With their finger on the pulse in the university and defence sectors, The Defence Science Institute’s (DSI) Liaison Managers act as the perfect conduits to collaboration between industry and academia.

Mr Mark Raphael, past Liaison Manager for La Trobe University and Strategic Relationship Manager, Office of Industry Engagement, Research & Industry Engagement portfolio, reflects on his contribution to the role during his tenure.

1) Tell us about yourself.

I’ve enjoyed a long career in the university, medical research, Cooperative Research Centres

(CRC) and Technical and Further Education (TAFE) sectors in a variety of professional roles. Over the last fifteen years, my focus has been on research development in engineering and more recently Defence science and technology (S&T).

My father served with the RAAF during WWII with a Beaufighter squadron. My great uncle was an ANZAC and served with the Australian Imperial Force at Gallipoli and was lost on the Somme in France. I have always been interested in history and Australia’s role in these global conflicts. More recently, I have had the privilege of meeting the surviving members of RAAF 31 Squadron, who my father served with.

My interest in Defence is therefore both professional and very personal and so I saw this as an opportunity to continue the tradition by helping support the development of Australia’s sovereign defence capabilities at La Trobe through my work with the DSI.

2) What drew you to the DSI Liaison Manager role?

I joined La Trobe University in June 2019 after three years in the School of Engineering at RMIT. While at RMIT I had the opportunity to work with the Office of the Vice Chancellor to help enhance the university’s engagement with the Defence sector. This period was marked by the release of the 2016 Defence White Paper and so I attended many Defence industry events and participated in numerous other Defence projects. This unique period of intense engagement enabled me to become fully oriented to the Defence sector from an industry and Department of Defence perspective. At La Trobe, I was able to build on my networks and experience as the university’s DSI Liaison Manager.

3) Comment on your engagement in Defence and within your university.

My position with the central Research & Industry Engagement portfolio ideally placed me to be the university’s Defence point of contact for our external partners such as DSI, Defence Science and Technology (DST) and DMTC. I saw my role as connecting my research community with the Defence sector in general and with Defence S&T in particular.

4) Comment on the research capabilities highlighted by your university.

La Trobe has very strong human biosciences and human performance research programs developed over many years. These are broad and deep capability sets that provide the university a unique position in the Defence S&T landscape. These are complemented by strong cyber security, data sciences and engineering programs.

5) Comment on the collaboration between Australian Defence and La Trobe University

La Trobe University is undergoing a strategic reset in light of the significant impact of COVID-19 on university priorities and operations. The university is pivoting towards a much higher degree of industry engagement in its educational and research programs. Under the auspices of the ‘More, Together’ Defence S&T Strategy 2030, there has never been a better time for a university to engage and support Australia’s Defence research objectives.

6) What mark do you hope to leave from your time as a DSI Liaison Manager?

I would hope to have been able to contribute to the effectiveness of DSI operations and strategic objectives through my contribution to discussions and by building strong connections with my university. In these times of isolated working and far too many hours on Zoom, I always enjoyed the opportunity to connect with colleagues through DSI who all share a commitment to building Australia’s sovereign Defence capabilities.


After Mark Raphael, Associate Professor Peter Moar has assumed the position of DSI Liaison Manager for La Trobe. The DSI team thank Mark for his contribution and wish him the very best in future endeavours.

DSI aims to establish connections between industry and academia, and encourages researchers who may not have had any experience with the defence sector to make contact to leverage the many grant and support options available to advance research.

To learn more about research collaboration projects and other operations facilitated by DSI, please contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..



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