Biomedical Sciences

Dr Nicolette Birbara

BMedSc, BSc(Hons), PhD

Lecturer in Anatomy
Port Macquarie
Building 801 Level 3

Nicolette completed her qualifications at UNSW Sydney where she was also a casual anatomy tutor in the School of Medical Sciences, Department of Anatomy for five years. She completed a Bachelor of Medical Science with Distinction, majoring in Anatomy, in 2015.  She completed her Honours degree in 2016, achieving First Class and receiving the University Medal in Anatomy.  She completed her PhD in 2020, for which her thesis was placed in the top 10% of theses examined by both of her examiners and she received a Dean’s Award for Outstanding PhD Theses.

Nicolette began her role at CSU as a Lecturer in Biomedical Science (Anatomy) at the beginning of 2021.

Nicolette’s main areas of teaching include functional and musculoskeletal anatomy, head and neck anatomy and visceral anatomy.

Nicolette taught gross anatomy and histology to a range of students at UNSW Sydney including science, medical science, exercise physiology, optometry and medical students at all levels.  At CSU she teaches gross anatomy to first- and second-year physiotherapy and occupational therapy students.

Nicolette has a great passion for anatomy teaching and loves sharing her passion with her students to make their learning experience as fulfilling as possible. She is a firm believer that students should be active in their learning and that her role as an educator is to provide the guidance that will help them to be active learners.  She encourages her students to be hands-on and autonomous, as this creates opportunities for discovery and to develop an appreciation of the discipline of anatomy.

Nicolette’s research interests lie in the area of anatomy education, specifically in the use of 3D technologies such as virtual and augmented reality as well as 3D printing. These were the topics of her Honours degree and PhD.

Nicolette’s PhD focused on the use of virtual learning resources, specifically using immersive technologies such as virtual reality, for anatomy education.  Prior to this, her Honours degree focused on the use of 3D printing for surgical planning, specifically in the context of mitral valve surgery, and touched briefly on how 3D printed models can be used for educational purposes.  She has published journal articles in both of these areas and has presented her work at several national and international conferences.

Nicolette is an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and is a member of the Australian and New Zealand Association of Clinical Anatomists.

Journal articles

  • Birbara, N. S., Pather, N. (2020). Real or not real: The impact of the physical fidelity of virtual learning resources on learning anatomy. Anat Sci Educ [in press].
  • Birbara, N. S., Sammut, C., Pather, N. (2020). Virtual reality in anatomy: A pilot study evaluating different delivery modalities. Anat Sci Educ 13(4): 445-457.
  • Birbara, N. S., Otton, J. M., Pather, N. (2019). 3D modelling and printing technology to produce patient-specific 3D models. Heart Lung Circ 28(2): 302-313.
  • Otton, J. M., Birbara, N. S., Hussain, T., Greil, G. F., Foley, T. A., Pather, N. (2017). 3D printing from cardiovascular CT: A practical guide and review. Cardiovasc Diag Ther 7(5): 507-526.

Book chapters

  • Birbara, N. S., Pather, N. (2021). Instructional design of virtual learning resources for anatomy education. In: Rea, P. M. (Editor). Biomedical Visualisation, Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology. Cham, Switzerland: Springer Nature Switzerland AG. p 75-110.

Conference abstracts

  • Birbara NS, Pather N. 2020. Virtual versus traditional collaborative learning experiences for anatomy education. J Anat 236 Suppl 1:98.
  • Birbara NS, Pather N. 2019. Effectiveness of virtual learning experiences in collaborative learning: A pilot study. Clin Anat 33:E45.
  • Birbara NS, Pather N. 2019. Real or not real: The impact of physical fidelity on learning anatomy in an interactive labelling task. Australian and New Zealand Association for Health Professional Educators (2019), ANZAHPE 2019 conference, 1-4 July, 2019, Canberra, Australia. p 295.
  • Birbara, N, Ong A, Best N, Yip A, Sammut C, Bednarz T, Pather N. 2018. Multimodal platform delivery in immersive reality instruction for medical education. J Islam Int Med Coll 13 Suppl 1:64.
  • Birbara NS, Sammut C, Pather N. 2018. Immersive reality instruction for medical education: Stereoscopic versus desktop delivery. Australian and New Zealand Association for Health Professional Educators (2018), ANZAHPE 2018 Conference, 1-4 July, 2018. Hobart, Australia. p 260-261.
  • Pather N, Birbara N, Sobhanmanesh S, Otton J. 2018. Virtual reality for surgical training and preoperative planning. The FASEB Journal 32 Suppl 1:lb534-lb534.
  • Birbara NS, Otton J, Pather N. 2017. 3D modelling and printing for mitral valve surgical planning. Clin Anat 31:E118.
  • Otton J, Birbara N, Pather N. 2017. 3D printing the mitral valve for surgical planning: Comparison between cardiac CT and 3D echocardiography. Heart Lung Circ 26 Suppl 2:S279.

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