Alumni Updates

Robert Trott – Exoskeleton and physiological measurement

2017 Playford Trust PhD Scholarship

Robbie is now working as a Research Fellow at the Australian Industrial Transformation Institute (AITI) – a national leader in industry and workplace innovation research – and he’s based at Flinders University. He has been a member of AITI’s multi-disciplinary team since completing his PhD in late 2022.

Robbie has a diverse range of research interests centred around exoskeletons and human performance measurement and rehabilitation. His PhD work focused on the control of ambulating exoskeletons to improve outcomes in gait rehabilitation for victims of stroke –  and this work is continuing.

He says his work involving lower limb exoskeletons was the perfect primer for developing a specialty in upper body exoskeletons. However, he’s now applying it in industrial settings, to support workers and reduce the occurrence of muscular-skeletal disorders, a major contributor to workplace injury and quality of life.

All exoskeleton interventions demand assessment to demonstrate efficacy, and learning the tools involved in human performance measurement was the “perfect platform” for Robbie’s employment at the Australian Industrial Transformation Institute. His expertise in physiological performance measurement was used in a human participant trial, run through the Innovative Manufacturing Co-operative Research Centre, which looked at both how people interact with varying and collaborating technologies and how they respond physiologically.

Robbie is continuing his research through several projects, including the continuation of his PhD work, and he’s also formally mentoring a network of students. He works with major defence and manufacturing companies, and says he is always able to bring a creative lens to the problems the world is facing. His future goals are “all things exoskeleton and physiological measurement” – with a side-serving of supervision, his passion.



More Alumni Updates

Bradley Kirk – Material scientist in sustainable energy

2018 Playford Trust Honours Scholarship / 2020 Playford Trust PhD scholarship
Bradley is a material scientist who currently specialises in the development of organic and inorganic-based semiconductors specifically geared towards energy production.

Susan Lee – Environmental pioneer

2006 Playford Trust PhD Environmental Scholarship
I was the first student to receive a Playford Trust Environment Scholarship in 2006. Studies in the environment tend to include a lot of fieldwork and trips away from civilisation, so the scholarship really helped me with these costs!

Lucas (Tuan) Tran – Energy Engineer

2021 Playford Trust/Cooper Energy Petroleum Engineering Scholarship
In 2017, I came to Australia as an international student from Vietnam to pursue a world-class education in Petroleum Engineering at the University of Adelaide. After finishing my Honours degree, I began my PhD project…

Bec Pedler – R&D technician, Clean Seas Seafood

2019 Playford Trust Regional Science & Engineering Scholarship
Marine mollusc extracts represent an almost entirely unexploited source of broad-spectrum antivirals against human viruses. My Honours project involved assessing the hemolymph (blood fluid) from the Greenlip abalone and Pacific oyster for antiviral activity against Human Coronavirus…

Alexander Makarowsky – Maths modelling and energy

2018 Codan/Playford Trust Engineering Scholarship
The year after winning his scholarship, Alex joined the company that sponsored him – Codan/Minelab Electronics. There he used mathematical modelling to optimise the geometry of metal detector coils.

Joe Kupke – Man of the trees

2018 Playford Trust/TAFE SA Award
At the time Joe received his Playford Trust Award, he was employing just two staff in his arborist business, Adelaide Hills Tree Services. Now there are 10 on the team…

Phiala Shanahan – Professor of Physics at MIT

2011 Scantech/Playford Trust scholarship
In 2020, respected Science News magazine named Phiala one of its Top 10 elite young scientists ‘pushing the boundaries of scientific enquiry’. All of those honoured…

Georgina Duguid – Structural design engineer

2018 Playford Trust Honours Scholarship
Having completed my Bachelor of Civil Engineering at Flinders University in 2018, I am working as a structural design engineer with Mineral Technologies/Downer EDI – the company…

Michael Dello-Lacovo – Space scientist

2014 AusIMM/Playford Trust Honours Scholar
I received the AusIMM/Playford Trust Scholarship for my Honours degree in geophysics in 2014 for the thesis topic ‘heat flow and geothermal energy in South Australia’….


We love to hear from our alumni and to share their news. To let us know where your studies have taken you, email an update and a picture to