RMIT Professorial Academy

The RMIT Professorial Academy serve as ambassadors, advising on issues of importance to RMIT and the community, driving thought leadership and impact.

About the academy

The RMIT Professorial Academy was established in 2018 to bring together RMIT’s best minds in research, education and engagement to:

  • Serve as a source of advice on issues of importance to RMIT’s future and the communities we serve;
  • Stimulate strategic conversations across RMIT and externally through Fellows acting as Thought Leaders; and
  • Advocate and campaign for value creation and impact as Ambassadors.

The Academicians are known as Fellows of the RMIT Professorial Academy.

The Fellows have been appointed through recognition of their sustained outstanding performance and awarded with the Distinguished Professorship title before being inducted into the Academy.    

Distinguished Lectures

Precision medicine, positioning satellites and turbo-charging the internet - all printed on a chip the size of your fingernail

3 September 2020, Presented by Distinguished Professor Arnan Mitchell

My team works with technologies that have the potential to help every Australian stay healthier, safer, and more connected than ever. They are developing systems to diagnose and treat diseases, they’re turbo-charging the internet with ultrafast fibre optics and they are creating technologies for precise positioning of everything from self-driving cars to satellites.

How are we doing it? We’re using integrated photonics - the successor to microelectronics - where both electricity and laser light can be captured and controlled on a chip the size of your fingernail, all at a price of only a few dollars.

This technology is surprisingly adaptable and yet scalable to mass manufacture. In this lecture I will show how this technology is also accessible to even quite small companies, right here in Australia and I will share my vision of building a technology manufacturing base to advance our position as global leaders not just in science and technology but also industrial commercialisation.  

Molecular and Nano Engineering of Gold for Environmental and Biomedical Applications

3 October 2019, Presented by Distinguished Professor Suresh Bhargava

* due to technical limitations, we are unable to provide a transcript of this presentation. If you are experiencing difficulties viewing this video please contact Distinguished Professor Suresh Bhargava for more information.

Building upon his know-how on the development of gold-based materials, Prof. Bhargava has developed gold-based molecules and nanoparticles for cancer treatment and mercury sensing, respectively, combining research excellence with research relevance.

Prof. Bhargava’s research introduces a highly promising family of gold-based drugs which are found to be highly cytotoxic against various cancer cell lines with high selectivity. This patented family of gold-based drugs can provide a safe treatment to cancer patients with minimal side effects compared to current medicines.

Using gold at the nano level, Prof. Bhargava has created advanced materials for mercury detection and abatement technology. This patented technology is capable of measuring toxic mercury levels in harsh industrial processes and effluent streams

Combating the epidemic of "super-bugs"

3 July 2019, Presented by Distinguished Professor Elena Ivanova

The threat of a global rise of untreatable infections caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria calls for the design and fabrication of a new generation of biomaterials. Following the discovery of the efficient, bacteria-killing nature of insect wing surfaces, the properties of these biological nanostructures have recently become the subject of intense investigation, promising to play a large role in combating the emerging, worldwide epidemic of "super-bugs."

The formation of bacterial biofilms has been prevented for many years through adapting the physical and chemical properties of a variety of medical tools, particularly the surfaces of instruments and implants. Recent studies of insect wings have shown that they are covered with nano-pillared arrays lethal to most species of pathogenic bacteria. Rather than relying on a combination of physical and chemical properties to combat biofilm formation, the mechanism of the antibacterial activity of nanostructured surfaces has been described in terms of purely physical, "mechano-bactericidal" effects. So far, several synthetic bactericidal surfaces, e.g., "black silicon," was synthesised as an analogue of an insect wing's protective surface and was reported to induce a biocidal effect, physically "bursting" the small, Gram-negative and Gram positive bacteria while leaving the host's large eukaryotic cells intact; however, the precise role of this and other nano-architectures in fighting pathogenic bacteria remains a complex mystery to be solved.

As a pioneer in biomimetic antibacterial surfaces, Distinguished Professor Elena Ivanova has developed an innovative concept of eco-friendly bactericidal nanostructured materials, which are capable of physical killing of all types of bacterial cells including “super-bugs”.

Creating Efficient and Beautiful Structures

13 March 2019, Presented by Distinguished Professor Mike Xie

Distinguished Professor Mike Xie and his team have developed an innovative design methodology to remove under-utilised material from structures, producing highly efficient and strikingly elegant designs. This technique can significantly reduce the weight and the associated energy consumption of aircraft and motor vehicles. In this lecture, Mike will show a wide range of practical applications of his bi-directional evolutionary structural optimisation (BESO) method, including spectacular buildings and bridges, unmanned aircraft, mechanical metamaterials and structural connections. Mike will also demonstrate how such organic designs can be effectively realised using advanced manufacturing technologies including 3D printing. The new design methodology and advanced manufacturing technologies will change the way we design and construct our future built environment.

Creating healthy, liveable, sustainable cities

4 December 2018, Presented by Distinguished Professor Billie Giles-Corti

In the 21st century, cities are facing massive health challenges globally: population growth, rapid urbanisation, traffic congestion, poor air quality, noise and climate change combined with increases in physical inactivity, unhealthy diets, non-communicable diseases (NCDs), road trauma, and obesity. Optimising city planning to promote physical and mental health and community wellbeing, in the face of rapidly growing urban populations is critical. Integrated regional urban and transport planning and local urban design strategies are needed to achieve cities that promote health and wellbeing, and to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. While local conditions will determine the mix of interventions, our overall goal must be to create safe, liveable, convivial and healthy cities that promote active and more sustainable lifestyles that reduce non-communicable diseases and other adverse health risks. This requires integrated metropolitan and regional urban and transport planning incorporating pedestrian- and cycling-friendly local urban design. There is an urgent need for policy-relevant research to be undertaken in partnership with policy-makers; as well as advocacy to ensure that the rhetoric of ‘healthy liveable, sustainable’ cities translates into well designed cities that can confront these major 21st century challenges. This is a big agenda that requires interdisciplinary research and genuine partnerships between researchers and policy-makers. The question is are we up for it? And if so, what needs to be done and how? This talk will consider these questions by drawing of recent policy-relevant research conceptualising and measuring ‘urban liveability’. Through the lens of the Urban Futures Enabling Capability Platform, it will consider not only the role of academics, but also the role of policy-makers in achieving the vision of a healthy, liveable and more sustainable future.

Nanophotonics: Ready for life and work

2 November 2018, Presented by Distinguished Professor Min Gu

Nanotechnology has transformed massively our everyday life and global economy for a sustainable future. Nanophotonics, which studies optical science and technology at a nanoscale, has enabled the development of optical and photonic devices that provide a green-technology platform. In this talk, I will show the development of ultra-high capacity optical data storage technology which provides greener, longer and faster solutions to the era of big data. I will also show an entirely new the development of three-dimensional optical display, which is a vital platform for flexible mobile devices. I will then present fractal supercapacitors inspired by natural fern leaves, which removes the bottleneck barrier toward the daily applications of the technology. Driven by these achievements, the newly established nanophotonics laboratory at RMIT has embarked on a new journey to next-generation artificial intelligence with the speed of light.

Academy Fellows

Academy Fellow Biographies

Distinguished Professor Xinghuo Yu is an Associate Deputy Vice-Chancellor in Research & Innovation Portfolio and the Inaugural Chair of the RMIT Professorial Academy. His research expertise is in control systems, signal processing, complex network systems, artificial intelligence in engineering systems, and smart energy systems.

Distinguished Professor Andrew Ball is a Professor in Environmental Microbiology in the School of Science and the Director of the Centre for Environment, Sustainability and Remediation.   His research expertise is in the fields of bioremediation, organic waste treatment, and environmental fate of organic pollutants.   

Distinguished Professor Suresh Bhargava is the Associate Pro Vice-Chancellor (India), College of Science, Engineering and Health and the Director of the Centre for Advanced Materials and Industrial Chemistry. His research expertise is in the fields of industrial chemistry and advanced material sciences, specialising in gold nanoparticles, broader nanoscience and technology.

Professor Milan Brandt is the Technical Director of RMIT’s Advanced Manufacturing Precinct and the Director of RMIT's Centre for Additive Manufacturing. He is the leading Australian researcher in the area of macro processing with lasers and has conducted work in laser cladding, cutting, drilling, welding, assisted machining and more recently additive manufacturing. This has resulted in technological achievements, patents, research papers and commercial products, which have been recognized internationally and nationally in both scientific and industrial circles. He has commercialized the results of his research and also actively promoted the benefits of laser technology to Australian industry through invited presentations, conference papers and industry seminars. Professor Brandt initiated and chaired several international conferences and workshops and has extensive links with many international researchers and organisations. He is a Board member and fellow of the Laser Institute of America and honorary fellow of the Welding Technology Institute of Australia.

Sara Charlesworth is Professor of Work, Gender & Regulation in the School of Management and is Director of the Centre for People, Organisation & Work in the College of Business. Sara’s research interests centre on gender inequality in employment at the labour market, industry and organisational levels. She is currently working on a number of Australian Research Council and internationally funded projects in the area of frontline aged care work.

Distinguished Professor Billie Giles-Corti is the Director of RMIT's Urban Futures Enabling Capability Platform. She is a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Senior Principal Research Fellow and directs the Healthy Liveable Cities Research Group at RMIT’s Centre for Urban Research. Her research interests focus on city planning and health.

Distinguished Professor Larissa Hjorth is a socially-engaged artist and digital ethnographer. Hjorth has two decades experience working in interdisciplinary, collaborative, playful and socially innovative digital media methods to explore intergenerational relationships in cross-cultural contexts. Hjorth has explored the socio-cultural dimensions of mobile media in many contexts such as Japan, South Korea, China and Australia.

Hjorth has published over 100 publications on the topic—recent publications include Haunting Hands (with Cumiskey, Oxford Uni Press), Understanding Social Media (with Hinton, 2nd Edition, Sage), Creative Practice Ethnographies (with Harris, Jungnickel and Coombs, Rowman & Little) and Ambient Play (with Richardson, MIT Press). Much of her participatory art projects seek to provide playful critical reflection on quotidian environment and media practices from mobile games about climate change, to transforming the gallery into a Minecraft/Lego game to what happens to our data after we die (#dataofthedead).

Hjorth has a strong track record in leadership from five Australian Research Council grants, co-founding the Digital Ethnography Research Centre (DERC) to university leadership roles like Deputy Dean in R&I (School of M&C) and Acting Associate Deputy Vice Chancellor. Hjorth was REC Humanities & Creative Arts member in the ARC ERA2018 and was part of the ARC Engagement & Impact pilot study in 2017. Hjorth is currently the Design & Creative Practice (DCP) Platform director at RMIT University. The Platform focuses on interdisciplinary collaboration and creative solutions to real-world problems—especially in relation to social innovation through playful, multisensorial methods. See


Professor Elena P. Ivanova received her PhD from the Institute of Microbiology and Virology, Ukraine. She has worked as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization, Japan and as a visiting Researcher at the Center of Marine Biotechnology, University of Maryland.

Elena’s Professional activity is concentrated in fundamental and applied fields of Nano/Biotechnology. Her research interests also focus on the design, fabrication and operation of planar micro-devices, immobilization of bio-molecules and micro-organisms in micro/nano/environments, bacterial taxonomy and bacterial interactions with macro/micro/ nano-structured surfaces.    

Distinguished Professor Helen Lingard from the School of Property, Construction and Project Management undertakes industry-based research into occupational health and safety and the health and work-life balance of construction workers. She was awarded an inaugural ARC Future Fellowship to deliver a program of research entitled Differentiation not disintegration: Integrating Strategies to Improve Occupational Health and Safety in the Construction Industry.

Professor Qian Ma currently holds the appointments of Honorary Professor of The University of Queensland, Australia, and Specially Appointed Guest Professor of Osaka University, Japan.

Qian’s areas of research include metal additive manufacturing (3D printing), alloy design, powder metallurgy of light alloys (Ti, Al and TiAI), solidification processing (heterogeneous nucleation and grain refinement), coating, and modelling.   

Distinguished Professor Arnan Mitchell from the School of Engineering is the RMIT Node Director of the Centre for Ultrahigh bandwidth Devices for Optical Systems (CUDOS). His research is dedicated to the creation of microtechnology solutions enabled by fundamental research in diverse disciplines spanning physics, chemistry and biomedical sciences.

Professor Adrian Mouritz performs research into fibre reinforced polymer composites and other engineering materials used in aircraft. Adrian has performed research which has led to significant discoveries on various topics associated with composite materials. This has included their mechanical, fracture and fatigue properties, impact and explosive blast properties, fire structural properties, non-destructive inspection and smart health monitoring, and damage tolerance using through-thickness reinforcement (orthogonal weaving, stitching, pinning).

Adrian has published nearly 200 research articles on composites which include three books, three edited books, 15 book chapters, and over 120 journal papers. He has received over five million AUD in research funds over the past 10 years from various sources, including the Australian Research Council, United States Office of Naval Research and the Composites CRC. 

Distinguished Professor Lee Parker from the School of Accounting is an Honorary Fellow of the Centre for Social and Environmental Accounting Research at the University of St Andrews, and research advisor/assessor in management and accounting to universities, government research granting bodies and professional associations across the globe.

Distinguished Professor Cuie Wen is a Professor of Biomaterials Engineering in the School of Engineering and her research interests include biomaterials engineering, surface coating/modification of metals and alloys, porous metallic biomaterials (Ti, Mg, and their alloys and composites), shape memory alloys and scaffolds, nanostructured metals, alloys and composites.

Distinguished Professor Mike Xie is an ARC Australian Laureate Fellow. He served as the Head of Civil Engineering discipline at RMIT University between 2002 and 2012. Since 2012 he has been the Director of RMIT Centre for Innovative Structures and Materials. He was elected Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE) in 2011. Professor Xie won the Clunies Ross Innovation Award from the ATSE in 2017 and received the AGM Michell Medal from the Institution of Engineers Australia in the same year. In 2019 he was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for his significant service to civil engineering and higher education. 

Professor Charlie Xue is a World Health Organization consultant and chairs the National Chinese Medicine Board of Australia. His primary areas of research specialty are evidence-based integrated healthcare for chronic diseases. His current focus is on evidence-based integrative healthcare research to assess and correlate the efficacy of key Chinese medicine treatments that have been in practice for over 2000 years, by establishing clinical trials to see whether these practices meet the expected rigorous requirements in the development of any new therapeutics in a modern medical environment. One of the herbal medicines under Professor Xue’s research is Panax Ginseng.

Irene Yarovsky holds a position of Distinguished Professor and Leader of the Materials Modelling and Simulation research group at RMIT University. She concurrently has a Visiting Professor position at the Department of Materials, Imperial College London, UK. Professor Yarovsky completed her PhD in Computational Chemistry at Monash University in 1995 on the topic of protein interactions with surfaces. She then joined industry (BHP Research, Australia) where she applied computational molecular modelling to help design advanced industrial coatings, minerals processing reagents and other interfacial materials. Following her industry appointment Irene joined RMIT University where from 2000 she has been leading a research group in theory and simulation of materials with a strong application focus, ranging from industrial to bio-materials and novel nanomaterials. At present, she is particularly interested in studying the interface between biological systems and nanomaterials as they interact in the living organisms, the environment and novel nano-bio devices for biomedical applications.

Professor Leslie Yeo is a Professor of Chemical Engineering with specific expertise in acoustically and electrokinetically driven microfluidics for engineering and biological applications such as drug delivery and nanomedicine, point-of-care diagnostics, tissue engineering and biosensor technology. He is co-author of the book Electrokinetically Driven Microfluidics & Nanofluidics (Cambridge University Press), and the author of over 200 research publications and 25 patent applications. Leslie currently serves as the Editor-in-Chief of the American Institute of Physics journal Biomicrofluidics as well as on the editorial boards of Scientific Reports and Interfacial Phenomena & Heat Transfer. 

Contact the Academy

Academy Chair

Distinguished Professor Xinghuo Yu

Phone: +61 3 9925 5317

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Acknowledgement of country

RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business. - Artwork created by Louisa Bloomer