Undergraduate Research Conference Previous Events

Congratulations to the winners of the 2021 Undergraduate Research Conference.

2021 winners

  • Best overall presentation

    Jason Huynh, Patrick Capaldo and Daniel O'Connor
    Faculty of Engineering, Computer and Mathematical Sciences, School of Mechanical Engineering

    Extending Sensor Capabilities with Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

    The capability to develop an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) to communicate with, and transport, varieties of small sensors allows for increased sensing flexibility over conventional, large, and cumbersome sensor platforms in terms of range, positioning, and cost. It is therefore desired to develop a UAV-sensor system to collect and relay information to a central analysis station. One potential application may involve utilising numerous expendable individual sensors placed to form a versatile sensing coverage capability. This would allow for faster, more accurate bushfire monitoring in order to identify affected areas and predict bushfire spread. 

    The UAV’s physical specifications and the ability to transport a sensor payload were benchmarked against existing designs, and the communication system was prototyped through electronic experimentation and computer programming. Flight demonstrations will verify the aerial payload transportation capability. Using an integration-driven approach, commercial-off-the-shelf components will be assembled to deliver the desired capabilities.

    Preliminary results indicate the proposed design’s suitability to address the problem. Initial testing suggests that a Bluetooth communication approach minimises cost and maximises sensor versatility. Through the utilisation of flight simulation software, UAV performance is benchmarked thus improving confidence in its safety and reliability. Further developments are being investigated in the physical implementation of the UAV and in the refinement of the aforementioned existing findings.

    This UAV-sensor system’s integration of commercially available components suggests the feasibility of a low cost solution to the bushfire monitoring problem. The modular nature of these sensors also allow for further applications in the medical, defence, and humanitarian realms.


  • Most outstanding presentation from the Faculty of Arts

    Nicholas Herriot
    School of Humanities

    "The Best Way to Help Vietnam is to Make Revolution in Your Own Country": South Australian Student Radicalism in the Long 1960s

    Australian student activists are rarely considered part of the political upheavals that engulfed the world during the ‘long 1960s’. Yet, by the early 1970s, Flinders University had acquired a nationwide reputation as a hotbed of rebellion. My research identifies a significant opportunity to present new information about the local, national and international dimensions of political radicalisation at a South Australian university.

    Despite enduring popular interest in the 1960s, few histories of Australian student activism during this period have been written. My research seeks to re-centre students and their revolutionary politics in South Australian history. As a new suburban institution lacking established traditions, Flinders University provided a unique backdrop for the emergence of protest and dissent. I aim to test the extent to which local activists can be drawn into a transnational narrative of Sixties radicalism. In what ways did local students encounter international rebellion and how did they ‘translate’ global ideas into local actions? Preliminary findings suggest that overseas rebellions, particularly anti-imperialist struggles in Vietnam and China, were a key reference point for activists at Flinders.

    Students made extensive use of the written word to gain influence and express their globally conscious ideas. My project draws extensively from print culture from this period. But yellowing leaflets in an a library archive can only go so far in constructing an account of political radicalisation from the perspective of participants themselves. A key part of this project is the important task of recording oral history interviews with former student activists.


  • Most outstanding presentation from the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences

    Natalie Tuckey 
    School of Psychology

    Using an international online forum to explore perspectives of Caregivers of patients with chronic kidney disease.

    Burden is a major concern for caregivers of patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD). Online forums provide an important platform for peer connection and expression of perspectives and concerns, but have not been used in research about consumer experiences. Previous research has addressed the psychosocial impacts for patients living with CKD, however, psychological and physiological impacts on the patient’s caregivers have been overlooked. Social support can improve caregivers’ quality of life, with emerging research exploring online social support.

    This study employed qualitative content analysis to examine 159 posts on an online international forum: Caregivers of Patients with Kidney Disease. This study examined the experiences and concerns raised by caregivers of patients with CKD.  Posts were coded using verbatim words and phrases, then arranged into 12 categories, and 71 sub-categories. Results: The 12 categories were grouped into three themes: Caregiver wellbeing impacts, Use of online social support and Caregiver knowledge.  Psychological and physical challenges for caregivers of patients with CKD include social isolation, helplessness and the impact to paid employment. Participants used online social support to connect with peers and seek advice from the forum community on topics including: the patient’s diet; clinical management; CKD symptoms; and how to support the patient to adhere to diet and medications.

    This study provides valuable insight into gaps in caregiver knowledge and their need to seek online peer support. Caregiver forums can inform support strategies from healthcare professionals to increase caregiver involvement in treatment and education options, as well as tangible assistance to support caregivers’ and patients’ needs such transportation services for dialysis.


  • Most outstanding presentation from the Faculty of Professions

    Shannon Campbell - Adelaide Law School, and
    Zoe Chandler - Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences

    “That’s just like, your expert opinion, man:” Evaluating the Credibility of Expert Evidence in Legal Context

    The admission of expert opinions carries significant evidentiary value to assist the justice system. Recent research has revealed expert evidence is seldom supported by scientific rigor, and without requisite expertise to scrutinise, judges and juries presume such evidence is credible. Concerningly, each discipline defines credibility differently, preventing credibility from being translated between fields. Therefore, this research builds upon scientific and legal notions of expert credibility by comparing formal definitions with perceptions of lay people to create a uniform expert credibility assessment standard. This study aimed to encourage transparency of forensic evidence and to examine to what extent popular beliefs about expert credibility are reflected by scientific and legal notions of credibility.

    To do this, participants (n=142) were surveyed to first state characteristics of credible experts (n=426), then rate 36 variables in order of importance. The ranked variables were reduced into 4 broad factors (reliable, rigorous, overconfident, underconfident). Three examiners compared the qualitative responses with these variables. These results are largely consistent with theoretical notions of credibility. ‘Reliability’ was the most influential factor on expert credibility with transparency being the most valuable characteristic.

    Based on our findings, a credibility assessment tool containing 14 items was created. This tool reduces discrepancies in definitions of ‘credibility’ by incorporating scientific, legal and general understandings of reliability into a single assessment. This encourages transparency and allows for in-depth scrutiny of expert evidence. Additionally, this study allows for a general understanding of public perception on expert credibility to use as a baseline for future research. 


  • Most outstanding presentation from the Faculty of Sciences

    Jessica Turner and Narelle Jones 
    School of Animal and Vet Science

    Cold-blooded but not Unfeeling - Welfare Assessment in Reptiles

    Welfare assessment tools are used in zoos to monitor animal welfare. Reptiles are increasingly being held in zoos, however, the majority of assessment tools developed are primarily focused on mammals with little research existing on reptile welfare assessment. Current tools use a combination of measures including resource-based measures and animal-based measures, with the latter being comparatively under investigated.

    The project aims to develop and validate a reptile specific welfare assessment tool and compare the outcome with that generated by generic assessment tool through observational studies of 5 Tortoise collections (n=20) across 2 locations. 17 animal-based indicators were identified as having potential for inclusion in a tortoise-specific welfare assessment tool through expert consultancy. These indicators were collated, and a pilot study (n-4) was used to develop a testable prototype.

    Welfare scores will be generated using the proposed tortoise- specific assessment tool and the currently implemented generic assessment tool. Inter-rater-, test re-test reliability and the ability of the tool to identify changes in behaviour following an enclosure upgrade will be examined to assess validity. It is expected that the use of reptile specific indicators will produce an assessment tool that is more sensitive to changes in behaviours indicative of the welfare of captive tortoises when compared to the use of non-reptile-specific assessment tools.

    A validated reptile-specific welfare assessment tool will provide a foundation for future research with the aim of improving the welfare of captive reptiles by improving the accuracy of Zoological welfare assessments.


  • Most outstanding presentation from the Faculty of Engineering, Computer and Mathematical Sciences

    Bridget Smart 
    School of Mathematical Sciences

    How the online landscape impacted events during the 2021 Capitol Riots

    Online social networks are increasingly becoming an influencing factor in how the public are reacting to and forming opinions around topics from politics to public health.  Understanding how we can better capture and understand behaviour online is key to developing strategies which counteract malicious activity, ensuring productive dialogue in our online communities, and supporting cybersecurity and transparency in online social networks.

    This work develops a strategy to identify patterns of behaviour online, gauging public opinion and response to events both internal and external to the online network. In Washington, on the 6th of January 2021, a riot occurred aiming to prevent the counting of the Electoral College votes, with rioters eventually breaching the Capitol Building. Using 1.8 million Tweets from the day containing the keyword 'trump', we are able to identify several key events throughout the day, isolating their impact on the online social network.

    This work uses a combination of existing techniques to achieve these aims. Sentiment analysis is used to quickly analyse the large volume of qualitative data, identifying users which drive emerging sentiments toward key events and topics. These insights are combined with network analysis tools to provide a robust framework for identifying users and events which lead responses to events and changes in the topic of discussion from across the day.

    This work is the first step toward developing a framework to identify sources of influence online, capturing features which contribute to the success of phenomena including disinformation campaigns and "echo chambers".


  • Best online poster presentation

    Amy Lu
    Faculty of Sciences, School of Biological Sciences

    The Secret Life of Poo: A Study of Kangaroo Island Echidna Health After the 2019-20 Bushfires

    In 2019 and 2020, Kangaroo Island experienced the largest bushfires in its history - putting the iconic and endangered local echidna subspecies at risk and in need of a bushfire recovery plan. Although echidnas are generally well adapted to bushfires, the severity of the 2019-20 event on the already threatened population left unknown consequences for this iconic Australian species.

    Previous studies have shown that gut bacteria have a strong influence on the health and fitness of animals. This study specifically looks to address the impact of the bushfires on the health and wellbeing of echidnas. To do this, echidna scats (faeces) were collected before and after the fires by researchers and citizen scientists through the project EchidnaCSI. Scats underwent DNA extraction and bacterial DNA was targeted, sequenced and identified. The results reveal a dramatic shift in bacterial communities seen in scats after the fires in comparison to before the fires. The change in bacterial communities is likely related to the destruction of echidna habitat and food sources as a result of the fire, where the altered gut environment may impact on echidna health through loss of beneficial bacteria.  This is the first study to assess bushfire impacts on the gut microbiome for any mammal species.

    The results provide preliminary research to determine the impact of bushfires on echidna health. Future work will focus on the long-term impacts of gut microbiome changes in echidnas as bushfire recovery continues, in order to aid in conservation efforts for the Kangaroo Island echidna.


All other student presentations can also now be viewed.

Previous winners

  • 2020

    This event was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

  • 2019


    University (Division of Academic and Student Engagement) prizes

    Sponsorship for the following students to attend and present at the Australasian Conference of Undergraduate Research 2019 (ACUR) from 2-3 October, 2019 at the University of Newcastle          

    Category Winners
    Individual Oral Presenter Nathan Jones
    Pop Psych: The Impact of Music and Lyrics on Emotion
    Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences
    Group Oral Presenters  Bill Voss and Vaibhar Sekhar
    Fingerprinting Radio Transmitters using Artificial Intelligence
    Faculty of Engineering, Computer and Mathematical Sciences

      Faculty prizes - best individual oral presentation

      Faculty Winners
      Arts    John Swan
      Willy Brandt's Contribution to Peace
      Health and Medical Sciences    Sheldon Patterson
      Are Political Extremists More Conspiratorial?
      Engineering, Computer and Mathematical Sciences Taylor Simpson
      If you want to catch the worm, you'd better be the early bird - Acceleration Only Based Control for Intercepting a Highly Maneuverable Target
      Professions    Yee Ting Choi
      History and Social issues of Chinese infant formula crisis
      Sciences Carolyn Mitchell
      Gender fog: An investigation into sex prevalence in cognitive decline in a juvenile rat model of chemotherapy - induced cognitive impairment.

      2019 event photos

      2019 Keynote Speaker - Natalie Wade

      Natalie Wade is the Founder and Principal Lawyer of Equality Lawyers, a law firm focused on everyday legal services for people with disabilities, their families and supporters.

      Natalie graduated from the University of Adelaide in 2012 with a Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Adelaide. Read her keynote address  .

    • 2018

      University (Division of Academic and Student Engagement) prizes

      Sponsorship for the following students to attend and present at the Australasian Conference of Undergraduate Research 2018 (ACUR).

      Category Winners
      Individual Oral Presenter Appurya Raaj
      Group Oral Presenters  Tim Porter - Team Lead

        Faculty prizes - best individual oral presentation

        Faculty Winners
        Arts Emily Chambers
        Health and Medical Sciences Ryan Pham
        Engineering, Computer and Mathematical Sciences Charlie Tran
        Professions James Morgan
        Faculty of Sciences Max Peters

         2018 event photos