Newcastle expert to steer discussion on autonomous vehicles

Expert in neuropsychology, Professor Kristen Pammer, will host a public lecture on Thursday to explore the potential risks and benefits of autonomous vehicles.

Worldwide 1.35 million people are killed in car accidents annually, with the majority of accidents caused by driver error.

Head of the School of Psychology at the University of Newcastle, Professor Pammer’s research work includes attentional allocation in driving, reading, and dyslexia.

Hosted by the University of Newcastle, Professor Pammer will kick off the first of the New Professors Talk public lectures this year, which feature subject matter experts speaking on topics of community relevance.

The free lecture will be held at Newcastle Conservatorium from 6pm on Thursday 21 March. Registration is free via Eventbrite.

For more information on the talk go to this website page

Community help needed to piece mental health puzzle together

A new research project is seeking to interview family members or carers of people with experience of mental health services in Newcastle during the 1970s to 1980s.

Led by Professor Catharine Coleborne and part of a larger Australian Research Council Discovery project, the study will investigate the impacts of community mental health services in Newcastle. PhD student Robyn Dunlop is looking to conduct oral history interviews with family members, carers or people who worked at a mental health service during this period.

Funding for community mental health services first began in the early 1970s and the federal government has recently announced a further $1.45 billion commitment to these services.

Findings from the study will contribute to Newcastle’s social history and increase understanding of recent developments in mental health care outside mental health hospitals, which is central to treatment and care available today.

Participants will need to be available for an hour to conduct a recorded oral history interview.

For more information, contact Robyn Dunlop on (02) 4921 7318 or email

World Oral Health Day and new accolades for virtual anaesthesia

An innovative project assisting budding Oral health Therapists administer anaesthetic in a virtual environment has received national recognition.

The University of Newcastle’s virtual anaesthesia made headlines last year as a first-of-its-kind technology aimed at bridging the gap between the classroom and dentist’s chair. The simulation allows second and third year students to practice administering injections in a controlled, standardised environment before progressing to the hands-on procedural skills in the simulation laboratory and eventually real-world patients.

Earlier this month, the project was named the winner of the inaugural Emerging Technology Award at the iTnews Benchmark Awards in Sydney. The award was accepted by Mrs Denise Higgins and Associate Professor Janet Wallace from the University’s Oral Health Program, along with IT Services Innovation Manager Mr Craig Williams.

World Oral Health Day is on Wednesday, 20 March.

Image credit: OzinOH on Flickr