Charles Sturt University
Charles Sturt University

Dr Matthew Ireland

Dr Matthew Ireland

BSc(Hons), PhD, GCUTL

Dr Matt Ireland has been a lecturer in and anatomy and physiology at CSU since the start of 2011. After graduating with a science degree in biochemistry, molecular biology and biological science from Griffith University (Qld). He then went on to complete Honours and a PhD in physiology at the University of Queensland where he examined the neuromodulation of brainstem motoneurons that are critical for maintaining upper airway patency during respiration. Dysfunctions in these neuronal groups are thought to contribute to many breathing-related disorders such as obstructive sleep apnoea, congenital central hypoventilation syndrome (Ondine's curse) and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). He then undertook a three-year postdoctoral appointment at the University of Alberta in Canada and returned to Australia in 2008 to commence further postdoctoral work at the Queensland Brain Institute investigating synaptic transmission in the prefrontal cortex.

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Teaching philosophy

While an undergraduate student I was taught and mentored by numerous gifted lecturers who ignited my interest in science. To them, science wasn't remembering facts and figures from obscure textbooks. It wasn't advances in new technology. It was the study all things in nature that covered everything from the creation of the universe to the interaction of particles at the subatomic level. I was taught science at its core was asking questions that hadn't been asked before, generating hypothesis and testing those hypothesis. Because of this approach to my learning, I walked away from lectures feeling inspired. Later this would become a leading reason on why I would purse a research and teaching career.

My primary teaching goal has always been to inspire such an interest and more importantly a drive in my students to better understand the world that they live in. I want my students to know and expect that when they walk away from one of my lectures they will be walking away with something else besides what they need to know on the exam. I am a strong proponent in constructivism in education and using a multiple pedagogical approach to facilitate student learning. I want my students to build their own understanding by engaging them, guiding them to think and to ask their own questions. I would strongly argue that these teaching approaches access deeper learning processes that students take away when they graduate.

Current subjects taught
  • BMS191 – Anatomy & Physiology I
  • BMS192 – Anatomy & Physiology II
  • BMS291 - Pathophysiology & Pharmacology I
  • BMS292 - Pathophysiology & Pharmacology II
  • BMS334 - Applied Cardiovascular Physiology

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I have had a long standing interest in respiratory physiology, particular the behaviour of brainstem neurons from the hypoglossal nucleus. These motoneurons innervate the muscles of the tongue and play a crucial role in breathing particularly during inspiration where they contract to allow more air to enter the larynx and the lungs. Interestingly, during different behavioural states such as wakefulness and sleep, these motoneurons receive alternating levels of various monoamines such as serotonin, acetylcholine and norepinephrine. Many breathing related disorders such as SIDS and OSA are thought to be due to dysfunctions in these respiratory related neurons. With our research laboratory (Orange campus) operational and the recent addition of a fixed-stage microscope I am looking forward to taking this research further at CSU.

Another avenue of research I have become interested in since my appointment at CSU Is education-based research. While blended learning approaches to university education represent new and diverse ways to deliver subject content. I believe that we have barely touched the surface of its full potential. Despite online lectures, tutorials forums and the enormous flexibility that students have in their studies. Distant students consistently report feeling isolated and disconnected from their studies. I believe the real challenge, isn't so much the utilization of web-based communication, but in helping distant students feel more involved and active in their learning.

Research interests and current projects

Bioscience education for health students.

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Caffey, M.R, Crane, J.W and Ireland*, M,F., (2016) Paramedic student anxiety levels towards concepts in pharmacology at a regional university in Australia. Australasian Journal of Paramedicine: 2016;13(4)

Caffey, M.R, Maria, S., Ireland, M.F., Brewster, L. (2016). Antiemetic management preferences for Australasian paramedic providers. Australasian Journal of Paramedicine: 2016;13(2)

Logan, P.A., Dunphy, J., McClean, R., Ireland, M.F. (2013). Six years of teaching human bioscience, pathophysiology and pharmacology: a journey of reflective practice. International Journal of Innovation in Science and Mathematics Education Special Edition. 21(3), 82-103.

Ireland MF, Funk GD, Bellingham MC. "Muscarinic acetylcholine receptors enhance neonatal mouse hypoglossal motoneurons excitability in vitro". Journal of Applied Physiology (2012) Oct; 113(7): 1024-39. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00699.2011.

Ireland MF, Lenal FC, Lorier AR, Loomes DE, Adachi T, Alvares TS, Greer JJ, Funk GD. "Distinct receptors underlie glutamatergic signalling in inspiratory rhythm-generating networks and motor output pathways in neonatal rat". Journal of Physiology (2008) May 1;586(9):2357-70. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.2007.150532.

Ireland MF, Noakes PG, Bellingham MC. " P2X7-like receptor subunits enhance excitatory synaptic transmission at central synapses by presynaptic mechanisms". Neuroscience. 2004;128(2):269-80.

Bellingham MC, Ireland MF. "Contribution of cholinergic systems to state-dependent modulation of respiratory control". Respiratory Physiology & Neurobiology. (2002) July; 131(1-2):135-44.

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