PhD scholarship opportunity: Visualising Country: An Online Interactive Archive of 3D Models of Australian Landscapes, Flora and Fauna

PhD scholarship opportunity:
Visualising Country: An Online Interactive Archive of 3D Models of Australian Landscapes, Flora and Fauna

Faculty of IT Faculty of Arts
Centre of Organisational and Social Informatics Monash Indigenous Centre
Caulfield Campus Clayton Campus

Scholarship tenure: 3 years full time
Scholarship Value: $24,653 per annum full-time rate (tax-free stipend) (plus $5,000 fieldwork expenses)

Closing Date: Monday 8 April 2013 by 5 p.m.

Overview
We are seeking an enthusiastic student to conduct research that explores the construction of an online, interactive archive where Indigenous communities can access, store and modify three dimensional (3D) models of Australian landscapes, flora and fauna in order to create virtual cultural worlds. This scholarship will be jointly supervised by staff from the Faculty of Information Technology and the Faculty of Arts.

The Scholarship Project
The PhD project will:
• prototype an online archive of virtual 3D Australian landscape models as both a proof of concept and demonstrator
• develop an interactive interface to enable users to view, compare, download and manipulate 3D models of Australian terrain, fauna and flora
• use virtual reality and intelligent technologies to develop user expertise in building 3D animations and visualisations of Indigenous narratives of country.

Systems development will be used as a research method within a participatory action research framework to iteratively design, prototype, and evaluate an exemplar Interactive Online Archive. It will also be used as a research method to investigate related concepts and constructs. Systems development as a research method in an action research framework allows exploration of the interface between theoretical concepts and their practical realisation, including the interplay with community needs and information technology capabilities. Such methods deliver outcomes in the research domain: in this case a conceptual reference model that can be used to test and validate related theoretical concepts under investigation, challenge their assumptions, expose their limitations, and produce refinements in the light of new insights arising from a study of their implementation. They can also produce outcomes in the action domain: in this case a working implementation of the reference model to demonstrate the use of the Interactive Online Archive in Indigenous community settings to create virtual cultural worlds.

The Online Interactive Archive will be populated with 3D models, objects and artefacts, developed and used by the team of animators involved in creating the animated models, landscapes and narratives that were used to create the animations that make up the Monash Country Lines Archive (MCLA). The term ‘Country Lines’ refers to the wealth of Indigenous knowledge embedded in country-centric ribbons of song, narrative and performance. In the MCLA, Monash researchers from the Monash Indigenous Centre and the Centre for Organisational and Social Informatics are working with Indigenous communities to capture cultural knowledge, languages and narratives in 3D animations of the Country Lines (available via http://artsonline.arts.monash.edu.au/countrylines-archive).

The aim of this three-year PhD project is to enable Indigenous communities to access and use three dimensional (3D) models of Australian landscapes (terrains, trees and vertebrate fauna) to create virtual cultural worlds. Access to the models would be provided via an online portal providing access to the models, tools and training materials.

From January 2013, Monash University has introduced Graduate Research Programmes which will incorporate coursework and research training skills development. For more information, please go to: http://www.monash.edu/migr/why-monash/phd/index.html

Scholarship conditions
1. This project is funded by auDA (.au Domain Administration). Any published or displayed material will need to acknowledge auDA.
2. This is a three-year scholarship only. There is no extension available.

Candidate Requirements
The successful student will have an excellent academic track record in IT or a related discipline. An academic track record in archival studies, and/or indigenous studies, or experience of working with Indigenous communities would be highly advantageous. The scholarship will be awarded at the equivalent of current Australian Postgraduate Award rates. Prospective international applicants should note that the scholarship does not cover foreign-student tuition fees. Candidates will be required to meet Monash entry requirements which include English-language skills.

Applications and More Information
To apply for this PhD Scholarship opportunity, email your curriculum vitae, full academic transcript, contact details of 3 referees and a brief statement of your suitability for the project to Dr Tom Chandler: tom.chandler@monash.edu.

You can also email Dr Tom Chandler if you have queries about the Scholarship or Research Project.

For more information about the PhD application process, go to http://www.monash.edu/migr/apply/application/guide/index.html