This week at Science in Public

This Week

Sharp increase in Ningaloo whale shark injuries might be due to boat encounters: Scarring and major lacerations due to vessel collisions becoming more common, study finds.

Canberra astronomer becomes first Australian to win major US science award in 133 years: Lisa Kewley has transformed our understanding of the early years of the Universe, the development of galaxies, and what happens when they collide.

One step closer to understanding cancer-fighting immune cells: On the way to personalised treatment of cancers

Whooping cough is fighting back: Researchers discover how whooping cough is evolving, paving the way to a new vaccine.

Is that plant healthy?: A new way to monitor plant health has been developed using the waxy surface of leaves.

Protecting Tiwi wildlife is a hollow argument: Charles Darwin researcher climbs trees to reveal a housing shortage for tree-rats and other endangered animals.

Cheaper, more efficient lithium sulfur battery: Ultra-high capacity Lithium-Sulfur battery outperforms current electric car battery fourfold

Sharp increase in Ningaloo whale shark injuries might be due to boat encounters

Australian Institute of Marine Science, Media releases

Scarring and major lacerations due to vessel collisions becoming more common, study finds.

The tail of a whale shark (Rhincodon typus), showing massive scarring. Image: Jess Hadden.

Almost one-fifth of the whale sharks (Rhincodon typus) in Western Australia’s Ningaloo Reef Marine Park show major scarring or fin amputations, with the number of injured animals increasing in recent years, new research reveals.

Distinctive scar patterns strongly suggest many of the injuries are caused by boat collisions, says whale shark scientist Emily Lester from the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS).

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Canberra astronomer becomes first Australian to win major US science award in 133 years

ARC Centre of Excellence for All Sky Astrophysics in Three Dimensions (ASTRO-3D), Media releases

Lisa Kewley has transformed our understanding of the early years of the Universe, the development of galaxies, and what happens when they collide.  

2020 James Craig Watson medal winner Professor Lisa Kewley in her office. Credit: ASTRO 3D

For her pioneering investigations across theory, modelling and observation, she will receive the US National Academy of Science’s biennial James Craig Watson Medal in Washington DC.

“At school I thought physics would be too hard.  But I had a wonderful physics teacher whose love for astronomy was contagious!” says Lisa.

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One step closer to understanding cancer-fighting immune cells

Fresh Science

Researchers discover that protective immune cells are not created equally 

Susan Christo, The Peter Doherty Institute & The University of Melbourne

Personalised treatment of cancers has moved one step closer, thanks to University of Melbourne researcher Dr Susan Christo.

Increasingly, cancers are being treated using an approach called immunotherapy – which uses a patient’s own immune cells to fight the disease.

However, challenges arise in so-called “solid cancers”, such as melanoma, where access may be limited so the cancer-fighting immune cells cannot penetrate the tumour site. 

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Whooping cough is fighting back.

Fresh Science, Media releases

Researchers discover how whooping cough is evolving paving the way to a new vaccine.

Laurence Luu, The University of New South Wales

Whooping cough strains are adapting to better infect humans, a team of Sydney researchers has found.

The scientists, led by microbiologist Dr Laurence Luu of the University of New South Wales, may have solved the mystery of why, despite widespread vaccinations, the respiratory disease has been resurgent in Australia across the past decade. There have been more than 200,000 cases recorded during the period.

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Is that plant healthy?

Fresh Science, Other
Karina Khambatta, Curtin University

We can’t easily monitor the health of plants, by the time we see that they’re sick it’s usually too late to save that. That’s an issue for your house plants, a field of wheat, orchards and plantations.

Karina Khambatta has developed a way to use the waxy surface of leaves to monitor their health.

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Protecting Tiwi wildlife is a hollow argument

Fresh Science

Climbing trees reveals a housing shortage for tree-rats and other endangered animals.

Cara Penton, Charles Darwin University

Estimates of tree hollows – which form the houses of several endangered species in northern Australia – are much too high, researchers at Charles Darwin University in the Northern Territory have found.

And the discovery could be bad news for several of Australia’s most vulnerable species, including the Black-Footed Tree-Rat (Mesembriomys gouldii) and Brush Tailed Rabbit-Rat (Conilurus penicillatus).

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Cheaper, more efficient lithium sulfur battery outperforms current electric car battery fourfold

Other

An “Expansion-Tolerant” Architecture offers stability to ultra-high capacity Lithium-Sulfur battery

A lithium sulfur battery that has four times the capacity than existing electric car batteries has been built and tested by researchers at Monash University, revealed in a paper published in Science Advances.

This would allow you to drive Melbourne to Sydney with just one charge – driving the coastal route. A current edition prius would require to stop in Albury-Wodonga to recharge.

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Peanut Allergy: a pain in the guts

Other

Deakin researcher discovers allergy mechanism.

Image credit – Pexels

Peanut allergens cross a model of the gut lining, causing it to leak, new research by Dr Dwan Price from Deakin University in Victoria has revealed.

The allergens hijack the transport mechanisms of cells in the intestine, disrupting the bonds that hold the gut lining together, making it permeable.

The allergens hijack the transport mechanisms of cells in the intestine, disrupting the bonds that hold the gut lining together, making it permeable.

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Stopping poaching by the numbers

Fresh Science, Macquarie University, Media releases

Maths model helps rangers protect national parks, despite tight budgets.

Math could be used to prevent elephant poaching.
Image credit: Pixabay

Mathematics can help reduce poaching and illegal logging in national parks, researchers have found.

A team of applied mathematicians including Macquarie University’s David Arnold has developed an algorithm that predicts which areas inside park boundaries offer the greatest possibilities for criminals – and how rangers can most efficiently combat them.

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