Research Expertise

Emphasising resilience and trust.

Research Team

Professor Melissa de Zwart FAAL, BA (Hons), LLB (Hons), LLM, PhD - Centre Director

Professor Melissa de Zwart is the Director of the Jeff Bleich Centre at Flinders University. 

Professor de Zwart is a thought-leader in the area of law and technology and has a strong international profile in the fields of internet law and the regulation of access to and uses of outer space. She previously served as Dean of the Adelaide Law School, University of Adelaide (2017-2021), and Chair of the Council of Australian Law Deans. She is currently the Deputy Chair of the Space Industry Association of Australia, Board Member of the Australian Academy of Law and a Lieutenant in the Royal Australian Navy (Reserve).


Don DeBats – Emeritus Director and Head of International Programs and Partnerships

Prof Don DeBats is Head of American Studies and former Director of the JBC at Flinders; he is a Visiting Research Professor at the University of Virginia and a Resident Fellow at Virginia Humanities. He is joint CI on defence contracts, providing leadership on Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technologies and network methodologies and analysis.  His research interests are comparative Australian-Canadian-US politics and political history, US foreign policy, democracy and governance. His historical research is supported by major grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities Collaborative Research Program and explores earlier challenges to democratic norms. His most recent publications demonstrate the operational independence of social and spatial networks.


Dr Maryanne Kelton – Research Lead (Foreign policy, alliance relations)

Dr Maryanne Kelton is a Senior Lecturer in International Relations at Flinders University and a research leader for the JBC. Maryanne’s research prioritises Australian foreign policy, social cybersecurity and trust, the Australia-US alliance, and the economic-security nexus. She is currently working in a strategic multilayered research program on uncertainty and trust in the digital age.  Maryanne’s recent publications with her JBC counterparts include Australian security in the digital age, and the securitisation of cyberspace in Australia-US relations.


Dr Emily Bienvenue - Research Lead

Dr Emily Bienvenue is a Senior Analyst in Joint Operations and Analysis Division of the Defence Science and Technology Group where she provides support to strategic policy and operational planning. Dr. Bienvenue is a Defence Adjunct of JBC. Her research interests include the shift to society-centric warfare and developing trust as a strategic resource in the changing strategic landscape.


Sian Troath – Research Lead (Trust)  

Sian Troath is a JBC Research Lead researching the impact of digital transformation on Australia’s strategic outlook and defence policies, and theories of trust in international relations. Her areas of expertise are international relations and the theoretical formulations of trust, trusted governance in the digital age, Australian foreign policy, and trust and cooperation in the Indo Pacific cooperation.   

Research Affiliates

Professor John Spoehr Strategic Professor, College of Business, Government and Law

John Spoehr is Pro-Vice Chancellor - Research Impact at Flinders University. He is also Director of the Australian Industrial Transformation Institute. John leads a multi-discplinary team focusing on industry and workplace transformation in the context of technological change and innovation.

As Pro-Vice Chancellor Research Impact he is actively involved in the development of industry, government and community research partnerships at a local, national and international level.

Professor Rocco Zito Professor in Civil Engineering, College of Science and Engineering 

Over his career Professor Zito has been involved in many research projects and consultancies in a wide variety of applications some of which are:

• Use of GPS and GIS in Intelligent Transport Systems
• Use of GPS in trip and travel time surveys
• Demand responsible public transport
• GPS in the derivation of traffic congestion parameters
• Real time integration of GPS and GIS
• Use of GPS and GIS in mining and heavy earth moving
• GPS and GIS as a tool for law enforcement
• Connected and Autonomous vehicle research

Professor Trish Williams Professor of Digital Health Systems, College of Science and Engineering

Professor Trish Williams is CISCO Chair and Professor in Digital Health Systems at Flinders University in South Australia. Trish is also co-director of the Flinders Digital Health Research Centre. 

Professor Williams has a strong focus on the translation of research into practical application, demonstration of the contribution that digital health technologies can make to support healthcare, and the use of information security as an enabler for improved healthcare communication and interoperability. She is recognised internationally for her digital health information security expertise and experience in digital health information interoperability. 

Associate Professor Tania Leiman College of Business, Government and Law 

Tania Lehman is currently the Dean of Law in the College of Business, Government and Law.

She is a teaching specialist bringing digital technology into the Flinders Law degree and into the classroom for students. She is a member of the Legal sub-group of the Australian Driverless Vehicle Initiative Policy & Risk Group.

Professor Karl Sammut Professor, College of Science and Engineering

Karl Sammut completed his Ph.D at The University of Nottingham (U.K) in 1992 and was employed between 1992 and 1995 as a Postdoctoral Fellow at The Politecnico di Milano (Italy), and at Loughborough University (UK). 

He commenced his appointment at Flinders University in 1995. He is currently a Professor with the Engineering Discipline in the College of Science and Engineering. His primary research activities are in the area of autonomous marine vehicles, including mission planning, vehicle navigation, guidance and control, and situation awareness. Prof Sammut is the Director of the Centre for Maritime Engineering at Flinders University.

Professor John Roddick Professor of Computer Science, Head of Engineering, College of Science and Engineering

Professor John Roddick joined Flinders in April 2000 after 15 years at the Universities of Tasmania and South Australia. This followed 10 years experience in the computing industry. He was Dean of the School of Computer Science, Engineering and Mathematics between January 2008 until July 2017. He is currently the Chair of the University’s Academic Senate and Head of Engineering. He is a Fellow of both Engineers Australia and the Australian Computing Society.

Building partnerships

Maritime Engineering
(Professor Karl Sammut)

Professor Samut leads research on autonomous marine systems and specialises in the control of smart structures, maritime electronics, electrical systems, robotics, fatigue analysis, and video and image processing. Research programs provide a focus on advanced control systems, autonomous underwater vehicles, and robotic terrain vehicles.

Australian Industrial Transformation Institute (Professor John Spoehr)

AITI provides high level industry, economic and workforce research to respond to new and future technologies, industry and workforce demands. The Institute’s work seeks to deepen understanding of the human and institutional dimensions of change, inform strategy, policy and program development.

Tonsley Manufacturing Innovation Hub (Professor John Spoehr)

The Tonsley Manufacturing Innovation Hub (TMI) has a global and local focus supporting start-ups, and extends its reach into the State’s defence industry, the advanced manufacturing section nationally and cyber security at both State and Federal level.

Transport Systems
(Professor Rocco Zito)

Professor Zito leads multi-disciplinary studies of the economic, operational, social and environmental issues associated with transport and logistics aimed at improving the performance, operation and understanding of transport and logistics. Research includes the five year trial of FLEX the driverless electric shuttle at the Tonsley campus.