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.
Researchers discover how whooping cough is evolving paving the way to a new
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.
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
Karina Khambatta has developed a
way to use the waxy surface of leaves to monitor their health.
Climbing trees reveals a housing shortage for tree-rats and other endangered animals.
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).
helps rangers protect national parks, despite tight budgets.
Mathematics can help reduce poaching and illegal logging in national parks, researchers have found.
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.
close in on an objective measure for physical distress.
A new microscope-based method for detecting a particular molecule in the spinal cord could help lead to an accurate and independent universal pain scale, research from Australia’s Macquarie University suggests.
An accurate way of
measuring pain is of critical importance because at present degrees of
discomfort are generally assessed by asking a patient to estimate pain on a
one-to-10 scale. The situation is even more acute in the treatment of babies,
the very old and animals, where speech is absent.
Filtering out social bots can help critical response teams see what’s
happening in real time
Researchers have created an algorithm that distinguishes
between misinformation and genuine conversations on Twitter, by detecting
messages churned out by social bots.
Dr Mehwish Nasim and colleagues at the School of Mathematical
Sciences at the University of Adelaide say the algorithm will make it easier
for emergency services to detect major events such as civil unrest, natural
disasters, and influenza epidemics in real time.
“When something really big is going on, people tweet a
huge amount of useful information,” says Mehwish.
Cognition is influenced by siblings, researchers find.
Autistic children with autistic siblings have better
cognition than those who are the only family member with the condition, researchers
Importantly, the outcome does not depend on birth order.
Although previous studies have identified that having
autistic siblings leads to better cognition for individual children with the
condition, it was assumed that the order in which the children were born was a
Adelaide researchers find how a bacteria digests a sugar can be key to new treatments
The severity of a common and often lethal type of bacteria
depends on its ability to process a type of sugar, research from the University
of Adelaide reveals.
Streptococcus pneumoniae causes diseases of the
lungs, blood, ear and brain, killing an estimated one million people every
year. Moreover S. pneumoniae causes
otitis media (infection of the middle ear), which devastates Aboriginal
populations. It also rapidly develops resistance to antibiotics, making it
challenging to treat.