Science & Technology Research

UNE is internationally recognised and we're renowned for our research of particular significance to rural and regional communities. We are the nation's university of choice for research into regional issues of global significance.

Research strengths

The School of Science and Technology offers a unique combination of pure and applied sciences, encompassing physics, chemistry, human biology and physiology, molecular and cellular biology, mathematics, computer science, statistics, sports studies, exercise and sports science, and pharmacy.

Our staff contributes to a wide range of 'flagship' areas across of the University including environmental and rural sciences, health and medical science and education.

SMART — Sustainable, manageable, accessible rural technologies

Our School is committed to research and development around SMART Science and SMART Living.  We strive to initiate, and drive key multidisciplinary  research areas, hosting internationally recognised research around bioactive discovery in health and ageing, sports and exercise science, intelligent engineering, computing science and secure IT solutions, precision agriculture, spatio-temporal statistics, mathematical analysis and modelling, sensing  and processing technologies, neuroscience and animal behaviour, chemistry and molecular biology.

National broadband communications

And let's not forget the 'new kid' on the block: Australia's national broadband communications revolutionising the way we do research, increasing our ability to collect and transfer data, exchange that data and knowledge with external collaborators and stakeholders. The national broadband network enables us to get our knowledge and skills out to end-users through that all-important process of education, extension and outreach.

Our leadership in collaborative initiatives like C4D (Centre for Spatio-Temporal Analysis), the NBN-enabled SMART Farm, and online, 'far-end  control' science experiments for students are notable examples that reflect our key role in a university committed to 'learning without limits'.

Our research groups

Bioactive Discovery in Health and Ageing

The focus of the group is on the discovery of and research into bioactive compounds that can play an important part in human health and ageing, which falls within the National Research Priorities (Promoting and Maintaining Good Health).  Areas within the group are funded by the NH&MRC and Industry. Research areas include novel drug discovery programs for the treatment of cancer and diabetes, the role of antioxidants, dietary supplements and herbal extracts in improving health outcomes and the search for biomarkers linked with depression.

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Brain-Behaviour Research

The Brain-Behaviour Research Group is a collaboration of researchers from various backgrounds, who share an interest in understanding the links between overt and covert behaviour, brain processes and 'mental' disorders. Although several of the current research projects are concerned with basic biomedical issues and procedures, the overwhelming focus is upon the translation of the outcomes of these processes to clinical applications, particularly in mental health settings.

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Chemistry Research

UNE has a strong tradition of research and teaching in chemistry across the breadth of the discipline. We are proud that in the 2015 ERA (Excellence in Research Australia), chemistry at UNE was recognised as above world-class in macromolecular and materials chemistry.

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Computational Science

Computational Science is a multidisciplinary, young and exciting field. It can be thought of as a convergence of mathematical modelling, advanced computing and data analysis techniques for the understanding and solving of complex real-world problems. Unlike traditional approaches in science and engineering that depend heavily on theory and laboratory experimentation, computational science relies on high-performance computer simulation and other forms of computations, including numerical analysis and theoretical computer science, to come up with novel solution to problems found in various scientific disciplines.

Computational science research at UNE spans a number of related areas. We focus on intelligent vision systems and remote sensing technologies, differential equations and applications in science and engineering, individual-based and hybrid modelling approaches, computational neuroscience, machine learning, computational statistics and big data analytics.

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Industrial and Environmental Process Technology

The focus of the Industrial and Environmental Process Technology (IEPT) group is the application of fundamental principles of Physics and Chemistry to improve the economic and environmental effectiveness of processes of industrial interest. Our activities incorporate both strategic basic research aimed at elucidating mechanisms of importance in these processes and applied research directed towards specific process optimisation.

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Mathematical Analysis and Modelling

This group develops theoretical techniques through analytical as well as topological and algebraic tools, and apply the ideas and results obtained in the theoretical investigation to problems arising from a wide range of areas, including various important models in differential geometry and natural sciences (biology, chemistry, ecology, physics and rural sciences). The concrete problems we currently work on include the Chern-Simons model in condensed matter physics, the logistic and related models in population biology, and image reconstruction for diffraction and phase contrast tomography. Important problems in these applied areas serve as a key source of the topics for investigation by the group.

Research of this group has been supported by several ARC discovery grants and involves intensive collaboration with leading researchers around the world."

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Molecular Biology Research Group

The Research Group for Molecular Biology (RGMB) is a platform for multidisciplinary research utilising molecular biology to study areas of importance to human health, the environment, agriculture and industry. Our goals are to develop and maintain high quality, externally funded research projects, train postgraduate students in sound science using modern techniques and strengthen undergraduate teaching in molecular biology. The group has associated members from a range of academic areas within UNE and from other institutes in Australia and overseas. Our researchers and associates have expertise in Microbiology, Biochemistry, Biomedical Sciences, Genetics and Microbial Ecology.   Current projects range from bone biology and homeostasis to hormone production in plants, fungal pathogenicity or antibiotic production, crop health, soil microbiology and diseases of aquatic organisms. Plant science projects include hormone metabolism and its relationship to grain-fill in cereals during water and temperature stress. Microbiology projects include the investigation of important regulators in the filamentous fungus Aspergillus, the study of virulence factors of the black root rot fungal pathogen Thielaviopsis basicola, the development of microbial solutions to disease using biocontrol and biofertilisers in crop production as well as the application of probiotics in aquaculture. Since its establishment in 2003 the group has been running several projects externally funded by the Australian Research Council (ARC) as well as organisations such as the Cotton Cooperative Research Centre (CCC-CRC), Cotton Research and Development Cooperation (CRDC) and Australian Wool Innovation.

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Neuroscience and Animal Behaviour

The group conducts research over a wide variety of species (including domestic, exotic, avian and primate species) to answer questions of perceptual processing, communication, development and memory in animals, investigating interactions of brain mechanisms and behaviour.

In 2007/8, active research projects included perception (multi-modal and biological motion), cognition, vocal behaviour and development, brain lateralization, and social behaviour studied in a variety of animal species (dogs, horses, gibbons, marmosets, elephants, zebra finches, Australian magpies).

Pharmaceuticals and Nutraceuticals

This group constitutes a critical nucleus of researchers able to conduct bioactive discovery through isolation, characterisation and/or synthesis. The goal of the group is the identification of biological extracts (mainly plants) with the potential when suitably compounded (as ointments, lotions etc.) for commercial use as clinically useful nutraceuticals or for further development into drug therapies. By pooling our background disciplinary training, research experience and technical expertise we will exploit synergies that lead to a multidisciplinary approach to several areas offering novel and emergent opportunities with manifest commercial potential. A combination of backgrounds and allows  the isolation, characterisation and derivatisation of natural products which have historically provided most of the clinically effective drugs as well as acting as scaffolds for the development of partly or wholly synthetic pharmaceuticals. The capability to develop and conduct bioactivity screening is provided by the group's pharmacology, neurobiology, cell biology, physiology, endocrinology, microbiology and immunology expertise. By providing a focus with direct commercial potential, the proposed research group will act as a vehicle to integrate existing research strengths in chemistry, human biology and physiology and molecular and cellular biology with emerging opportunities in rural medicine and pharmacy and hopefully open up previously untapped funding opportunities.

Precision Agriculture

The Precision Agriculture Research Group (PARG) is a multi-disciplinary team of academic, research and technical staff engaged in the development and application of sensors and practices in precision agriculture. Our staffs come from diverse backgrounds and are based in numerous academic Schools across the university. The group, initially formed in 2002, runs numerous externally-funded research projects involving organizations such as the Cooperative Research Centre for Spatial Information (CRCSI), Grape & Wine Research & Development Corporation (GWRDC), Sugar Research and Development Corporation (SRDC), Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) and Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA). PARG is well equipped with some of the latest (including newly developed) sensors and positioning technology for conducting fieldwork. We are committed to industry-led research and research-led teaching. We value our extensive network of end-user collaborators and strive to maintain a line of sight to fit-for-purpose solutions. Our undergraduate, as well as postgraduate research students are exposed to the latest, as well as tried and true methodologies and technologies available for crop, pasture, and  more recently livestock management. UNE also offers Australia's only dedicated Graduate Certificate in Precision Agriculture.

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Read about our SMART Farm.

Smart Farm

SMART farm is UNE's research, education and outreach facility for UNE-led advances in agriculture research & development worldwide showcasing the latest on-site technologies.

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X-ray Physics and Imaging

Our research group's objective is to conduct internationally competitive research in the field of X-ray imaging. We specialise in the development of next generation imaging methodology, novel applications of existing methodology, and the creation of state-of-the-art X-ray image analysis algorithms. Topics actively pursued include X-ray phase-contrast imaging and tomography, coherent diffractive imaging, diffraction tomography, phase retrieval, small angle scattering, and image segmentation. With our collaborators we are also investigating applications in biomedical imaging, materials characterisation, non-destructive testing, and soil science. The techniques that we are developing have a wide range of applicability in many scientific and engineering areas.

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