W’SUP with our Research


“Research Unlimited”. “80% of Western Sydney U’s research is rated the world’s best”. “$5 million in new funding to drive improvement and new findings”. But what do we really know about what Western research students are researching? As they spend day in day out researching their choice of topic, most of us may be unaware of the true impact their research may have. A few of our research students have provided a ‘snapshot’ of their research and the potential impact. Have a read and see how talented our Western students really are.

Australia is a multi-cultural society. This means that it is quite common to communicate with people who speak English with a foreign accent. In order to understand a talker with a foreign-accent, listeners have to put in extra effort. Nevertheless, typically listeners are able to perceptually adapt or ‘tune in’ to the foreign-accented talker’s particular pronunciation, so that after a short time they can readily understand without effort. However, it is thought that this ability to perceptually adapt to accents may change across the life-span. Hence, my research aims to investigate what factors might help both young and older listeners to better understand a talker with an accent.
Sonya Karisma Prasad – pHD candidate with the Marcs Institute

Following the events of September 11th this brought about a sudden and dramatic change in global politics, in particular in Islam-West relations. Muslims feel that they are being unfairly targeted and Muslim leaders being blamed for failing to speak up condemning such attacks and not addressing the growing problem of religious extremism. This research seeks to identify the leadership problems facing the Muslim communities, such as their leaders’ educational and cultural background, their lack of interaction with their people and not setting a good moral example. Empirical evidence will be gathered to discuss whether there is a particular style of leadership that is best suited to Muslim communities in Sydney.
Mehrnosh Lajervardi Fatemi – pHD candidate with School of Social Science and Psychology

Geoff Ballard is looking at what should be the role of Australian university chaplains. Geoff is the first Humanist chaplain at an Australian university. Chaplaincies in universities are welcoming of all faiths and no faith but normally do not have a chaplain for those of ‘no faith’, the majority of students. His PhD research is hoping to hear what students think the role of chaplains should be on campus, if any. No one has ever asked them! Geoff believes that university education is remiss if it ignores the questions of meaning and purpose. These can be found outside of religion. Chaplains need to challenge students to think about life’s big questions.
Geoffrey Ballard – pHD candidate with School of Social Science and Psychology

My research is focused on children with Autism spectrum disorders (ASD). ASD is a neurodevelopmental disorders having difficulties with social interaction/communication and having restrictive/repetitive patterns of behaviours, interests or activities. With the challenges faced in children with ASD, my research aimed to investigate the most effective intervention for these children. A self-regulated learning and a sensory integration intervention was developed for the purpose of this study which was compared with a control group called activity-based intervention. The findings of the study will suggest the best intervention for these children that may reduce the behavioural problems, increase daily activities/school functioning, social/communications skills.
Farahiyah Wan Yunus – pHD candidate with School of Science and Health

Andrew’s PhD is jointly funded by WSU, GWS Giants and Skins and will be assessing the link between decision-¬making and how your eye moves. The tests will be completed in an environment that promotes fidelity and autonomous decisions by athletes. The aim of this PhD is to provide a new performance criterion for athletes both in Australian Rules Football & other vision/decision making dependent sports.
Andrew Sharp – pHD candidate with School of Science and Health

Evidence suggests that some individuals with an injury to one side of the body will develop pain on the uninjured side of the body. My research is looking into why this occurs. Specifically, I will look at the interaction between the two sides of the brain. I will examine whether one side of the brain (corresponding to the injury) is sending unwanted information to the other side causing the spread of pain to the opposite side of the body. If this is the case I will attempt to rewire the brain to limit the interaction between the two sides of the brain, in turn reducing the spread of pain.
Ghufran Alhassani – pHD candidate –with School of Science and Health

Currently just over half of the Australian population die in a hospital setting. As nurses represent a large proportion of health care professional’s working within this setting, professional responsibilities and role expectations may inhibit a nurse from identifying and experiencing their own grief after the death of a patient in their care. Due to the limited theoretically grounded research available on this topic, the purpose of my research will be to try and understand how nurses who work in a hospital setting experience grief after the death of a patient and their capacity to manage their grief within the context of the workplace.
Nikki Meller – pHD candidate with School of Nursing and Midwifery

My research explores the digital practices of young people engaged with two Australian youth-led activist groups – the Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC) and Oaktree. A number of WSU students are active members of these groups and engage with them in diverse ways including through social media, regular meetings, and participating in protests and leadership camps. Through these engagements they develop a range of skills and knowledge. I also interviewed young people not connected with the groups about their digital practices. I found young people are active and engaged with a range of issues from animal rights to promoting the interests of sporting groups. These engagements are largely unseen and unrecognised. My research aims to broaden discussion about the changing and diverse range of citizenship practices and highlight how that affects political engagement more broadly.
Cecilia Hilder – pHD candidate with Institute for Culture and Society

My research project aims to investigate the influence of beliefs on the decisions made by people with chronic low back pain (CLBP). Two of the main beliefs associated with CLBP are self-efficacy, and fear avoidance. Self-efficacy refers to a person’s belief in their ability to accomplish a certain task, and fear avoidance refers to the belief that an activity may lead to pain. It is of interest to understand if these beliefs influence CLBP patient’s engagement with exercise, and health care. This knowledge will allow us to better understand how to approach interventions, based on the patient’s beliefs.
Mitchell Gibbs – Master of Research student with School of Science and Health

I am writing my PhD thesis on the role that ice hockey can play in fostering Canadian immigrant social inclusion. Ice hockey and Canadian national identity are inherently linked, but in an increasingly multicultural society, ice hockey’s ability to unite the nation in being questioned. As such, the aim of my research is twofold: firstly, to determine how Canadian ice hockey organisations can remain relevant and profitable among Canada’s ethnically diverse population. Secondly, to identify and promote inclusion methods for immigrants around ice hockey in Canada. My research will be carried out with Finnish and Indian immigrants as well as ice hockey clubs in Toronto, Canada.
Yoshi Itoku – pHD candidate with Sydney Graduate School of Management

The project is focussed on how texture is created in contemporary classical music for string instruments. Electroacoustic composer, Denis Smalley’s development of spectromorphological thought will be explored as a basis for aural perception as a descriptive and analytical tool for how textures in sound-shapes, through compositional techniques, are created in 21st century Western art music for strings. An aural analysis framework will be developed for the project. Australian composers, Sally Whitwell, Dan Thorpe, Felicity Wilcox, Christina Green and Catherine Golden have been commissioned to compose new texturally-focused music for the project which will be performed live and recorded in 2018.
Hanli Botha – pHD Candidate with School of Humanities and Communication Arts

Bullying is an act of aggression causing embarrassment, pain or discomfort to another, it can take many forms: physical, verbal, gesture, extortion and exclusion. It is an abuse of power. In Australia and world-wide, bullying reached serious levels of life-threatening for students.
Effects of Bullying in School: Mental Injury. Fear, suffering, pain, loss of self-confidence, loss of pride and dignity, depression, irrational thinking, anxiety, and worry are all longer-lasting effects that can come from being bullied. Does the punitive system works at schools? School anti-bullying polices does not provide a long term solution, because the needs never encountered for victim, offender, and families-community should have, thus the anti-school polices depends always on short term solution which increases the suffering for students. Restorative justice understand the needs for all parties.
Hesham Alkhalayleh – pHD candidate with School of Law

There are currently over 2.5 million Australian children aged between 5-17 years of age that participate in one or more sports. As an outcome, there are a large number of injuries occurring from sport, including an increase in growth related injuries coinciding with the adolescent growth spurt. Our research is therefore aiming to explore the incidence of injuries during adolescence and its relationship to the amount of training and match play that occurs in team sports. What is exciting about this project is not only the potential impact, but being able to have access to junior elite athletes in a fantastic sporting set up at Westfield’s Sports high school!
Zac French – Master of Research student with School of Science and Health

This study will be investigating the diversity of the MHC genes in the Bare-Nosed Wombat to determine if there is a correlation between MHC gene diversity and sarcoptic mange infestation. Sarcoptic mange is caused by a sarcoptic mite and causes multiple health issues such as blindness and deafness, and it ultimately results in their death. The MHC genes are responsible for immediate immune response, and as such it is believed that a higher level of diversity in the genes results in a higher level of immunological fitness in a population. We expect a low level of diversity in the MHC genes of a wombat will result in the wombat being more susceptible to mange infection. We hope this study will allow us to develop new management processes for both wild and captive wombat populations which will allow us to increase their immunological fitness and therefore reduce their susceptibility to sarcoptic mange.
Rowan Thorley – Master of Philosophy student with School of Science and Health

Compiled by Iman Sohail

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