Department of Mathematical and Physical Sciences Leadership

The Department of Mathematical and Physical Sciences is led by a team who understand the importance of an outstanding student experience and creating the right environment for research excellence.

Associate Professor Narelle Brack

Associate Professor Narelle Brack is Head of the Department of Mathematical and Physical Sciences. She is a physicist whose research focuses on creating, understanding and controlling the surface of materials and interfacial properties at the nanometer scale. She specialises in surface science, and the application of specialised spectroscopy methods to investigate and understand the chemical and molecular properties that influence surface and interface phenomena. Associate Professor Brack is also a dedicated educator and is passionate about providing a supportive environment for our undergraduate and postgraduate students.

Dr Toen Castle

Dr Toen Castle is Deputy Head of the Department of Mathematical and Physical Sciences. He is a mathematician who is interested in applying mathematics, as opposed to applied mathematics. His research interests include the mathematics of kirigami – the fusion of origami with perforated paper – which has applications in the natural world and material science. Dr Castle is also co-founder of the Department’s Mathematics Enrichment Program for high school students in Bendigo.

Professor Luke Prendergast

Professor Luke Prendergast is Deputy Dean of the School of Computing, Engineering and Mathematical Sciences, and Associate Dean, Domestic Partnerships. He is a statistician with research interests in robust statistics, meta-analysis and dimension reduction. Professor Prendergast collaborates with researchers across several disciplines, providing biostatistics expertise to many projects including in exercise for people with disability or injury, the effects of weight loss and childhood psychology. He is Director of La Trobe’s Statistics Consulting Platform and is a member of the National Health and Medical Research Council’s grant review panels. Professor Prendergast is a past President of the Victorian Branch of the Statistical Society of Australia and a member of editorial boards and statistics advisory boards for high impact journals, including Nutrients and Respirology.is Deputy Head of the Department of Mathematical and Physical Sciences. He is a mathematician who is interested in applying mathematics, as opposed to applied mathematics. His research interests include the mathematics of kirigami – the fusion of origami with perforated paper – which has applications in the natural world and material science. Dr Castle is also co-founder of the Department’s Mathematics Enrichment Program for high school students in Bendigo.

Professor Marcel Jackson

Professor Marcel Jackson is Director of Graduate Research and Director of Research and Industry Engagement in the School of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences. He is a mathematician specialising in algebra and its interactions with logic and computer science. Associate Professor Jackson is Managing Editor of Algebra Universalis, Associate Editor for Semigroup Forum and leads the Department’s research seminar series. He has held several nationally competitive grants and fellowships, is Treasurer of the Australian Algebra Group and Chair of the Australian Mathematical Society Fellowships committee. He also teaches everything from first year discrete mathematics to fifth year complexity and codes.

Professor Brian Abbey

Professor Brian Abbey is the Director of Research in the Department of Mathematical and Physical Sciences and the Deputy Director of the La Trobe Institute for Molecular Science. He is a physicist whose research is focused on the development of new optical technologies for biological imaging employing techniques in coherent optics and nanotechnology His excellence in research has been recognised with multiple fellowships, grants and awards including, ARC Future Fellowship, ANSTO Eureka Prize for Innovative Use of Technology (2022) and Victoria Prize for Science and Innovation (2022).

Dr Amanda Shaker

Dr Amanda Shaker is a Teaching Focussed Lecturer in the Department of Mathematical and Physical Sciences, and the Deputy Director of Learning and Teaching in the School of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences. She teaches statistics in a diverse range of disciplines and is passionate about making it fun and interesting for all students. Dr Shaker’s contribution to learning and teaching has been recognised with multiple awards, including an Australian Award for University Teaching Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning in 2020. She specialises in the scholarship of learning and teaching including statistics anxiety, assessment and feedback, and gamification of learning.

Dr David Hoxley

Dr David Hoxley is the Director of Learning and Teaching in the Department of Mathematical and Physical Sciences. He is a passionate physicist who is interested in the surfaces of semiconductor crystals, particularly diamond, and how they react to the world around and within us. He has a deep commitment to the dissemination of knowledge through teaching. He designs ways students can study physics, blow their minds, see new things in the world; and then imagine different ways of being in that world. He is particularly interested in coaching students who learn in unusual ways to find and exploit their advantages.

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