The University of South Australia’s Images of Research & Teaching Competition celebrates the breadth and diversity of our innovation, and the people who make it happen.

Our Ancient Animal Ancestors by Professor Tom Raimondo, UniSA STEM



2023 Images of Research and Teaching Competition winners and finalists

We would like to thank all those who submitted their entries for this year’s competition. Congratulations to the 2023 Images of Research and Teaching winners and finalists.

People’s Choice Winner

The Images of Research and Teaching 2023 People’s Choice Winner is Next Gen Bean Counters by Dr Mei Lim,


Beyond the Horizon of a Nano-World By Dr Paul Joyce

Beyond the Horizon of a Nano-World – 1st prize/research

Dr Paul Joyce – Research Fellow, UniSA Clinical & Health Sciences

Growing up, I remember being in awe of the universe. I could never comprehend its sheer size and complexity. It felt like there was an endless void of unanswered questions. It was only when I began researching nanotechnology that I realised life is just as complex at the nanoscale as it is on the grand, universe scale. This image that I captured of a tiny fat droplet perfectly summarises that for me. As you look closer at the tiny detail, you gain an appreciation for the complex and dynamic interactions that occur between each molecule. It is its own little world. Much like the universe, I can’t comprehend it’s scale and complexity.

At UniSA, we are using these tiny fat particles to deliver drugs to the body in a more effective and safer way. By understanding and controlling the complex interactions that occur at the nanoscale, we are able to optimise the way in which these new medicines work, presenting a new horizon for treating various diseases, including cancer, infectious diseases and mental health disorders.

Knowledge Sprouts By Kate Shierlaw

Knowledge Sprouts - 2nd prize/research

Kate Shierlaw – Bachelor of Contemporary Art, UniSA Creative

I wanted to use hot glass to embody the power of the ideas and knowledge that authors embed in books. The glass forms represent authors' research, imagination, ideas, knowledge, and energy emanating from books to spark new ideas, extend minds, and change lives. The different length and width of the forms signifies the myriad of different ideas that radiate from books. The work expresses the importance of research, and the privileges provided by literacy and education.

The glass components are created from hot glass cane, kilned formed, coldworked and sandblasted in the glass studio in the Dorrit Black Building. It is embedded in The Emergence of Man by John E. Pfeiffer.

Shining a light on cognition By Sophie Jano

Shining a light on cognition - 3rd prize/research

Sophie Jano – PhD candidate, UniSA Justice & Society

For decades, some have considered the brain to be a "black box" - information is received, and behaviours result, but we cannot directly infer the processes that occur inside. Neuroscience however, seeks to shine a light on the inner workings of the brain, so that we may better understand not only ourselves, but the world that we live in.

This image depicts the technique of electroencephalography (EEG), which measures electrical signals from the brain. In our lab, we use this to provide insight into cognition, in order to illuminate the mystery of the brain.


Acts of Becoming By Lauren Downton

Acts of Becoming - Finalist/research

Lauren Downton – Bachelor of Creative Arts (Honours), UniSA Creative

This image shows the close-up of a mass collection of textured porcelain components, forming part of a larger ceramic sculpture. These intricate pieces were created by experimenting with ordinary, everyday processes in the studio—such as scraping up excess clay for future reuse. Accumulating these forms into mass arrangements speaks to ideas of excess and one’s impact within their world. I use my creative practice as an area of enquiry and investigation to transform everyday gestures into novel artistic expressions. The coming together of many parts offers a consideration into how they interrelate and correspond; their capacity for new and endless potentialities. These intricate forms are an entry point to engage audiences in considering alternate future worlds and possibilities.

The Prototyper By Morgan Petrie

The Prototyper - Finalist/research

Morgan Petrie - Project Assistant, UniSA STEM

Juan Pieschacon's research explores how to make a training device for the correct hand technique for pipette dropping. There is a learning curve with getting down the right pressure and this device will help any novice have the correct form before going into a lab. This will help eliminate anyone from breaking or misusing the dropper. It is a blue tooth device and can be easily shipped anywhere in the world.

Crystal Stars Illuminate Hope for Parkinson's Disease By Deepa Nakmode

Crystal Stars Illuminate Hope for Parkinson's Disease - Finalist/research

Deepa Nakmode - PhD candidate, UniSA Clinical Health & Sciences

For those living with Parkinson's disease, the burden can be overwhelming. Taking medications multiple times, a day is extremely troublesome for patients, disrupting their daily routine and leading to many other issues. With our long-acting formulation, we aim to alleviate this burden by providing patients with a treatment option that reduces the need for frequent medications. In the picture, our drug molecules crystallized into stars that twinkle and shine with promise. These stars represent the hope and potential of our ongoing research efforts to combat the burden of Parkinson's disease. The stars in our photo are a visual representation of this hope, as we sustain their glow and promise through our formulation. With this research, we are not only improving the quality of life for those living with Parkinson's disease but also offering a glimmer of hope for a brighter future.

Rainbow on sunlit leaf By Kate Bailiht

Rainbow on sunlit leaf - Finalist/research

Kate Bailiht – Bachelor of Occupational Therapy, UniSA Allied Health & Human Performance

This photo explores the interplay between light, water, and foliage and the beauty of the leaf, a symbol of life and vitality.

Keeping house plants can bring numerous benefits to our living spaces and well-being. First and foremost, house plants enhance the aesthetic appeal of our homes, adding a touch of natural beauty to any room. Beyond their visual appeal, plants also contribute to better indoor air quality by filtering and purifying the air we breathe, absorbing harmful toxins and releasing oxygen. They act as natural air humidifiers, particularly beneficial in dry environments. Moreover, house plants have been shown to reduce stress, improve concentration, and boost mood. Their presence can create a calming and peaceful atmosphere, promoting relaxation and a sense of well-being.

The heroine’s journey By Lainie Anderson

The heroine’s journey - Finalist/research

Lainie Anderson – PhD candidate, UniSA Creative

In 1877, two-year-old Fanny Kate Boadicea Cocks joined her family on a 14-day journey by bullock cart from the mining town of Moonta to the red expanses of Quorn in the Flinders Ranges. "Katie's" father had taken out a loan on a farm, and hoped to forge a new life away from the copper triangle. But the land was north of Goyder’s Line, and the move was a disaster. The adversity that followed – the years of drought, a locust plague and ruinous debts – helped to shape a single-minded young woman who became the first policewoman in the British Empire employed on the same salary as men. I spotted this lonely bullock cart, much like the one Anthony Cocks would have used, on a field trip to Moonta and Quorn as part of my PhD creative research project. I was enchanted by this piece of South Australia's past – seemingly a tangible link to the life of Kate Cocks which I’m re-imagining in a historical fiction murder mystery.

A productive day in the lab By Meriam Shabbar

A productive day in the lab - Finalist/research

Meriam Shabbar – PhD candidate, UniSA Clinical & Health Sciences

Cell culture work is an integral part of research in the biology field and often is the foundation for many discoveries in cell biology. Working with live cells, like any living being, requires a lot of commitment, tending and nurturing to make sure the grow reproduce and age in the best possible way. This picture represents a productive day of cell culture and countless hours spent in the tissue culture room.

Precious isolation By Sandy Horne

Precious isolation – Finalist/research

Sandy Horne – Project Officer: Research, UniSA Business

Our research looked at the impact of Covid on residential settlement patterns in Australia. We determined that Covid-19 has resulted in a number of developments amongst the drivers of population change. Respondents who chose to live in regional areas frequently remarked on their quality of lifestyle and relative lack of restrictions during the time of lockdowns. This photo, taken at White Dam near Andamooka in South Australia, illustrates how much residents of this isolated place value their isolation.

2023 Winners - Teaching

Imagination: the loudest instrument in the room. By Ashley Thiele

Imagination: the loudest instrument in the room. – 1st prize/teaching

Ashley Thiele – Bachelor of Primary Education (Honours), UniSA Education Futures

Imagination is one of the most valued tools in a student's virtual school bag.

"If you can imagine it, you can achieve it. If you can dream it, you can become it." – William Arthur Ward

Next Gen Bean Counters By Dr Mei Lim

Next Gen Bean Counters – 2nd prize/teaching

Dr Mei Lim – Senior Lecturer, UniSA Business

I reflect on my own experiences as a student when devising teaching approaches and learning outcomes. Foremost in my approach is empathy with my students and focus on preparing them for lifelong learning and mastery in professional accountancy practice. Through the authentic assessments in my courses, I am instilling practical techniques for students to tackle real life situations. I want to provide students with an immersive and unique experience by bringing literature and practical skills together. Students count beans to achieve bigger goals. Dreams are constructed thanks to the culmination of many little insignificant steps, which, when combined, can lead to something much larger... ultimately employability and successful careers.

Adding a pop of colour to science teaching. By Nikita Parekh

Adding a pop of colour to science teaching. – 3rd prize/teaching

Nikita Parekh – PhD candidate, UniSA Clinical & Health Sciences

Although I'm still very junior in my teaching journey and am still a student myself, I love seeing my students engage with science to ultimately, get the best outcomes from the content being taught. It has not taken me long to see that teaching curriculum that engages your senses leads to the best learning experience for students. Here, a pop of colour in chemical reactions was all it needed for students to really engage and fall in love with chemistry. Teaching such content not only engages students, but also reminds me of why I fell in love with science in the first place!


Lost soles - shedding light on teaching foot ulcer management to podiatry students By Dr Helen Banwell

Lost soles - shedding light on teaching foot ulcer management to podiatry students – Finalist/teaching

Dr Helen Banwell – Senior Lecturer, UniSA Allied Health & Human Performance

In Australia, over 4,500 feet are lost each year due to diabetes-related foot disease. Foot ulcers precede 84% of these amputations. Podiatrists are skilled at foot ulceration management, including the use of scalpels to debride (or pare back) the non-viable tissue that develops over ulcers on the foot due to the thicker skin physiology. The teaching of these skills, however, can be challenging. For students, using a scalpel on people at increased risk of amputation is ‘the most feared’ podiatry-related task. As the first to introduce 3D printed foot models with simulated ‘ulcers’, UniSA now offers their students on-demand training and unlimited practice, all in a low-risk environment. With a measured impact of 40% increased student confidence in foot ulcer management, our graduates will be leading the way in reducing diabetes-related amputations.

A chandelier of 3D printed feet features in the Flex exhibition at MOD (Museum of Discovery) celebrates the simplistic beauty of this innovation. This image of the chandelier best represents the ‘lost soles’ taken by diabetes, but also ‘sheds light’ on the potential impact our podiatry students will have in preventing foot loss in the future.

"Human Devolution" By Sophia Zavlagkas

"Human Devolution" – Finalist/teaching

Sophia Zavlagkas – Bachelor of Design (Communication Design), UniSA Creative

How many times a day do people check their phones? How do you feel when someone comments on your photo? How much time do you spend on social media? Researching the effects social media has on the human brain is a new concept. It is also very personal. Every person in our lives is addicted or dependent on their mobile device and we are now uncovering the effects this might have on our brains.

Will social media be the cause of human devolution?

Making learning real By Kimberley Marden

Making learning real - Finalist/research

Kimberley Marden – APP Program Regional Tutor, UniSA Education Futures

Point Lowly Excursion - Making learning real

Our Ancient Animal Ancestors By Professor Tom Raimondo

Our Ancient Animal Ancestors – Finalist/teaching

Professor Tom Raimondo – Professor in Geology and Geochemistry, UniSA STEM

What did the dawn of life on Earth look like? How can we time travel 600 million years ago to meet our ancient animal ancestors? With the power of immersive virtual reality, the Project LIVE team at the University of South Australia have created a world-first reconstruction of the prehistoric seabed inhabited by the oldest forms of complex life on Earth – the Ediacaran animals. Discovered for the first time in the Ediacara Hills of the Flinders Ranges in 1946, and the centrepiece of a bid for UNESCO World Heritage recognition for this region, the fossils have been painstakingly modelled in 3D and brought to life as animated creatures roaming an almost unrecognisable subterranean landscape. And now Year 8 students across the nation will for the first time be learning about these internationally significant discoveries through a new teaching resource for the Australian Curriculum for Science, jointly developed by Project LIVE, the SA Science Teachers’ Association, the SA Department for Education and the Flinders Ranges Ediacara Foundation. Fossil education is now truly immersive – take a journey back in time and swim with the Ediacarans!

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