Today: discover the Eureka Prize finalists
Saturday: listen to Suzanne Cory’s ABC Boyer Lecture on science and a health society
Monday through Wednesday: using the Year of Light to promote science – briefings in Sydney, Canberra, Brisbane
Monday night: Join Q&A with Tony Jones and a science panel
Also in this bulletin:
- Selling science: Nature, Q&A, Boyer lectures and Research America
- Up to nine years secure funding – EMBL Australia Group Leaders wanted in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide
- Genes, flies and crystals: introducing the 2014 L’Oréal Fellows
- Science in Public – planning, mentoring, communicating
The finalists are from Western Australia, South Australia, Queensland, Tasmania, ACT, Victoria and New South Wales and are competing for 15 Australian Museum Eureka Prizes worth a total of $150,000 in prize money.
This year’s finalists have invented:
- a $2 microscope that turns your smartphone into a mobile, web-enabled laboratory (Canberra/Sydney)
- a simple, non-electric oxygen concentrator that could prevent hundreds of thousands of newborn deaths globally (Melbourne)
- a virtual Planet Earth that allows you to move continents around – and backwards or forwards in time (Sydney)
- a DVD that’s fighting parasitic worms in China (Brisbane/Canberra).
- which animals and plants thrive on fire in the Mallee, and which take decades to recover (Melbourne)
- how to increase wheat production by 50 per cent without using more water – through weed control, stubble maintenance and other smart management techniques (Canberra)
- what tree rings, coral growth, ice cores, old newspapers, and leather-bound weather journals reveal about south-eastern Australia’s changing climate (Melbourne).
- revealed early indicators of Alzheimer’s by studying 1,400 people (Perth/Melbourne)
- brought together thousands of hours of submarine citizen science to reveal biodiversity hotspots from the poles to the tropics (Hobart)
- explored ocean acidification from the polar seas to the Great Barrier Reef (Sydney/Townsville)
- filmed ‘the crusty blue stuff’ on trees – a Central Coast NSW student exploring lichen.
Details about all 2014 Australian Museum Eureka Prizes finalists are now online at http://australianmuseum.net.au/eureka
And watch and share videos of all the finalists at https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLEh1S0YpN667jl2RRl-zKj9y-QW07nRVR
The UN has declared 2015 as the International Year of Light. It’s an opportunity to celebrate all things light: from its use in medicine, communications, entertainment and culture to its role as a key enabling technologies of the future.
ANU’s Ken Baldwin chairs the Australian organising committee with colleagues from optics, astronomy, physics, government and the arts community. We’ve just started helping them promote the year.
If light is important to you or your work, come along and hear how you can use the Year at briefings in:
- Sydney: 5.30 pm, Monday 15 September – NSW Trade and Investment Centre, Level 47, MLC Centre, 19 Martin Place
- Canberra: 5.30 pm, Tuesday 16 September – Questacon Technology Learning Centre, 60 Denison Street, Deakin
- Brisbane: 3 pm, Thursday 18 September – at UQ, room to be confirmed
- Melbourne and other cities TBC in October.
At the briefings we’ll:
- reveal what’s already planned and how existing events can tap into the global themes and promotion
- explore how we can build up the portfolio of activities in Sydney and Australia and leave a lasting legacy for light-based technologies
- share ideas for supporting and building participation in the Year.
RSVP to the events at http://iyl2015-australia.eventbrite.com.au
More information at www.light2015.org.au
And follow us on Twitter at @LightYearAU
If you or your organisation would like to be involved in the Year of Light next year but you can’t make these events, email email@example.com for more information.
Australian scientists have learnt the hard way that, to quote UK education leader David Sweeney, “There’s no right to science funding”. Conservative governments in the UK and China are investing in science while in Canada and Australia they’re cutting science.
So how do we demonstrate benefit and assess science. Nature has published a supplement Assessing Science, which draws on Australian and New Zealand leaders and a forum held in Melbourne earlier this year.
The supplement gives no universal solution – but it definitely provides some food for thought. It contains with commentary from our own Tim Thwaites, as well as Margaret Sheil, Alan Finkel, Brian Schmidt, Branwen Morgan, Annabel McGilvray, plus features on Monash, Adelaide, QUT, Wollongong, RMIT, UWS, UTas, ECU, UQ and ANSTO.
You can read the full supplement at www.nature.com/nature/journal/v511/n7510_supp/index.html
Suzanne Cory is doing her bit for science advocacy in Australia through this year’s series of Boyer lectures.
Suzanne gave the first lecture Science for a healthy people in Melbourne last week. She had some strong words about research cuts and invited us to “try and count the number of times we might have died were it not for medical research”.
You can listen at to the first lecture here and catch the next three lecture on Radio National on Saturdays at 1 pm, after the Science Show.
- Science for a healthy economy (13 September)
- Science for a healthy environment (20 September)
- People for science (27 September)
Read more about the series at www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/boyerlectures
Q&A is doing science next Monday with Brian Schmidt, Suzanne Cory, Peter Doherty and Robogal Marita Cheng. They’ve put the call out to the science community to join the studio audience in Sydney.
You can register at http://bit.ly/come2QandA
And Research America has been impressing me with their approach to advocacy and their comprehensive briefings to the science world on how to influence DC. Critically, while their mandate is medical research they don’t allow themselves to be ‘wedged’ – split from the rest of the science world. Some of our medical research leaders are struggling with this.
Mary led the organisation for many years including the period when NIH funding doubled. She’s now working on the challenge of reaching a new generation of conservative leaders.
The EMBL Australia model is unique in Australia offering leading young researchers up to nine years secure funding. And it’s growing with new group leader positions in Sydney, Adelaide and Melbourne.
Positions to be advertised in the coming weeks are:
- in Single Molecule Science at The University of New South Wales
- in Molecular Imaging at Monash University and the ARC Centre in Advanced Molecular Imaging
- in Regenerative Medicine at Monash University
- in Medical Bioinformatics at the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI).
Dr Cara Doherty, Dr Elena Tucker and Dr Vanessa Kellermann are using flies to predict the future, solving genetic disease mysteries and cleaning water with crystals.
They are this year’s L’Oréal Fellows for Australia and New Zealand.
Each was awarded a $25,000 L’Oréal For Women in Science Fellowship by L’Oréal Australia and New Zealand CEO Johan Berg at the Jardin Tan in the Melbourne Botanic Gardens recently.
There’s a full profile along with a short video about each of the fellows online at http://loreal.scienceinpublic.com.au/2014fellows
Solving genetic disease mysteries – Dr Elena Tucker, geneticist, Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Melbourne
Elena Tucker has brought peace of mind to families affected by rare energy disorders. She’s found genes responsible for some of these diseases. Now, with the support of her 2014 L’Oréal For Women in Science Fellowship, she will look at hundreds of individual genomes to determine the causes of sex-determination disorders.
How flies can help us predict the future – Dr Vanessa Kellermann, evolutionary biologist, Monash University, Melbourne
Our planet’s climate is changing. How will bees cope-will they still be able to pollinate our crops? Will dengue and malaria-carrying mosquitoes spread south?
Vanessa Kellermann is working with native fruit fly species from Tasmania to tropical Queensland to find out. She has already demonstrated that tropical flies are more vulnerable to change in the long term. They don’t have the genetic capacity to evolve quickly. Now, with her L’Oréal For Women in Science Fellowship, she will explore how flexible they are in the short term – how individual insects can respond to change during their lifetimes.
Clean water with crystals – Dr Cara Doherty, materials scientist, CSIRO, Melbourne
Cara Doherty is developing new technologies that could transform water filters, batteries and medical sensors, and clean up carbon emissions. And it all comes down to holes and surface area.
She has a vision for a new manufacturing industry for Australia. She works with crystals that are packed with… nothing. They’re highly porous sponges-down to a molecular level – and can be customised to absorb almost any molecule.
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