La Trobe Business School

Month: September 2019

Presenting your PhD in three minutes

During LTU’s Research Week, the 3MT University Championship took place where LBS PhD Candidate Piyumini (Piu) Wijenayake presented her PhD topic in only three minutes. The University Championship, coordinated by the Graduate Research School (GRS), is the final stage of the competition at LTU. The winner is awarded a prize and travel support to attend the Asia-Pacific competition in Queensland.

So what is 3MT and how do you reach the university finals?

Piu presenting at LTU's 3MT University Championship
Piu presenting at LTU’s 3MT University Championship


The Three Minute Thesis competition (or 3MT) is an annual academic competition where PhD candidates explain their research topic to a non-specialist audience in just three minutes. The competition was developed by The University of Queensland (UQ) in 2008 and has spread to over 600 universities across more than 65 countries worldwide. There are strict rules:

  • A single static PowerPoint slide is permitted. No slide transitions, animations or ‘movement’ of any description are allowed. The slide is to be presented from the beginning of the oration.
  • No additional electronic media (e.g. sound and video files) are permitted.
  • No additional props (e.g. costumes, musical instruments, laboratory equipment) are permitted.
  • Presentations are limited to 3 minutes maximum and competitors exceeding 3 minutes are disqualified.
  • Presentations are to be spoken word (e.g. no poems, raps or songs).
  • Presentations are to commence from the stage.
  • Presentations are considered to have commenced when a presenter starts their presentation through either movement or speech.
  • The decision of the adjudicating panel is final.

School Level

At LTU you first compete at the School level and then have to make it through the College level before you compete at the University level. This year, three PhD candidates participated at the School Level.

Chi Kwan Ng

PhD candidate in the Department of Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Marketing (EIM)

Chi Kwan’s thesis examines the reasons behind why individuals are and are not practicing pro-environmental behaviours. Findings show that having experienced others’ guidance and support, as well accountability toward the individual throughout the transitional process are strong elements for the successful adoption of pro-environmental behaviours. This implies mentoring, as well as the importance of mentoring and the provision of immediate support for new adopters in order to increase the successful practice of pro-environmental behaviours.

Chi Kwan presenting her PhD topic during the 3MT Competition
Chi Kwan presenting her PhD topic

Piu Wijenayake

PhD candidate in the Department of Accounting and Data Analytics (ADA)

Piu’s presentation was titled “How about an Artificial Hug?”. Her thesis investigates how artificial intelligence and social media can help create more caring organisations. Can we prevent university students from dropping out of their degree? Or help hospital patients sooner and better?

Piu presenting her PhD topic during the 3MT Competition
Piu presenting her PhD topic

Chamila Wijethissa

PhD candidate in the Department of Management, Sport and Tourism (MST)

Chamila started her PhD at the end of 2018 and her thesis focuses on board faultlines in sporting organizations in Australia. Her 3MT presentation focused on the word “faultlines” –  defined as “hypothetical dividing lines that may split members of a group into subgroups based on the combined effects of various attributes of the group members”.

Chamila presenting her PhD topic during the 3MT Competition
Chamila presenting her PhD topic

The judging panel at the School level consisted of Dr Gordon Boyce (Director of Graduate Research), Dr Ninh Nguyen (Lecturer in Marketing), Dr Esin Ozdil (Lecturer in Accounting). Piu Wijenayake came out on top with Chi Kwan as runner up.

The 3MT judging panel with the presenters
The judging panel with the presenters

College and University level

Both the winner and runner up compete at the College of ASSC Final where Piu managed to not only be runner-up but also take home the People’s Choice Award – given to the best presenter according to the audience.

Unfortunately Piu didn’t win the 3MT University Championship but that doesn’t make us less proud of her! Also a big congratulations to Nicole Shackleton of the La Trobe Law School for winning the 2019 University 3MT Championship with her presentation on gendered hate speech!

SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 14

Australia’s challenge in the next decades is to realise the potential economic benefits of the marine estate while maintaining social and environmental values… Oceans are inextricably linked to some of the most pressing challenges facing society, both in Australia and globally, in the next decades: maritime sovereignty and security, energy security, food security, biodiversity conservation and ecosystem health, climate variability and change and the policy challenge of equitable resource allocation.

Oceans Policy Science Advisory Group (2013, report: Marine Nation 2025)

The facts

The ocean covers three quarters of the earth’s surface and represents 99% of the living space on the planet by volume. In addition, the ocean contains nearly 200,000 identified species, but actual numbers may lie in the millions. Some facts pointing out the importance of the ocean to us:

  • It absorbs about 30% of carbon dioxide produced by humans, buffering the impacts of global warming.
  • The market value of marine and coastal resources and industries is estimated at US$3 trillion per year, about 5% of global GDP.
  • More than 3 billion people depend on marine and coastal biodiversity for their livelihoods.

Unfortunately, as much as 40% of the ocean is heavily affected by pollution, depleted fisheries, loss of coastal habitats and other human activities, which means that increased efforts and interventions are needed to conserve and sustainably use ocean resources at all levels (UNDP, 2019).

The focus of SDG 14

The aim of sustainable development goal fourteen (SDG 14) is to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.  SDG 14 targets are aimed at reducing all marine pollution by 2025 and to conserve marine and coastal ecosystems by 2020. Management plans will be implemented to prevent over-fishing, illegal fishing, and to rehabilitate marine life. Consequently, the aim is to conserve at least 10% of all marine areas by 2020 (SDG Knowledge Platform 2019).

How is SDG 14 relevant to business and what can business do?

The world’s oceans play an essential part in human survival – without water, life is impossible. Apart from providing us with drinking water, food, and rain, our oceans also serve as a platform for water transportation and trade.

As mentioned above, the ocean helps lessen the effects of global warming by absorbing about 30% of carbon dioxide, it creates employment by being the biggest source of protein on the planet and has a market value of an estimated US$3 trillion annually (about 5% of global GDP). Beyond fishing and aquaculture, oceans and coastal areas support tourism and many other industries. For millions of people in developing countries, the oceans and seas are their salvation. These benefits to livelihood must be balanced with environmental considerations (UN Global Compact, 2019).

According the United Nations’ Global Compact Network Australia, companies:

  • Should review the use of plastics throughout their operations – from how plastic is used through the value chain and in their products (e.g. excessive packaging). Inaction on use of plastics contributes significantly to ocean degradation. 
  • Those involved in the sale of seafood, should ensure it comes from sustainable sources and have a role to play in community education.
  • Businesses that use the services of cargo ships within their value chain also should investigate the environmental credentials of the vessels being used and consider this in procurement decisions.

More broadly, any steps to mitigate climate change will help oceans as well as the global environment.

Interaction of SDG 14 with the other SDGs

A recent Guide to SDG Interactions: From Science to Implementation published by the International Council for Science (ICSU, 2017) highlights that all SDGs interact with one another.  By design, they are an integrated set of global priorities and objectives that are fundamentally interdependent. The report further finds that SDG 14 is one of the SDGs that is most synergistic with others, both positively and negatively. Understanding these interactions is seen as important to ensure that that target is achieved whilst also ensuring that progress made in some areas is not made at the expense of progress in others. Examples of these interactions include:

SDG 14 is a critical enabler of poverty alleviation, and environmentally sustainable economic growth and social well-being (‘blue growth’), particularly in small island developing states (SIDS) and least developed countries (LDCs).

Oceans and seas are major sources of water in the hydrological cycle and therefore require sustainable management through integrated water management that addresses the multiplicity and diversity of water actors.

Increasing the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix and improving energy efficiency, reliability and affordability will enhance sustainability and help reduce ocean acidification through reduced carbon dioxide emissions.

Responsible consumption and production, such as sustainable management of natural resources or the reduction of wastes, are critical for ending overfishing, sustainably managing marine and coastal ecosystems and reducing marine pollution.

SDG Video

The video below is created by our CR3+ partner Hanken School of Economics (Finland). In the first part of the video Dr Nikodemus Solitander discusses the targets set for SDG 14 and focuses particularly on reducing marine pollution (target 4.1) and sustainable fishing (target 4.4). These targets are further explained by Amanda Sundell, founder of the organisation DROPP – a social enterprise that donates all of its profits to help protect the Baltic Sea. Amanda talks about how DROPP came about, its two products which are spring water and lightweight reusable water bottles, their partnership with the Baltic Sea Action Group and universities, and their system of donating 100% of their profit to support the environmental rehabilitation of the Baltic Sea.

Please enjoy the presentation.

If you would like access to the full video to use in your teaching, please contact Dr Swati Nagpal.

This blog is part of the SDG Series, a series that focuses on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations, in the lead up to the CR3+ Conference in October 2019.

More blogs in the SDG Series:
- An introduction to the Sustainable Development Goals
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 1
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 2
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 3
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 4
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 5
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 6
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 7
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 8
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 9
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 10
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 11
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 12
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 13

LBS PhD candidates give highly anticipated deep learning workshop

LBS hosted the 3rd International Conference on Big Data and Internet of Things (BDIOT 2019) and provided a workshop on deep learning for big data and internet of things (IoT) applications.

About BDIOT 2019

The main purpose of BDIOT 2019 was to provide an international platform for presenting and publishing the latest scientific research outcomes related to the topics of big data and IoT. The rapid advancement and ubiquitous penetration of mobile network, web-based information creation and sharing, and software defined networking technology have been enabling sensing, predicting and controlling of the physical world with information technology. Every business process can be empowered, and therefore, various industries redesign their business models and processes along the paradigm.

Deep-learning workshop

Rashmika Nawaratne and Achini Adikari provided a workshop on deep learning for big data and internet of things (IoT) applications. The workshop demonstrated how to use deep learning theories in practical applications such as transport, health and energy. Around 25 participants from diverse backgrounds, such as IoT, Business, Sports, Data Mining, Computer Science and Geography, took part in the workshop. Participants came from countries such as Japan, Germany, China, Thailand, India and Pakistan.

The workshop conveners

Rashmika and Achini are LBS PhD candidates and researchers at our Centre for Data Analytics and Cognition (CDAC). Rashmika is pursing research on brain inspired Artificial Intelligent (AI) algorithms. During his PhD, he plans to conceptualize, design and develop a brain inspired self-learning AI algorithm to comprehend video and IoT data that can be used in application areas such as national security, smart cities and smart homes. Achini is engaged in multiple research projects involving text analysis in public health forums and social media data, with a particular interest in human emotions analysis using self-learning AI. Her PhD focuses on modelling emotions from digital data in social media conversations using novel AI techniques. Prior to their PhD, both Rashmika and Achini have worked as Technical Team Leads at Software Product Engineering Organizations.

Rashmika during the deep learning workshop
Rashmika during the deep learning workshop

What is deep learning?

Deep learning is a persistently maturing artificial intelligence paradigm in research and practice. It maintains a formidable evidence base and increasing potential for applications in big data and IoT environments in energy, manufacturing, transport, communication and human engagement. According to Rashmika it is essential to showcase the practical use of these AI techniques in real-world scenarios rather than only focusing on theories and concepts.

The workshop

The workshop aimed to develop essential knowledge of deep learning and key skills in industrial applications using big data and IoT, and incorporated hands-on tutorials in Python, using Google Collaboratory and Jupyter Notebook.

Rashmika and Achini started with exploring the structural elements of deep learning models, hyper-parameters, and comparison to standard machine learning algorithms, followed by the theory and application of deep neural networks (classification), convolutional neural networks (image processing), and deep recurrent neural networks (time-series prediction). Participants then attempted hands-on experiments with each technique using a benchmark dataset, for training, testing and evaluation. Rashmika and Achini also demonstrated each technique in the context of separate real-life projects which accommodate big data and IoT data. One of these real-life projects was vehicular traffic prediction using IoT smart sensor data setup of arterial road networks. The real-life scenario contains over 190 million records of smart sensor network traffic data generated by 545,851 commuters.

After completing the workshop, participants walked away with solid theoretical foundations of deep learning, when to use it and in which industrial settings, how to design, implement, validate and deploy deep learning models in industrial settings. Feedback from participants has been very positive.

“Most of the workshops on deep learning focus on theoretical aspects, but this workshop focused on practical aspects of using deep learning for industry applications on Big Data and IoT.”

“Easy to understand for a beginner. For a person who do not have a background in AI, it was quite easy to capture the essence of what deep learning means and its hype.”

“Was able to understand what deep learning is and completely implement an AI solution for a business problem within 3 hours.”

SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 13

SDG 13 - Climate action

Affordable, scalable solutions are now available to enable countries to leapfrog to cleaner, more resilient economies. The pace of change is quickening as more people are turning to renewable energy and a range of other measures that will reduce emissions and increase adaptation efforts. Climate change, however, is a global challenge that does not respect national borders. It is disrupting national economies and affecting lives, costing people, communities and countries dearly today and even more tomorrow. It is an issue that requires solutions that need to be coordinated at the international level to help developing countries move toward a low-carbon economy.

The facts

Weather patterns are changing, sea levels are rising, weather events are becoming more extreme and greenhouse gas emissions are now at their highest levels in history. Without action, the world’s average surface temperature is likely to surpass 3 degrees centigrade this century, affecting the poorest and most vulnerable people the most. Some more facts regarding sustainable development goal thirteen (SDG 13):

  • Sea levels have risen by about 20 cm (8 inches) since 1880 and are projected to rise another 30–122 cm (1 to 4 feet) by 2100.
  • Climate pledges under The Paris Agreement cover only one third of the emissions reductions needed to keep the world below 2°C.
  • To limit warming to 1.5°C, global net CO2 emissions must drop by 45% between 2010 and 2030, and reach net zero around 2050.
  • Bold climate action could trigger at least US$26 trillion in economic benefits by 2030.
  • The energy sector alone will create around 18 million more jobs by 2030, focused specifically on sustainable energy (UNDP, 2019).

The focus of SDG 13

The aim of SDG 13 to mobilize US$100 billion annually by 2020 to address the needs of developing countries to both adapt to climate change and invest in low-carbon development. Supporting vulnerable regions will directly contribute not only to SDG 13 but also to the other SDGs (UNDP, 2019). Of the five SDG 13 targets, the first three cover strengthening resilience and adaptive capacity, integrating climate change actions into policies and strategies and raising awareness. The final two are development targets used to support developing countries in line with the UN Framework Convention of Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Australia’s performance on SDG 13

A 2018 article by The Conversation highlights that Australia is performing relatively well in areas such as health and wellbeing, and providing good-quality education. But its results for the environmental goals and climate change are among the worst in the OECD group of advanced nations. Read the article here.

What is La Trobe University doing?

It was recently announced that La Trobe University will be Victoria’s first major university to become carbon neutral by 2029 and our regional campuses are set to become carbon neutral by 2022. Find more information about this ambitious project here. Furthermore, in 2016, the University Council endorsed a plan to fully divest from fossil-fuel related company investments over five years and commit to greater transparency on the carbon footprint of companies held in its investment portfolio.

Across our teaching efforts, there are a range of subjects focused on climate change at the undergraduate and postgraduate level. From 2015 all students undertaking undergraduate programs at La Trobe University will complete at least one subject that has the ‘Sustainability Thinking’ Learning Essential embedded in it. Sustainability Thinking is the capacity to engage effectively with social, environmental and economic change and challenges in the contemporary world. These include, for example, climate change, food and water security and human and labour rights.

Upcoming LTU event

The Ideas and Society Program at La Trobe University, convened by Professor Robert Manne, is a forum for discussion about the future of Australia and beyond. In September the program is hosting a debate on: Climate Change and Australia: Where to Now? Please follow the link to find out more and to register:

SDG Video

The video on SDG 13 is produced by our CR3+ Partner Audencia Business School from Nantes, France.  In the video, Dr Céline Louche discusses the sustainable development goal in depth, including some more facts and figures on climatic events and global warming. She also discusses the role businesses play when it comes to climate action and provides examples. Actions companies can take are attempting to decarbonise their operations and supply chain by improving energy efficiency; reducing the carbon footprint of their products and services; setting ambitious emissions reduction targets; and investing in innovative low carbon products and services. The second part of the video shows Dr Jennifer Goodman, also from Audencia Business School, and Hugues Chenet, research associate at the University College of London and Chair on Energy and Prosperity in Paris. Hugues is also co-founder of the 2 Degrees Investing Initiative. Jennifer interviews Hugues about his co-founded initiative and about what finance can do for SDG 13.

Please enjoy the presentation.

If you would like access to the full video to use in your teaching, please contact Dr Swati Nagpal.

This blog is part of the SDG Series, a series that focuses on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations, in the lead up to the CR3+ Conference in October 2019.

More blogs in the SDG Series:
- An introduction to the Sustainable Development Goals
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 1
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 2
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 3
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 4
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 5
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 6
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 7
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 8
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 9
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 10
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 11
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 12

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