Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people working in science and technology roles across the country are being encouraged to enter the inaugural Deadly Award for Scientist or Science Project of the Year.
The CSIRO-sponsored award aims to recognise the significant contribution made by Indigenous people working in science roles or science projects.
Nominees are encouraged from all scientific fields, from environmental management to astronomy and space sciences.
Our Chief Executive Dr Megan Clark said the awards aim to showcase outstanding individuals and projects and encourage others to take on science careers.
“If we look here, just at CSIRO, we’ve got Indigenous people working across a range of areas, including plant ecology, social sciences, fire management and geography, and we know there are many more high achievers out there in the community,” Dr Clark said.
“We want people to tell us about the outstanding Indigenous scientists and science projects in their communities so they can be recognised at these national awards.”
“Our sponsorship of the Deadlys is one more step we’re taking to help close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, and we’re hoping to inspire all Australians about the benefits of science at the same time.”
Nominations can be made on the Deadlys website and close on 30 June 2013. Five finalists will then be selected, with the winner announced at a red carpet event at the Sydney Opera House on 10 September.
Previous recipients of Deadlys include Jessica Mauboy, Lewis Jetta, Deborah Mailman and Percy Neal.
For more information about Indigenous career opportunities at CSIRO, visit our careers page.
Media: Lou Morrissey. +61 2 4960 6140, 0419 168 940, email@example.com.
What do our scientists do in their spare time? Paul Shand’s expertise lies in geology and hydrogeochemistry, and he’s discovered the ‘water of life’ – whisky that is – among the rocks.
Paul is a scientific whisky buff; working to reclassify whisky according to geology. The simple classification used at present is based on numbers of distilleries in a region along with old political divides. This weekend, Paul is aiming to convince the Malt Whisky Society of Australia’s 4th Whisky Convention that geology is a much better way to classify whisky.
The link between geology and whisky
Geology’s influence on whisky is mainly due to its control on water chemistry. The chemistry of the water is believed to influence the taste of the final product. There’s little research in this area but there is a wealth of experience from seasoned distillers. Paul mentioned that the old timers certainly thought there was an effect from water chemistry, and since they developed the distillation techniques through trial and error it would be wise for us to listen. The importance of water chemistry is also a view of the people on site who actually make the whisky, but there is debate as some companies agree while other multinationals and writers don’t think it has an effect.
Essentially Scottish malt whisky contains components of the landscape, dissolved in the water via interactions with the bedrock and soil through which it has passed. Each sip contains part of that geological history which comes from the rocks ‐ it may be hundreds of millions of years old, it may be only a few thousand – that’s worth savouring and contemplating. We’ll drink to that, whether it’s a Devonian or Precambrian drop.
In search of the perfect dram
Paul was brought up in Wick in Scotland, and walked past the renowned Pulteney distillery on the way to school each day. He subsequently studied geology at Edinburgh University before completing a PhD on ancient volcanic rocks in the south of Scotland.
His baptism into malt whisky happened during an exploration for gold in the Scottish Highlands, where he not only discovered solid gold, but also sampled ‘liquid gold’ for the first time after a hard day of digging. He then worked for 15 years with the British Geological Survey travelling extensively in search of the perfect dram but under the pretense of research on ‘water for life’.
It was during a sabbatical to Australia that Paul found exciting scientific challenges and some of the world’s best Uisge Beatha, Gaelic for ‘water of life’. So he stayed, taking up a position as Principal Research Scientist in our Water for a Healthy Country Flagship. He is also an adjunct Professor in the School of the Environment at Flinders University.
We’re big on maintaining a healthy lifestyle and a nutritionally balanced diet. The CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet lets you do this with a little pizzazz. It’s nutritious, delicious, high in protein and facilitates sustainable weight loss. Our latest book, Recipes on a Budget, shows how you can eat well without breaking the bank or compromising on quality or nutrition. It’s packed with more than 135 new recipes that use inexpensive cuts of meats, use leftovers in clever ways and show how to make your own dips, spice mixes and dressings.
Here’s a sneak peek that’s perfect for winter.
By Vanessa Hill
Happy Fascination of Plants Day! That is, if you’re not too busy celebrating Sea Monkey Day, Museum Day, or preparing for Pick Strawberries Day on Monday. It’s true there are many ‘days’ competing for our attention. But unlike picking strawberries, appreciating plants only takes a few moments. And plants are seriously amazing.
As a city dweller, plants were something I never really appreciated. Once I tried to grow a veggie patch on my balcony and I got a rash as soon as I put my hand within an inch of the tomato vine. I’m sure many city dwellers are plant aficionados, so maybe “naive urbanite” is a more fitting title for me.
Anyway, a few years back I moved to the Northern Territory. When I was walking to pick up the keys to my house I was fascinated, and somewhat confused, at the plants lining the footpath. The bush looked almost dead, but had an odd ‘flower’ on it. At the time I could only describe this as “a cotton bud”. Like the ones you buy in a packet from Coles. When I expressed my surprise to my new colleagues, they laughed at me. A lot.
I had no idea what a cotton plant looked like. I was just beginning a postgraduate degree in Environmental Management, and I only had a vague idea of where my food came from. Or how my clothing was made. I felt silly, and quite ignorant. As I spoke to more people about it, I realised it’s a common problem.
Generally people don’t have a strong appreciation of what plants do for us. We know that they convert carbon dioxide into oxygen, provide food, clothing and building materials. But we don’t appreciate this as these processes are so foreign, because our food comes from Coles, our clothes from Myer and our building materials from Bunnings. The appreciation in lost in not knowing how food travels from farm to plate, how fibres like cotton are spun into fabric.
Cotton, for example, has been cultivated for over 5,000 years all around the world. Despite the geographic divide between cotton farmers, the crop has been cleaned, spun and weaved in the same manner everywhere. Tiny cotton seeds are super durable, and can survive been blown for thousands of kilometres and even across bodies of water. And if you don’t think cotton is sexy, it’s a relative of the hibiscus, both belong to the Gossypium genus of plants.
CSIRO have been researching and growing cotton in country NSW for 40 years. Over that time, our research has improved yield, disease resistance and fibre quality. All while supporting a rural economy.
Next time you think plants are boring, think again. Think about what you had for breakfast, what your clothing is made out of and the amazing fact that they actually convert carbon dioxide into oxygen. Plants are seriously fascinating.
By Janene Brown
“So what’s it like to be a scientist or mathematician?” “What do you really do in your job?” Volunteers in the Scientists and Mathematicians in Schools program have been answering these questions since 2007 through over 3200 partnerships with scientists and teachers across the nation.
During National Volunteer Week, the team at Scientists and Mathematicians in Schools want to say “Thanks a Million”.
Thanks to the scientists and mathematicians, for volunteering your knowledge and passion for your chosen field. Thanks to the teachers, for welcoming them into your classroom. Together you are making a substantial positive impact on thousands of students.
All our partnerships are unique. That’s the beauty of the program’s flexibility.
Some of our partnerships have annual visits to assist in excursions while others visit more frequently to work on a particular project. Across all partnerships, science and mathematics are made more accessible for students, transforming textbook learning into reality. Our scientists and mathematicians show the human side of their work, helping dispel the stereotypes which spring to mind when we say ‘scientist’ or ‘mathematician’.
This sentiment is best summarised by a NSW parent, “It’s fantastic that individuals are willing to offer their time to help facilitate the learning of our children. Please pass on a big thank you for being an inspiration for my son.”
Scientists and Mathematicians in Schools is an Australian Government initiative funded by Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations and CSIRO.
If you thought ISS Commander Chris Hadfield’s micro gravity rendition of Space Oddity was the hit of the week, think again.
The latest album from electro music duo Daft Punk is being launched in Wee Waa this week and we’re ready to get down. It was reported that the French duo chose Wee Waa, in regional NSW, because of its proximity to our Australia Telescope. The global album launch will include a party at the Wee Waa show on Friday night.
The Australia Telescope Compact Array is so ready that it’s been getting down to Daft Punk’s Get Lucky.
Our researchers are getting into the swing of things too, giving a tour of the telescope operating room in signature Daft Punk helmets.
And finally, researchers dancing.
Today we’re crossing the Tasman for a mystery of the deep. Fishy remains became famous last week when a strange carcass washed up on a New Zealand beach and made it big on YouTube under the guise of a “sea monster”.
Speculation about the prehistoric origin of the “monster” was atwitter until one of New Zealand’s marine mammal experts stepped in (cue the Get Smart theme song). New Zealand Museum’s Anton van Helden told NZ TV that it could be identified as an Orca (a.k.a. killer whale), due to a distinctive flipper. Killer whales are found in all oceans and it’s estimated that the largest population lives in Antarctic waters. New Zealand’s Bay of Plenty was certainly full of surprises, as this YouTube clip shows:
It’s unknown why the killer whale died or washed up on shore. I imagine if it could talk, it would probably say something like this…
At the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex we're constructing new 34-metre wide antennas and we've reached a big milestone with one of them - Deep Space Station 35. Tomorrow, Friday 10th May, at around 7 am (subject to change) we should be lifting Deep Space Station 35's reflector (dish) onto its pedestal.
To make it easier to build these antennas, we build the antenna base, dish and subreflector separately and then link them together.
Give yourself a vitamin boost with the goodness of mushrooms. Mushies certainly punch above their weight, packed with essential nutrients and naturally low in fat and salt. We’re dialing up their vitamin D content for an extra boost.
By Sally Crossman
Technology, originally invented by CSIRO, has been given a top global award for its smart building energy management system.
Intelligent decisions about the building conditions are made by the system based on information, like weather data and personal comfort levels. The system assesses this information every few minutes – constantly adjusting and monitoring the conditions.
BuildingIQ has found that the heating, ventilation and cooling (HVAC) energy use is reduced by up to 25 per cent after installation of the software. The technology can also help to reduce peak demand, a major driver behind recent electricity price rises. The technology can be applied to large office buildings and retrofitted easily.
“We’re so pleased that the technology has been recognised with this award and it’s great to think that our system is going to be able to make its way into even more buildings in Australian and the US,” says Dr John Ward, CSIRO research leader.
At the start of the year, BuildingIQ secured $9 million in venture funding which should help the dream of expanding the system’s use to more buildings. The technology has also won multiple industry awards.
“The award shows that our science has global reach and a real impact on the energy efficiency of very large buildings like the iconic Rockefeller Centre,” says Dr Alex Wonhas, Director of the Energy Transformed Flagship.
Read more about it at: www.csiro.au/OptiCool.
Australian scientists are much closer to developing a screening test for the early detection of Alzheimer’s disease, the leading cause of dementia.
A quarter of a million Australians currently suffer from dementia and given our ageing population, this is predicted to increase to one million by 2050.
Researchers identified blood-based biological markers that are associated with the build up of amyloid beta, a toxic protein in the brain, which occurs years before symptoms appear and irreversible brain damage has occurred.
“Early detection is critical, giving those at risk a much better chance of receiving treatment earlier, before it’s too late to do much about it,” said Dr Samantha Burnham from CSIRO’s Preventative Health Flagship.
This research is just one part of the Australian Imaging and Biomarkers Lifestyle Study of Aging (AIBL), a longitudinal study in conjunction with research partners from Austin Health, Edith Cowan University, the Florey Institute of Neurosciences and Mental Health and the National Aging Research Institute. The AIBL study aims to discover which biomarkers, cognitive characteristics and health and lifestyle factors are linked with the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
“Another recent study from the AIBL team showed that amyloid beta levels become abnormal about 17 years before dementia symptoms appear,” said Dr Burnham. “This gives us a much longer time to intervene to try to slow disease progression if we are able to detect cases early.
“We hope our continued research will lead to the development of a low cost, minimally invasive population based screening test for Alzheimer’s in the next five to ten years. A blood test would be the ideal first stage to help identify many more people at risk before a diagnosis is confirmed more specialised testing.”
The results have been published today in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.
The AIBL study is supported by the Science and Industry Endowment Fund (SIEF).
Media: Andreas Kahl, Andreas.Kahl@csiro.au Phone: (08) 8303 8888 Mobile: 0407 751 330
By Keirissa Lawson
We all know that the sewers of New York City, with their proximity to pizza shops and evil villains, provide a thriving habitat for teenage mutant ninja turtles.
But how much do we know about the habitat and movement of real turtles?
Scientists from CSIRO and the WA Department of Environment and Conservation, led by CSIRO’s Dr Mat Vanderklift, are capturing and tagging green sea turtles in the Ningaloo Coast World Heritage Area off Western Australia, to gain a better understanding of sea turtle ecology.
“This is the first time turtle tagging studies of this kind have been conducted in the Ningaloo area,” said Dr Vanderklift. “Understanding where the turtles forage for food and how far they roam will provide invaluable information for ongoing management of these iconic animals in this World Heritage Area.”
Since February this year, Dr Vanderklift and his team have fitted 17 green sea turtles with acoustic tags which track the movement of the turtles as they pass by specialised listening stations in Mangrove Bay. Another two turtles from the same area have been fitted with satellite tags. Each time the aerial on the tag breaks the sea surface a signal is sent to a satellite and used to pinpoint the turtle’s position.
The tags, attached to the turtle’s carapace (shell), will give scientists an insight into the range and foraging patterns of these threatened marine reptiles. In addition, scientists are using remote underwater video to observe turtle behaviour up close.
“So far we have looked at more than 140 hours of video and have found that turtles tend to spend quite a lot of time in seaweed patches in the lagoon during the day,” said Dr Vanderklift.
Local students from Exmouth Primary School are getting behind the turtle tagging study and will name the two satellite-tagged turtles.
You too can follow the turtles’ tracks in near-real time.
This project is a partnership between CSIRO, the Western Australian Departments of Environment and Conservation (DEC) and Fisheries (DoF) and the Cape Conservation Group. The research is supported by funding from the Commonwealth Government through the Caring for our Country initiative.
Climate scientists studying the impact of changing wave behaviour on the world’s coastlines are reporting a likely decrease in average wave heights across 25 per cent of the global ocean.
In some of the first climate simulations of modelled wave conditions they also found a likely increase in wave height across seven per cent of the global ocean, predominantly in the Southern Ocean.
Lead author, Dr Mark Hemer, said that 20 per cent of the world’s coastlines are sandy beaches which are prone to natural or man-made changes. It is estimated that 10 per cent of these sandy coasts are becoming wider as they build seawards, 70 per cent are eroding and the remaining 20 per cent are stable. Around 50 per cent of Australia’s coast is sand.
“Waves are dominant drivers of coastal change in these sandy environments, and variability and change in the characteristics of surface ocean waves (sea and swell) can far exceed the influences of sea-level rise in such environments.
“If we wish to understand how our coasts might respond to future changes in climate then we need to try and understand how waves might respond to the projected changes in global atmospheric circulation seen as shifts in storm frequency, storm intensity and storm tracks,” Dr Hemer stated.
Dr Hemer explained that coastal impacts of climate change studies have predominantly focused on the influence of sea-level rise and, until now, not focussed on how changing wave conditions will impact the coastal zone in a changing climate.
He said sea-level rise is likely to have considerable influence along much of the world’s coastlines. However, with such poor understanding of how changes in waves and other coastal processes will also influence shoreline position, it is difficult to attribute a level of future risk to the coast under a warmer climate.
The study compared results from five research groups from Australia, the United States, Japan, Europe and Canada. Each group used different modelling approaches to develop future wave-climate scenarios.
“While we find agreement in projected change in some parts of the world’s oceans, considerable uncertainty remains. We’re continuing to quantify the dominant sources of variation with the latest generation of climate models which will be used in the up-coming Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports,” Dr Hemer said.
He said climate is one of several mostly human-driven factors influencing coastline change. These findings are derived from a study which seeks to understand potential impacts on coasts from climate change driven wind-wave conditions. The study will be published in the print edition of the journal Nature Climate Change on 25 April.
Media: Craig Macaulay P: 03 6232 5219 M: 0419 966 465 Email: Craig.Macaulay@csiro.au
How will we feed the world in 2050? Feeding a growing population is a big challenge, but feeding them in the face of a changing climate, volatile markets and limits on resources means we need to work hard to succeed. According to projections, the maximum amount of food we can produce declines steeply under growing climate pressures, yet we will need more food to make up for global crop losses.
In response to the challenge, CGIAR, a global agricultural research alliance, pulled together the Commission on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change and Megan Clark, our Chief, represented Australia. The commission released a report last year on Achieving Food Security in the Face of Climate Change. The report reviewed scientific evidence and produced a set of actions to transform the food system. These recommendations include transforming current patterns of food production, distribution and consumption, and also investment and innovation to empower the world’s most vulnerable populations. For us consumers, actions include eliminating food waste and having access to better sustainability and nutrition information from improved labelling.
This animation goes into more detail on our ‘safe operating space’ in relation to food and climate change.
Today is the one year anniversary of the CGIAR report. Read more about the idea to finished product and their ongoing research on their blog. More on our work tackling food security challenges on our website.
What is music, really? Pythagoras, Aristotle, Leonardo Da Vinci and Galileo Galilei all studied sound and music and none of them are noted for their musical ability.
This week on the BBC Knowledge Science Club, Dara and his team of experts explore the science behind music. Dara asks the question ‘What is music really?’ and takes us back in time to look how music was traditionally defined and distributed. Professor Trevor Cox discusses the evolution of music and Alexandra Lamont talks about the psychology behind music.
Jam-packed with special guests; James May from Top Gear will be exploring how music is inextricably linked to our emotions and British singer, composer and song writer Imogen Heap will be performing live.
Materials scientist Mark Miodownik takes apart a Fender Telecaster and takes us through a crash course of how guitars are made and the history behind the pieces. Don’t worry guitar lovers! Mark put the telecaster back together once he was finished.
Do you think you’re a music buff? We have another weekly giveaway with our friends at the BBC. Up for grabs is a BBC Knowledge bag, pen and CSIRO Publishing’s book Probing the New Solar System.
Unscramble the dates, creators and musical devices in this image and send your answer in to socialmedia(at)csiro.au by 5pm next Monday 1 April.
And here is a sneak peek into what’s coming up this Sunday…
Tune in this Sunday at 8.40pm on BBC Knowledge, Channel 612 – Only on Foxtel.