Research and Industry projects

Semester AvailableContactTelephoneE-mailTitle or TopicDescription of ResearchAny prior knowledge or skills requiredType of research/methods
Semester 1, 2017Theresa Jones(0404) 406253theresa@unimelb.edu.auThe ecological impact of artificial night lightingInvestigations regarding the effect of artificial light at night. These can be conducted in the field on invertebrates or vertebrates (birds) or in the laboratory using invertebrate models (we currently look at spiders and a range of insects). Projects can include community level surveys exploring whether the presence of night lighting causes shifts in the abundance and composition of communities or an individual level approach exploring changes in key traits related to survival and reproductionRequires ecological knowledge and prior experience with animal systemsfield work - sites that vary in nighttime light intensity around Victoria. Sampling invertebrate abundance or monitoring individual species in their natural habitat either directly or using automated monitoring systems such as acoustic recorders

Lab work - invertebrate culturing, immune and reproductive assays, survival analyses.
Semester 1, 2017Professor Ruth Beilin()rbeilin@unimelb.edu.auIndigenous Protected Area management in southwest VictoriaRecognising that cultural and environmental flows are critical to the restoration of water in the farming landscapes of the basalt plains. The aim of this project is to work with local indigenous rangers to ascertain local practices that enable these values. Students will conduct in-depth interviews with local landholders, the IPA personnel and regional government and planners to build a rich understanding of how the environmental and colonial history of the landscape is shaping the 21st C livelihood aspirations of its managers. Qualitative social science research skillsInterviews, lit reviews, document analysis
Semester 1, 2017Stephanie Lavau()stephanie.lavau@unimelb.edu.auCommunity perceptions of ephemeral waterways in Melbourne’s north-westThis research project is a collaboration with Melbourne Water, who are kindly offering financial support for fieldwork.

Research objectives:
*to investigate community perceptions of the health of ephemeral waterways in the Maribyrnong catchment
*to identify any tensions between community perceptions and management priorities for the flow and health of these waterways

Australia is on the one hand renowned for rivers of highly variable flow, and on the other hand has inherited European settlers’ aspirations for regular and abundant river flows. The history of river regulation in Victoria and the recent Millennium drought in south-eastern Australia may also influence community perceptions of what constitutes a natural or healthy flow. The common understanding of a flowing river as the norm and a dry river as an aberration (as well as associated ecological changes) may pose a challenge for the management of Australia’s ephemeral waterways. This includes the management of the rivers and creeks of the Maribyrnong catchment, in Melbourne’s north-west, which tend to have highly variable flows, including long periods of low flows.
Some knowledge of social science research methods; enrolment in 'long' (ie two semester) 25 or 50 point research project.Suggestions include focus groups, interviews, and/or questionnaires.
Semester 1, 2017Stephanie Lavau()stephanie.lavau@unimelb.edu.auMeasuring social benefits of river restoration and waterway improvement worksThis research project is a collaboration with Melbourne Water, who are kindly offering financial support for fieldwork.

Research objectives:
*to investigate the range of social outcomes arising from river restoration and other waterway improvement works
*to identify strategies for recording and measuring social outcomes from river restoration and other waterway improvement works

In Australia, as elsewhere, the environmental outcomes of river restoration and other waterway improvement works are often monitored and recorded through comprehensive sets of indicators, covering hydrology, water quality, streamside zone, physical form and aquatic life (e.g. Index of Stream Condition). There has been less investment, however, in capturing and recording the social outcomes of such works (e.g. relating to amenity, recreation, place attachment, capacity-building, community resilience, individual well-being, institutional trust, and so forth), whether they be social values that were targeted by such works or other unanticipated or unintended social benefits.
Some knowledge of social science research methods; enrolment in 'long' (ie two semester) 25 or 50 point research project.Suggestions include focus groups, interviews and/or questionnaires
Semester 1, 2017Stephanie Lavau()stephanie.lavau@unimelb.edu.auImproving community engagement through volunteer work on waterwaysThis research project is a collaboration with Melbourne Water, who are kindly offering financial support for fieldwork.

Research objectives:
*to investigate the motivations and experiences of volunteers working across a range of waterways programs
*to identify strategies for enhancing community engagement through volunteer activities

Volunteers are increasingly important in environmental management, given the need for extensive data sets and improvement works to restore sites that are geographically distributed, and in the context of a sense of urgency and limited resources. As noted in Melbourne Water’s Healthy Waterways Strategy, volunteers make significant contributions to improvement works, environmental monitoring, and biodiversity surveys, amongst other activities. While the value of volunteer work to waterways management is acknowledged (and in some cases measured) in terms of providing expertise, a skilled workforce, and community education, a more comprehensive understanding of volunteers’ perspectives on this mode of community engagement would enable Melbourne Water to further enhance these community partnerships.
Some knowledge of social science research methods; enrolment in 'long' (ie two semester) 25 or 50 point research project.Suggestions include focus groups, interviews, and/or questionnaires
Semester 1, 2017Dr Gyorgy Scrinis()gyorgys@unimelb.edu.auFood labelling and food policies for sustainable food systems This project involves researching some aspect of food labelling with respect to sustainability, or other policies relating to food sustainability. This may involve researching existing or proposed labelling schemes in Australia and elsewhere, and that relate to the environmental impact of food products, such as food miles, carbon footprints, water use, or animal welfare. Projects related to other policies, regulations regulations for sustainable food systems can also be considered.Students need to have completed FOOD90026 The Politics of Food and/or FOOD90033 Sustainable Food: Policy and Practice.This research will involve document analysis, desk-top research and field data gathering. It will preferably be either a 12.5 point or 25 point project.