Our people

The RNSA Team

The Research Network for a Secure Australia (RNSA) is a multi-disciplinary collaboration established to strengthen Australia’s research capacity to enhance the protection of the nation’s critical infrastructure from natural, human-caused, or accidental disasters, and terrorist acts.

Network Convenor

Professor. Priyan Mendis, Head of the Advanced Protective Technology for Engineering Structures Group, The University of Melbourne

Professor. Priyan Mendis has received international recognition for his work in protective and structural engineering and security. Priyan has successfully undertaken commissions for clients within the public and private sectors both nationally and internationally. He has lectured in structural engineering and protective engineering at the University Melbourne, Australia for more than 20 years and attached to the Dept of Infrastructure Engineering. He has been invited to lecture to both researchers and practising engineers on various topics related to protective technology of  structures, both in Australia and overseas.

 

Associate Professors

Dr. Tuan Ngo has extensive experience in security, risk and protective design. He has had numerous commissions and has led a number of design teams in all types of engineering services in commercial buildings, aviation, infrastructure and defence facilities. Tuan has more than ten years experience in protective engineering, focusing on perimeter security and facility hardening, finite element analysis of structures under static, dynamic, blast and impact loads. He has designed a large number of proof-of-concept structural test articles, directed the fullscale blast testing of these articles, and followed with comprehensive post-test analysis. He has performed numerous high-fidelity physics based (HFPB) finite element analyses for blast and impact effects on various protective structures/systems for evaluating their blast/impact resistance and determining design parameters, such as anti-ram walls, anti-ram bollards, reinforced concrete columns subjected to vehicle bombs and suitcase bombs, steel bridges, and blast barriers. Tuan carried out significant research into the explosions effects on structures, and the impact that has had on commercial and industrial design and operation. Tuan is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Melbourne in the Dept of Infrastructure Engineering.

Dr. Jonathan Tran received his PhD degree in Theoretical and Applied Mechanics at the University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign (UIUC, USA, 2010) on the development of Laser-induced compressive shockwave technique to investigate the dynamic delamination of multilayer thin film structures. Following his PhD, Dr Tran has been working as a postdoctoral researcher in Mechanical Engineering department at the Northwestern University (Evanston, IL, USA) on an ONR-funded project to investigate the performance of composite material subjected to underwater blast loading. His current position is a Deputy Director of the Advanced Protective Technology for Engineering Structure (APTES) group and a research fellow in the department of Infrastructure Engineering, the University of Melbourne. Recently, he has been working on several projects on protective technology such as:

  • Soft amour composite textile & light-weight composite panels (with CSIRO)
  • Alternative material & Weight optimisation for Hawkei amour vehicle against blast loading (with Thales, DST-group & DMTC)
  • Fire performance of nano-enhanced composite façade (ARC linkage)

His research interests are Development and Optimisation of Bio-mimicry and Lightweightcomposite materials against extreme events (Blast, Impact, and Fire). He has published over 30 journal papers on related topics.

Senior Research Fellows

Rod Cowan, Strategic Advisor, Emirates/ECU Centre for Aviation and Security Studies (CASS)

Rod Cowan has contributed for over 30 years to security thinking, through his writing, lecturing, speaking at industry conferences and public events, as well as having input to various Government investigations and corporate research.

In recent years through Edith Cowan University, his research focused on social media and open source risk, along with illicit trade, and he has conducted workshops for and consulted with law enforcement, intelligence, government entities and corporations in Australia, Middle East and the EU on how digital communications and social media, although providing many benefits, also represents serious threats to governments, business, communities and individuals, from attacks on reputations to inadvertently leaking information. A proponent for security-minded communications, Cowan argues, criminals and terrorists excel at exploiting the potential of digital communications, especially social media, while law enforcement, intelligence agencies and security organisations lag far behind in using communications as a security tool.

Currently, in addition to his role as Strategic Advisor to the Dubai-based Emirates/ECU Centre for Aviation and Security Studies, Cowan is the Writer/Director of the Security is Your Business collaboration project, and Editor-at-large for the Security Solutions magazine. Cowan has written for the Sydney Morning Herald, Sun Herald, the Bulletin magazine, appeared on national television and radio, and has received two industry awards for excellence for his writing on the security industry. A founding director of the Australian Security Medals Foundation Inc., Cowan is currently the Board’s Director for Philanthropy.

Dr. Jonathan Tran received his PhD degree in Theoretical and Applied Mechanics at the University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign (UIUC, USA, 2010) on the development of Laser-induced compressive shockwave technique to investigate the dynamic delamination of multilayer thin film structures. Following his PhD, Dr Tran has been working as a postdoctoral researcher in Mechanical Engineering department at the Northwestern University (Evanston, IL, USA) on an ONR-funded project to investigate the performance of composite material subjected to underwater blast loading. His current position is a Deputy Director of the Advanced Protective Technology for Engineering Structure (APTES) group and a research fellow in the department of Infrastructure Engineering, the University of Melbourne. Recently, he has been working on several projects on protective technology such as:

  • Soft amour composite textile & light-weight composite panels (with CSIRO)
  • Alternative material & Weight optimisation for Hawkei amour vehicle against blast loading (with Thales, DST-group & DMTC)
  • Fire performance of nano-enhanced composite façade (ARC linkage)

His research interests are Development and Optimisation of Bio-mimicry and Lightweightcomposite materials against extreme events (Blast, Impact, and Fire). He has published over 30 journal papers on related topics.

John Hardy is a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the National Security College, ANU. He was previously a lecturer at Macquarie University’s Department of Policing, Intelligence and Counter Terrorism and a researcher for the Macarthur Foundation Asia Security Project at Lowy Institute for International Policy. John’s research focuses on High-Value Targeting, the fusion of military intelligence and strike operations and the use of social network theory to understand insurgent and terrorist networks.

Outreach Manager

Keanne Stephenson is the Outreach Manager responsible for the business development and organisation of events at RNSA. Keanne has over 12 years’ experience in strategic marketing, branding, fundraising and corporate sponsorships, with a particular focus on the defence, national security and emergency management communities. She has been active in facilitating training and education in this sector with public courses, in-house training, expos, conferences and online courses.

Advisory Board Members

Network Convenor

Professor Priyan Mendis, Head of the Advanced Protective Technology for Engineering Structures Group, The University of Melbourne

Management Committee

Professor Ed Dawson, Queensland University of Technology,
Professor Joseph Lai, UNSW@ADFA and
Professor Hussein Abbass, UNSW@ADFA