PhD National Security Workshop 2010

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    22 September 2010

    Download the PhD National Security Workshop brochure.

    Professor Priyan Mendis, Convenor, RNSA

    Professor Priyan Mendis, Convenor, RNSA

    9:15 Introduction and Overview
    Workshop Convenor: Dragana Calic, University of Adelaide
    PhD Research Presentations
    9:25 Securing Transnational Oil in Southeast Asia – Presentation
    Allison Casey, University of Tasmania
    9:45 Identification using an automated facial recognition system: towards an understanding of human operator decision making – Presentation
    Rebecca Heyer, Carolyn Semmler, Brett McLindin, University of Adelaide
    10:05 Leviathan Revisited: Nation-State against Transnational Terrorism: Searching the Third Pillar of Counter Terrorism – Comparative Study of the Post 9/11 Counter Radicalization Strategies in Australia and the United Kingdom –Presentation
    Chamila Liyanage, University of London
    10:45 To research how: “Offenders are Trafficking the Movement of, and Concealing the Possession of, Child Pornographic Material – Presentation
    Allan Watt, Jill Slay, University South Australia
    11:15 Break
    11:35 Leviathan Revisited: Nation-State against Transnational Terrorism: Searching the Third Pillar of Counter Terrorism – Comparative Study of the Post 9/11 Counter Radicalization Strategies in Australia and the United Kingdom – Presentation
    Rongliang Ma, Ronald Shimmon, Philip Maynard, Chris Lennard, Claude Roux, University of Technology, Sydney 
    11:55 Rapid qualitative and semi-quantitative analysis of novel drug analogues by Desorption Electrospray Ionisation Mass Spectrometry (DESI-MS) – Presentation
    Natasha Stojanovska, Shanlin Fu, Mark Tahtouh, Tamsin Kelly, Alison Beavis, University of Technology, Sydney 
    12:15 Break
    1:15 Structure and interaction within aberrant networks: Towards a generic model of criminal and terrorist activities – Presentation
    Helen Gilroy, University of New South Wales 
    1:35 Tracing Ricin-Metabolomic Forensic Studies on Australian Specimens of Ricinus Communis – Presentation
    Christina Bagas, Warren Roberts, David Keizer, David Bourne, Ute Roessner, Antony Bacic, Simon Ovenden, Human Protection and Performance Division, DSTO and University of Melbourne
    2:10 Facial recognition: the ability of humans and algorithms to detect impostors –Presentation
    Dragana Calic, Brett McLindin, Veneta MacLeod, University of Adelaide
    2:30 Break
    3:00 Guest Speaker
    Professor Michael L’Estrange AO, Director, National Security College, The Australian National University
    3:30 Summary and Close – Workshop Convenor: Dragana Calic, University of Adelaide

    Professor Priyan Mendis

    Professor Priyan Mendis is the Convenor of the ARC Research Network for a Secure Australia. He is also the Head of the Advanced Protective Technology for Engineering Structures Group (APTES, aptes) at the University of Melbourne. He has written more than 150 papers on protection of infrastructure. Priyan worked as a Consulting Engineer with Connell Wagner Ltd. before joining the University in 1991.

    Dragana Calic

    Dragana is a Psychology PhD Candidate conducting research in conjunction with the Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO), Land Operations Division and the University of Adelaide. Dragana’s research aims to provide a comparative assessment of human and automated face recognition (FR) performance on identity verification or one-to-one type tasks (e.g., ID/passport checking). This work has also focused on the differences between trained and untrained human observers on this task and a preliminary assessment of individual differences that might predict/influence face recognition performance. It is anticipated that outcomes of this research will provide an insight into human FR performance which should serve to input into the development of training programs to potentially improve human FR performance. In addition, the results from this research should provide an indication about some of the differences and similarities between human and automated systems’ FR performance.

    Professor Michael L’Estrange

    In March 1996, Professor L’Estrange was appointed by the Prime Minister as Secretary to Cabinet and Head of the Cabinet Policy Unit. He served in that capacity until July 2000 when he became Australia’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom.Professor L’Estrange returned from that posting in January 2005 to take up the position of Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra, a position he held until August 2009.In 2007, Professor L’Estrange was appointed as an Officer in the Order of Australia ‘for service to the development and implementation of public policy in Australia, particularly national security and foreign policy, and to international relations through fostering diplomatic, trade and cultural interests including strengthening Australia’s relationship with the United Kingdom’.Professor L’Estrange was appointed Director of the National Security College at the Australian National University in December 2009.


    Allison Casey, University of Tasmania
    Securing Transnational Oil in Southeast Asia

    The Malacca Strait encounters 80% of North and Northeast Asia’s crude and refined oil requirements which is shipped from producers predominantly located in the Middle East. Yet as one of the world’s major oil chokepoints, the sea-lane faces a range of traditional and non-traditional security threats that have the potential to disrupt this energy supply chain such as piracy, maritime terrorism, smuggling of arms, drugs, people and safety issues such as ship collisions and oil spills. Despite having an apparent common interest to secure this sea-lane, the Malacca Strait’s littoral states—Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia—have adopted divergent policy stances on strait security. As such, no single institution, treaty or body comprehensively addresses maritime threats in a coordinated manner.

    This paper examines the three littoral states in their positions as energy ‘transit states’ for East Asian oil supplies. Assessing how this interregional oil movement influences these states’ strategic outlooks allows a more nuanced understanding of their policy divergence, as well as developing a more rigorous conceptual explanation for energy transit state behaviour.

    Rebecca Heyer, Carolyn Semmler, Brett McLindin, University of Adelaide
    Identification using an automated facial recognition system: towards an understanding of human operator decision making

    In spite of the lack of research supporting their performance for identification applications, automated facial recognition (FR) systems are being implemented worldwide. Although some research has been conducted to compare human and technology performance, and investigate the role of the human operator in human verification (one-to-one comparison) using FR systems, comparatively little research has been conducted in the area of identification (one-to-many comparisons). Automated FR systems are likely to increase the chances of successful identification, but it is not known how much these systems will add to the performance of the human operator working alone. This paper presents the results of a study designed to examine the differences in identification performance between an automated FR system working alone, a human operator working alone, and a human operator working with an automated FR system. In addition, the paper presents an overview of the intelligence, cognitive and personality factors that set high-performing human operators apart from others, and discusses the potential implications of these for training and recruitment. Strengthening the research underpinning both the implementation of automated FR systems and the decision making processes of the human operators that work with them will serve to bolster the evidentiary value of resultant identification decisions.
    Chamila Liyanage, University of London
    Leviathan Revisited: Nation-State against Transnational Terrorism: Searching the Third Pillar of Counter Terrorism – Comparative Study of the Post 9/11 Counter Radicalization Strategies in Australia and the United Kingdom

    The project intends to analyse the government counter radicalization strategy in Australia and the UK. The home grown terrorism phenomenon will take into account. The study focuses on the impact, issues, challenges, and prospect of the implemented counter radicalization initiatives. The objective is exploring community-based, community-generated and community-supported bottom-up approaches to prevent the threats of radicalization.

    The study is important as the concept of counter-terrorism is controversially limited and counter productive. Counter productive counter terrorism thesis has been subjected to wider academic debates in recent years. The counter-terrorism thesis mainly comprised with two conceptual and pragmatic components – the military component and the integrative approach (Enemy-Centric and Population-Centric approaches). While the military component aims at military means, the integrative approach aims at political, social and economic developments to solve the issues of terrorism.

    As a third pillar to the counter terrorism thesis, the counter-ideological (counter-radicalization) initiatives are at the centre of debate. It emphasizes that countering the ideology of extremism is important to any effective counter terrorism strategy as ideology is the main catalyst that terrorism builds upon. Therefore, it implies that enhancing democratic foundations, norms and values in grass roots ideological grounds can help to sustain the societies to the threats of extremism.

    While all these arguments serve well theoretically to enhance the counter terrorism discourse, the necessity is turning these theoretical assumptions into practical realities and effective counter terrorism policies. The study will analyse how to reinforce mainstream democratic ideological foundations in the grass roots level to prevent, contain, resist and replace the extremist ideologies.

    Allan Watt, Jill Slay, The University South Australia
    To research how: “Offenders are Trafficking the Movement of, and Concealing the Possession of, Child Pornographic Material

    The birth of the internet removed international boundaries, provided a knowledge base of information and a communications framework for everyone, anytime, anywhere. It also provided a portal for fraudsters, predators and opportunists to prey on the naive and also take advantage of weaknesses in this worldwide network of computers. However it also provided a portal for the distribution of inappropriate material and the one in the forefront being child pornographic (CP) material.

    Though some may consider they are just pictures, at the source of the photograph is an innocent child unwillingly or unknowingly being exploited. It is a worldwide problem that isn’t going away and as knowledge and software advances, the methods for trafficking and further concealing possession are also becoming more complex.   There is limited research on how they are trafficking and concealing possession of this type of material and hence a void exists for research in this area.

    The research is intended to:

    • Gather statistics on CP offending from worldwide agencies.
    • Gather literature on the various methods of moving and concealing possession of files with limited chance of detection.
    • Conduct real world case studies from data collected from Law Enforcement agencies around the world, of how offenders have trafficked CP material and further when in possession ways in which they have tried to conceal it.
    • Technically test a number of stealth file movement and concealment methods to see what evidence is left behind to assist a forensic computing investigator.

    Rongliang Ma, Ronald Shimmon, Philip Maynard, Chris Lennard, Claude Roux, University of Technology, Sydney
    Fingermark Detection Using Anti-Stokes Luminescence Generated by Functionalized Upconverters

    Fingerprint technology is a mainstay of forensic science. It plays an important role in crime investigation and national security. However, most fingermarks found at crime scenes are latent which need to be detected or further enhanced. Among the fingermark development techniques, luminescence techniques show high sensitivity and selectivity which is generally superior to non-luminescent ones. Unfortunately, numerous consumer products luminesce under the same conditions as fingermarks, which hinder the detection. Recent research into upconversion showed great promise as a way to address this issue because anti-Stokes luminescence is a very rare property in both natural materials and commercial products (Bullock et al., 2008). Anti-Stokes materials often contain rare-earth complexes that have the property of absorbing long-wavelength -radiation (eg. near-infrared – NIR) and emitting light at a shorter-wavelength (eg. green).
    Previous studies by our research group have indicated that upconverters are effective for the detection and enhancement of latent fingermarks when used as dry and wet powders using different surfactant formulations. However, most upconverters are not soluble in water, which seriously limits their application as a stain for fingermark detection. The current research aims to address this challenge by functionalizing upconverters with polyethylenimine (PEI) and azelaic acid.
    The results demonstrate that both of the functionalized upconverters tested can be effectively dispersed in water, with visible anti-Stokes luminescence under NIR illumination.  The functionalized upconverters show great potential for use as cyanoacrylate stains for the detection of latent fingermarks on non-porous surfaces.
    Natasha Stojanovska, Shanlin Fu, Mark Tahtouh, Tamsin Kelly, Alison Beavis, University of Technology, Sydney
    Rapid qualitative and semi-quantitative analysis of novel drug analogues by Desorption Electrospray Ionisation Mass Spectrometry (DESI-MS)
    Desorption Electrospray Ionisation Mass Spectrometry (DESI-MS) is a promising new technique which has the potential to be utilised in many forensic applications. The DESI-MS method employs a pneumatically assisted electrospray which is used to impinge ionised solvent droplets and molecules onto a surface bearing the sample. In this way, the sample can be directly analysed at ambient temperature and pressure with minimal or no sample preparation. Preliminary studies have demonstrated that DESI-MS can be used for the high-throughput analysis of samples such as unknown solids, pharmaceutical tablets, drugs and explosives. Being coupled to MS, which can provide structural information on molecular formula and fragmentation patterns, DESI-MS offers a superior screening tool for preliminary identification of banned substances when compared to other currently used techniques such as colorimetric tests, infrared spectroscopy and thin layer chromatography (TLC).
    Having procured a DESI interface, the Australian Federal Police is now seeking the application of the technology to the preliminary identification of drugs seized at the Australian Border.  In this project DESI-MS methods will be developed to provide a rapid, high-throughput, qualitative and semi-quantitative analysis of drug samples taken from these border seizures. Based on survey data compiled during the initial phase of the PhD study on the frequency of drug seizures and drug abuse trends both in Australia and globally, analogues of amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS), methcathinone, piperazine, and synthetic cannabinoids have been chosen as the main candidates for the study. The project will also involve synthesis of some of these analogues and their precursors and subsequent analysis and identification of by-products in the samples by DESI-MS to aid preliminary forensic drug profiling.Helen Gilroy, University of New South Wales
    Structure and interaction within aberrant networks: Towards a generic model of criminal and terrorist activities
    Numerous groups are evident in society for whom aberrant behaviour is their raison d’être. The behaviour in question is often performed in secret and mainly for reasons of self-interest, often resulting in public violations of social norms. The groups present a range of challenges to defence, security and law enforcement agencies. Given the significant cost in physical, social and moral capital and performance together with growing concerns about the escalating violence in society, the antecedents of aberrant behaviour and potential solutions are important areas of research.
    Social Network Analysis (SNA) has been successfully used to understand aberrant behaviour, in particular criminal behaviour, for nearly twenty years and provides useful insights into the formation, stability and participation of actors within such networks. Increasingly, SNA has been applied to understand terrorism post September 11, 2001. However, this research tends to be disjointed and a range of issues that may provide insights into how these types of networks operate remain unaddressed.
    This research applies SNA as a scientific framework for understanding aberrant behaviour to investigate the potential benefits of that approach. It also seeks to offer new perspectives and methods for uncovering the generic structure of related aberrant organisations as well as assessing and addressing some of the current shortfalls within published literature. In particular, it is aimed at gaining a better understanding of the subsection of terrorist and criminal organisations that tend to rapidly adapt to available technologies. Understanding these organisations is key to Australia’s National Security.
    Christina Bagas, Warren Roberts, David Keizer, David Bourne, Ute Roessner, Antony Bacic, Simon Ovenden, DSTO and University of Melbourne
    Tracing Ricin-Metabolomic Forensic Studies on Australian Specimens of Ricinus Communis
    Ricin is identified in the Chemical Weapons Convention as a Schedule 1 chemical agent1 and has been used in white powder incidents and other criminal activities. Ricin is a ribosome-inactivating protein toxin that can be extracted from the seeds of the castor bean plant, Ricinus communis. A single molecule of ricin in the cytosol can inactivate approximately 1500 ribosomes per minute, leading to rapid inhibition of protein synthesis and cell death, which manifests into multi-organ failure.
    The castor bean plant R. communis is an introduced weed that is now widely dispersed throughout Australia and can be found growing wild in most large cities and in rural areas. Under favourable conditions the castor bean plants are perennial and produce crops of seed three to four times per year. Given the ready accessibility of seeds as a source of ricin, domestic law enforcement and forensic agencies require methodologies to determine provenance of a seed extract to aid investigations.
    An approach taken by DSTO to solve this problem is metabolomics, the analysis and identification of the metabolite profile in a biological system. Discussed in this presentation are recent results obtained from studying the metabolome R. communis via 1HNMR and multivariate statistical analysis. These results show very strong indication that this metabolomics approach is showing excellent promise in the differentiation of wild castor seeds grown in different areas. This research is directed by HPPD at DSTO, funded by NSST and the PhD is in collaboration with The University of Melbourne.
    Dragana Calic, Brett McLindin, Veneta MacLeod, University of Adelaide
    Facial recognition: the ability of humans and algorithms to detect impostors
    This research assessed human and automated facial recognition (FR) performance on verification (one-to-one) tasks. To evaluate FR performance, imagery was sourced from various research institutions and external sources, including images acquired from 316 target participants during an imaging trial. Initially, FR performance was evaluated via a laboratory assessment. One hundred and fifteen untrained/inexperienced participants examined video-photo stimuli of either genuine (i.e., same person) or impostor (i.e., a look-alike image) presentations. Impostor images were selected by: target participants themselves; a panel; a randomly selected image; or an FR algorithm. For each presentation participants were asked to determine if the individual in both the video and the photo were of the same person and how confident they were in their decision. A similar methodology was utilized in the subsequent live access control type evaluation (i.e., person to photograph), where 129 target participants presented an ID card to 32 trained/experienced and untrained/inexperienced operator participants. The operator participants assessed whether the ID photo matched the person presenting and recorded their confidence about the decision. Additionally, all imagery utilized in both evaluations was presented to an FR algorithm to determine comparative verification performance. The results obtained provide a better understanding of trained/experienced versus untrained/inexperienced human verification performance. The results may also form the basis for determining human and automated systems’ comparative FR performance and indicate the strengths and weaknesses of the two systems in performing verification.
    Workshop overview

    This workshop aimed to continue previous efforts by the RNSA to build a network of PhD researchers and match PhD researchers with national security staff who may be interested in their work.

    Specifically for PhD researchers, this workshop provided an opportunity to:

    • develop a network with other researchers working in a similar research space;
    • learn of research needs from the practitioner community;
    • present and discuss your research;
    • learn about how to conceptualise your research in policy terms;
    • learn about how to develop strategies to engage policy-makers;
    • become informed of the range of employment opportunities open to you; and
    • meet delegates representing the national security community who may be interested in the outcome of your research project.
    About the Workshop

    The workshop will be held during the first day of Safeguarding Australia 2010 Conference 22 September 2010 in Canberra from 10:00am. PhD participants will be able to attend day two of the Conference and have a choice of attending RNSA Security Technology and Practice,Cyber Warfare and Nation States or Health in Disasters at cost price of $100.

    The cost to attend the workshop will be $40. Registration includes lunch and morning/afternoon tea.

    Workshop delegates are welcome to purchase a ticket to the Conference dinner on the evening of 22 September. Tickets can be purchased for $110 from the Safeguarding Australia website.

    The RNSA is unable to provide financial assistance towards accommodation or travel.


    Frequently Asked Questions
    1. Is financial support provided to presenting students for travel/accommodation?
      Financial support is not provided through the Conference organisors or supporting organisations. There are a variety of budget accommodation options available on the website here.
    2. Are there any discounts for presenting PhD students to attend the remainder of the conference?
      Yes, PhD students are able to register at the discounted amount of $100 to attend day 2 of the Conference.
    3. Are there any discounts for presenting PhD students to attend the conference dinner?
      Unfortunately the Conference dinner ticket cannot be discounted. The ticket price is $110.
    4. Is there good/cheap accommodation around the conference location?
      Rydges Lakeside is offering a special Conference rate of $175 per night. There are various hotels in the area that are available. More information can be found here.
    5. What format should the presentation be?
      Is is up to you how you would like to give your presenation. Either by powerpoint presentation or reading an outline. Please keep in mind there will be a specific timeframe in which you have to present. Usually around 30 minutes (TBC). There will be a laptop and screen available for use if you choose to use a powerpoint presentation. (Please make sure it is compatable for use on Windows 2003).

    If you have any further questions, please contact the Conference organiser or 02 6161 5143.

    About the Research Network for a Secure Australia

    This event is organised by the Research Network for a Secure Australia (RNSA). RNSA is a multi-disciplinary collaboration established to strengthen Australia’s research capacity for protecting critical infrastructure (CIP) from natural or human caused disasters including terrorist acts. The RNSA facilitates a knowledge-sharing network for research organisations, government and the private sector to develop research tools and methods to mitigate emerging safety and security issues relating to critical infrastructure. World-leaders with extensive national and international linkages in relevant scientific, engineering and technological research will lead this collaboration. The RNSA also organises various activities to foster research collaboration and nurture young investigators.

    About the National Security Science and Technology Branch, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet

    The National Security Science and Technology Branch within the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet provides a national focus for science and innovation aimed at enhancing Australia’s national security.  The Branch carries out this role through leading the implementation of the National Security Science and Innovation Strategy and managing a portfolio of domestic and international research programs.  This includes the Research for National Security program and collaborative arrangements with the United States Departments of Defence and Homeland Security.  Further information on the Branch is available at

    About the National Security Science and Innovation Strategy

    The enhancement of the National Security Science and Innovation Conference is one of the initiatives set out in the Australian Government’s National Security Science and Innovation Strategy.  The Strategy, which was publicly released in November 2009, aims to enhance the application of science and innovation to national security.  It establishes a unified set of national security objectives for science and innovation and an annual process for the national security community to communicate their science and innovation priorities to researchers, entrepreneurs and funding programs.  The Strategy will facilitate better collaboration, more relevant research and development, and the enhancement of required research capabilities.  The Strategy is available for download at

    Supporting Organisations

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