This week at Science in Public

This Week

Brain temperature can now be measured using light: Nanotech technique could revolutionise neurological treatments.

Tea trees crave water during hot and dry summer days: The iconic Australian tea tree (Melaleuca decora) is more vulnerable than native eucalypt species.

New clues for allergy prevention by breast milk: UWA research team are investigating the complex interactions of breast milk with allergens and baby’s gut immune system.

Goannas return to mine site: Animals play critical roles in ecosystems, but they are broadly overlooked in assessments of mine site restoration success

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

Brain temperature can now be measured using light

Fresh Science, Media releases

Nanotech technique could revolutionise neurological treatments.

Light could replace invasive techniques to measure brain temperature– eliminating the need to place a thermometer in the brain when treating a range of neurological disorders.

Researchers from Victoria’ Swinburne University have teamed up with Universidad Autónoma de Madrid in Spain and Stanford University in the US to develop a technique for measuring sub-degree brain temperature changes using near-infrared light. 

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Tea trees crave water during hot and dry summer days

Fresh Science

The iconic Australian tea tree (Melaleuca decora) is more vulnerable than native eucalypt species to extreme temperature and moisture stress, Western Sydney University researcher Anne Griebel has discovered. 

To make the finding, Anne and colleagues fitted instruments that measure the exchange of carbon, water and heat at 10 times a second to an extendable mast on a trailer deployed in a critically endangered woodland in Western Sydney.

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New clues for allergy prevention by breast milk

Fresh Science, Media releases, Other

Written by Akila Rekima and the University of Western Australia. For the full UWA press release, click here.

A research team at UWA is investigating the complex interactions of breast milk with allergens and baby’s gut immune system.

They’ve found that food-derived but also airborne allergens are present in breast milk. Some do give protection and reduce allergies later in life.

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Goannas return to mine site

Fresh Science, Media releases

Animals play critical roles in ecosystems, but they are broadly overlooked in assessments of mine site restoration success says Sophie Cross, an ecologist at Curtin University.

She tracked Australia’s largest lizard species, the perentie, using VHF radio and GPS tracking, and walked hundreds of kilometres through unmined and restoration bushland on a mine site in the mid-west region of Western Australia for her study published in the Australian Journal of Zoology.

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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 

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.

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

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.

Currently the technique uses infrared spectroscopy to study changes seen throughout leaf senescence. Karina has had the opportunity to utilise the infrared microscopy lab located at the Australian Synchrotron to help correlate her infrared studies undertaken at Curtin University, but Karina believes it can be turned into a handheld device that could be used on-farm, like reading a barcode.

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