Dr Daniel Atkins

Technical Officer

School of Design Communication and IT (Design and Natural History Illustration)

Career Summary


After completing a double degree in science and teaching, I explored my passion for NHI through Honours at the University of Newcastle. Soon after I ventured to the Ruwenzori Mountains of Uganda living with the Buconzo people, teaching secondary Biology and Chemistry, facilitating youth programs, as well as staff and school development at Mitandi secondary school and sister schools in the region. Whilst there I had the opportunity to study the flight behaviours of the abundant and varied bird species, which inspired my PhD research. This led to the development of a species-specific bird model for illustration practice.  Whilst completing my PhD I lectured as a sessional academic in Field Studies in the NHI degree and am now fulltime Technical Officer for the Design and NHI programs supporting academic staff in teaching delivery and research, RHD student research, and undergraduates for both Vis. Com. Design and NHI.

Research Expertise
I am fascinated by the solution-based focus of practice-based research in the field of NHI, and the new knowledge that arises from inherent innovative and creative explorations demanded by an outcome based inquiry. Particularly challenging is capturing the tacit component of the knowledge contribution. In my research I have employed schematic frameworks to identify the flow of knowledge in process, and to link the making of artifacts with methods of inquiry. In my own doctoral research I have designed, created and applied a species-specific articulating bird model to understand and reconstruct reference for drawing specific flight events in the Australian White-bellied Sea-Eagle. This has further led to an interest in the discussion of embedded knowledge, knowledge contribution, and innovation by creative practitioners in collaborative research projects, where there is an exchange of knowledge between creative and scientific disciplines to resolve complex problems.

Teaching Expertise
2011-2012 Lecturing 2nd Year Natural History Illustration: Field Studies 3 & 4 2010-2011 Teaching EPARTS 190 Introduction to Design Drawing 2009-2010 Tutoring 3rd year Natural History Illustration: Margaret Senior Award and Major Internal Project.

Administrative & Managerial Expertise
Collection Manager for the NHI Fauna Collection, Store Manager for illustration materials, media and equipment, specialised content delivery and technical expertise in NHI practice, Exhibition curator for Design building, Health and Safety Repesentative for Design discipline assessing and advising both undergraduate and postgraduate activities Health and Safety for Design building work space, Field Officer for NHI, First Aid Officer Design, Emergency Warden Design building.

I am currently a contributing member of the Natural History Illustration Research Group (NHIRG), as part of the Hunter Creative Industries and Technology Centre (HCIT), The University of Newcastle.


  • Doctor of Philosophy, University of Newcastle
  • Bachelor of Science/Bachelor of Teaching, Avondale College
  • Bachelor of Natural History Illustration (Honours), University of Newcastle


  • Field studies
  • Practice-based Research/ Practice-led Research
  • Practice-based research
  • Schematic frameworks for knowledge management in NHI research-practice
  • Scientific techniques in illustration practice
  • Tacit knowledge
  • Trans-disciplinary methodology

Fields of Research

Code Description Percentage
120399 Design Practice and Management not elsewhere classified 30
190599 Visual Arts and Crafts not elsewhere classified 60
120307 Visual Communication Design (incl. Graphic Design) 10

Professional Experience

Academic appointment

Dates Title Organisation / Department
1/01/2010 - 1/12/2012 Sessional Lecturer/Acadmeic University of Newcastle
Natural History Illustration School of DCIT
1/01/2010 - 1/06/2011 Teaching EPARTS 190 Introduction to Design Drawing University of Newcastle
1/07/2009 - 1/11/2010 Sessional Lecturer/Academic Natural History Illustration: Margaret Senior Award University of Newcastle
Natural History Illustration School of DCIT
1/02/2009 - 1/06/2010 Sessional Academic tutoring Major Internal Project University of Newcastle
Natural History Illustration School of DCIT



Year Award
2009 Lizard Island Research Station - NHI Field Research
Australian Museum - Australia Projects Ltd


Year Award
2004 Margaret Senior Award
University of Newcastle
1998 Life time member to the Golden Key Society
Golden Key Society

Research Award

Year Award
2011 Australian Post Graduate Award
University of Newcastle


For publications that are currently unpublished or in-press, details are shown in italics.

Creative Work (6 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2015 Howells AN, Atkins D, Broughton Island, The Art of Adventure (2015) [J2]
Co-authors Andrew Howells
2015 Brooker CJ, Cross K, Minichiello M, Roxburgh M, Howells A, Atkins D, et al., Making it Known, http://www.making-it-known.com/catalogue/ (2015) [J2]
Co-authors Michael Dickinson, Mark Roxburgh, Mario Minichiello, Mike Mcauley, Caelli Brooker, Andrew Howells, Jane Shadbolt
2015 Howells A, Atkins D, Weekes T, Sailer P, Dedman L, Purnell T, et al., Illuminating Science (2015) [J2]
Co-authors Bernadette Drabsch, Andrew Howells, Prue Sailer
2015 Brooker C, Cross K, Making It Known, Curve Gallery (2015) [J2]
Co-authors Mark Roxburgh, Caelli Brooker, Mario Minichiello, Jane Shadbolt, Andrew Howells, Michael Dickinson, Mike Mcauley
2015 Drabsch BS, Atkins DP, Illuminating Science, Newcastle City Council (2015) [J3]
Co-authors Bernadette Drabsch
2015 Howells A, Atkins D, Weekes T, Sailer P, Dedman L, Purnell T, et al., Illuminating Science (2015) [J2]
Co-authors Bernadette Drabsch, Prue Sailer, Andrew Howells
Show 3 more creative works

Research Projects

Illuminating Science 2015 - 2016

Illuminating Science

Broughton Island: The Art of Adventure 2013 - 2015


Dr Daniel Atkins


Technical Officer
School of Design Communication and IT
Faculty of Science and Information Technology

Focus area

Design and Natural History Illustration

Contact Details

Email daniel.atkins@newcastle.edu.au
Phone (02) 4921 6250


Room D227
Building Design
Location Callaghan
University Drive
Callaghan, NSW 2308