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CeRDI Newsletter Spring 2022

Message from the Director

Associate Professor Helen Thompson  

Associate Professor
Helen Thompson
Director, CeRDI


As the year draws quickly to a close, the final CeRDI newsletter for 2022 gives us an opportunity to reflect upon, and to celebrate another successful year.

Highlights in this issue include the public awareness campaigns by Federation University of the research undertaken in CeRDI, the Darwin Muster involving CeRDI staff for the Rangelands Carbon project, and an overview of recent research and technical activities supporting the second stage of Visualising Australasia’s Soils.

We congratulate Dr Basharat Ali who recently submitted his PhD thesis for examination, and we look forward to sharing the achievements of our CeRDI PhD candidates in 2023.

The CeRDI team continues to grow as we welcome our latest recruit, Aakansha Chadha. Aakansha is working with the Online Farm Trials team to support the important research activities linked to agriculture and grains trials research. 

Centre research outputs have expanded. This issue showcases some of the research project activities and associated outputs. This includes reports, refereed journal publications, conference and committee presentations, workshops and seminars.


CeRDI: Finding technology solutions

Associate Professor Helen Thompson  

Associate Professor Helen Thompson


The following story was recently published by the Federation University Newsroom . It includes insights and perspectives from CeRDI Director, Assoc Prof Helen Thompson:

In 2023, Federation University’s Centre for eResearch and Digital Innovation (CeRDI) will turn 25 – a significant milestone for the centre that is a global leader in data interoperability and has developed many award-winning web-based spatial information and knowledge portals.

For nearly 20 years, Associate Professor Helen Thompson has been CeRDI’s Director, having joined the research centre after working in finance and administration.

Rangelands Carbon project: Update and workshop

Image of participants from La Belle station during field trip (Juan Guerschman’s drone).  

Image of participants from La Belle station
during field trip (Juan Guerschman’s drone)


In October, researchers at CeRDI participated in a five day workshop and field trip to Darwin for the Rangelands Carbon project. The ‘Darwin Muster’ provided project collaborators and partners from the Food Agility Cooperative Research Centre (Food Agility CRC) Rangelands Carbon project the opportunity to attend the ‘Rangelands Field Trip, Australian Agricultural Company (AACo) Deep Dive, and Research’ event.

The Rangelands Carbon project is a Food Agility CRC supported project. Funding of $6.5million is supporting research to transform how rangeland farmers estimate, manage and trade carbon. Federation University are collaborators on the project together with the AACo; (Australia’s largest beef producer), the University of Technology Sydney, Charles Sturt University and three technology partners: Cibo Labs, Mullion Group, and Carbon Link.

Two PhD Scholarship Opportunities

Two IBM / CeRDI PhD scholarships are currently open for applications in the following two areas:

1. Decision support to achieve net zero carbon for land managers and enterprise managers

Overview: To meet sustainable development goals, many enterprises aspire to achieve net zero carbon. Working with regional industries, this project uses sensors and artificial intelligence to access the quantity and quality of data for carbon monitoring, modelling, accounting and visualisations, as an evidential base for their claims of carbon neutrality.

Project outcomes will include collaborative development, regional data sharing and the uptake of digital technologies including data federation, visualisation, image analysis, modelling and AI.

Supervisors: Federation University Dr Birgita Hansen, Dr Nathan Robinson; IBM: Dr Arun Vishwanath, Dr Ram Kolluri.

Tracking the endangered Australian Painted-snipe

Above image courtesy of Danny Rogers  

Above image courtesy of Danny Rogers


CeRDI’s Dr Birgita Hansen is one of a team of ornithologists, researchers and ecologists campaigning for funding to support research to track of one of the world’s rarest and little know birds: the Australian Painted-snipe.

The Australian Painted-snipe is a breed of water bird residing in shallow wetland habitats. It is one of the rarest bird breeds in the world with an estimated 340 birds remaining. Consequently, it has been listed as nationally and internationally endangered.

Very little is known about this snipe species; it has never been comprehensively researched nor its movements monitored to understand its breeding, wading and migratory patterns. Planning is underway to address this void and to conduct research to better understand these birds. Research using tracking devices to monitor bird activities will be led by an experienced team of nine researchers (including Birgita Hansen) - the Australian Painted Snipe Tracking Team.

Visualising Australasia’s Soils

Visualising Australasia’s Soils web portal  

Visualising Australasia’s Soils web portal


Visualising Australasia’s Soils (VAS) is providing Australasian farmers, agronomy practitioners, agricultural researchers and agribusinesses with place-based information via an online platform access to data, information and knowledge on Australasian soils. Phase one of project (2018-2021) has produced a number of important outputs, including the launch of the VAS web portal . The portal provides an online place to discover and share soils information, activities and research from Australia and New Zealand.

The second phase of VAS is now underway (2022-2024), transforming it to an independent and enduring soil research data federation. It is envisaged that VAS will become an important component of an Australasian soils knowledge system that is both self-sustaining and inherently useful for research and education.

Moth Tracker: Continued public interest

Image: Donald Hobern  

Bogong Moth. Image: Donald Hobern


The partnership between CeRDI and Zoos Victoria has become firmly established with the citizen science website supporting initiatives associated with wildlife conservation. It is now three years since the website ‘Moth Tracker’ was launched and it continues to encourage and offer members of the public an opportunity to upload sightings of the bogong moth during their seasonal, spring migration from Queensland, New South Wales and western Victoria to the alpine regions of Victoria. 

Moth sightings enable researchers to use this data to understand the moth’s migration. In turn, this assists to identify factors affecting other species, such as the availability of food for the Mountain Pygmy-possum. Bogong Moths are an essential food source for the possum and reduced food availability is thought to be contributing its declining population. The possum is currently listed as ‘Endangered’ under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. New knowledge from the Tracker will be used to inform decision making about future conservation and recovery efforts. This small marsupial, which is native to south-eastern Victoria, has been included in Zoos Victoria conservation program to support local wildlife under threat from extinction.

Staff profiles: Aakansha Chadha, Research Fellow

Research Fellow, Digital Agronomy/Soil Science: Aakansha Chadha  

Research Fellow, Digital
Agronomy/Soil Science:
Aakansha Chadha


CeRDI extends a warm welcome to our latest team member, Aakansha Chadha. Aakansha commenced in the role of digital agronomy/soil science research fellow in the Centre in October. 

Aakansha has a Masters in Science from Mumbai University in Botany and Plant biotechnology, and has an Honours in Environmental Science from Federation University Australia. Most recently Aakansha was a PhD candidate at Federation University Australia. Her thesis, which has recently been examined, is entitled “Ecology and management of a tropical invasive weed, Cyperus aromaticus (Navua sedge) in Queensland, Australia” This research addressed a significant weed management problem at a stage where intervention is cost effective, efficient and environmentally sensitive. The research has contributed fundamental new knowledge regarding the ecology of the species. 

Aakansha’s research interests include weed ecology and biology, herbicide use, non-chemical weed management options and integrated weed management systems. She is a member of the Ecological Society of Australia and Weed Science Society of America.  Aakansha has previously been employed as a research assistant at Federation University and has also contributed to funded projects with the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries. Aakansha has been living in Ballarat for the last five years, which now qualifies her as a Ballarat-local!

In her role at CeRDI, Aakansha is working predominantly on Online Farm Trials (OFT). In this role, Aakansha will be advising the team and supporting making trials research data accessible through the OFT platform.

News snippets

Senior Research Fellow: Dr Birgita Hansen  

Senior Research Fellow:
Dr Birgita Hansen


Latham snipe project: The Federation University Newsroom recently featured a story about a citizen science project that CeRDI has been closely involved with. Dr Birgita Hansen was interviewed for the story, which includes commentary and insights from Birgita, who is the lead researcher on the Latham Snipe project. To read this story:


Forge Magazine: CeRDI is to be featured in an upcoming issue of Forge Magazine. Forge is a quarterly magazine providing a spotlight for Australia’s economic and entrepreneurial successes. Links to the story will appear in a future issue of the newsletter.

Higher Degrees by Research news

PhD Candidate - Rob Clark  

PhD Candidate: Rob Clark



Perry, E., Sheffield, K., Crawford, D., Akpa, S., Clancy, A., & Clark, R. (2022). Spatial and Temporal Biomass and Growth for Grain Crops Using NDVI Time Series. Remote Sensing, 14(13), 3071. MDPI AG.

Thesis submission: PhD candidate Dr Basharat Ali recently submitted his thesis for examination. Basharat’s research investigated the roles of data, digital agriculture and resilience in agricultural performance. Basharat’s supervision team included Assoc Prof Peter Dahlhaus, Assoc Prof Helen Thompson, and Dr Nathan Robinson. For further information about Basharat’s research:



About CeRDI

The Centre for eResearch and Digital Innovation (CeRDI) is a research centre at Federation University Australia focused on:

  • the application of information and communications technology (ICT) and the development of innovative, world class knowledge management systems;
  • significantly advancing the digital literacy and knowledge management capabilities of partner organisations;
  • fostering partnerships for the development and implementation of eResearch with industry, government and academia; and
  • measuring the impact of eResearch and digital innovation through longitudinal research.

Contact CeRDI

For further details about CeRDI’s diverse portfolio of research please visit our website:, or contact Director, Associate Professor Helen Thompson:

Mailing Address

Centre for eResearch and Digital Innovation
Federation University Australia
PO Box 691
Ballarat Vic 3353

Office Location

Suite 15, Greenhill Enterprise Centre
Ballarat Technology Park
University Drive
Mount Helen Vic 3350

Phone: +61 3 5327 9314

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