Our Valuable Waste

In a collaboration between researchers, the government, and production manufacturers, materials can be recycled and reformed into new products. We talk about three R’s: reduce, reuse, and recycle. Professor Veena Sahajwalla offers a fourth: reform. Instead of shipping waste offshore, we could be harvesting the high value materials in our waste. Each year, 50 million tonnes of e-waste is produced globally. In Australia, fewer than 1.5% of the 4 million computers sold a year are recycled. The total value of the resources embedded in them approximates $70 billion.

Fashionable Science

How can textiles quietly heal us? Are wearable medical devices of any use when patients are too stigmatised to wear them? What good is fancy cycling gear that won’t protect the rider? Can we close the loop on global fashion, the world’s second biggest polluting industry? From comfort and style to function and protection, clothing fulfils some of the most basic human needs; but now we’re exploring textiles that can contribute to wound healing, or even become body implants through a next generation recycling process.

A Joint Win for the RSV’s 2018 Phillip Law Postdoctoral Award

This year, the assessors of the Royal Society of Victoria’s Phillip Law Postdoctoral Award in the Physical Sciences worked diligently through the pile of applicants that grows, year on year, with the growth in Victoria’s remarkable pool of talent. It is an intensely competitive field of Early Career Researchers and, this year, our assessors simply could not find a way to separate the two lead applicants.

“Both have made – and continue to make – significant contributions to modern physics with different, substantial potential for application,” explained Dr Peter Baines, the Secretary of the Royal Society of Victoria and one of the assessors. Ultimately, the two lead applicants were ruled a dead heat.

The Society congratulates Dr Sumeet Walia and Dr Nishar Hameed on their joint win of the 2018 Phillip Law Postdoctoral Award for the Physical Sciences!

Fighting Superbugs: Biomimetic Nanotechnology

While antibiotics have reduced the global burden of infectious disease, these miracle drugs are no longer working against emerging “superbugs.” A recent report from the UK estimates that, by 2050, nearly 10 million people are likely to die from drug-resistant infections if the current trends persist. In response, Professor Elena Ivanova and her team have generated bactericidal surfaces that physically rupture bacterial cells in a few hundred seconds without harming animal cells. The rapidness with which they kill ensures that there is little opportunity for bacteria to adapt and become resistant. In the middle of a global antimicrobial resistance crisis, Professor Ivanova’s work provides hope that we haven’t yet lost the fight against superbugs!