What’s happening at the University of Melbourne? News and Updates from Parkville

COURSE INFORMATION DAY

Course Information Day is a great opportunity to hear first-hand what STEM related opportunities exist at the University of Melbourne. The event will run on Monday 18 December, where you can ask questions about our Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics courses and have a tour of our campus and residential colleges.

The University of Melbourne offers through its Melbourne Model, the opportunity to create your own study path in over 41 different areas of Science through our Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Biomedical Science degrees like in areas such as Biology, Chemistry, Animal Health and Disease Management, Physics and Physiology.

Register to attend our Course Information Day here!

THRIVING AMID THE RISE OF THE MACHINES

Since 1948, futurists have warned about the impact automation could have on the human workforce, and now those changes are becoming a reality. Does it mean a re-think about what jobs humans can do better than machines?

Technology is destroying jobs, says Dr Greg Adamson, an expert in the social impact of advanced technology. There can no longer be any doubt about that hard fact of life in the 21st Century. The process is now inevitable, as automation, robotics and artificial intelligence embeds deeper into our society.

But with robots and automation proliferating – and with traditional jobs disappearing – what opportunities are there for humans in this new age?

WHY CAN’T WE CURE CANCER?

After heart disease, cancer is the second leading cause of death in the world – 8.8 million people lost their lives to cancer in 2015.

A generation ago, one in three people in the developed world were diagnosed with cancer; in some countries it is now approaching one in two. Low- and middle-income countries are also severely affected – with the majority of cancer cases now presenting themselves in these countries.

Why despite the great strides in medical knowledge, does the world continue to struggle in finding a cure for cancer? This episode of The PolicyShop addresses this question with two world leading experts.

Nobel Laureate, Dr Harold Varmus, currently the Lewis Thomas University Professor at Weill Cornell Medical College, who formally served as the Director of the National Institute of Health and as the Director of the National Cancer Institute in the United States and Associate Professor Sherene Loi, head of the Translational Breast Cancer Genomics Laboratory at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Melbourne join the host Professor Glyn Davis, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Melbourne.

You can find the podcast on iTunes or listen on our website, here!

ETHICS IN SCIENCE EVENT

With the rapid advancement of science, ethical dilemmas arise frequently. These range from the use of embryonic stem cells or animals in research, deciding how much power to give robots and artificial intelligence, how far to go with clinical trials in humans or using modern technology to decide whether one should turn off the life support of someone in coma.

Though science is not infallible, it is essential that scientific research is pursued with integrity and transparency and to the highest possible standards. Scientists owe this dedication and honesty to their pursuit of truth and to the tax-payer who both funds and is the beneficiary of the research.

At this forum, five internationally renowned scientists working in different fields will address some of these ethical issues and answer questions from the floor.

This Q&A type session will be moderated by Bernie Hobbs from the ABC (The New Inventors).

Register to attend our Ethics in Science forum here!

WHAT COULD SUSTAINABLE AUSTRALIAN CITIES LOOK LIKE IN 2040?

It’s 2040.

As you wake and look outside, things might not look hugely different to 2017 – there aren’t any hoverboards or sky highways – but Australian cities have managed to cut their greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent.

And how your day unfolds will look very different depending on how we reached this point.

How can Australia meet its cities energy needs whilst also meeting the country’s clean energy targets?

Read more about this article here!

What’s happening at Melbourne? News and Updates from Parkville

VTAC APPLICATIONS NOW OPEN

The VTAC timely course application period is now open for Year 12 students who are thinking of applying for a Tertiary Education place in 2018, closing on Friday September 28, 2017.

The University of Melbourne offers through its Melbourne Model, the opportunity to create your own study path in over 41 different areas of Science through our Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Biomedical Science degrees like in areas such as Biology, Chemistry, Animal Health and Disease Management, Physics and Physiology.

Learn more about how our Melbourne Model will immerse you in a different way of thinking here!

 

CAUGHT! THE CELL BEHIND A LUNG CANCER

For four years straight, medical researcher Clare Weeden would go on alert whenever lung surgery was underway anywhere across Melbourne. No matter the time, she would have to be ready in her lab to receive samples of fresh tissue as part of a project to isolate and research the stem cells that repair our lungs as they constantly breathe in contaminants from air pollution to cigarette smoke.

Basal stem cells are very quick at repairing DNA damage caused by inhaled chemicals such as those from cigarette smoke, but they are prone to making mistakes. It means that the more repair work they have to do, the greater the chance of a cancer-causing mutation.

“It isn’t definitive but the evidence is that lung basal stem cells are the likely cells of origin.” Claire says.

Find out more about this amazing research here!

 

CLIMATE CHANGE IN THE AGE OF TRUMP

Just as it seemed the world was starting to make serious efforts towards halting climate change, the United States – a country always considered essential to an effective international response – has elected a leader openly hostile towards climate science and climate action and who is already acting on that hostility.

What does the election of President Trump mean for worldwide attempts to limit warming to well below two degrees Celsius? Where can we find hope? What can Australians, particularly the intelligentsia, learn from his election and the local and international responses to his efforts to unravel US action on climate change? How can and should we respond?

Join us at Melbourne for this free lecture as part of the University’s lecture series ‘The Wednesday Lectures 2017: The Intelligentsia in The Age of Trump’ on Wednesday 30 August in our Public Lecture Theatre, Old Arts Building in Parkville.

Book your spot at our lecture series here!

 

BRUSH YOUR TEETH… IT COULD SAVE YOUR LIFE

Next time you’re racing out of the house without cleaning your teeth, think again. Neglecting your pearly whites can lead to a lot more than the odd filling.

It’s the simplest of actions, but brushing your teeth properly with a good fluoride toothpaste that produces plenty of white froth could save your life. Gum disease is extremely common. One in three adults and more than 50 per cent of Australians over the age of 65 have moderate to severe periodontitis, which is caused by an imbalance of bacteria in the mouth.

Led by University of Melbourne researchers, a global network of experts is working to improve the situation and potentially improve the health of millions of people.

“A lot of people just think they clean their teeth,” Professor Reynolds says. “But you actually have to clean the gum margin – it’s absolutely critical – and in between your teeth. Periodontitis starts in the gaps in between your teeth and around the gum. People are so focussed on tooth decay that they scrub the biting surfaces, which does nothing for periodontal disease.

“You should not only do your gums, in soft circular motions, you should clean the … top layer of your tongue as far back as you can go with the tooth brush and the tooth paste. Scrub it, froth it up. Because it’s that froth, the suds, that gets the biofilm … that harbours the bacteria.”

Read more about this announcement here!

What’s happening at Melbourne University?

What’s happening at Melbourne? News and Updates from Parkville

As written by the University of Melbourne

FOCUS ON MELBOURNE – COURSE INFORMATION EVENINGS

Our Focus on Agriculture, Biomedicine, Engineering, I.T, Science and Veterinary Science information evenings are a great way to learn more about our Biomedicine and Science undergraduate degrees and career pathways. The event will feature a range of different presentations, Q&A panels and opportunities to meet with our current staff and students.

  • Talk to our friendly staff about your study options in 2018
  • Hear from current students and staff about, and get a glimpse of University life
  • Explore majors, breadth options, electives, internships and research opportunities in your chosen faculty

Focus on Biomedicine – Tuesday 16 May
Focus on Agriculture – Thursday 18 May
Focus on Veterinary Science – Thursday 18 May
Focus on Engineering -Tuesday 23 May
Focus on I.T – Wednesday 24 May
Focus on Science – Tuesday 30 May

To learn more and register, visit the Focus on Melbourne website: https://futurestudents.unimelb.edu.au/explore/events/victoria_and_interstate/victoria/focus-on-melbourne

SHARKS – HOW A CULL CAN RUIN AN ECOSYSTEM

Killing of sharks in high numbers can devastate oceanic ecosystems, leading to plummeting populations and serious environmental consequences. Associate Professor Robert Day, a marine biologist in the School of BioSciences at the University of Melbourne, says sharks’ role is so tightly interwoven with the health of the ocean, if their numbers are reduced everything goes out of balance.

“The top predators in any ecosystem are very important because they decide on whether other creatures become numerous or not,” he says.

“If there is a lack of sharks, then fish and other ocean creatures that would otherwise be consumed by sharks will become too numerous and eat too many smaller creatures and so on, meaning that the whole ecosystem changes massively.”

Find out more about this amazing research here!

PLANTS HAVE FEELINGS TOO!

Plants may not have eyes, ears or a tongue, but their skin can perform many of the same functions. Plants are not only aware of when it rains or when it’s windy, but they can respond accordingly.

Dr Kim Johnson, a research fellow in the School of BioSciences, University of Melbourne, studies the world of plant senses.

“Plants are constantly under environmental stresses. You can actually see how plants respond to those physical stresses because they change their shape,” Dr Kim Johnson says.

“So if a plant is getting constantly hit with strong wind, it will actually change shape to better resist that wind; if roots hit a rock, they’ll grow around it, so they sense things around them.”

Find out more about this amazing research here!

FROM POKEMON GO TO THE CLASS ROOM – HOW THE UNIVERSITY OF MELBOURNE AND MICROSOFT IS TAKING STUDENTS UNDER THE SKINS OF THEIR PATIENTS

Pokémon Go pushed Augmented Reality, or AR, into the mainstream, sending over 500 million people chasing cartoons with their smartphones. But now, in a unique multi-disciplinary collaboration, it’s making the leap from entertainment to education.

A new fusion of augmented reality, gaming technology, and anatomy is giving physiotherapy students at the University of Melbourne access to cutting-edge technology to take a look inside the human body by projecting different layers of muscles and bones over the top of a volunteer ‘patient’. It provides an inside view of how the body works as it moves in real time.

By using tracking sensors mounted on a scaffold it projects images of our muscles and skeleton directly onto a volunteer. The images automatically follow the shape and movement of the body, giving students in the studio space an interactive all-round view of how our bodies work. It can even allow them and their teachers to “draw” on the projected image to make information and action more explicit.

Find out more about this amazing research here!

NYSF 2017 Session A: Partners’ Day Expo

After the Partners’ Day presentations the students gathered for the Partners’ Day Expo , where they were able to meet, chat and network with representatives of the NYSF partners.

The students were able to meet reps (and the presenters) from Lockheed Martin, IP Australia, UNSW Australia, Monash University, Melbourne University, Australian National University, University of Queensland, CSIRO, CSL, Resmed, and Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC).

The one-on-one conversations with the representatives proved to be valuable for the students – they got their questions answered and expanded their horizons in terms of career choices and opportunities.

All of the students were obsessively engaged in conversation that evening, but I managed to pull two aside for a quick chat about their thoughts on the expo.

“It encourages people to think and create change, and I’m a big advocate for creating change.”

“IP Australia really stood out for me” said Sharon Nguyen. “People are coming up with new ideas all the time, and so the work that they do at IP Australia is important because they can protect it. It encourages people to think and create change, and I’m a big advocate for creating change.”

“Before NYSF I wanted to do occupational therapy, then through talking to NYSF friends and the presenters I realized there was a whole world of opportunity and options out there that I hadn’t thought of.”

Sharon Nguyen with Matt Lee (Assistant Director of Strategic Communication, IP Australia)

As well as career choices, the conversation with the university reps in particular also illuminated life as a tertiary student. It seems as though it not only helped inform the students, but also sparked some excitement.

“Talking to all the presenters and other professionals has got me really excited to start university and the next stage of my career.”

“[Partners’ Day] made me realise how many options are out there, and it got me thinking about and considering many different universities” said Danyon Farrell.

“I’ve always wanted to do a double degree but I wasn’t sure, but after hearing the talks today it really made it obvious how valuable they are and the opportunity that they open.”

“Talking to all the presenters and other professionals has got me really excited to start university and the next stage of my career.”

One happy Danyon Farrell

By Jackson Nexhip, NYSF 2017 Session A Communications Intern and NYSF 2013 Alumnus

Volunteering develops passion for crop genetics and research

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Ellen de Vries with Sally Walford from CSIRO

Ellen de Vries is from regional Victoria, and attended the NYSF in 2014. She is currently studying a double major in Genetics and Food Science with a concurrent Diploma in Languages (Italian) at the University of Melbourne.

“Without the NYSF I would not have had the confidence nor the contacts to discover and develop my passion for crop genetics and research.”

“Since attending the National Youth Science Forum (NYSF) in 2014 I have been really fortunate in pursuing the many opportunities offered to me. During the NYSF I met CSIRO researcher, Sally Walford, and she invited me to do volunteer work in her cotton genetics research lab in the summer after I attended the NYSF. This was my first real taste of research and I enjoyed every minute of. It consolidated in my mind that I really loved research and wanted to potentially spend the rest of my life doing it.

Through this experience and the NYSF I really developed my passion for researching plant genomes and genetic manipulation. In my first year of university, this led to me being a research assistant to a PhD student at the University of Melbourne, giving me a better understanding of how research projects work.

At the beginning of 2016 I returned to the CSIRO and spent a week in the wheat genetics lab. I continued to develop my interest in the manipulation and expression of genes in cereal crops – specifically wheat plants.  There is a lot of potential to increase the yield of wheat crops, which would be of benefit to the Australian grains sector, and the economy more broadly .  This volunteer experience has motivated me to contact AgriBio Victoria to seek more lab work in the plant genetics field.

I am about to finish my second year at University of Melbourne, and am hoping to pass and go on to do my honours, and hopefully onto a PhD in cereal crop genetics.

Without the NYSF I would not have had the confidence or the contacts to discover and develop my passion for crop genetics and research. I know my experience with the NYSF is not a unique one and is shared by everyone who attends. The opportunities have been so incredible and they’ve really encouraged me to pursue my passion.”

What’s happening at Melbourne Uni? News and Updates from Parkville

All the latest news, direct from the University of Melbourne…

COURSE INFORMATION DAYS IN DECEMBER – ON CAMPUS & ONLINE

After you’ve got your ATAR, come to Course Information Day on Wednesday 14 December 2016 at the Parkville campus to find out what you can study at Melbourne in 2017.

  • Talk to our friendly staff about your study options in 2017.
  • Course information sessions will give you all the details about our undergraduate course and pathways to graduate study at Melbourne. You can also find out more about scholarships and our special entry schemes like Access Melbourne.
  • Tour our beautiful Parkville campus, located right on the fringe of Melbourne’s CBD, and take a look at our residential colleges.

Located in a rural area or interstate, or just can’t make it to the Parkville campus? Not a problem!

The Online Course Information Day on Thursday 15 December 2016 gives you the chance to learn more about your options, even if you can’t come and meet us in person. Log in and chat with our friendly staff, and get personalised advice about the undergraduate courses, pathways to graduate study, scholarships and special entry schemes that are relevant to you.

To learn more and register, visit the Change of Preference website: www.cop.unimelb.edu.au.

 

NEW SCIENCE GALLERY FOR THE UNIVERSITY

Science Gallery Melbourne will be a bold new addition to the University of Melbourne and the City of Melbourne, exploring the collision of art and science, and playing a vital role in shifting our understanding of science, art and innovation. Part of the acclaimed Science Gallery International network, the Gallery will be a dynamic new model for engaging 15-25 year olds with science. One of only eight nodes worldwide, Science Gallery Melbourne will involve, inspire and transform curious minds through arts and science.

The University of Melbourne is creating what will be Australia’s leading innovation precinct. Science Gallery Melbourne will be located in the landmark location, the intersection of Swanston and Grattan Streets, a gateway between the University and the city.

Scheduled to open in 2020, Science Gallery Melbourne will:

  • Attract over 250,000 visitors per annum
  • Impact the careers and pathways for 15-25 year olds in arts and science
  • Draw on the excellence embedded in the University of Melbourne and its inspiring program of teaching, research and engagement
  • Attract a global community of scientists and contemporary artists

 

MADE POSSIBLE BY MELBOURNE

In November, we launched Made Possible by Melbourne, a free exhibition in the Melbourne CBD celebrating world-changing research by the University of Melbourne.

Made Possible by Melbourne highlights several ground-breaking solutions that have been developed to tackle some of the most pertinent global issues. Featured are those such as bio-fortified rice to improve the nutrition and health for many in developing rural communities, flexible solar cells that help ease the transition to green power, and new classroom designs to enhance the achievement of each student’s academic potential. And this is just to name a few.

Perhaps closer to home is the use of financial modelling techniques to more effectively combat obesity, by analysing related decision processes. Such research highlights, more than anything else, the sheer possibility of how creativity can stretch the bounds of academic application.

And it’s all been made possible by the University of Melbourne.

Check out the video highlights of the exhibition here!

 

Food That Doesn’t Waste Water

Water is life, the world’s most precious resource. Yet across rural Australia, irrigation systems covering an estimated 2.5 million hectares of land are in desperate need of modernisation. In the United States, the figure is 10 times as high. Traditionally it takes around two and a half tonnes of water to grow 1kg of corn. However, in-ground sensors and automated watering systems developed by the University of Melbourne are helping farmers produce more crops using just half the water.

Now ground-breaking technologies developed over 15 years of collaboration between the University of Melbourne and Melbourne-based company Rubicon to automate irrigation networks are meeting the challenge of growing more food sustainably across an ever-hungrier world – and saving precious water.

Experience the Made Possible by Melbourne exhibit for this project here.

Find out more about this amazing project here!

 

Robots with a Human Touch

Restoring movement and the sensations of everyday life

Anyone who has lost the use of an arm through amputation, stroke or paralysis, has had not just movement and control, but also those vital, tangible human sensations stolen away.

Prosthetic limbs, once awkward, uncomfortable and limited in function, have come a long way, particularly with the advent of 3D printing. They can easily be custom fitted and even purpose built for various sports, as the recent Rio Paralympics have shown. Many of the most expensive models can be programmed to perform a remarkably wide range of movements. But none have been able to restore the sense of touch.
Yet some dare to dream. And turn dream into reality. Researchers from th
e University of Melbourne, in collaboration with the University of Wollongong and St Vincent’s Hospital’s Aikenhead Centre for Medical Discovery, are developing a robotic arm that could help return not only full movement but, one day, sensation.

Explore the Made Possible by Melbourne experience for this project here.

Learn more about this incredible research here.

Launch for NYSF 2017

The National Youth Science Forum (NYSF) launched its 2017 January programs earlier this month at the Australian National University (ANU).

Andrew Metcalfe, AO, Chair of the NYSF Board said the January program would be better than ever due to the ongoing support of our funding partners and organisations that facilitated the program.  Mr Metcalfe made special mention of the recent funding announcement by Minister Greg Hunt of funding for the NYSF’s activities through the National Innovation Science Agenda (NISA).

NYSF Chair Andrew Metcalfe speaking at the NYSF 2017 launch

NYSF Chair Andrew Metcalfe speaking at the NYSF 2017 launch

Mr Metcalfe also welcomed our newest Funding Partner, IP Australia, who’s Deputy Director General, Ms Deb Anton, also addressed the group underlining the value of supporting the NYSF as a program that attracts Australia’s next generation of leading innovators. “This aligns with IP Australia’s position,“ she said, “as we are at the forefront of innovation in Australia.”

“Supporting new talent will result in a strong, positive impact in securing Australia’s future as a global leader in science and technology.”

Attendees at the launch included representatives from NYSF funding partners, ANU academics and researchers who assist with the delivery of the NYSF program in the form of the lab visits and guest lectures; other facility lab visit and site tour providers; alumni of the NYSF Program, many of whom are students or graduates of the ANU; NYSF Board and Council members; and the NYSF corporate team.

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Dr. Chris Hatherly, Anne MacKay, Daniel Lawson, Emily Rose Rees, Ellen Lynch

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Prof. Jenny Graves, Deb Anton, Dr. Alison Shield

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Alumni Sam Backwell, Laura Wey,                Mitchell de Vries

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Andrew Metcalfe AO and Deb Anton

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Andrew Metcalfe AO and Deb Anton

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Mitchell de Vries, Natalie Williams,                Merryn Fraser

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Rowley Tompsett, Madeline Cooper,             Melanie Tacey

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Ken Maxwell, Dr. Damien Pearce, Jo Hart

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Tony Trumble, Prof. Jenny Graves, Deb Anton, Adrian Hearne, Brody Hannan

All images:  Emma Robertson

News from The University of Melbourne

University of Melbourne launches new Bachelor of Design

The Bachelor of Design commencing 2017

The University of Melbourne is pleased to announce the launch of a new undergraduate degree – available from Semester 1, 2017.

The Bachelor of Design is a three-year studio and workshop based degree that will foster a new generation of design professionals able to address present and future challenges.

The new degree aligns with professionally accredited graduate programs and offers students great flexibility in the form of new majors, minors and an array of unique specialisations.

Majors in the new program include: Architecture, Computing, Construction Management, Civil Systems, Digital Technologies, Graphic Design, Landscape Architecture, Mechanical Systems, Property, Spatial Systems, Urban Planning, and Performance Design.

You can preview the Bachelor of Design.

Bachelor of Environments

The University has also announced a review of its undergraduate environmental study offerings. The review will consider the intersection of arts and sciences in the study of sustainability and the environment and how best to complement its outstanding graduate options in these fields. In 2017 while the review is underway, there will be no first year intake into the Bachelor of Environments.

Studies in the Environment and Sustainability in 2017

If you have an interest in studying the environment and sustainability in 2017, our Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Arts degrees offer a range of study majors in these areas.

The Bachelor of Science offers majors in Environmental Science, Geography, Civil Systems, Spatial Systems, Agricultural Science, Climate & Weather, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Forest Science, Geology, Marine Biology, Plant Sciences, and many more.

The Bachelor of Arts also offers a major in Geography and a minor in Environmental Studies.

Further Information

For more information on all our undergraduate programs, the areas of study available, entry requirements and prerequisites please visit the course search website.

You can also attend our upcoming Focus On Melbourne course information evenings in May and June. If you are unable to attend your preferred Focus On Melbourne event, you can access recordings of all sessions online via the event website. Don’t forget to save the date for the University’s annual Open Day on Sunday 21 August 2016 to learn more about 2017 study options.

 

 

News from The University of Melbourne

The University of Melbourne’s Faculty of Science has recently added two new majors to the Bachelor of Science: Computational Biology and Mechatronics Systems.

Computational Biology Major

In the Computational Biology major, students will gain an understanding of the analysis and interpretation of biological phenomena using mathematical and statistical models, computational tools and the algorithmic design and analysis of such models and tools. Based in the Parkville biomedical precinct, students will learn from academics who are experts in their field and use the latest theories and technologies in their teaching practices. The Parkville biomedical precinct is also home to the Victorian Life Sciences Computation Initiative (VLSCI) which houses one of the fastest super computers in the southern hemisphere. The IBM Blue Gene/Q has 836 teraflops of processing power, which is equivalent to over 20,000 desktop computers. For more information, visit the Computational Biology website.

Mechatronics Systems Major

What is Mechatronics? Think exciting new developments like self-driving cars or drone imagery. Mechatronic engineers are some of the people behind these new technologies, using their expertise in computing, electronics and mechanical engineering to design and maintain machinery with electronic and computer control systems, such as aircrafts, robots, motor vehicles, cameras, power generators and chemical plant machinery. In the Mechatronics Systems major students will develop strong skills in the mathematical modelling of the behaviour, response, and control of mechanical systems that can perform physical tasks. Students will also learn about electronic sensors used for sensing of the environment and the instrumentation required to support them and use of computer programming skills for interfacing computers with machines. To learn more, visit the website.

Getting started in science videos

The Faculty of Science has also released a range of helpful new videos designed to help students learn more about the various areas of study available through the Bachelor of Science. These colourful, engaging videos will help students to make more informed decisions about which subjects and majors to select as they plan their undergraduate course enrolment. To watch the videos, visit the Getting Started in Science webpage.

Science and Technology Internships

Bachelor of Science students can now undertake a Science and Technology Internship subject which will offer real experience working in a science or technology related workplace. The internship will help students to identify and articulate their knowledge and skills and apply them to relevant contexts and work-settings, produce original work in an appropriate format which demonstrates analytical, research and problem-solving skills, understand the value of industry and professional networks and their importance to lifelong learning and career progression and develop greater confidence in their ability to contribute to a science-related workplace, awareness of the strengths they offer to a future employer as well as areas to further develop beyond their degree. To learn more about his exciting new subject, visit the website

Unravelling microscopic evidence of supercontinents … in three minutes

NYSF 2008 Alumna and student staff leader Catherine Wheller was one of eight grand finalists to compete in The University of Melbourne’s Three Minute Thesis competition (3MT®) in September this year.

The Trans-Tasman Three Minute Thesis is an annual research communication competition developed by The University of Queensland celebrating the exciting research conducted by PhD students. The exercise cultivates students’ academic, presentation, and research communication skills, allowing the opportunity to develop their capacity to effectively explain their research in three minutes, in a language appropriate to a non-specialist audience.

“To reach the grand final, we went through initial heats, then semi-finals and then into the grand final. This was the final stage for me, however the winner of the grand final travelled to Queensland for the Trans-Tasman competition competing against winners from universities in Australia and New Zealand.”

Catherine’s presentation concentrated on the question of “Microscopic Evidence of Supercontinents, how do we uncover the evolution of the Earth’s continents by the mineral assemblages that make up rocks?”

Presenting my research to a general audience is … a skill which is seldom taught, but incredibly useful

Catherine Wheller 3MT

Catherine Wheller 3MT

While travelling in the remote south of Madagascar last year for her research, Catherine picked up a rock. Under the microscope, she found that the rock’s mineral assemblage showed that it had been through an extraordinarily high temperature event around 520 million years ago.

“This is a remarkably different evolution than an average rock would have experienced, so what story has my rock recorded? This is around the time that the supercontinent of Gondwana was forming – so what I’ve found is evidence that the southern part of Madagascar was involved in a collision of two plates at this time. From studies like this around the world, we can really start to piece together past movements of our Earth’s crust.”

Catherine has always enjoyed public speaking and teaching, but her audience has always been one educated or interested in her field. “Presenting my research to a general audience is a challenge that I was motivated to try because this is a skill which is seldom taught, but incredibly useful.  I chose a degree that I am passionate about and it has allowed me to explore some incredibly remote and unique places, which I then use to investigate the evolution of our planet – and I want to communicate that.”

The competition was tough. Catherine was representing the University of Melbourne’s School of Earth Sciences in a competition dominated by biomedical students. “At this level you can expect a certain degree of competitiveness, however I was blown away by how willing everyone was to help each other. Some of us started a practice group during the heat stages of the competition and we gave each other tips on presentation style and content – I’ve made an incredible group of friends though this program.”

The University of Melbourne’s other competitors in the competition came from the Faculty of Science; Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences; Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences and Melbourne School of Engineering. Humanities and the Arts were well represented in the heats and semi-finals.

The Melbourne University competition winner was Eamonn Fahy who discussed early signs of glaucoma. He later won the grand final held at the University of Queensland in October.

Other topics included: the rise of the superbug (Claire Gorrie); The uses of spider silk in Kevlar (Steven Harris Wibowo); How much oxygen is needed to grow stem cells (Jarmon Lees); Malaria screening in women to prevent birth of premature babies (Kerryn Moore); Growing healthy wheat (Rebecca Vandegeer); and Shedding light on diabetic blindness (Sam Mills).

Watch Catherine’s 3MT here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xhvFJKoUVtI

Catherine’s Blog about field stories here: https://catinthefield.wordpress.com/