. She said that while Australia offers some equine therapy programs for different groups, she had not seen any programs specifically for Indigenous communities. “This fellowship will allow me to find someone who is doing it really well overseas, get a basis for what makes such a program so successful and gather the evidence to show that it is useful,” she said.

June Canavan scholarship helps Chloe chase OT career

New student Chloe Amarandos has been awarded a special USC scholarship that encourages women with leadership potential from the Fraser Coast and Gympie regions to study sport or health science. The aspiring paediatric occupational therapist from Hervey Bay received the $20,000 June Canavan Regional Scholarship to help with the cost of relocating to the Sunshine Coast to study a Bachelor of Occupational Therapy (Honours).

“This degree has been a dream of mine for many years, although the financial pressure of moving from a regional town to study was always in the back of my mind,” Chloe said.

“By receiving this generous bursary, I will be able to focus on my studies and achieve my best without worrying about the financial costs and pressures associated with university.” Introduced in 2017, the scholarship is in recognition of respected Sunshine Coast sports physician Dr June Canavan, who died in a plane crash in 2009.

Koalas’ chlamydia woes compounded by virus

Scientists from USC have discovered that a koala virus is putting the cuddly creatures at greater risk of chlamydia. Professor Peter Timms and Dr Bonnie Quigley found that koalas infected with koala retrovirus type B (in the same virus family as human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV) were more likely to also have chlamydia disease.

They were also more likely to have severe symptoms like conjunctivitis, urinary and reproductive tract infections, as well as have more cancers, than koalas without it. Professor Timms said the discovery presented new challenges for koala conservation in the wild, but was an important step in ultimately managing chlamydia, particularly in Queensland and Northern New South Wales wild koala populations where symptoms of the disease were more prevalent.

Moreton Bay campus design underway

USC has appointed architecture firm Hassell Studio to design the master plan and first building of its new Moreton Bay campus at Petrie.

The three-storey foundation building, which will feature a 600-seat internal amphitheatre, will sit at the western end of an extended open mall that will form the spine of the campus and stretch out to a village green and a library.

Hassell Studio principal Mark Roehrs said the building would include interactive spaces for peer-to-peer learning, and large, versatile lab spaces with advanced audio-visual technology. “During the life of the building, its use is going to change significantly and its configurations will change accordingly over time. This factor has dramatically affected the layout of spaces – so instead of desks in rows or traditional settings for lectures, we’ll have collaborative lecture theatres to allow for the didactic mode of teaching as well as collaboration.” Construction of the building is almost underway, with the campus due to open in Semester 1, 2020.

Nutrition graduate and academic wins award for fad-free food blog

A USC graduate-turned-academic who is working to bust myths around nutrition and food fads has won a national award for her witty, no-nonsense healthy eating blog. Associate Lecturer in Nutrition and Dietetics Tara Leong began writing her blog, The Nutrition Guru and The Chef, with her chef husband Jeff while completing USC’s Bachelor of Nutrition and Dietetics.

The couple now has more than 70,000 social media followers, and their blog – which aims to fight incorrect nutrition information online – was recently announced as the winner of the Healthy Eating category in the Bupa Blog Awards. “I am passionate about speaking out against food fads and encouraging people to just calm down when it comes to nutrition,” Ms Leong said. “Social media and the internet have a strong influence on people’s health choices, and unfortunately many social media accounts in the health space are run by those with no qualifications in nutrition.”

USC’s first Professor of Youth Mental Health sets goal

Professor Daniel Hermens has joined the Sunshine Coast Mind and Neuroscience Thompson Institute as USC’s first Professor of Youth Mental Health and Neurobiology. Professor Hermens, whose internationally-published findings have contributed to the treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and schizophrenia, aims to develop a world-leading research program examining the brain changes of adolescents, with the goal of preventing or better treating the early stages of mental illness.

“My program will aim to map the changes in the brain during its most dynamic periods – adolescence and young adulthood – to understand more about why the onset of mental disorders and substance use is so common in these periods,” Professor Hermens said. “Young people who participate in the research will receive feedback and information about their own brains, as well as how this relates to their thinking skills and resilience.”

Creative Writing graduate gains book deal 

USC Creative Writing graduate Tash Turgoose has secured a publishing deal for Makeshift Galaxy, an illustrated love story set in World War Two about a young couple forced apart by war yet determined to stay together. Ms Turgoose, who completed her Bachelor of Creative Writing in 2017 and is now studying an Honours program at USC, developed the story for an assignment that required students to create an illustrated book proposal to suit industry standards.

“That assignment, with just a few tiny tweaks, was the proposal that I sent to publishers, and it got me a book deal in less than a fortnight,” she said. “That the book has hardly changed since it was an assignment speaks a lot as to how USC’s degree focus is on real-world application and teaching students practical ways to advance their careers.” Makeshift Galaxy was launched in print and online in January by Canberra-based publisher Odyssey Books.

Learn a new language at USC

USC is offering language short courses to suit a range of different skill levels and aspirations. Taught by accredited, practicing school teachers, courses include beginner and elementary Chinese (Mandarin), Japanese, Spanish, French, Italian and German. The eight-week courses provide opportunities to build skills by interacting and speaking with native speakers on a regular basis. For more information on these courses and other community courses on offer visit usc.edu.au/keeplearning

Biomedical Science delivers Tyson’s dream of being a doctor

By Janelle Kirkland

A Bachelor of Biomedical Science from USC has helped deliver Tyson Pardon into the maternity ward of a South African hospital on his journey to becoming a doctor.
The 2013 USC graduate has gone on to study a Doctor of Medicine at Griffith University at the Gold Coast, and recently completed a clinical placement at the busy Mowbray Maternity Hospital in Cape Town.

“My highlight so far has been a clinic that I was able to attend in a township called Gugulethu,” Tyson said. “I loved this because we were able to assist patients who were too poor to travel to hospital to have their babies.

“Every caesarean I have been able to assist in has also been amazing, particularly the twin deliveries, and managing postnatal complications has also been very interesting. The ladies are always incredibly grateful and lovely to deal with, which has made the experience such a joy.”

Tyson, 29, said his decision to start studying at USC occurred five years after he finished school at Noosa District State High School.

“I did some hotel work, mining exploration and excavating work. I decided that I really wanted a job that was focused on helping people,” he said.

“I had always enjoyed science, so decided that was a good starting point and it was later, during my biomedical degree, that I decided to carry on to study medicine.”

The Bachelor of Biomedical Science is one pathway available at USC to those who want to study medicine. Another was introduced this year in the form of a Bachelor of Medical Science, which has provisional direct entry into Griffith University’s Doctor of Medicine.

USC Vice-Chancellor and President’s Diversity and Inclusion Awards

Want to SHOUT OUT about a fantastic USC graduate, student or staff member who has made a demonstrable commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion?

Nominations now open for the USC Vice-Chancellor and President’s Diversity and Inclusion Awards. Up to six awards available. Self-nominations accepted. Nominations close 1 July 2018. Find more information at usc.edu.au/diversityawards 

Golden orb spiders spinning key to new synthetics

By Janelle Kirkland

The common Australian golden orb spider may be spinning the key to new super-tough synthetic materials and surgical products.

USC Honours researcher Genevieve Kerr (pictured below) has tested the silk of garden-variety golden orb spiders and that of their much larger cousins found in Australian rainforests, and believes what she has found could transform the future of synthetic materials.

“The Australian golden orb’s silk could be used as a baseline for creating synthetic products possibly up to 100 times tougher than those used today,” Genevieve said.

“Synthetics based on spider silk could be far tougher than what surgeons use at the moment for ligament reconstruction, skin grafts and sutures, all of which have limited lifespans.

“Spider silk also has biocompatible properties so, in theory, your body won’t reject it.”

Genevieve and a small team used a stress-testing machine to test the tensile strength of the spider’s silks, measuring the force required to break it.

“We found that golden orb spiders produce particularly tough silk and the larger spiders from the rainforest, which can grow up to 20cm in diameter, produce the strongest yet thinnest silks,” she said.

“The natural product is just amazing, but spiders can’t be farmed like a silk worm because the spiders just eat each other.”

Genevieve said her study showed that it would be worthwhile to investigate the molecular structure of the silk with the goal of replicating it artificially.

The last word

Suzanne Volejnikova-Wenger
Suzanne holds a Bachelor of Nursing Science (2017) and Bachelor of Nursing Science (Honours) (2018), and works as a registered nurse in country community care. Her clinical work provides insight into the importance of environmental safety and hazard assessments on a daily basis. Suzanne is passionate about health education interventions — the focus of her honours thesis — including simulation and serious games, with a focus on student perspectives and their impact on learning. Suzanne is Chair of the USC Nursing and Midwifery Alumni Network, Chairperson of the Australian College of Nursing Queensland Central Region, and an Australian College of Nursing Emerging Nurse Leader.


I grew up in… A small farming village in Switzerland.
When I was a kid I wanted to be… A nurse with a white cap.
My first job was… At 16, as a nursing assistant. I lived in an attic room in the hospital.
Now I spend my days… Nursing and studying.
I can’t live without… Utilising my respiratory tract and cardiovascular system.
My proudest moment was… My proudest moments always involve my family.
The best advice I’ve been given is… Recently, at my second Graduation, in the graduate speech by a paramedic: Pause-Plan-Proceed.
In other people, I value… Honesty, integrity and kindness.
It’s daggy, but I love… My family.
I’m currently reading/watching… Eli Wiesel’s Night.
My hidden talent is… I can play the smallest wooden recorder called a Garklein or sopranissimo.
I’m hopeless at… I think my children would come up with a long list, but one I am aware of is ‘sitting still through a whole film’.
One day I’d love to… Oh, do so many things, but to build a small, cosy house would be wonderful.

USC ART GALLERY exhibitions

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

The Landscape. Abstracted.
17 May to 30 June

This exhibition brings together the work of three Sunshine Coast artists – Amy Clarke, Joseph Daws and Thom Stuart – who all explore the juncture between landscape and abstraction in their practice. For these artists, the natural and urban landscape is a powerful force of attraction and their work manifests an evocation of place that expands the definition of ‘landscape’ beyond the horizon line.

The Lady and the Unicorn: Arthur Boyd and Peter Porter
6 July to 18 August

This exhibition presents the 24 etchings produced by Arthur Boyd that respond to Porter’s reinterpretation of the 16th century tale of a unicorn left off The Ark in the Biblical Great Flood. A Bundanon Trust touring exhibition.

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.

Rise, and shine starts here. OPEN DAY


USC Fraser Coast—Saturday 23 June 10am-1pm
USC Sunshine Coast—Sunday 22 July 9.30am-2pm 
USC Caboolture—Sunday 5 August 10am-1pm

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