This week at Science in Public

This Week

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Media releases, The Australia-Indonesia Centre

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2017 Metcalf Prizes – Media release

Media releases, National Stem Cell Foundation of Australia

Building a blood cancer treatment from the ground up – Mark Dawson, Melbourne

How we and our stem cells get old – Jessica Mar, Brisbane

Winners of the National Stem Cell Foundation of Australia’s Metcalf Prizes announced

Scientists available for interviews

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How we and our stem cells get old

National Stem Cell Foundation of Australia

Jessica Mar is analysing stem cells to discover the changes that influence ageing.

We all started life as a stem cell. Throughout our lives, stem cells repair and replace our tissues, but as we age they stop working as well. Understanding how this decline occurs is fundamental to understanding—and influencing—how we age. [click to continue…]

Building a blood cancer treatment from the ground up

National Stem Cell Foundation of Australia

Mark Dawson has helped to build a new drug to fight an aggressive form of blood cancer, discovering the basic science of gene expression in acute myeloid leukaemia (AML), developing the drug to block that action, and leading an international clinical trial to test it.

Mark first explored how genes function in leukaemia, then identified molecules that interrupt the key genetic instructions that perpetuate cancer cells. The drug subsequently developed to treat AML is now the subject of more than 50 clinical trials around the world. [click to continue…]

Tiny diamonds light the way for new quantum technologies

Media releases

Dr Thomas Volz in the Diamond Nanoscience Lab

Nature Communications paper Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Background information below.

Macquarie University researchers have made a single tiny diamond shine brightly at room temperature, a behaviour known as superradiance.

This is important because nanodiamonds have the potential to be used in all sorts of devices, such as minute compasses for navigation, in biomedical imaging and to potentially create better solar cells.

To date what’s been holding back these applications is that superradiance has previously only been seen at very low temperatures or in very large samples. This is the first time it’s been seen in diamonds.

The research by Macquarie’s Diamond Nanoscience Laboratory was published tonight in Nature Communications.

Research leader Dr Thomas Volz says the team are now keen to make brighter nanodiamonds that can be used in biomedical applications, such as to track drug delivery pathways in the lab.

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2017 Prime Minster’s Prizes for Science announced

Media releases, Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science

The winners of the 2017 Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science are:

  • Jenny Graves (La Trobe University, Melbourne)—Prime Minister’s Prize for Science
  • Eric Reynolds (The University of Melbourne/Oral Health CRC)—Prime Minister’s Prize for Innovation
  • Jian Yang (The University of Queensland)—Frank Fenner Prize for Life Scientist of the Year
  • Dayong Jin (University of Technology Sydney)—Malcolm McIntosh Prize for Physical Scientist of the Year
  • Neil Bramsen (Mount Ousley Public School, Wollongong)—Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Primary Schools
  • Brett McKay (Kirrawee High School, Sydney)—Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Secondary Schools

Also available: photos and videos of the winners. And photos from the award presentation.  

Read the Minister’s media release.

The winners are available for interview from 7am (AEDT) on Thursday morning.

For interviews and further information contact:

Please use the official website link in reporting: http://science.gov.au/pmscienceprizes

Follow the announcement on  @inspiringaus and @scienceinpublic and #pmprize to follow the conversation.

From left to right: Eric Reynolds, Brett McKay, Dayong Jin, Minister Michaelia Cash, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Jenny Graves, Neil Bramsen and Jain Yang. Credit: Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science.

Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science – dinner photos

Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science

Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science – dinner photos

For hi-res versions please click on the photo and then right click to download the file.

2017 Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science recipients with the Minister and Prime Minister (L-R) Eric Reynolds, Brett McKay, Dayong Jin, Minister Michaelia Cash, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Jenny Graves, Neil Bramsen and Jain Yang. Credit: Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science

2017 Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science recipients with the Minister and Prime Minister (L-R) Eric Reynolds, Brett McKay, Dayong Jin, Minister Michaelia Cash, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Jenny Graves, Neil Bramsen and Jain Yang. Credit: Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science

Jenny Graves receives the Prime Minister’s Prize for Science from Minister Michealia Cash and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. Credit: Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science

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Minister’s Media Release: The 2017 Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science

Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science

18 October 2017

Joint media release with the Prime Minster, the Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP and Acting Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science and the Minister for Women, Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash

The Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science recognises the extraordinary contribution that Australia’s scientists and science teachers make to our nation.

These awards celebrate excellence and innovation and offer us an opportunity to bring the entire industry together to celebrate Australia’s world leading role.

For the first time Australia’s most prestigious award for science, the Prime Minister’s Prize for Science, was awarded to a woman, Professor Jenny Graves AO. Professor Graves has been recognised for her pioneering research into mammalian genome organisation and evolution which will enable us to better understand X and Y chromosomes, our immune system, and the human brain.

Professor Graves is a role model for all the young women we want to encourage to pursue education and careers in STEM.

Laureate Professor Eric Reynolds AO was awarded the Prime Minister’s Prize for Innovation for his work translating research on a protein in milk that strengthens and repairs teeth into new products that improve oral health. We congratulate all award winners on their hard work and dedication, and applaud the contribution they have made to innovation and industry in Australia.

The other Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science award winners announced this evening are:

  • Professor Jian Yang from The University of Queensland was awarded the $50,000 Frank Fenner Prize for Life Scientist of the Year for creating tools to unravel the complex heritability of height, intelligence, obesity and schizophrenia.
  • Professor Dayong Jin from the University of Technology Sydney was awarded the $50,000 Malcolm McIntosh Prize for Physical Scientist of the Year for creating new ways to visualise the processes of life and creating low cost portable technologies for disease detection.
  • Mr Brett McKay from Kirrawee High School in Sydney was awarded the $50,000 Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Secondary Schools for inspiring his students with physics and science.
  • Mr Neil Bramsen from Mount Ousley Public School in Wollongong was awarded the $50,000 Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Primary Schools for using science to enable learning across the curriculum.

Full citations, photos, videos and overlay are available online:www.science.gov.au/pmscienceprizes

Media contacts:
Prime Minister’s Press Office 02 6277 7744
Minister Cash’s office 02 6277 7320

2017 Prime Minister’s Prize for Science

Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science

What can kangaroos and platypus tell us about sex and humanity?

Jenny Graves (Credit: Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science/WildBear)

Distinguished Professor Jenny Graves AO FAA

Professor Jenny Graves AO has transformed our understanding of how humans and all vertebrate animals evolved and function. In the course of her work, she has kick-started genomic and epigenetic research in Australia, and predicted the disappearance of the male chromosome.

Australia’s pouched and egg-laying mammals are a fantastic source of genetic variation because they last shared a common ancestor with placental mammals so long ago. They are truly independent experiments in mammalian evolution.

Jenny Graves’ life’s work has used marsupials and monotremes, birds and lizards, to understand the complexity of the human genome and to reveal new human genes.

She has transformed our understanding of how sex chromosomes work and how they evolved, predicting the decline of the Y chromosome.

Her research has contributed to a deeper understanding of the immune system; prion diseases, blood proteins, and helped understand the tumour driving the Tasmanian devil to extinction.

In a collaboration between La Trobe University and The University of Canberra, she’s studying how bearded dragons change sex in response to temperature, a critical issue as the climate warms.

For her pioneering investigations of the genetics of sex, Professor Jenny Graves AO receives the $250,000 Prime Minister’s Prize for Science.

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2017 Prime Minister’s Prize for Innovation

Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science

How Australian dairy milk is saving the world’s teeth

Eric Reynolds (Credit: Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science/WildBear)

Laureate Professor Eric Reynolds AO FICD FTSE FRACDS

Thirty years ago, a young dental researcher discovered a protein in dairy milk that repairs and strengthens teeth. Today, that protein, sold as Recaldent, is used by millions of people every day as they chew gum and visit the dentist.

The inventor, Eric Reynolds, now leads the University of Melbourne’s dental school and travels the world, working with Australian and global businesses to create new products to further improve oral health.

Products using Recaldent have generated sales of over $2 billion to-date, and it has been estimated they’ve saved over $12 billion in dental treatment costs worldwide.

But he’s not finished on his mission to save the world’s teeth. His team have also developed a test and vaccine for severe gum disease which are now being commercialised by CSL and their partners.

“Oral diseases are the most prevalent diseases of humankind,” Eric says. One in four Australians have cavities and/or gum disease and the cost of treatment in Australia alone is over $8 billion.

For inventing and commercialising Recaldent, Professor Eric Reynolds receives the $250,000 Prime Minister’s Prize for Innovation.

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2017 Frank Fenner Prize for Life Scientist of the Year

Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science

Unravelling the complexity of height, intelligence, obesity and schizophrenia

Jian Yang (Credit: Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science/WildBear)

Professor Jian Yang

The publication of the human genome near fifteen years ago revealed that the human genome is complicated. Jian Yang has created pioneering new techniques to unravel that complexity and solve the ‘missing heritability paradox’.

His work will enable researchers to determine the genetic factors behind complex diseases, opening the way to new drugs and better genomic risk prediction.

Some aspects of the human genome are ‘simple’ – red hair, Huntington’s disease, and haemophilia for example are determined by changes on one or a few  genes. Most inherited traits are far more complex and current gene analysis tools can only track down a small fraction of the DNA variants responsible for many inherited conditions.

Jian Yang developed a new statistical method to analyse genomic variation and showed that genetic variation in obesity, cognitive ability, and schizophrenia are due to the contribution of a large number of genetic variants across the genome.

So, to understand the heritability of complex traits and diseases we will have to analyse the genomes of hundreds of thousands, even millions of people. Jian is now creating the tools to enable these large analyses. Thousands of geneticists around the world are already using his software.

Professor Jian Yang receives the $50,000 Frank Fenner Prize for Life Scientist of the Year for creating ways to understand inherited traits and the human genome.

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2017 Malcolm McIntosh Prize for Physical Scientist of the Year

Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science

Watching the processes of life

Dayong Jin (Credit: Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science/WildBear)

Professor Dayong Jin

We need new ways to detect the early stages of disease and cancer. Dayong Jin believes the key is for physicists, biologists, engineers and doctors to work together. And that’s what he’s doing with his team at the University of Technology, Sydney

He has created new kinds of microscopes that allow us to watch molecules at work inside living cells. Using quantum dots, lasers, nanocrystals and other technologies, these microscopes will allow us to watch the inner workings of our immune system, see how bacteria become resistant to antibiotics, and to find one cancer cell amongst millions of healthy cells. He’s working with Olympus to commercialise his inventions.

But his personal vision goes much further.

He believes that his technologies will enable portable, easy to use devices to detect the first signs of disease, evidence of drugs, or of toxins in food and the environment. With the support of the Australian Research Council he’s working to give Australian companies the opportunity to create these new devices.

For creating new technologies to image the processes of life, Professor Dayong Jin receives the $50,000 Malcolm McIntosh Prize for Physical Scientist of the Year.

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2017 Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Primary Schools

Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science

The outdoor classroom

Neil Bramsen (Credit: Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science/WildBear)

Mr Neil Bramsen

In the outdoor classroom at Mount Ousley Public School in Wollongong, primary students are watching and recording bird sightings. They’re down at the beach assessing the level of marine debris. They’re reading, or just thinking, in the butterfly garden.

“The outdoor classroom is probably my favourite place to be,” says Neil Bramsen, Mount Ousley’s assistant principal. And it extends far beyond the school. Students have talked with astronauts on the International Space Station and made global connections through Skype with schools in Africa and America.

Neil sees science as an enabler of learning across the curriculum. “It’s a way of hooking kids into learning. We want kids to enjoy school. It’s got to be a balance of fun and learning.”

Mr Neil Bramsen receives the Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Primary Schools for his innovative partnerships with scientists, the community and other schools to foster students’ enthusiasm, knowledge and skills in science.

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2017 Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Secondary Schools

Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science

Bringing science alive

Brett McKay (Credit: Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science/WildBear)

Mr Brett McKay

Kirrawee High School has a rich history in sport and music. Its alumni include six Olympic athletes and several leading musicians. Today, thanks to the work of Brett McKay over the past twenty years, Kirrawee has become a force in science education as well.

Brett McKay is Head Teacher Science, at Kirrawee. As a physics and science teacher he has overseen a four-fold increase in students taking physics. Many have gone on to careers in science around the world. He has inspired young women to consider science careers. A recent year 11 student recently said, “Thanks to Mr McKay… I found my love and passion for science and a highly possible career path for me.”

Importantly he’s brought science to life for students not considering science as a career. He recognises that we all need a grounding in science to make informed decisions in the modern world.

And he’s shared his knowledge of science teaching with his peers through the Science Teachers Association of NSW and with primary schools in his area. He is seen as an encouraging, resourceful, and engaging teacher who brings science alive for students.

Mr Brett McKay receives the Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Secondary Schools for his achievements in inspiring his students to love science and to use it in their daily lives.

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Photos: 2017 Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science

Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science

Photos

For hi-res versions please click on the photo and then right click to download the file.

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Videos: 2017 Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science

Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science

Final broadcast quality videos with and without music are now available for download via:

http://files.wildbear.tv/

Username: PMSCIENCE17

Password: PMSCIENCE17

Please note that both the username and password are case sensitive.

Once logged in you will be able to download either the final master videos or the master videos with no music.

YouTube links for embedding in websites and sharing via social media available below.  [click to continue…]

Microbial mass movements: the millions of species we ignore at our peril

Media releases

Michael Gillings (Credit: Chris Stacey, Macquarie University)

Science paper Friday, 15 September 2017

Background information below.

More high-res images available below.

Wastewater, tourism, and trade are moving microbes around the globe at an unprecedented scale. As we travel the world we leave billions of bacteria at every stop.

As with rats, foxes, tigers and pandas, some microbes are winners, spreading around the world into new ecological niches we’ve created. Others are losing, and might face extinction. These changes are invisible, so why should we care?

“Yes, our survival may depend on these microbial winner and losers,” say a team of Australian, Chinese, French, British and Spanish researchers in a paper published in Science today.

“The oxygen we breathe is largely made by photosynthetic bacteria in the oceans (and not by rainforests, as is commonly believed),” says Macquarie University biologist Michael Gillings.

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A 3D printed rocket engine – made in Melbourne

Media releases, Monash University Technology Research Platforms

Monash engineers have designed, printed, and test-fired a rocket engine.

Media call 9.30 am, Monday 11 September, Woodside Innovation Centre, New Horizons Building, 20 Research Way, Monash University, Clayton

HD footage of static rocket testing and metal printers at work
Media contact: Niall Byrne, 0417-131-977, niall@scienceinpublic.com.au

The new rocket engine is a unique aerospike design which turns the traditional engine shape inside out.

Two years ago, Monash University researchers and their partners were the first in the world to print a jet engine, based on an existing engine design. That work led to Monash spin-out company Amaero winning contracts with major aerospace companies around the world.

Now a team of engineering researchers have jumped into the Space Age. They accepted a challenge from Amaero to design a rocket engine, Amaero printed their design, and the researchers test-fired it, all in just four months. Their joint achievement illustrates the potential of additive manufacturing (or 3D printing) for Australian industry.

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Monash rocket engine test firing

3D printed rocket engine – backgrounder and links

Media releases, Monash University Technology Research Platforms

Backgrounder: the printed Aerospike Rocket Engine

 

Quick facts

  • A joint Monash University/Amaero team of engineers successfully designed, built, and tested a rocket engine in just four months
  • The engine is a complex multi-chamber aerospike design
  • Additively manufactured with selective laser melting on an EOS M280
  • Built from Hasteloy X; a high strength nickel based superalloy
  • Fuel: compressed natural gas (methane); oxidiser: compressed oxygen
  • Design thrust of 4kN (about 1,000 pounds), enough to hover the equivalent of five people (about 400 kg)

The 3D printed or Additive Manufactured aerospike rocket engine is the result of a collaboration between a group of Monash University engineers and Amaero Engineering, supported by Woodside Energy and Monash University.

Engineers at Amaero approached a team of Monash engineering PhD students, giving them the opportunity to create a new rocket design that could fully utilise the near limitless geometric complexity of 3D printing.

The team accepted the challenge and designed one of the most complicated but efficient rocket engines of all, the aerospike nozzle. Amaero printed the design, then the team test-fired their engine on a remote location in rural Victoria. The rapid manufacturing process allowed them to go from concept to physical testing in only four months.

The Monash engineers have now created a company, NextAero, to take their concepts to the global aerospace industry, starting with the International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide on 25-29 September [click to continue…]