Following the United Nations Global Assessment of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services report, Professor Brendan Wintle discussed and celebrated the crucial role that ecologists can play (and are playing) in co-designing and implementing solutions to the extinction crisis, in partnership with private land conservation organisations, Indigenous land managers, developers, and governments.
Australia has a vibrant medical technology and pharmaceutical (MTP) sector, recognised globally for its excellence and innovation. With nearly 1,300 companies and an exceptionally skilled workforce of 68,000 across industry and research, the MTP sector is a major contributor to the Australian economy. Dr Rebecca Tunstall from MTPConnect leads collaborative teams to drive connectivity, innovation and productivity in the sector.
Industry 4.0 is the next industrial revolution, utilising digitalisation to create a smarter, self-correcting manufacturing processes. Bringing this new industrial age together with science is Professor Bronwyn Fox, winner of the 2020 Medal for Excellence in Scientific Research. Her journey with carbon fibre production saw the develop a more efficient fabrications process for composite materials, and also had her involved with Quickstep and their new composite material process. At the time a small start-up, Quickstep is now the largest Australian independent manufacturer of composite materials, and Bronwyn took this entrepreneurial mindset and founded Deakin University’s Carbon Nexus facility. Professor Bronwyn Fox continued her research into renewable carbon fibre and established yet another facility – the National Industry 4.0 Testlab – which focuses on 3D printing of composite materials.
What does DNA, snowflakes and the hydrophobic effect have in common? They are all example of molecular self-assembly! Inspired by this process of nature, Dr Nisa Salim used attractive and repulsive forces to influence molecules to interact, and in doing so created an array of nanostructures capable of becoming solar cells, drug delivery systems, and in her newest venture – manipulating carbon fibre to be stronger than steel, lighter than aluminium and even electrically conductive! For her work in carbon manufacturing, Dr Nisa Salim was awarded the 2020 Phillip Law Postdoctoral Award for the Physical Sciences and explains how a nature-inspired approach to manufacturing can be the key to many issues facing our time – from climate control, water management and even high speed travel.
According to Dr Anita Hill, CSIRO’s Chief Research Scientist, “There are several impressive factors about Professor Fox. Her ability to communicate, inspire, and advocate for science is evident not only from the ecosystem that she has been able to create and fund but also from her presentations, several of which are available on YouTube as TEDx talks or interviews. She provides audiences of any background a vision of the future and one where Australia is designing and manufacturing the lightweight materials of future mobility (flying cars, hyperloops). She is a role model for STEM and for supporting high tech companies in Australia. She is recognised internationally, and uses her networks to Australia’s advantage.”