On the 13th of December 2019, Her Excellency the Honourable Linda Dessau AC, Governor of Victoria, presented the Royal Society of Victoria’s Medal for Excellence in Scientific Research to Professors Anthony Burkitt and Jamie Rossjohn (en route to induct the new Victorian Premier and Cabinet!). Professor Burkitt leads a consortium of Australian universities and institutes to develop a bionic eye and technology, Bionic Vision Australia, and Professor Rossjohn is a leader in the field of immunology, in his quest to better understand how the immune system works and can be manipulated to address disease. The RSV Research Medal awarded to two leaders in their fields recognises both their research career achievements as well as their impact in the scientific community through mentorship and public engagement.
As an animator, most of Dr Drew Berry’s days are spent reading scientific literature and going on long walks to think about what he reads while his computer runs tasks. There is a great deal of data on cellular processes, however the full story is often scattered among multiple studies and papers (i.e. all the details of one machine complex may be comprised of multiple proteins that work together, and each is described individually). Dr Berry therefore has to piece the jigsaw puzzle together to show the big picture while keeping the smaller details accurate. He also has to make artistic choices that may not always reflect the science of what’s going on. Colour is not relevant at the cellular and molecular levels; but he uses it in his animations to evoke moods and emotions, allowing him to better engage his audiences and also make it easier to distinguish between different components and processes of a cell.
Expressions of Interest are sought from suitably-qualified colleagues to provide independent advice, review and validation of the science informing the modernisation of Victoria’s Regional Forest Agreements. The purpose of the Panel is to assure communities, stakeholders and Government that the scientific methods and data used to assess forest values and inform forest management decisions are credible, rigorous and able to withstand scrutiny of other scientists and technical experts. The Panel will review and report on the relative merits and limitations of methods and data used to assess forest values and provide recommendations for assessment methods, design and strategic advice on specific RFA assessment matters as requested. The window for applications opens on 12 December, 2018 and closes on 21 January, 2019.
In the 1970s, while a student of psychology and physiology at Oxford University, Dr Susan Blackmore experienced a profound “out-of-body experience.” Afterwards, she sought a deeper understanding and completed a Doctor of Philosophy in parapsychology, analyzing reported incidents of clairvoyance, telepathy, astral travelling and so forth – all a part of what has become a lifelong engagement with the ‘mystery of consciousness.’ Through her studies, Blackmore formed a view that personal experiences of the paranormal were a byproduct of abnormal brain functioning. Freshly bestowed with a doctorate in ‘psychic powers,’ she was worried “there was no way [she] was going to get a normal job…or any job.” However, she broadened her research interests to take in evolutionary theory, mimetics, and studies in consciousness to become a freelance writer and lecturer, tackling subjects that would only become the focus of scientific enquiry in the late 1990s.
You may not know it, but Australia is facing an extinction crisis. With the worst rate of mammalian extinction in the world, over 1,700 species of animals and plants are currently at risk of becoming extinct in Australia. The future of biodiversity conservation relies on multiple factors, including removing native animals from the dangers of introduced predators, changing the culture of clearing land, and having support of the government, conservationists, and society as a whole. These changes would help populations to recover, however when the gene pool of a species has bottlenecked so much, even if the population size increases, their genetic health will remain poor. To avoid the current health problems such as all koalas having chlamydia and Tasmanian devils having infectious facial tumours, genetic rescue is potentially the solution. With Dr Weeks and his colleagues leading the way, endangered and threatened Australian flora and fauna will hopefully flourish once again.