Staff profiles

Project lead
Professor Stuart Bunt
Professorial Fellow Teaching and Learning
Anatomy, Physiology and Human Biology
Team members
Elizabeth Kane, Dr Robert Hart

Project outline

With increasing reliance on online learning and less dissection, students have difficulty visualising internal 3D anatomy in the living patient. This project's goal is to develop laboratory content involving the use of a clinical ultrasound machine to show anatomy in the living subject. Many studies have shown students appreciate practical experience and opportunities to use equipment that they will encounter in the workplace outside the University. This project should help raise Students’ Unit Reflective Feedback (SURF) scores across UWA’s anatomy units.

In the process of Royal Perth Hospital upgrading its ultrasound machines, UWA was able to obtain a sophisticated ultrasound machine complete with a range of ultrasound probes (Siemens, Antares Ultrasound Imaging System). Ultrasound is completely safe and involves no radiation so can be used safely in classes; the equipment can store images and videos of 'patients' that can be used in teaching.

The project aims to integrate ultrasound into all aspects of anatomy laboratory teaching  and develop training protocols to train sessional and permanent staff in the use of the equipment. Teaching material will be produced which will give medical, dental, podiatry and science students an appreciation of how the anatomy they see in prosections, simulations and plastinates relates to the living anatomy.

Project findings

The project has been very successful with all objectives achieved, including the production of a virtual ultrasound machine, an augmented app for the ultrasound machine and an interactive 3D simulation of an ultrasound examination. This suite of innovative teaching tools helps students learn how to use the expensive ultrasound machine without any risk of damage. The progression of student learning starts with conventional materials, then use of the virtual ultrasound machine in Second Life, finally moving onto using the actual ultrasound machine under supervision.This suite of teaching tools will be run within teaching in Semester 1 2017 for Dental, Podiatry and Science students in the 2nd year neuroanatomy unit ANHB221.They will be used to teach both about ultrasound imaging, anatomy and blood flow, in the face and jaw, legs and brain respectively. This will be the first time that ultrasound will be used in Anatomy teaching at UWA. It is also a unique use of the virtual campus and has been acknowledged as a significant innovation by the Australian New Zealand Association of Clinical Anatomists.


Rachael Catterson:

  • As part of her honours project Rachael Catterson produced a virtual ultrasound machine in Second Life:
  • Presented at the Australia – New Zealand Association of Clinical Anatomist (ANZACA) conference in Canberra in December 2016 and won the top prize awarded by an International jury of $5000 for her poster in the category of innovations in education.

Stuart Bunt:

  • Held a workshop at the National Tertiary Education Union’s Annual National Conference in Melbourne in October 2016.  This lead to the publication of an invited commentary in the Union’s publication “The Advocate” entitled “Virtual Teaching, virtual teachers?”
  • Presented at a seminar entitled “Virtual Anatomy” in Witwatersrand School of Anatomy Johannesburg 3rd February 2016.
  • Presented at a seminar entitled “Three Dimensional Technologies for Teaching: Use of Virtual Worlds, 3D Browsers, 3D Printers, and Datasets Used to Teach Anatomy”  in Beunos Aires at The Technology, Knowledge & Society Knowledge Conference in February 2016.
  • Presented a workshop session at the Australian & New Zealand Association of Clinical Anatomists (AnZACA) conference on “Artful Anatomy” in Canberra 7-9th December 2016.

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