Dinosaur bones and award-winning scientists at ANSTO


Tuesday, 06 November, 2018

Dinosaur bones and award-winning scientists at ANSTO

The Australian Age of Dinosaurs museum, in collaboration with the University of New England, is using the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation’s (ANSTO) Australian Synchrotron to conduct high-resolution 3D X-ray imaging of the femur of Australia’s best known carnivorous dinosaur, Australovenator.

Using its flagship beamline technology, ANSTO scientists will study the dinosaur’s internal bone structure in an effort to reveal how it lived, through the use of imaging and medical beamline (IMBL). IMBL delivers the world’s widest synchrotron X-ray ‘beam’, which is ideal for analysing fossil relics of Australia’s prehistoric past.

IMBL uses 3D X-ray imaging at incredibly high resolutions showing minute differences at the interface of air, tissues and bones, allowing us to see inside the fossil without causing damage to the specimens. ANSTO scientist Dr Joseph Bevitt, along with Dr Matt White of the University of New England, will be looking to uncover further secrets from the bone, which might include details of the meat eater’s age and life history.

ANSTO has separately announced the winners of the 2018 ANSTO Awards in Nuclear Science and Technology, presented on 2 November at the Australian Museum. According to ANSTO CEO Dr Adi Paterson, the awards acknowledge “excellence in scientific outcomes, strengthening of partnerships and real-world benefits achieved by our ingenious scientists”.

The George Collins Award for Innovation was jointly awarded to two teams. The Gamma-ray Imaging with Compressed Sensing team, led by Dr David Boardman, was recognised for developing cutting-edge camera technology that enables the visualisation of gamma radiation in real time.

“We expect considerable interest from industry in this innovation — for example, this technology would greatly assist in border security,” Dr Paterson said.

The Neutron Capture Enhanced Particle Therapy (NCEPT) team, led by Dr Mitra Safavi-Naeini, was meanwhile awarded for improving a type of radiotherapy to deliver more powerful and targeted doses of nuclear medicine. Dr Paterson said, “Dr Safavi-Naeini and her team are on the cusp of revolutionising treatment for metastatic cancers that usually present at an advanced stage, such as pancreatic and liver cancer.”

Other award winners are as follows:

  • ANSTO Early-Career Research Award: Gabriel Murphy, Nuclear Materials Researcher and PhD candidate, for contributing to new and improved ways to manage, handle and store nuclear waste.
  • Excellence in Science Communication Award: Dr Helen Maynard-Casely, Instrument Scientist, for interpreting complex scientific ideas in planetary science and promoting the power of science and ANSTO using social media and ongoing contributions to The Conversation.
  • CEO Sustained Contribution Award (joint winners): Dr Lou Vance, Research Scientist, for his 30 years as an academic and ANSTO scientist working to improve nuclear waste management; and Dr Mark Reinhard, Nuclear Stewardship Leader, for his expertise in nuclear forensics and metrology with far-reaching contributions to a range of industries, including nuclear medicine and international security.

Image caption: Students from the John Monash Science School were fortunate enough to examine the femur of Australovenator, the 95-million-year-old dinosaur, as it was being scanned at ANSTO’s Synchrotron.

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