Experts available for media commentary

February 2, 2015

A range of Murdoch experts are available for commentary in February on topics including the Fifty Shades of Grey movie, bushfires, New Year resolutions, summer festivals, sporting events, politics and the opening of the Emergency Department at Fiona Stanley Hospital.

Find the full list of Murdoch experts by category here, or contact a member of the Media and Communications team for more information.

The Fifty Shades of Grey phenomenon

The first of a trilogy of erotic books by E L James is soon to be released as a movie on Valentine's Day. Fifty Shades of Grey and subsequent books followed the sexual relationship between a college graduate, Anastasia Steele and young business magnate, Christian Grey.

Dr Katie Attwell

Dr Attwell is the unit coordinator of the undergraduate unit Sex and Gender matters. Dr Attwell says that the sexual practices (sadism and masochism) outlined in the book combined with a female cast in the role of submissive, has proved an attractive prospect (at least in the imaginary) for legions of female readers.

Our post-feminism era says that women are equal now and there are no barriers to achieving equality anymore. But is this true? Women are still expected to have it all, do it all and be it all and that includes being sexually desirable and active as well as succeeding in other areas like career and parenting.

Dr Attwell can see the attraction women feel towards the book. By handing over control to a handsome man, the female character is no longer battling to try and find the equality she is told she already has, but instead letting someone else take the reins and as a result the pressure.

Dr Attwell argues that as a fantasy, perhaps this is harmless, but as a replacement for ongoing engagement with the factors that continue to limit women's freedoms and possibilities, it is not.

Professor Toby Miller

Professor Miller is an interdisciplinary social scientist. He provides regular expert comment on media, culture and gender.

He believes that the books have a cult following and the movies will enjoy a similar success. The book and associated merchandise are 'owned' by fans, not just in terms of things they buy but in an emotional and even political sense. For example the film has already undergone cast changes based in part to the reactions to rumored casting choices.

Professor Miller says the response to the movie is likely to be similar to the reactions to the new Star Wars or Star Trek movies. He believes that the somewhat forbidden aura of sado-masochism engulfing the story will attain even great everyday legitimacy and be less hidden.

Despite its popularity, a lot of people objected to the book, citing poor writing. Professor Miller says that there is likely to be a similar backlash to the movie, with some groups of society declining to see it.


Dr Joe Fontaine

In light of all the recent bushfires happening in Perth, Dr Fontaine can provide expert commentary about "burn offs" or prescribed fire as a way of managing bushfire threat.

His research touches on understanding the effectiveness of prescribed fire to reduce threat and where it can be placed to achieve the maximum benefit. There are a number of steps home owners can take to protect their home including cleaning gutters, sealing vents and reducing vegetation
cover within 30 meters of their property by cutting, removing or burning it.

New Year's Resolutions

At the start of each New Year it is not unusual for people to resolve that they want to turn over a new leaf, whether it be too lose weight, take more time for themselves or eat healthier.

Dr Timothy Fairchild

Dr Fairchild has been investigating the relationship between exercise and hunger, with a specific interest in reducing the feeling of hunger by manipulating the type of exercise adopted. We know appetite and hunger are regulated by a number of hormones within the body, and Dr Fairchild's research focusses on how these may be altered after exercise.

Dr Fairchild has also noticed that in general, people who exercise have two approaches to eating. Some people exercise so they can treat themselves to eating more food or they increase their food intake because they mistakenly believe they need do so to fuel their exercise. Then there are the people who exercise but also maintain and improve their healthy food intake. The latter experience more success in terms of weight loss.

Dr Graeme Ditchburn

There is a growing trend towards people resolving to improve their mental well-being. Academic Chair of Organisational Psychology, Dr Graeme Ditchburn, says recent studies suggest you should increase your daily diet of positive emotions and happy moments. Benefits include increased physical health (eg: stronger immune system) and enhanced health protection (eg: overcoming negative effects of stress). Happier people experience increased creativity, great work productivity, longer lasting and more satisfying relationships, as well as increased energy and activity levels.

Dr Ditchburn is currently supervising a research project that is testing a seven day online program designed to increase happiness and well-being in the workplace.

The program is based on positive psychology research and consists of five minute daily exercises that are sent via email. By participating you can learn easy techniques to boost your happiness and get some ideas regarding resolutions for a happier 2015. To learn more visit:

Summer festivals, religion and euphoria

Dr Mark Jennings

A sociology lecturer and researcher, Dr Jennings has investigated the correlations between two very different musical spaces – a Pentecostal congregation and the West Coast Blues 'n' Roots Festival — finding that within both settings music is used to create a discrete space for ecstatic experience.

Also within these spaces, people behave in ways they wouldn't normally. He argues that studying these experiences may help us to find ways to connect people and build bridges.

ICC Cricket World Cup, Busselton Jetty Swim, Rottnest Channel Swim & other sporting events

Murdoch University has a series of sports science experts with an in-depth understanding of the human body, health and training support skills, anatomy, physiology, psychology and biomechanics.

Dr Brad Wall

A lecturer in exercise science, Dr Wall has researched what happens to athletes when they exercise in hot conditions and become dehydrated. An athlete's thermoregulatory response (or temperature regulation) affects their attention, coordination and overall performance.

Dr Mark Hecimovich

Dr Hecimovich is the Associate Dean of Learning and Teaching in the School of Psychology and Exercise Science and a senior lecturer in musculoskeletal rehabilitation.

His expertise covers injury evaluation, management and rehabilitation.

Dr Jeremiah Peiffer

Dr Jeremiah Peiffer has worked extensively with elite athletes on understanding how they can best regulate their body temperature and combat fatigue in hot conditions. He is also interested in the relationship between high intensity exercise and chronic disease as well as sleep and athletic performance.

Dr Sean Muller

Dr Muller is a Senior Lecturer of Motor Learning and Control in Sports Science. His areas of expertise include motor control and learning, visual anticipation in sport and observation training to improve impairment and function.

Dr Tim Fairchild

Dr Tim Fairchild is a Senior Lecturer in Exercise Physiology. His research relates to the therapeutic interventions for the treatment and prevention of obesity and obesity-related morbidities including type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance. This research explores the physiological responses to changes in diet and exercise habits, as well as investigating potential pharmaceutical interventions for these conditions.

Political outlook for the year ahead

The key events and issues affecting the world including the continuing fall-out from the 2014 federal budget and the rise of ISIS both domestically and internationally can be commented upon by our experts in Australian and international affairs.

Dr Ian Cook

Dr Ian Cook specialises in providing independent and critical commentary on Australian and Western Australian politics.

He has also published works examining the forms of liberalism that have been influential in Australian politics and society, including Liberalism in Australia, and on the effects of
the internet on politics and society.

As co-author of Government and Democracy in Australia, a textbook on Australian politics, and Keyword in Australian Politics, Dr Cook is committed to explaining the nature of Australian politics in a way which makes it accessible and interesting.

Professor Sam Makinda

Professor Sam Makinda is the Professor of International Relations and Security Studies at Murdoch University. His areas of expertise include security, terrorism and counterterrorism.

He is a member of the Council for Security Cooperation in the Asia-Pacific and previously served as a member of the Australian Foreign Minister's National Consultative Committee for International Security Issues.

Prior to this, Professor Makinda worked as a foreign affairs analyst in the Parliamentary Research Service.

Professor Makinda established Murdoch University's Security, Terrorism and Counterterrorism studies program. Earlier in his career, Professor Makinda worked as a journalist with Kenya's The Weekly Review and later as an editor with the Daily Nation.

Professor Ben Reilly

Professor Benjamin Reilly, Dean of the Sir Walter Murdoch School, is a political scientist specialising in democratisation, comparative politics and political development.

He has also consulted widely on issues of political institutions, ethnic conflict management and electoral system design, a field in which he has a global reputation.

Other areas that Professor Reilly can comment on include democracy in East Asia, US and Australian foreign policy, South Pacific affairs, and China's role in the Asia-Pacific.

Opening of Emergency Department at Fiona Stanley Hospital

The new Fiona Stanley Hospital is due to open its emergency department on February 3, 2015.

Associate Professor Francesco Paolucci

Associate Professor Paolucci is the Head of the Health Policy Program in the Sir Walter Murdoch School of Public Policy and International Affairs. He has published and advised in the areas of public and economic policy focusing on healthcare systemsgovernance and design, healthcare financing and insurance and decision-making and priority setting in various countries including Australia.

He says the opening of a new hospital is both complex and challenging. He can talk generally about the opening of a new Fiona Stanley Hospital.

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