Fresh Science

Fresh Science is a national competition that has been helping early-career researchers find, and then share their stories of discovery for the past 18 years.

Taking young researchers with no media experience and turning them into spokespeople for science, Fresh Science gives its finalists a taste of life in the limelight, with a day of media training and a public event in their home state.

In 2015 Fresh Science ran in every mainland state, with 61 Fresh Scientists in six state events, and seven public events bringing Fresh Science to around 1000 members of the public.

Read some of the fresh science we discovered in 2015 here.

Click here to visit the Fresh Science website

Minimising severe injury from blast events on military vehicles

Research conducted by former Fresh Science participant Dale Robinson has been covered in the 2020-2021 edition of Defence Science and Technology’s Outlook magazine.

Dr Robinson is a biomedical engineer at the University of Melbourne.

Minimising severe injury from blast events on military vehicles

Blast events inflicted on military vehicles are a consistent threat in contemporary conflicts. Developing equipment that better protects soldiers from this threat has become the focus of significant military research. It is critical to understand how severe injuries are inflicted and how forces from blast events are transmitted to the human body in order to strengthen blast protection for soldiers.

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Leaky water pipes found at high speed using AI

Researchers have been able to pick a water leak within 1 percent of its location within seconds.

Artificial intelligence combined with pressure waves has been used to find faults in major water pipelines faster and more cheaply than existing methods.

Jessica Bohorquez and researchers from the University of Adelaide have developed a system that utilises the deep learning capability of AI and has dramatically increased the chances of detecting cracks in underground pipes.

“In a country where water is scarce, there is an urgent need for this type of technology,” says Jessica.

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Detecting asthma in horses

Using a face mask, Adelaide researchers have a new way to detect a major hidden equine health issue.

Up to 80 percent of horses – including racehorses and showjumpers – suffer from a form of asthma that affects their performance and wellbeing.

Researchers led by veterinarian Surita Du Preez from the University of Adelaide are designing a way to detect the condition – which often produces no obvious symptoms – without adding further stress to the affected animals.

“Currently the methods that are available to diagnose the mild to moderate form of horse asthma are invasive,” says Surita.

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New bendable cement-free concrete can potentially make safer, long-lasting and greener infrastructure.

A new type of concrete that is made out of waste materials and can bend under load has been developed by researchers from Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia.

This material, which incorporates industrial waste products such as fly ash produced by coal-fired power stations, is especially suited for construction in earthquake zones – in which the brittle nature of conventional concrete often leads to disastrous building collapses.

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Ghostly traces of massive ancient river revealed

Using zircon crystals, researchers have discovered the route of a massive ancient river that could help find new reservoirs of fossil fuels and suggest how modern rivers might change over time.

More than two thirds of the worlds’ major cities are located in coastal deltas. How they change over time can impact communities that live around them.

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Brain temperature can now be measured using light

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

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

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

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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One step closer to understanding cancer-fighting immune cells

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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