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					LA TROBE UNIVERSITY                 JULY 2003




LEARNING TO TALK
Focus on early problems
FUTURE ASSURED
Hellenic Studies in Australia
SPECIES THREATENED
Can they adapt to climate change?
LA TROBE UNIVERSITY                                              NEWS



       Bulletin
IN THIS ISSUE

Cadets benefit from industry partnerships                    2
Future assured for Hellenic studies
in Australia                                                 3
ARC grants for business and refugee research                 3
Occupational therapy partnerships on
Cape York Peninsula                                          4
Prosthetics and orthotics agreement
with Japan group                                             5
La Trobe heads national palliative
care strategy                                                5
Calling all bright sparks                                    5
Health policy response to violence
against women                                                6
Spirituality overlooked in suicide prevention                6


Research in Action
                                                                                                                         Industry cadets Tracy Saliba, left, and Rhiannon Apted.

Major Australian study of language impairment                7
When the rules of evolution behave                               CADETS BENEFIT FROM
unexpectedly                                                 8
Research to improve drinking water
How government encouraged
                                                             9   INDUSTRY PARTNERSHIPS
media into Asia                                          10      Australia's economic future depends on         a former Chairman of the Australian
                                                                 building     stronger   links   between        Research Council and member of the
Institute for Advanced Study: fresh                              researchers, industry and government –         Prime Minister's Science, Engineering &
voice on campus                               11                 both within Australia and globally –           Innovation Council.
Pilot study for new dementia care techniques  12                 according to Mr Peter Wills, CEO of CRI          The Faculty of Science, Technology and
Accolade for Indonesian poetry in translation 13                 Australia Pty Ltd.                             Engineering Industry Cadetship Program
In tune with history – for ABC Radio                               Speaking at the Australian Innovation        provides students with paid employment
Classic FM                                    13                 Festival Innovative Partnerships in            and training by placing them with
Albury-Wodonga library wins architecture award 14                Science dinner at La Trobe University’s        employers relevant to their course. It also
Higher health risks for rural women                              Research & Development Park recently,          enables employers to evaluate the cadets
factory workers                               14                 Mr Wills said it is also vital to conduct      as potential employees.
Obituary: Alan Wardrop, Foundation                               excellent research across the full range of      Inaugurated in 2001, the scheme has
Professor of Botany                           15                 disciplines, provide appropriate research      placed 122 students, usually during the
Countdown for Open Days in August             16                 infrastructure, and build our human            University's summer and winter breaks.
                      Cover photo: La Trobe University is
                                                                 resources base.
                      playing a leading role in the first
                                                                                                                  Four Bachelor of Science students who
                                                                   Research managers, he added, have a          participated in the program in 2002
                      major Australian study into why
                      children have problems learning to         critical role to play in developing            presented highlights of their experiences.
                      talk – see Research in Action page 7       partnerships between researchers and
                      Photographer:                              industry to ensure that the needs of both         They were Rhiannon Apted, who
                      Rita Fraser, DPI-COMET                                                                    worked with the Department of
                                                                 groups were met.
                                                                                                                Sustainability and Environment on
                                                                   ‘At the national level, Australia does not   vegetation surveys; Tracy Saliba, who
                                                                 have a formal alliance between business        worked with Siemens VDO Automotive
                                                                 and government to help guide the               test engineering department on quality
                                                                 development of policy. We need to build        control of dashboard assemblies; David
The La Trobe Bulletin is published ten times a year by the
                                                                 on the momentum established by the             Lu, who worked with IPS Radio & Space
Public Affairs Office, La Trobe University.
                                                                 National Innovation Summit that                Services in Sydney on software prototypes
Articles may be reproduced with acknowledgement.
                                                                 contributed significantly to the path we are   related to signal transmission; and
Photographs can be supplied.
                                                                 on today.’                                     Michelle Reckerman, who was with the
Enquiries and submissions to the editor, Ernest Raetz,
La Trobe University, Victoria. 3086 Australia                      Mr Willis is founder and CEO of the          pharmaceuticals       company,    Mayne
Tel (03) 9479 2315, Fax (03) 9479 1387                           property services company CRI. He is also      Pharma, helping in the calibration of
Email: bulletin@latrobe.edu.au                                   a member of the Federal Government's           quality control instruments.
Design: Campus Graphics, 50618                                   Mapping Australian Science and
La Trobe University.                                                                                            Companies interested in the 2004
                                                                 Innovation Reference Group, Deputy             Cadetship Program are invited to
Printed by Vaughan Printing Pty Ltd.
Website: www.latrobe.edu.au/bulletin
                                                                 Chairman of Research Australia, as well as     telephone 03 9479 3667.


   2                                                             LA TROBE UNIVERSITY BULLETIN
                                                                                                                                                      NEWS




                                               campus to the National Centre for                ‘The National Centre, with its ever-

Assured                                        Hellenic Studies and Research (NCHSR)
                                               for an initial period of ninety-nine years.
                                                                                              growing library, archives and other
                                                                                              collections can now become a permanent
                                                                                              focal point for Hellenic study and

future for
                                                 The NCHSR, which has received very
                                                                                              research, for the continued development of
                                               considerable support from members of the
                                                                                              the archives charting the growth of
                                               Greek community and from Melbourne
                                                                                              Hellenism in Australia and neighbouring
                                               business man, Dr Zissis Dardalis, the

Hellenic                                       Head of Marathon Food Industries, is one
                                               of the largest centres for the study and
                                               promotion of Hellenic Studies outside
                                                                                              regions, for the exchange of students and
                                                                                              staff between Greece, Cyprus and
                                                                                              Australia, and for community events.’

studies                                        Greece.
                                                 La Trobe Vice-Chancellor, Professor
                                                                                                                                    continued page 13

                                                                                              A defining moment for Hellenic studies at La Trobe last year when
                                               Michael Osborne said: ‘The arrangements
L   a Trobe University has assured the                                                        the President of Greece, Mr Constantinos Stephanopoulos, below,
                                                                                               was honoured by the University for his services to Hellenism and
    long-term future of Hellenic Studies       are designed to provide a secure base for                                           Hellenic studies in Australia.

in Australia by signing an agreement with      the National Centre for Hellenic Studies            The award to the President reflected the significance La Trobe
                                                                                               attaches to Hellenic Studies and recognised the generous support

the newly established Society for Hellenic     and Research and thereby to assure the                 of the Greek Government. Mr Stephanopoulos is Patron of
                                                                                                   La Trobe University’s National Centre for Hellenic Studies and
Studies and Research to allocate a             future health of Hellenic Studies in                                                                     Research.
                                                                                              The Centre houses the ‘Dardalis Archive of the Greek Community’
complex of six buildings at its Bundoora       Australia.’                                        which holds some six million artefacts relating to Hellenic and
                                                                                                                                                Australian history.




ARC grants for business, refugee research
M
       ore secure and reliable broadband       links is essential if B2B (Business-to-           Recent changes in government policy,
       communication for businesses in         Business) and B2C (Business-to-                combined with international political
rural Australia – and a better                 Consumer) e-commerce is to develop in          developments, mean         that increasing
understanding of the plight of rejected        rural and remote Australia. In many            numbers of asylum seekers and temporary
asylum seekers and temporary refugees.         application networks, particularly virtual     refugees are being deemed ineligible for
                                               private networks, secure transmission is       protection and removed from Australia or
   These are the topics of two La Trobe
                                               important to avoid fraud and maintain          from Australian-run facilities.
University research projects funded in the
                                               privacy.                                         The project aims to research and
latest round of Australian Research
Council ‘Linkages’ grants.                        Satellite links introduce a long delay in   document the plight of ‘returnees’ as they
                                               the transmission path and existing secure      face the prospect of repatriation and after
  The development of a new ‘transport
                                               internet protocols do not handle this well.    they have been repatriated.
layer protocol’ to provide secure
                                               Dr Soh and Dr Armstrong will develop             Partner organisations in the study are the
broadband internet connections via
                                               new, practical solutions so that secure and    Edmund Rice Centre for Justice and
satellite to rural and remote areas has
                                               reliable ‘end-to-end’ connections can be       Community         Education,       Catholic
received $69,000.
                                               provided over the satellite links.             Commission for Justice, Development and
  The project is being carried out by Dr
                                                  A study by Professor of Politics, Robert    Peace, Refugee Council of Australia,
Ben Soh, senior lecturer in Computer
                                               Manne, has received $180,000. It is titled     Christian World Service, National Council
Science and Computer Engineering and
                                               ‘Fearing going home: Australia’s return of     of Churches in Australia, Amnesty
Associate Professor Jean Armstrong in
                                               rejected asylum seekers, temporary             International, Asylum Seeker Project,
Electronic Engineering, with industry
                                               refugees and others from refugee-like          Victorian Foundation for Survivors of
partners, Telstra and URSYS Pty Ltd.
                                               situations’.                                   Torture, Jesuit Refugee Service/Uniya
Effective use of the internet over satellite

                                                                                                                                           J U LY 2 0 0 3             3
    NEWS




    Occupational therapy
    on Cape York Peninsula
    La Trobe University is taking occupational therapy into new fields, trying
    to help with the economic and social realities facing indigenous
    communities of Cape York Peninsula.
    Leading this development is Head of the        suggested that employment consultants –                       barramundi fishing, managing bush
    School of Occupational Therapy, Dr             or ‘work coaches’ – be used to improve the                    accommodation, art galleries, and
    Linsey Howie, who is working with the          likelihood that prospective employees are                     museums.
    Cape York organisation, Indigenous             ‘work ready’ and thus able to secure and                        Dr Howie said ‘participatory action
    Enterprises Partnership (IEP).                 maintain a job that is meaningful to them.                    research’ was also discussed. While many
      With IEP’s CEO, Mr Mike Winer,                  ‘I believe that people with limited                        indigenous people were wary of research,
    Aboriginal leader Mr Noel Pearson, and         experience of the demands of work could                       she believes that recruiting Aboriginal
    the board of IEP, Dr Howie is seeking          benefit from a mentor to support the                          people as researchers of their own issues
    ways to work with indigenous                   development of work related skills                            can generate knowledge and solutions that
    communities to create employment and           including time management, social                             are based on their own experience.
    recreational opportunities that enhance        relationships and conflict resolution,’ she                      ‘My brief visit to Cape York Peninsula
    Aboriginal people’s self reliance and self     said.                                                         opened my eyes to the valuable work
    development      through       meaningful        Dr Howie also proposed that La Trobe                        already being done by IEP and indigenous
    occupation.                                    fourth-year    and     graduate    entry                      people to confront and resolve family,
      Late in 2002, Dr Howie was one of five       occupational therapy students spend time                      social and health problems. My proposals
    professionals invited to the Peninsula with    on Cape York working on specific projects                     are provisional and open to comment and
    a view to contributing to the development      identified by IEP and indigenous                              discussion – and many would require
    of Aboriginal projects, including tourism,     communities.                                                  cooperation from La Trobe colleagues in
    small business, work and recreational            The students would help in commercial                       other faculties.
    opportunities.     The     group    visited    and recreational enterprises – for example,                     ‘For instance, journalism students in the
    Aboriginal communities and learned about       supporting Aboriginal people to further                       Media Studies Program might become
    community concerns and aspirations.            develop traditional arts and crafts and their                 involved in a youth project developing a
      ‘From my point of view it seemed that        marketing, tourist activities such as bush                    web-based newspaper.’
    many problems facing Aboriginal                medicine and bush tucker walks,
    communities are related to limited
    opportunities to engage in meaningful
    occupations – both work and leisure,’ Dr
    Howie said.
       ‘Traditionally occupational therapists
    have worked within clinical facilities such
    as acute hospitals, mental health, physical
    rehabilitation and aged care services with
    clients following illness, accident or
    trauma.
       ‘The situation on Cape York convinced
    me that occupational therapists have a part
    to play outside clinical work – a non-
    traditional role that makes the link between
    what people do on a daily basis and their
    health and wellbeing.’ Dr Howie has made
    a number of proposals to IEP. One relates
    to the aluminium producer Comalco, a
    major employer of Aboriginal people on
    the Cape. Borrowing from a model used in
    the mental health field in Victoria, she                                      Dr Howie, right, with local resident, Alberta Hornsby outside the Hope Vale Art Gallery on Cape York.



4   LA TROBE UNIVERSITY BULLETIN
                                                                                                                                                                            NEWS




                                                                                              L
                                                                                                   a Trobe University's internationally-recognised educational and
Prosthetics                                                                                        research expertise in prosthetics and orthotics – the design and
                                                                                              fitting of artificial limbs and other supportive devices – has led to
                                                                                              an agreement for La Trobe to help upgrade the qualifications of
and orthotics                                                                                 Japanese students.
                                                                                                The School of Human Biosciences’ National Centre for

agreement with
                                                                                              Prosthetics and Orthotics (NCPO) has established a formal link
                                                                                              with the prominent Jikei Group, owners of 27 Japanese tertiary
                                                                                              institutions.


Japan group                                                                                     The link will upgrade the qualifications of graduates from the
                                                                                              Prosthetics and Orthotics College of the Kobe College of Medical
                                                                                              Welfare – a major Jikei tertiary institution – to the level of
                                                                                              La Trobe's Bachelor of Prosthetics and Orthotics degree.
                                                                                                NCPO Head, Mr Rod Cooper, said the venture will increase
                                                                                              recognition of La Trobe's Prosthetics and Orthotics program
                                                                                              overseas, expose local students to international practices, and create
                                                                                              additional fee-paying students for the University. In June
                                                                                              representatives of Jikei and Kobe College visited La Trobe's
                                                                                              Melbourne (Bundoora) campus to view facilities and to sign the
                                                                                              contract.
                                                                                                The Jikei representatives were Dr Kunihiko Ukifune (Chair, Jikei
                                                                                              Board of Directors), Mr Nakamura Michio, Mr Yano Kiyoshiro,
                                                                                              and Mr Paul Lee. The Kobe College of Medical Welfare
                                                                                              representatives were Ms Machiko Saito (Director) and
                                                                                              Mr Mitsuhiko Uchida (Director P&O program).
                         Vice-Chancellor Osborne, right, and Dr Ukifune sign the agreement.




Calling all ‘Bright Sparks’
To boost innovation and entrepreneurship                      who graduated from the University last year
among La Trobe University students,                           and is now Project Manager at Siemens.
Menzies College and the Technology                              Students with ‘bright ideas’ that could be
Enterprise Centre (TEC) on the University’s                   commercialised or developed into a business
main Melbourne campus at Bundoora have                        have until 25 July to submit their entries.
launched a ‘Bright Sparks’ competition –                      Apart from prizes, winners will also receive
with cash prizes worth more than $1,000.                      mentoring to help them develop their ideas.
  Guest speakers at the recent launch of the                  The competition has been supported by
competition, were former Businesswoman                        La Trobe’s Department of Computer
of the Year and Westpac director, Eve                         Science and Electronic Engineering and
Mahlab, Director of La Trobe’s Research                       Campus Graphics.
and Development Park (which houses the                        Entries and further                 details   from
TEC) Ms Sue Bell, and Mr Andrew Huett,                        tel: 9479 1072.                                          From left, Ms Bell, Mr Huett, and Ms Mahlab.



                                                                                                ‘The long-term effect of this program will be stronger
LA TROBE HEADS NATIONAL                                                                       partnerships between palliative care service providers, other health
PALLIATIVE CARE STRATEGY                                                                      service providers and the general community to provide the best
                                                                                              possible care,’ Senator Patterson said.


L    a Trobe University is the lead organisation in a management                                Professor Annette Street, Professor of Cancer & Palliative Care
     group developing a strategy to improve information for dying                             Studies and Director of the La Trobe University-Austin &
people and their families – and the health professionals who care                             Repatriation Medical Centre Nursing Clinical School, heads the
for them. The group has received $180,161 in Federal funding to                               La Trobe team with Professor Merilyn Annells, Professor of
improve consumer and health professional access to compre-                                    Community Nursing at La Trobe.
hensive, user-friendly online information about palliative care.                               Other organisations involved are Palliative Care Victoria, Austin
  The three-year project will enhance the existing Palliative Care                            & Repatriation Medical Centre, Royal District Nursing Service,
Victoria website, identify existing resources and develop new ones.                           Melbourne City Mission, Divisions of General Practice - Northern
Federal Minister for Health and Ageing, Senator Kay Patterson,                                & North Eastern Valley, and the Cancer Council Victoria.
announced the grant under Federal Government’s Caring
Communities Program.

                                                                                                                                                                      J U LY 2 0 0 3   5
    CONFERENCES




                                                                                                                         SPIRITUALITY
                                                                                                                         overlooked in
                                                                                                                         suicide
                                                                                                                         prevention
                                                                                                                         Public health policy makers need to encourage greater levels of
                                                                                                                         ‘generic spirituality’ in Australia to help combat suicide, La Trobe
                                                                                                                         University Associate Professor of English, Dr David Tacey, told the
                                                                                                                         Suicide Prevention National Conference held in Brisbane recently.
                                                                                                                           Dr Tacey said spirituality and suicide prevention belong together on
                                                                                                                         the same agenda because a ‘deeply irrational urge like the urge to
       Keynote speakers, from left, Professor Campbell and Professor Zwi with Dr Dr Kelsey Hegarty and Dr Taft.
     Dr Hegarty, from the University of Melbourne, is Convenor of the Special Interest Group on Women's Health           suicide can only be countered by an equally powerful urge, a spiritual
                for the Public Health Association and La Trobe's Dr Taft is the Association's Vice-President (Policy).
                                                                                                                         urge that works in the service of life’.


    Policy responses
                                                                                                                            In a paper titled ‘Finding meaning to sustain life: the place of
                                                                                                                         spirituality in suicide prevention’ Dr Tacey said in our fragmented
                                                                                                                         society, the modern individual was no longer protected by the old

    to violence                                                                                                          meaning structures of religion or philosophy, but has to struggle to
                                                                                                                         find meaning in new ways.
                                                                                                                            Author of various books including The Edge of the Sacred and

    against women                                                                                                        Remaking Men, Dr Tacey added we cannot go back to the times
                                                                                                                         when the sacred was primarily outside us – in church authority,
                                                                                                                         tradition, or heaven.
    Improving policy in one of the most difficult areas of health care –
    violence towards women in intimate relationships – was the subject                                                     ‘The great mystery that awaits our recognition in the modern
    of a recent one-day national symposium held in Melbourne.                                                            world is that we cannot live by our own lights, we cannot summon
                                                                                                                         self-esteem out of thin air… young and old need to be equipped
      The symposium was sponsored by La Trobe University’s Centre                                                        with something more than just rational argument or commonsense.’
    for the Study of Mothers’ and Children’s Health (CSMCH) and the
    Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA).                                                                          However, Dr Tacey stressed that the professionals’ task ‘is not to
                                                                                                                         evangelise or proselytise, but to encourage people to discover what is
      Symposium Convenor, CSMCH Research Fellow Dr Angela                                                                life-giving and creative in their own experience of the world. ‘It is
    Taft, said violence against women, especially partner abuse,                                                         certainly not the job of professionals – whether academics, medical
    damaged women’s mental and physical health and those of other                                                        doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists or counselors – to foist their
    family members.                                                                                                      particular beliefs upon patients, clients, and suffering people.’
      ‘It is costly to the health system and challenging for unprepared
    and unsupported health professionals. There is growing evidence
    about how health providers could, and should, respond.
                                                                                                                                                The future of an
      ‘If they don’t, there is a risk of doing more harm. There is an                                                                           illusion
    urgent need for high standards in training and accreditation in this                                                                        ‘I would rather we bet on faith in human
    area and it is time for leadership.’                                                                                                        knowledge and experience than myths and
      She said the symposium’s aim was to help representatives of                                                                               legends to make sense of the world in which
    Australian organisations working in this field to better meet this need.                                                                    we live.’
    The seminar co-incided with renewed public debate on the issue                                                                                These are the concluding comments by
    sparked by journalist, Deborah Light, and a flood of                                                                 La Trobe University Professor of Politics, Dennis Altman, writing on
    correspondence to the national news magazine, The Bulletin, as                                                       The future of an illusion: superstition and idolatory in the ‘La Trobe
    well as the controversies in Aboriginal communities.                                                                 University Essay’ series in the June/July issue of Australian Book
      One of the keynote speakers was world authority on the health                                                      Review. Professor Altman says ‘all religions have their dissenters,
    care aspects of violence towards women, Professor Jacquelyn C.                                                       who would argue for greater tolerance and acceptance of diversity
    Campbell of Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing,                                                              based on their readings of sacred texts and their belief in the
    Baltimore. Author of five books on this subject, she is also a                                                       supernatural.
    member of the congressionally-appointed US Department of                                                               ‘Yet, in most parts of the world, their voices are less significant than
    Defense Task Force on Domestic Violence.                                                                             those who use religion to impose and maintain restrictive social order,
      Another was Professor Anthony Zwi from the School of Public                                                        usually based on both existing class and gender systems of
    Health and Community Medicine of the University of New South                                                         domination.’
    Wales, and co-editor of the World Health Organisation World                                                          La Trobe University is chief sponsor of the Australian Book
    Report on Violence and Health.                                                                                       Review. For subscriptions tel: 9429 6700.

6   LA TROBE UNIVERSITY BULLETIN
LA TROBE UNIVERSITY

                        RESEARCH IN ACTION
Cross-disciplinary study of language impairment

Help for seven little
Australians in every 100
La Trobe University is playing                   (Research) in the Faculty of Science and        new prevention and early intervention
                                                 Engineering, and Dr Trish Eadie, a lecturer     programs. In the long term this could have
a leading role in the first                      in   the     Department      of    Human        improved health, social, emotional,
major Australian study into                      Communication Sciences. Dr Eadie has            psychological and educational outcomes
                                                 been seconded from La Trobe University          for the children and their families and may
why children have problems                       to work at the Royal Children’s Hospital to     result in savings and improved resource
learning to talk.                                manage the project.                             allocation for health and educational
                                                   Other members of the team include Dr          services’.
  Seven out of every 100 Australian pre-         Melissa Wake and Dr Jo Williams (Centre           The ELVS study is unique because it
school children suffer specific language         for Community Child Health, Royal               will begin early when the children are very
impairment which can affect their                Children’s Hospital and Murdoch                 young (8 and 12 months) before some
education, social lives and job prospects.       Children’s Research Institute) and              children have even begun to talk and will
   Although the specific causes of the           Professor Margot Prior (Psychology              continue through to pre-school.
problems are still not known, the earlier        Department, the University of Melbourne).          Professor Reilly said that even though
they are detected, the better the chances are       The study will examine up to 2000 pre-       many eight and 12-months-old infants may
of helping the children. In some cases           schoolers in six areas around Melbourne.        not yet be talking, they are very active
prevention may be possible and for many,         Maternal and child health nurses will play      communicators who understand a great deal
treatment or therapy can resolve or greatly      a key role in helping to recruit the children   of spoken language. The ELVS team believe
alleviate the problem.                           at eight months of age. The research team       there is much to be learnt about early
   The five-year study, entitled ‘Early          will continue to study the children over the    precursors of later language impairment.
Language in Victoria Study’ (ELVS) is            next few years at 12 months, 24 months            ‘We don’t want to wait until four years
headed by La Trobe University’s Professor        and three and four years.                       of age to identify these often serious
Sheena Reilly, Associate Dean (Research)           Professor Reilly said the study was very      problems. We want to be able to identify
in the Faculty of Health Sciences and            important because language impairment           children likely to go on to have serious
Professor of Paediatric Speech Pathology         was a significant public health problem for     language impairment at much earlier ages,
at the Royal Children’s Hospital.                Australian children. ‘The outcomes for          hopefully before 12 months of age,’
  A National Health and Medical                  children with language impairment are           Professor Reilly said.
Research Council project grant of                generally poor,’ explained Professor Reilly.
$506,000 will fund ELVS which aims to              ‘The children often
discover what the earliest predictors are of     face serious difficulties
language impairment.                             when starting formal
   This information will be used to develop      schooling and these can
new strategies to detect, prevent and treat      persist throughout their
these problems in children and also look at      school years, impacting
any associated factors that might be linked to   on academic achievement
language impairment such as family history,      and later employment
behaviour and emotional adjustment.              opportunities.

  Professor Reilly leads a five-member             ‘If we can reliably
cross-disciplinary research team. Working        identify at an early age
with her are two La Trobe University             those children who will
researchers, Dr Edith Bavin, School of           go on to have later
Psychological Science and Associate Dean         language impairment it
                                                 will be possible to trial                                  Dr Eadie: seconded to the Royal Children’s Hospital.



                                                                                                                                       J U LY 2 0 0 3              7
    RESEARCH IN ACTION


    Can we avoid extinction when
    the rules of evolution behave
    unexpectedly?
                                             T
                                                  he danger that invertebrate and other
                                                  forms of life in threatened
                                             environments, like tropical rainforests, may
                                             not survive climate change now appears
                                             more acute than previously thought.
                                                This dismal ecological prospect results
                                             from research by biologists at La Trobe
                                             University’s Centre for Environmental
                                             Stress and Adaptation Research (CESAR),
                                             published recently in the American
                                             Association for the Advancement of
                                             Science’s journal, Science.
                                               Led by CESAR director, Professor Ary
                                             Hoffmann and PhD student Ms Michele


                                   Coping
                                             Schiffer, the research team that also
                                             includes Rebecca Hallas and Jenny Dean,
                                             found that a minute inhabitant of
                                             Queensland rainforests, the Australian


                                      with
                                             vinegar fly, Drosophilia birchii, does not
                                             have the ability to evolve and adapt to
                                             drier environments.
                                                Despite breeding the fly through 30


                                   climate   generations in a laboratory simulation of a
                                             climate drier than that of the rainforest in
                                             which it lives, Drosophilia birchii showed
                                             no signs of adapting to the changed


                                   change    conditions.
                                                This was despite the use of the classic
                                             technique of laboratory ‘selection’ –
                                             breeding from only the 15 per cent of each
                                             generation that survived in the changed
                                             climate – and a previous history of
                                             selection for this trait.
                                                ‘For three years we looked for signs that
                                             this intense selection would increase
                                             climatic stress resistance – but it simply
                                             did not happen,’ Professor Hoffmann said.
                                             ‘Such a lack of adaptive response has
                                             never been found and it caught us
                                             completely by surprise.
                                                ‘The question now arises: how common
                                             is this, not only for other species in
                                             rainforests but for other species in
                                             threatened environments?’
                                               These results from Drosophilia birchii –
                                             one of several native Australian species of
                                             Drosophila – stand in stark contrast to



8   LA TROBE UNIVERSITY BULLETIN
                                                                                                                                                    RESEARCH IN ACTION

those obtained for the more common
Drosophilia melanogaster, a species
                                                                             ‘The conundrum is that if you look at
                                                                          individual flies, you can see that some                                    SAFER WATER
known worldwide and used for a century                                    survive better than others. So if you breed
in laboratories for genetic and other
research.
                                                                          from the survivors you would expect the
                                                                          progeny to inherit these capabilities.
                                                                                                                                                     Research
   ‘Birchii is more difficult to rear in the
laboratory, unlike its famous relative
                                                                            ‘But parents with some stress resistance
                                                                          did not reproduce offspring that were
                                                                                                                                                     to improve
Drosophila melanogaster which is widely
studied because it is well suited to this
                                                                          resistant. Parents passed on other
                                                                          characteristics such as wing size and shape
                                                                                                                                                     drinking
environment,’ said Ms Schiffer, whose
PhD thesis is related to this research.
                                                                          – but not the ability to survive in a drier,
                                                                          warmer climate,’ she said.
                                                                                                                                                     water
   Easy to breed and to keep in the                                         ‘This low ability to evolve highlights the
                                                                                                                                                     N
                                                                                                                                                          ew research conducted by La Trobe
laboratory, Drosophila melanogaster –                                     importance of assessing evolutionary
                                                                                                                                                          University, Bendigo will assist in
which has only a two-week life cycle and                                  potential in targeted ecological traits and
                                                                                                                                                     improving the quality of drinking water.
is therefore the most widely used insect in                               species from other threatened habitats,’
genetics research – is known in Australia                                 Professor Hoffmann said.                                                     Craig Parnis, who graduated with a PhD
as the vinegar fly. Selection experiments in                                                                                                         in Analytical Chemistry from La Trobe
                                                                             The research has important implications
melanogaster similar to those carried out in                                                                                                         University, Bendigo recently, said some of
                                                                          for conservation and extinction. If species
birchii led to an increase of more than 300                                                                                                          the research outcomes have already been
                                                                          cannot adapt to changing conditions, the
per cent in their ability to survive hotter                                                                                                          published in internationally recognised
                                                                          risk of extinction will be much greater than
and drier conditions.                                                                                                                                journals, and water authorities have also
                                                                          previously assumed. Overall levels of
                                                                                                                                                     shown interest in the research.
   ‘When we look at molecular variation at                                variation at a sample of genes – normally
a random subset of genes in birchii, we                                   used by conservation managers to identify                                     Dr Parnis said water quality was a
find that it is highly variable – similar to                              adaptive potential in populations – may not                                critical issue for communities world-wide.
that found in melanogaster,’ Ms Schiffer                                  tell you much about the likelihood of                                      ‘When water supplies are chlorinated
said. ‘So on the whole birchii has plenty of                              adapting.                                                                  disinfection by-products can form, and
variation to adapt to changing conditions.                                                                                                           studies indicate long term exposure to
                                                                            Organisms therefore may not only have
But it turns out that this tells us little about                                                                                                     these by-products may be carcinogenic to
                                                                          to cope with environmental degradation
how well birchii will adapt to conditions                                                                                                            humans.
                                                                          and global warming – but also with an
that are critical for its long-term survival.                             inability to evolve and counter these                                         ‘The aim of the research was to
                                                                          changes.                                                                   develop methods to analyse specific
                                                                                                                                                     organic compounds (semi-volatile organic
                                                                                                                                                     compounds, amino acids and mono-
                                                                                                                                                     saccharides) present in natural waters at
                                                                                                                                                     trace levels. This will assist in determining
                                                                                                                                                     the potential types and levels of
                                                                                                                                                     disinfection by-products that can form
                                                                                                                                                     during water treatment.’
                                                                                                                                                       He said analytical methods were
                                                                                                                                                     developed and then applied to natural
                                                                                                                                                     waters of the Campaspe River system.
                                                                                                                                                        ‘The concentration of these compounds
                                                                                                                                                     was found to increase following run-off
                                                                                                                                                     surges into the waterways resulting in
                                                                                                                                                     increased disinfection by-product levels
                                                                                                                                                     after chlorination.’
                                                                                                                                                       Dr Parnis said a better understanding of
                                                                                                                                                     the fluxes of these compounds in natural
                                                                                                                                                     waters will assist in increasing awareness
                                                                                                                                                     of how water quality can be affected.
                                                                                                                                                        ‘As a consequence, water treatment
                                                                                                                                                     strategies may be improved to minimise
                                                                                                                                                     the formation of disinfection by-products,
                                                                                                                                                     while still ensuring adequate disinfection
                                                                                                                                                     of water supplies.’


            A study of small flies with big implications: from left rear, Ms Schiffer, Professor Hoffmann with Ms Hallas and Ms Dean, foreground.



                                                                                                                                                                                  J U LY 2 0 0 3     9
     RESEARCH IN ACTION


     Foreign Correspondent
     How government encouraged Australian media into Asia
                                                      Experience as a freelance radio reporter    might lead to a British point of view
                                                   for the ABC from the Philippines in the        colouring Australian media.
                                                   late 1980s engaged his desire to trace the       ‘Casey took a hands-on approach to
                                                   history of the foreign correspondent:          encouraging media companies to send
                                                   ‘Working as an Australian journalist           people, and sometimes particular
                                                   overseas I realised how much the idea of       individuals, to give an Australian
                                                   nation and a national Australian audience      perspective on the decolonisation of Asia
                                                   impose specific constraints on reporting.’     and the start of our engagement with Asia,’
                                                      His thesis tells how the world’s media      Dr Tebbutt says.
                                                   was transformed by the information                ‘Casey pushed to get Australian media
                                                   networks created by Reuters and other          into Asia. The ABC opened its first Asian
                                                   agencies from the mid 1850s. Some              bureau in Singapore in 1956 and the papers
                                                   Australian journalists were famous at the      eventually followed.
                                                   turn of the century: George ‘Chinese’
                                                   Morrison wrote for The Times; Banjo               ‘The Department of External Affairs
                                                   Paterson covered the Boer War for              contributed significant funding to help the
                                                   Australian audiences and later travelled       ABC set up in Asia. It is little known that
                                                   north to China sending back regular letters    this was initiated at Cabinet level as a part
                                                   to the Sydney Morning Herald.                  of Australia’s Cold War strategy.

                                                      But not until WWII was there any              ‘At the individual level, the
                                                   extensive      posting     of    Australian    correspondents’ existence was usually far
                                                   correspondents – and that only as war          removed from public perceptions of
                                                   correspondents. Many of these returned         swaggering Hemingway-like figures living
                                                   after the war with their appetite whetted      high on expense accounts in exotic
                                                   for further international experience.          locales,’ he says.

     T
          he Australian foreign correspondent,                                                       ‘The reality was often correspondents
                                                     ‘At this point radio becomes crucial,’ Dr
          whether in trench coat or safari suit,                                                  trying to live and work in poor conditions.
                                                   Tebbutt says. ‘Radio journalism was
     is almost a cliché in our media-saturated                                                    I know of one Australian ambassador who
                                                   relatively new. Commercial radio was
     world.                                                                                       asked Casey to contact AAP-Reuters on
        Yet ‘our intrepid reporter in Asia’ – or
     wherever – is a relatively new
     phenomenon. Many of the pioneers arrived
                                                    The correspondents’ existence was usually far removed
     on their patch of foreign soil in the wake,    from public perceptions of swaggering Hemingway-like
     and       sometimes       through       the
     encouragement, of Australia’s foreign          figures living high on expense accounts in exotic locales
     affairs officers.
                                                   controlled by the newspapers and they          behalf of one of their journalists. He told
        La Trobe University Media Studies
                                                   didn’t want competition for reporting news.    Casey that the journalist had no transport,
     lecturer, Dr John Tebbutt, has explored the
                                                   But former war correspondents, like            had lost his only accommodation (a hotel
     emergence of the foreign correspondent in
                                                   Selwyn Speight who worked for the Sydney       room) and was living as a guest in the
     his PhD thesis ‘Through Australian Eyes: a
                                                   Morning Herald and its radio station 2GB,      British embassy.
     cultural history of the foreign
     correspondent’.                               were pushing for a system of roving              ‘Pioneers beat the logistical difficulties
                                                   reporters to provide newspapers with           to give their audiences vivid windows on
        Dr Tebbutt conducted much of his
                                                   stories that radio couldn’t cover. But         Asia. For instance, the first ABC
     research at the National Archives of
                                                   eventually it was State-sponsored radio that   correspondent in Indonesia, New Zealand
     Australia but was also given generous
                                                   stole the march on reporting from Asia.’       journalist Christine Cole, earned great
     access to ABC files, and some access to
                                                     In the early 1950s, Richard Casey, then      respect and a world scoop with the only
     Fairfax archives.       From the dusty
                                                   Minister for External Affairs, was             footage and interviews with the leaders of
     documents he has teased out the
                                                   suspicious that the 1947 agreement             the 1958 coup attempt in Sumatra.’
     Government’s role in encouraging
     Australian media organisations to send        between the wire service agencies
     correspondents to cover our post-war          Australian Associated Press and Reuters to
     relationship with Asia.                       base journalists in Asia and the Pacific


10   LA TROBE UNIVERSITY BULLETIN
                                                                                                                                     RESEARCH




LA TROBE UNIVERSITY’S INSTITUTE FOR ADVANCED STUDY

Fresh voices on campus
From archaeology to zoology,                    facilities including library, laboratories and   this year. She and Professor Sheena Reilly
                                                computing resources.                             will be working on a project concerned
from mathematics to ecology,                                                                     with the management of children born with
                                                   Freed from teaching and administrative
La Trobe’s visiting international               duties, their primary obligation is the          cleft of the lip and palate.
                                                pursuit of their own research. They are             Professor Leder says the Institute is
scholars are a fresh voice
                                                expected to interact with other scholars         modelled in part on a similar body at
around the campus.                              and join in seminars and relevant meetings       Stanford University, USA. When space
                                                in the Institute and the University.             permits, its facilities are open to Doctoral
The University’s Institute for Advanced                                                          students completing their final writing. Its
                                                  An indication of the program’s diversity
Study (IAS) is heartened at the growth of                                                        conference room seating up to 160 people
                                                can be gauged from the listing of current
its program aimed at promoting the highest                                                       is the setting for presentations by visiting
                                                scholars. These include Dr Zhang Chi and
levels of research and learning, and                                                             scholars, the IAS seminar series for
                                                Dr Xingshan Lei of the Archaeology
enhancing the profile of the University.                                                         postgraduate students (‘Showcasing the
                                                Department of Peking University, who are
  IAS founding director, Professor Gilah                                                         Future’) and other University functions.
Leder, has seen the numbers of overseas                                                             The Research Centre for Linguistic
scholars rise from eight in 2002, its first
                                                Feedback from the first                          Typology, housed within the IAS, has an
full year of operation, to 18 to this year.     scholars confirms the                            international reputation for documenting
   ‘These are some of the brightest, most                                                        endangered languages, and for its broader
prolific, and most experienced people in        promise of this                                  work on languages.
their fields – it makes for exhilarating and    ambitious initiative.
productive interchanges and diverse
collaborations,’ Professor Leder says. ‘We
are also achieving our goal of fostering        working with La Trobe archaeologist
research that otherwise might not take place.   Professor Tim Murray on the translation of            Below: the Institute for
                                                                                                 Advanced Study on the main
                                                Western archaeological theory textbooks                campus at Bundoora.
   ‘The feedback from the first scholars,       for publication, and Professor Robert                  Right: Professor Rejoice
and the comments of University staff,           Drugan who, together with Dr Stephen             Ngcongo from the University
                                                                                                                    of Zululand,
confirm the promise of this ambitious           Kent from the School of Psychological              an Associate Fellow at the
initiative. Postgraduate students given         Science, is investigating stress and
                                                                                                      Instititute, with Dr David
                                                                                                              Dorward, Head of
opportunities for face-to-face interactions     sickness     behaviour.    London-based           La Trobe’s African Research
                                                                                                                        Institute.
with leading international researchers have     Professor Deborah Sell is among the
also praised the scheme enthusiastically.’      Fellows visiting La Trobe University later
  The University invites scholars regarded
as outstanding in their discipline, which
must be in an area represented at the
University. Some have previous research
collaborations with La Trobe staff. Nations
represented to date include America,
Austria, Britain, China, Denmark,
Germany, India, Japan and South Africa.
   The IAS Distinguished Fellows and IAS
Associate Fellows have individual offices
in the refurbished IAS building on a hilltop
on the northern edge of the Melbourne
(Bundoora) campus. Until 1994 this was
the administrative block for the Kingsbury
Training Centre, a residential institution
for people with intellectual disabilities.
   Fellows usually stay for between two to
six months, some living in apartments at
La Trobe House adjoining the IAS
building. They have access to University                                                                                                      caption



                                                                                                                                     J U LY 2 0 0 3     11
     H E A LT H




     Pilot study of dementia recommends
     new care techniques
     T
          he quality of life of elderly people    residents in nursing homes and 54 per cent       Project Officer, Ms Anne Pitcher, a
          with dementia in long-term              in hostels in Australia have some form of      GNPU research officer, said that the new
     residential care could be enhanced, thanks   cognitive impairment.                          interventions had beneficial effects in
     to a collaborative La Trobe University         The project was conducted over two           every instance. By contrast, those in the
     and Royal Freemason’s Homes of Victoria      years, and included a literature search and    control group not only failed to improve,
     pilot study completed recently.              advice from an expert reference group.         but deteriorated. Researchers had not
                                                  This underpinned the development,              anticipated this magnitude of difference
       If a fuller study now planned confirms
                                                  implementation and trial of clinical           between the groups.
     the results of the pilot study, the new
     techniques could be applied widely,          guidelines.                                      The project was based on the premise
     improving the quality of life of many          The team produced its report ‘Behaviours     that it is the behavioural and psychological
     thousands of older people living with        of concern among people living in              features of dementia, rather than the fine
     dementia.                                    residential aged care’ in mid-April. The       detail of memory and cognitive deficits,
                                                  report included detailed clinical guidelines   that precipitates admission to residential
       The use of advanced techniques by
                                                  for the assessment and management of the       care. It recognised that carers needed on-
     residential care staff in reacting to the
                                                  many behavioural symptoms of dementia.         going education as to what dementia is and
     many behavioural symptoms of dementia
                                                                                                 how staff can more appropriately respond
     has become vital, given the increasing          Staff and research team members             to behaviours and symptoms using
     numbers of older people requiring            applied the procedures recommended in          evidence based strategies.
     residential care.                            the guidelines on eight residents with an
                                                  average age of 82, in one nursing home for        The sort of behaviours involved
       Head of the research team, Professor
                                                  six months, and compared the results with      include wandering, agitation and
     Rhonda Nay, Director of La Trobe
                                                  a control group of eight residents in          irritability, aggression, hoarding or hiding,
     University’s Gerontic Nursing Professorial
                                                  another nursing home whose behaviours          hallucinations, appetite and eating
     Unit (GNPU), says there will be almost
                                                  and symptoms were treated by                   problems, and intrusive actions such as
     50,000 cases of dementia in Victoria
                                                  conventional means.                            making noise.
     within seven years. Ninety per cent of




12   LA TROBE UNIVERSITY BULLETIN
                                                                                                                                                                              ARTS




Accolade for poetry in translation                                                                                                      IN TUNE
                                                                                                                                        WITH
                                                                                                                                        HISTORY
                                                                                                                                        L
                                                                                                                                            a Trobe University is in tune with
                                                                                                                                            history – thanks to some of its
                                                                                                                                        historians taking part in an unusual radio
                                                                                                                                        program. Seven current or former
                                                                                                                                        La Trobe’s historians have contributed to
                                                                                                                                        Connections, a 13-part ABC Classic-FM
                                                                                                                                        series which explores the historical
                                                                                                                                        context of music. Connections’ producer,
                                                                                                                                        Mr Tim Dehn, said the program
                                                                                                                                        introduces listeners to the era in which a
                                                                                                                                        piece of music was first heard.
                         Dr Aveling and Ms Utami following a recent La Trobe seminar for Indonesian language and literature students.      Accompanying talk about the music, the
                                                                                                                                        historians give an overview of the period

A
      ccurate, faithful – and a ‘creative                         Despite his skills as a translator,                                   or discuss a story, event or personality,
      and imaginative transfusion of the                        Dr Aveling says it is important for students                            leaving the listener with a sense of the
original poetical rhythms into English’.                        to hear works first-hand – from authors                                 period rather than a detailed analysis of it,
                                                                whenever possible.                                                      Mr Dehn said.
  With that accolade, La Trobe Associate
Professor in Asian Studies, Harry Aveling,                         He recently hosted a reading by                                         Among the historians taking part,
was shortlisted for this year’s Translation                     Indonesian writer, Ayu Utami, on the                                    La Trobe’s Mr John Cashmere ranged
Prize And Pen Medallion in the prestigious                      Bundoora campus. Ms Utami’s first novel,                                from the world of 17th century Italian
New South Wales Premier's Literary                              Saman, which received a Jakarta Arts                                    peasant music to that of the Baroque at the
Awards.                                                         Council award, has sold more than 70,000                                Palace of Versailles, Mr Alex Tyrrell
                                                                copies, and resulted in a sequel Larung,                                detailed Daniel Defoe’s travels in Britain,
   Dr Aveling's translation of the ‘extremely
                                                                published in 2001. The books deal with the                              while Ms Judith Richards discussed
nuanced and emotionally charged’ works of
                                                                lives of the new rich in Jakarta and their                              English aristocraticy in the 16th century.
Indonesian poets was described as ‘one of
                                                                struggle for personal and political freedom                             Dr Adrian Jones spoke about Czarist
the finest examples of poetic discourse
                                                                under an oppressive regime.                                             Russia, Dr Diane Kirkby dealt with
transubstantiated into pure poetry within
                                                                  Ms Utami was also a founding member                                   prohibition, fashion and society in 1920’s
another language.’
                                                                of the Independent Journalists Association                              USA, Mr Tony Barta explored Germany’s
  Also Adjunct Professor of Southeast                                                                                                   Weimar Republic, and Dr Inga Clendinnen
                                                                which protested against press censorship
Asian Literature at Ohio University, US, Dr                                                                                             focused on early settlement in Australia.
                                                                under the Suharto regime.
Aveling’s recent books include Secrets
Need Words: Indonesian Poetry 1966-1998.


Assured future for                                              Mrs Theano Thomson (Secretary –
                                                                Victoria), Mr Con Tsoulias (Member –
                                                                                                                                        government. The recent proposals for the
                                                                                                                                        reform of higher education appear tacitly
Hellenic studies                                                ACT) and the Hon John Anictomatis                                       to assume that universities are essentially
continued from page 3                                           (Member – Northern Territory). Speaking                                 training facilities, whose main task is to
                                                                at the signing ceremony, Professor                                      prepare students for the workforce.
  Professor Osborne said the University                         Osborne added: ‘La Trobe University has                                 Naturally, such a training role is very
will explore the possibility of leasing an                      long had an internationally recognised                                  important, but it should not be allowed to
adjoining plot of land to the Society for                       reputation for excellence in the                                        subvert the traditional of role universities
Hellenic Studies and Research for the                           Humanities and Social Sciences and this                                 as centres for scholarship and research
construction of a Hellenic College with                         development in support of Hellenic                                      across the whole spectrum of human
residential facilities.                                         Studies should be seen in the context of its                            endeavour.
  The Society for Hellenic Studies and                          aspiration to build on these strengths                                    ‘In the case of Hellenic Studies, the
Research is an Australia-wide body,                             despite current pressure for an                                         massive contribution of Greece to western
incorporated in Victoria. The officers of the                   instrumentalist university sector dedicated                             society, thought, art and literature is more
Society are Mr Anastasios Revis (President),                    essentially to vocational training and                                  than enough to justify a strong and lasting
Mr Steve Angelodimos (Vice-President),                          national     priorities     imposed      by                             university presence.’


                                                                                                                                                                     J U LY 2 0 0 3     13
     REGIONS




     Campus library wins award
     T
          he La Trobe University David Mann            The $5.5 million library was completed                 features a large glazed wall and forecourt
          Library at the Albury-Wodonga             last year as part of the University Master                entry with views to a landscaped plaza –
     campus has won the Regional Prize for an       Plan for the campus. It incorporates the                  and seating for outdoor reading.
     institutional building in this year’s          latest technology in electronic learning and                ‘The library, partly funded by Wodonga
     Victorian Architecture Awards.                 services and houses significant collections               Institute of TAFE, is an outstanding
                                                    of monographs and journals to boost                       example of co-operation between the two
       Conducted by the Royal Australian
                                                    higher education in the Albury-Wodonga                    education sectors,’ Mr Stephenson said. ‘It
     Institute of Architects and sponsored by
                                                    region.                                                   is named in recognition of the
     the Victoria’s Department of Sustainability
     and the Environment, the prize was               Mr Denis Stephenson, La Trobe’s                         distinguished contribution of Dr David
     awarded to the building’s designers, the       Manager of Buildings and Grounds who                      Mann to the Albury-Wodonga community
     architectural firm Woods Bagot (Victoria).     supervised the project, said the library was              and to La Trobe University.’
                                                    a prominent landmark on the campus. It




                                                                                            Two aspects of the award-winning building: the main entrance, left, and a side elevation.




                               Higher health                                                                   A life-time
                               risks for rural                                                                 of painting
                               women factory                                                                   It was 30 years ago, in a shack on South
                                                                                                               Australia's York Peninsula, that Bruce

                               workers                                                                         Vinall was struck with inspiration that has
                                                                                                               influenced a life-time of painting.
                                                                                                                 Now a 60-year-old professional artist and

     R
          ural women factory workers have a           Ms Austin says workplaces are                            former university lecturer, he was recently
          higher risk of developing health          ‘communities’, and supportive environments                 awarded a PhD in Visual Arts (Painting) by
     problems due to decreased social support,      may play a large role in improving health and              La Trobe University, Bendigo. Dr Vinall
     according to a La Trobe University,            emotional well-being.                                      drew on ancient and contemporary
     lecturer in Nursing, Sarah Austin.               Non-supportive workplace environments                    philosophy and religion for his thesis titled
       Ms Austin, above, conducted the research     may thus have contributed to the lower                     ‘The resonance of quality – paintings as
     as part of her Master of Health Science        levels of emotional well-being reported by                 maps of consciousness’
     degree, surveying 109 women workers in         these women – compounded by their lack                        Dr Vinall, whose artistic accolades
     seven factories in north central and north     of control over their work and lack of other               include the prestigious South Australian
     east Victoria.                                 employment or educational opportunities.                   Elizabeth Prize, paints from his studio
        ‘For most of the women,’ Ms Austin says,      She says further research is needed to                   in Warrnambool. He says he chose
     ‘social support came largely from outside      explore all the factors that may limit support             La Trobe University, Bendigo for his PhD
     the workplace. As many as 12 per cent of the   networks for these women, but the findings                 research because of its strength in visual
     women reported little or no social support     to date may already be of some help to                     arts and resources in philosophy and
     either at work or out in the community.’       occupational health policy makers.                         religious studies.

14   LA TROBE UNIVERSITY BULLETIN
                                                                                                                                                         NEWS




VALE : ALAN WARDROP
Foundation Professor of Botany,
1966 – 1986
By John Anderson

A
       lan Wardrop was born in Hobart in            These were enormous achievements.
       1921 and graduated in science from         They were recognised by the University
the University of Tasmania in 1942. He            of Melbourne in 1958 by the award the
completed a Masters degree two years              DSc degree and by the Australian
later, before joining the RAAF where his          Academy of Science in 1976 when Alan
science background earmarked him to               was elected a Fellow of the Academy.
train as a navigator.                               Following a short period as Professor of
  In 1945 Alan joined the CSIRO Division          Botany at the University of Tasmania, Alan
of Forest Products where he met his future        was appointed foundation Professor of
                                                                                                  The late Emeritus Professor Alan Wardrop: a legacy
wife Beulah. At that time, it was not             Botany at La Trobe University in January        of enormous achievements in plant cell wall studies.

possible to study for a PhD in Australia, so      1966 and became the first Dean of the
Alan was awarded a scholarship to the             School of Biological Sciences. Alan's           the advice of the University administrators,
University of Leeds, departing with his           vision as Dean was that all organisms – be      he called a public meeting.
new wife in the immediate post-war                they plant, animal, fungal or anything else
                                                  – had many unifying principles.                    It is hard to think of anything more
period, when food in the UK was still
                                                                                                  stressful in the context of those turbulent
being rationed.                                      Accordingly, he generated around him         times, but Alan turned the situation around
  He returned to Australia in 1949 to             an amazing mix of specialist and basic          – and won applause from students, staff
resume work with CSIRO, eventually                scientists, who, with the demonstrating and     and the administrators. Dialogue was re-
becoming Senior Principal Research                technical staff, made the La Trobe Botany       opened and the violence rapidly receded.
Officer and Officer in Charge of the              Department a novel and very exciting
                                                  place to be. This engendered terrific              We have lost a most respected and
Section of Wood and Fibre Structure. This
                                                  loyalty to Alan personally, and to the          distinguished friend with a huge heart and,
was an extraordinarily productive time for
                                                  department which won many accolades for         although Alan Wardrop would probably
Alan and a period in which he became
                                                  its productivity and the quality of its work.   not use the phrase, he had a great love for
recognised as an international authority on
                                                                                                  us all. His life stands as a tribute to all that
plant cell walls.                                    Alan Wardrop was always caring,              is best about science and humanity.
   Alan played a leading role in elucidating      courteous, kind, and passionate about the
                                                  things he believed in – people, science and     Dr John Anderson, a plant physiologist,
the structure of the cell walls of plants as
                                                  his country. He loved to see Australians        is a former Reader in Botany at La Trobe
described in current biological text books.
                                                  acquit themselves well, in science most of      University. He now works as an Honorary
He also studied how the structure is altered
                                                  all. Alan was also passionate about the         Research Fellow in the School of Life
if the cell is subject to tension, and he
                                                  ideals of a university – and he believed in     Sciences.
showed how plant cell walls determine the
quality of wood products, paper pulp in           a fair and caring society.
particular. This led to improved practices
in growing trees for pulp production.
                                                     At times the perfect image of the absent-    Focus on families in
                                                  minded professor, Alan was not a big
                                                  person and we think of him as shy, reticent
                                                                                                  a troubled world
   Alan had a significant part in showing
that the alignment of cellulose microfibrils      and retiring. But he demonstrated courage       La Trobe University’s School of Social
outside the cell is largely controlled by the     in defence of the principles of universities    Work and Social Policy was co-
alignment of structures called microtubules       – and of La Trobe in particular.                organiser of a major international
within the cell. He was at the forefront of                                                       conference held in Kuala Lumpur,
                                                    I refer to the winter of 1973, when he
                                                                                                  Malaysia, in June by the Asia Pacific
developing methods for the study of plant         spent three months as acting Vice-
                                                                                                  Forum on Families.
cell walls, particularly techniques in            Chancellor and several La Trobe students
electron microscopy.                              were jailed for trespassing or damaging the       Six staff from the School took part in
                                                  USA Consulate, setting off unpleasant, and      the conference, titled ‘Global challenges
   He also engaged in X-ray diffraction
                                                  at times violent demonstrations, on             – building resilient families and caring
studies into the order and symmetry of
                                                  campus.                                         communities in a troubled world’.
cellulose in cell walls, and he used chemical
and biochemical techniques to learn about            Reluctant to call in the police, Alan felt     They were Adjunct Professor David
the addition of lignin to the cell wall to lock   it was incumbent on the University to enter     Cox, Ms Robyn Mortlock, Ms Margarita
the cellulose microfibrils in place.              into dialogue with the students. Contrary to    Frederico, Mr Lloyd Owen, Mr Cliff
                                                                                                  Picton, and Ms Alison McClelland.


                                                                                                                                               J U LY 2 0 0 3   15
open day 2003
         Sundays in August
                      Bendigo
           3 August 10am-4pm

                  Shepparton
          10 August 10am-2pm

                      Mildura
          10 August 10am-3pm

              Albury-Wodonga
          17 August 10am-3pm

                      Mt Buller
           17 August 11am-3pm

         Melbourne (Bundoora)
          24 August 10am-4pm




        www.latrobe.edu.au
          1300 135 045

				
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