NBERC News - August 2018

Welcome to the first Newsletter of the Natural and Built Environments Research Centre (NBERC) at the University of South Australia. NBERC has been operating since 2016 and is a very multidisciplinary centre with two commercial research units (see below for more details), and four diverse research strands:

  • Sustainable Infrastructure and Built Environments
  • Water and Natural resources
  • Environmental Stewardship (incorporating the Discovery Circle)
  • Natural and Built Environments Education

NBERC researchers are very keen to engage with and provide research support to external partners; industry, businesses, governments and non-government organisations. The purpose of this Newsletter is to let you know about some of our recent activities, upcoming events and to provide profiles of a few staff.

You have received this Newsletter because you have signed up to the Friends of NBERC page or because someone has forwarded it to you.  Please click on the "Friend of NBERC' link below if you’d like to receive Newsletters directly. Our Newsletter is a work in progress so we’re happy to take any feedback or suggestions of things you’d like to know about us for future editions. I hope to see some new faces at some upcoming NBERC events – you can expect a warm welcome.

Peter Teasdale
NBERC Director

 Feel free to share our link for others to register and become a ‘Friend of NBERC

Featured in this edition

We hope you find this information useful and if you have a suggestion on any additional features you would like to see, please email us at nberesearch@unisa.edu.au

Environmental Stewardship

 What happens to the forest when a cyclone hits?

Category-4 Cyclone Tomas was the most intense storm to hit Fiji since 1972, and Annette Scanlon was in it.  After 12 months of work in a rainforest of Vanua Levu, she lost her hut, but not her resolve. 

Another 12 months in this post-cyclone environment allowed her to collect unique data evaluating the impacts of the cyclone on more than 3,000 individual forest plants from almost 200 different species, including those used by flying foxes.  These bats are vital to the health of the rainforest because they pollinate and disperse plants.

Although the cyclone reduced the productivity of many plants, it was not all bad.  “For some species, flowering was triggered by the cyclone. For others, the pollination rate increased after the cyclone because of less competition with more palatable, but susceptible species, such as lilly pillies (Syzygium)” Annette said.

She added that understanding the resilience of forests to cyclones is important in light of climate change increasing their frequency and intensity.

The comparison of primary and secondary forests indicated that undisturbed forests have greater species richness, implying a greater diversity of survival strategies than in disturbed forests. 

The paper, co-authored by her then Ph.D. supervisor and two colleagues from the South Pacific Regional Herbarium, was published recently in Global Change Biology, a journal ranked first for Biodiversity Conservation. 

Scanlon AT, Petit S, Tuiwawa M, Naikatini A. 2018.  Response of primary and secondary rainforest flowers and fruits to a cyclone, and implications for plant‐servicing bats. Global Change Biology 2018;00:1–16.


Image: A Scanlon’s research assistant next to the base of a tree uprooted by Cyclone Tomas.

Credit: Annette Scanlon


Image: The flowers and fruits of the Freycinetia plant are sturdy and storm-resistant, so represent important resources in forests. Bats feed on the stinky, fleshy flower bracts, pollinate the flowers, and disperse the plants’ seeds.

Credit: Annette Scanlon

Image: The bat Pteropus Samoensis relies on forest habitat and is an important pollinator and seed disperser.

Credit: Annette Scanlon

Digitally enabled reuse of building components

NBE Leads ARUP Funded Research

A team led by NBE is continuing its collaboration with ARUP on its Global Research Challenge Project, after winning this prestigious grant in 2017. The project aims to deliver a ‘Cloud-based Platform’ that will enable building components to be reused and exchanged multiple times in the same or different projects. It also utilises real-time data transfer between physical components and virtual models so that their history, properties and performance can be tracked – much like ‘virtual twins’ used for monitoring the performance of jet engines. This is complemented by an innovative ‘products as service’ business model, where providers manage, repair and update components over their life cycle.

Led by Adjunct Associate Professor David Ness, the team includes Dr Ki Kim and Mr John Gelder of NBE, with Dr Ke Xing (Eng) and Mr Adam Jenkins (ITMS). The team is also collaborating closely with Mr Nick Roach of ARUP’s Adelaide office and research partners including the Collaborating Centre for Sustainable Consumption and Production (Germany), Prof Walter Stahel (founder of ‘circular economy’, Geneva), buildingSMART Australasia and Dr John Swift of Prismatic Architectural Research, Adelaide. With the cooperation of Spotless FM and Mr Chris Penn, a part of the new Royal Adelaide Hospital (nRAH) is being used as a case study.


‘Exploded’ Building Information Model (BIM) illustrating potentially reusable components (Dr Ki Kim)

Extract of BIM for nRAH (Dr Ki Kim, with thanks to Mr Chris Penn, Spotless FM and nRAH)

In addition, with the support of Research Assistant He He, interviews are also being conducted with key stakeholders including users, designers, manufacturers, owners, investors and facility managers. This is enabling development of the ‘products as service’ business model and business case.

The team expects to demonstrate ‘Proof of Concept’ at a presentation to ARUP on 16 May, with the final project outcomes to be delivered by mid December 2018.

The project is expected to revolutionise the building industry, not only deriving more value from built resources by their reuse, adaptation and life-cycle stewardship (thus reducing resource use, GHG emissions and waste), but also creating new business opportunities in the service sector. It is consistent with South Australia’s pursuit of a ‘circular economy’, where the built environment is a key sector.

Further information: Dr David Ness on 8302 1821 or 0401 122 651



NBERC Activity

NBE Education
Dr Paul Corcoran presents…

Between 18-23 March 2018, Dr Paul Corcoran was invited to visit the Dasman Diabetes Institute in Kuwait city to discuss possible teaching & research links in relation to their new Grad Diploma in GIS and Health and also present 2 Teaching and Learning seminars on Blended and Flipped learning entitled “Re-imagining the Teaching space’, the first at Kuwait University and the second at Kuwait’s Public Authority for Applied Education and Training.

At the end of his trip, he was presented with the following video (by his former PhD student and tutor who looked after him royally, and took all the drone footage you’ll see …!!!)

Dicovery Circle Update

Adjunct Research Fellow, Dr Philip Roetman

During February, the Discovery Circle hosted the second conference of the Australian Citizen Science Association at City West campus. The three-day conference attracted over 250 delegates with over 150 talks, including addresses from the Chief Scientists from Australia (Dr. Alan Finkel) and South Australia (Dr Leanna Read). Dr Finkel’s speech has been published through The Conversation. The conference was a great success, with delegates from the all over Australia, USA, Europe, Israel, NZ and Africa. We held a public lecture, co-hosted by the Hawke Centre, MCd by Jessica Harmsen (ABC News) and featuring two inspirational colleagues, Caren Cooper (North Carolina State University) and Amy Sterling (MIT). More information is available here

Breaking EGS - Success Again!

Mark Stevens followed the rules and dressed Fijian for the presentation of his seminar.Breaking EGS seminars aim to engage undergraduate students and give them a chance to meet others in the disciplines, outside of the classroom. They also represent an opportunity for researchers in the Environmental Stewardship strand of the School’s research centre to hear about new research, develop collaborations, and meet students. These events take place 4 times per year and are organised by Associate Professor S. Topa Petit.

On the 9th of March, announcements and news were followed by two short talks by Ecology students from 2017, who presented the research they undertook on the camp.

Mollie Pearson and Stuart Howell:  What is the differences in underground biomass of bridal creeper (Asparagus asparagoides) among three different vegetation communities at Cullen Reserve, Robe, South Australia.

Samantha Donnell, Eva Borges Pereira, and Alyse de Souza:  Is the number of Portuguese millipedes related to soil moisture at Cullen Reserve?

The final presenter was Associate Professor Mark Stevens, Senior Research Scientist at the South Australian Museum and an affiliate at UniSA, specialising in terrestrial invertebrate research.  He presented his work on the diversity of bees in Fiji.  Just as well, since it was DRESS FIJIAN DAY!

Fifty persons attended the event, which concluded with joyful discussion over pizza.  We thank the speakers for their enthusiastic participation.

NBERC Spotlight


Dr Reza Hassanli

Lecturer in Structural Engineering

What do you like most about your job?

Teaching and research culture at UniSA is fantastic. People from different backgrounds work together very friendly and effectively.  I also like research because it makes my brain active day and night (which is sometimes not good because you also need rest)!

What is your background?

I am originally from Shiraz!  Shiraz is an ancient city in Iran which was famous for its special wine in old days.  I immigrated to Australia in 2011, and since then joined UniSA.  I am married 7 years now and have no kids. 

Do you have a favourite sports team, band or solo artist, if so who?

I do not have any favourite sport team!  I enjoy watching soccer and usually root for the team which is supposed to be the loser!  

My favourite artist is Mr. Shajarian who is a great Iranian Classical singer 

What is the most rewarding experience you’ve had in your job?

Contributing to the development of students and seeing their growth. 

When you are not at work, what are your interests?

I like hiking and bush walking if I find some free time, which is not usually the case 

I am also a fan of photography.   



Professor Peter Teasdale

NBERC Director and Professor of Environmental Sciences

What do you like most about your job?

I love the culture within NBERC and we make supporting this a priority with whatever we do. Also, the networking opportunities afforded to me by this role have been very important as a recent arrival to South Australia.

What is your background?

I am from Wollongong, a steel and university city surrounded by beautiful landscapes. I have lived in Sydney, England (Lancaster – well worth a visit) and the Gold Coast. I am married (25 years) with two daughters.

Do you have a favourite sports team, band or solo artist, if so who?

  • Saint George Illawarra Dragons (National Rugby League)
  • Bruce Springsteen

What is the most rewarding experience you’ve had in your job?

Assisting scientists to get a positive start in their careers.

When you are not at work, what are your interests?

Walking with my family and our pet dog, gardening, movies and good food.



Alicia Pollett

PhD Candidate, Environmental Sciences (Geology)

E-tutor, OUA and UniSA Online

What do you like most about your job?

The part I enjoy most about my PhD is the remote locations I am able to visit for fieldwork. These are places I most likely would have never seen without the opportunity of the PhD

What is your background?

I am from Adelaide and completed my undergraduate and honours at The University of Adelaide before moving to UniSA to undertake my PhD. 

Do you have a favourite sports team, band or solo artist, if so who?

My favourite sports team is the Adelaide Strikers (T20 Cricket)

One of my favourite bands is One Republic

What is the most rewarding experience you’ve had in your job? 

 Presenting my research at an international conference.

When you are not at work, what are your interests?

 I enjoy hiking and spending time at the beach.


Tim Golding

Team Leader: Technical Services

 What do you like most about your job?

 Myth busting structural testing

What is your background?

Trade (fitter) / Civil Engineering / Fisherman

Do you have a favourite sports team, band or solo artist, if so who?

Norwood Football Club
AC/DC and Ozzy Ozbourne

What is the most rewarding experience you’ve had in your job?

Working with and meeting international people from all over the world

When you are not at work, what are your interests?

Fishing, fishing, fishing


2018 HDR Student Update

Denotes FII/NBE HDR Student

Welcome to new HDR students commencing studies

Mr Isaac Ahenkorah

Ad/P Hiua Daraei

Mr Alexander De Vries Van Leeuwen

Ms Liwei Heng

Mr Mehdi Javadi

Mr Mohammad Karim

Mr Krishantha Kodituwakku Arachchige

Mrs Phuong Le

Mr Hussain Mustafa Shahzad

Mr Ahmed Sheta

Mr Christopher Wright

Mr Yachong Xu

Mr Helder Filipe Serra Cardeira

Miss Bianca Teng

Ms Phuong Do

Mrs Supriya Mondal

Civil Engineering, Masters by Research

Civil Engineering, Doctor of Philosophy

Environmental Science, Doctor of Philosophy

Civil Engineering, Masters by Research

Civil Engineering, Doctor of Philosophy

Civil Engineering, Doctor of Philosophy

Environmental Science, Doctor of Philosophy

Construction Management, Masters by Research

Civil Engineering, Doctor of Philosophy

Civil Engineering, Doctor of Philosophy

Environmental Science, Doctor of Philosophy

Civil Engineering, Doctor of Philosophy

Construction Management, Doctor of Philosophy

Construction Management, Doctor of Philosophy

Environmental Science, Doctor of Philosophy

Civil Engineering, Doctor of Philosophy

Congratulations to all HDR students who have completed their Confirmation of Candidature

Mr Ali Al-Gemeel

Mr Nicholas Barnett

Miss Eline Baudett *

Mr Essam Eltayeb

Mr Wei Fan

Mr Md. Hossain

Mrs Jeanette Tan *

Civil Engineering, Doctor of Philosophy

Civil Engineering, Doctor of Philosophy

Minerals and Resources, Doctor of Philosophy

Civil Engineering, Doctor of Philosophy

Civil Engineering, Doctor of Philosophy

Civil Engineering, Doctor of Philosophy

Env. Science & Engineering, Doctor of Philosophy

Congratulations to the following HDR students who have submitted their thesis

Mr Muhammad Atikul Islam Khan *

Miss Lina Shi

Mr Gurwinder Singh *

Env. Science & Engineering, Doctor of Philosophy

Environmental Science, Doctor of Philosophy

Env. Science& Engineering, Doctor of Philosophy

Commercial Testing Facilities

Australia Flow Management Group

Need testing?  AFMG house a number of state-of-the-art research and testing facilities including:

  • Electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) testing
  • Radio Frequency (RF) immunity testing
  • Full-scale hydraulic testing (up to 510 L/s)
  • Physical hydraulic model studies
  • Irrigation equipment testing
  • Water meter testing and calibration
  • Valve type testing

Call us today on 8302 6760 or email AFMGenquiries@unisa.edu.au

SMAG – Specialised Testing & Research Unit

The SMAG - Specialised Testing & Research Unit was established in 1980 by a team of academics specialising in civil engineering. It provides specialised testing and industrial research services for industry, government agencies and individuals. Testing capability of SMAG includes the following:

  • Static and repeated loading of structures and structural elements (beams, columns, slabs, walls and cladding)
  • Creep testing of concrete for research purposes
  • Concrete properties including compression and tensile strength, absorption, permeability, carbonation and chloride content
  • Soil suction and permeability
  • Triaxial tests on soil and rock with pore pressure measurement

SMAG draws on expertise within the research hub located at UniSA’s Mawson Lakes campus to deliver independent specialist testing and research on structures, concrete technology and construction materials. The group provides geotechnical services to the wider community and industry.Recent research and development work has included projects with the City of Salisbury, Revolution Roofing, ElectraNet, Adelaide Brighton Cement and DPTI (Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure).

Call us today on 8302 5120 or email SMAGenquiries@unisa.edu.au

Upcoming NBERC Workshops

Click here to see the full NBERC program.








2pm - 5pm

Research Career Workshop

Prof Julie Mills & A/Prof Konstantinos Kirytopoulos




2pm - 4pm

NBERC Management Committee Meeting





2.30pm - 4pm

SIBE Strand Meeting

A/Prof Konstantinos Kirytopoulos




2pm - 3pm

Program Roadmap - a visual, interactive and self-regulating digital representation of the student learning Journey

Dr Paul Corcoran



Strategic and organisational map           

VisionNBERC will be internationally recognised for leading edge research knowledge and outcomes that contribute to sustainable:

(i) resource use and effective management of natural and modified environments
(ii) infrastructure and development of progressive built environments.

Mission: NBERC undertakes interdisciplinary research, specialist research training, educational scholarship and consulting projects that contribute positively to graduate employment, human societies and natural & built environments.

Click here for a copy of our vision and mission statement

Areas of study and research

+ Click to minimise