Dr Rajesh Ramanathan combines nanoparticles with light to achieve a wide range of biomedical applications. From sensing chemicals and bacteria, to healing wounds and imaging patients, his nanotechnology is at the forefront of biomedical science and its potential is endless. Winner of the 2019 Phillip Law Postdoctoral Award for Physical Sciences, Dr Ramanathan shared his journey to incorporate elements of nature into the design of nanoparticles for a wide range of biomedical applications. By shining a light on patients and nanoparticles, he can reveal their glucose levels, repair their wounds, and image their tumours.
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.
Our uptake of new technologies and electronics comes at a cost: information and communications technology (ICT) consumes about 8% of global electricity, doubling every decade. A massive amount of energy is consumed in the thousands of factory-sized data centres that house “the cloud,” as well as computer systems for telecommunication and storage. Most of the energy consumed in data centres, computers and other devices is dissipated as heat rather than being used to power the device itself, meaning that much of it is wasted. ICT is now on par with the aviation industry for their contribution to global warming, and it’s time for a change.
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.
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!