Early-career researchers honoured at CRC conference

Thursday, 17 May, 2018

Early-career researchers honoured at CRC conference

The CRC Association’s annual conference, Collaborate | Innovate | 2018, this week saw six early-career researchers honoured for demonstrating excellence not only in the laboratory but in communicating their science.

Held at the Aerial UTS Function Centre in Sydney, the conference attracted more than 350 delegates, including some of Australia’s most influential people in government, industry and universities. The presentation of the Showcasing Early Career Researchers award at the event therefore provided a platform for young researchers who are facing uncertainty in both funding and job security.

Award entrants were asked to submit a 30-second video demonstrating that they could convey the aim of their research clearly and effectively. Six finalists were chosen to attend the conference and give a five-minute oral presentation about their research. Each finalist received $1000 prize money, while the winner received an additional $5000.

An audience vote saw the prize go to China’s Chuhao Liu, currently based at the Rail Manufacturing CRC, thanks to his project ‘Stabilising Australia’s Railway Foundation’. With track foundation particles subjected to significant breakage upon repeated train passage, the rail industry currently installs a polymer geogrid inside the foundation to reduce damage. Liu’s research aims to identify the optimum design of the geogrid and to develop guidelines for manufacture.

Chuhao Liu’s submission video.

Other finalists were as follows:

  • Shiv Bolan, from the CRC for Contamination Assessment and Remediation of the Environment, is looking at the bacterial guardians of the ‘gut galaxy’ and how they deal with heavy-metal contaminants.
  • Dr James Fernando, from the Oral Health CRC, is harnessing dairy proteins to tackle a classic dentist’s problem: repairing tooth decay.
  • Korah Parackal, from the Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, is mapping the most vulnerable parts of our homes during extreme weather events.
  • Jenalle Baker, from the CRC for Mental Health, has developed an online assessment tool for Alzheimer’s that’s fast, low cost and can be delivered at home.
  • Dr Fatima Naim, from the Queensland University of Technology, is delving into the field of gene editing to futureproof our food.

Speaking about the importance of effective science communication, Dr Naim said, “If I want people to be more interested in our research, I need to be able to talk about it. If I don’t know how to communicate, then how are people going to see the importance of the research? And if they don’t see the importance of it, then how are they going to support it?”

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/anzebizjan

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