Sunday 20 April 2014

AUSTRALIA: Young researchers YouTube their work

Issue No:316

Each year at its annual conference, the Australian Cooperative Research Centres, or CRC, Association holds a “Showcasing Early Career Researchers” session.

This year for the CRC Association's Innovating with Asia 2014 conference in Perth in May*, 48 researchers – two years out from submitting their PhD to five years after submitting – braved the cameras and shot a 30-second video explaining the topic of their research, what they have done and what it means.

“It's a really hard thing to do,” says CRC Association Chief Executive Tony Peacock. “The so-called elevator pitch requires a lot of thinking and then great execution to do it well. All the judges were once again blown away that so many researchers had a go. We all wished we could have a much longer short-list.”

The short-listed candidates have already won A$1,000 (US$940) each along with participating in the CRC Association's conference in Perth. Each of the five finalists will present to the conference audience on their research for five minutes.

The audience will then vote for the winner who will receive a further A$5,000 presented at the AusIndustry-sponsored Excellence in Innovation Awards dinner.

The short-listed finalists

Jake Lacey – Poultry CRC

How gut microbiota contributes to health and productivity
Gut bacteria work like a community to modulate the immune system and defend the host. However, too often the ecosystem of healthy microbiota is thrown out of balance by pathogenic bacteria.

In poultry farms, necrotic enteritis caused by C perfingens is on the rise and results in poor welfare and a loss of productivity due to damage to the intestinal wall. Some birds show a natural resistance to the disease and by investigating the bacteria in these birds we may be able to find a probiotic cure.

Luigi Vandi – CRC for Advanced Composite Structures

Understanding interphase formation in thermoset composite welding
Composite materials have become the material of choice for manufacturing aircraft structures. However, unlike metals, carbon-epoxy materials cannot normally be welded together, making their assembly very challenging.

My project is centred on a new technology patented by the CRC-ACS, allowing these materials to be welded together. My PhD focuses on unravelling the molecular mechanisms at the interphase formed between these materials to ensure this process can be implemented on future aircrafts.

Dr Honor Calnan – CRC for Sheep Industry Innovation

Retaining the red in Australian lamb
The colour of lamb meat is crucial to customer appeal and strongly contributes to product value. Lamb meat currently has a shelf life of only two days before it is discounted due to browning, representing a major economic limitation to the Australian lamb industry.

My PhD investigates factors influencing the oxidative process of lamb browning, identifying practical methods such as feeding vitamin E and selective breeding that can improve the colour stability and thus value of Australian lamb meat.

Binbin Zhang – The HEARing CRC

Fabrication of drug delivery system
3D printing is changing our life in many aspects, from 3D printed food to airplane parts. How could it benefit the current research in life sciences? Printing human organs is of course exciting and ambitious. However, using this new technology to perfect readily available medical devices seems more achievable in the near future.

My research is to develop an integrating drug delivery system into the cochlear implant using 3D printing to prevent the detrimental post-surgery inflammatory response.

Michael Scott – CRC for Optimising Resource Extraction

Evaluation of energy efficiency, mission pricing and pre-concentration
This project evaluates the economic and production impacts from improvements in the energy-efficiency of mining and mineral processing activities, and the introduction of emission pricing on the optimal development of a low-grade, copper-gold deposit in Australia.

The research also examines the incorporation of pre-concentration strategies at the operation, which remove uneconomic material prior to expensive, and energy and emission-intensive, production processes.

* The Innovating with Asia 2014 conference will be held on 20-21 May at the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre.

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