Postcard from Jervis Bay: tracking fish living on sand

The author on the water in Jervis Bay. Photo credit: Lachlan Fetterplace

The author on the water in Jervis Bay. Photo credit: Lachlan Fetterplace

By Lachlan Fetterplace, Global Challenges Travel Scholar

A big part of my December last year was spent sitting in a boat and performing surgery on fish; perhaps not the most normal lead up to Christmas but one that has become fairly regular of late.

I can’t say that I mind. Sitting on a boat in the beautiful Jervis Bay day after day certainly has it charms. Though to be sure, there are definitely days that don’t quite fit the idyllic pictures you are probably imagining – when a big storm rolls in with its attendant swell, wind and rain, combined with long, long days neck deep in bait, and volunteers battling seasickness.

Continue reading

Think it. Design it. Make it: Innovation Works! opens for 2016

By Professor Geoffrey Spinks

The team who created an educational tool powered by artificial muscles, which was one of two projects to take out the first Innovation Works! in 2014. Photo credit: Paul Jones

The team who created an educational tool powered by artificial muscles, which was one of two projects to take out the first Innovation Works! in 2014. Photo credit: Paul Jones

Like many other academics, I spend a lot of time thinking about things – trying to come up with solutions to the various problems we are interested in.

In my case, I’m interested in developing new technologies from advanced materials and my special interest is in artificial muscle materials for robotics and medical devices.

We’ve had a lot of success in improving the performance of the artificial muscles.

Our latest collaborative work has shown that we can convert ordinary polymer fibres (like nylon fishing line) into high performance artificial muscles that have a power-to-weight ratio of a jet engine. The real beauty of these materials, however, is their simplicity and accessibility.

Continue reading

Postcard from Portland: coastal research and coffee roasters

By Chris Owers, Global Challenges Travel Scholar

The Global Challenges Travel Scholarship gave me the opportunity to attend one of the largest international conferences for coastal and estuarine science. It did not disappoint.

The CERF conference was held in Portland, Oregon in November. Photo credit: Chris Owers

The CERF conference was held in Portland, Oregon in November. Photo credit: Chris Owers

The Coastal and Estuarine Research Foundation (CERF) is a North American-based organisation focused on ‘advancing human understanding and appreciation of the Earth’s estuaries and coasts’.

This year’s CERF conference was held in Portland, Oregon, attracting more than 1500 scientists, managers and graduate students. Among the fantastic coffee roasters and microbreweries, the venue was well placed for the theme of ‘Grand Challenges in Coastal and Estuarine Science: Securing Our Future’.

Continue reading

Postcard from the skies: coastlines, climate change, and the Beatles

By Lauren Cole, Global Challenges Travel Scholar

The author's research involves surveying the NSW coastline. Photo credit: iStock

The author’s research involves surveying the NSW coastline. Photo credit: iStock

Aeroplanes. One cruising the beautiful New South Wales coast and another destined for Liverpool, England.

My Global Challenges PhD scholarship sent me into the sky to assist with my research and attend an international conference.

My research falls under the challenge of Sustaining Coastal and Marine Zones, particularly macroalgal habitat. Phyllospora comosa is endemic to south-eastern Australia and commonly found along subtidal reefs, as wrack (pieces that have broken from shore and are floating at sea) and as drift that has washed up on beaches.

Continue reading

Postcard from Seoul: one step closer to affordable MRI scans

The author at the North Seoul Tower. Photo credit: Dipak Patel

The author at the North Seoul Tower. Photo credit: Dipak Patel

By Dipak Patel

I was really excited as soon as I found out I was awarded with a Global Challenge Travel Scholarship. I wanted to use the scholarship to attend a conference to present my new research outcomes and visit overseas labs to discover new research facilities.

This time, I was preparing myself to attend a Magnet Technology Conference (MT-24) from October 18 to 23 at the COEX, Seoul, South Korea. My abstract was selected for a contributed oral presentation on a development of the ‘Superconducting Joining Process’ for a magnesium diboride superconductor. This technology is considered as one of the key technology for realising affordable MRI machines.

Before the conference started, I wanted to see some places in Seoul and know South Korean people as much as I could. Thus, I reached Seoul on October 16.

I had a stopover at Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. I was impressed with the typical Vietnamese ladies dress. I saw most of the ladies at the airport wear the same pattern traditional Vietnamese dress, which I hadn’t seen anywhere before.

Continue reading

Postcard from the UK: what does the future hold for coastal living?

By Charles Gillon (@CharlieGillon)

The author at Edinburgh Castle. Photo credit: Charles Gillon

The author at Edinburgh Castle. Photo credit: Charles Gillon

I’m a third-year PhD candidate in the Department of Geography and Sustainable Communities at UOW.

My research interests centre on the motivations and decision-making behind new housing supply in Sydney, looking specifically at master-planned housing estates.

Sydney’s metropolitan population, currently 4.3 million, is expected to grow by an additional 1.6 million people in the next 20 years.

Providing this growing population with the appropriate housing stock is an urgent challenge for planners and property developers.

My PhD is a study of the housing market in Cronulla as one piece of this greater jigsaw.

Continue reading

Postcard from Scotland: Talking bras with biomechanists

By Celeste Coltman, Global Challenges Travel Scholar

A popular coblestone street in Glasgow's West End. Photo credit: Celeste Coltman

A popular coblestone street in Glasgow’s West End. Photo credit: Celeste Coltman

With the help of a Global Challenges Travel Scholarship, I attended the 25th Congress of the International Society of Biomechanics in Glasgow, Scotland. The conference, which was held on July 12-16, is the largest meeting of biomechanists in the world.

I arrived to a cold, wet and rather bleak Glasgow, smack bang in the middle of the Scottish summer, which was not too different to Wollongong in July.

The Scottish are certainly not lucky enough to enjoy the summers that we get, but what they lack in weather they make up for in character.

My Nan is Scottish, but it was actually my first time to Scotland, nonetheless, the accent certainly was very familiar.

Continue reading

Postcard from Italy: emerging technology to preserve historical artefacts

The author in front of Rome's Colosseum.

The author in front of Rome’s Colosseum.

By Global Challenges Travel Scholar Andrew Squires

In December, I was fortunate enough to travel to Frascati, Italy to attend the 1st annual THz-ARTE conference. This conference was funded from collaboration between the Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development (ENEA) and the National Institute of Information and Technology in Japan.

The aim of the conference was to bring leading researchers from all over the world in the area of art conservation to look at current conservation methods involving infrared radiation and X-rays and how this field is being extended into terahertz (THz) and gigahertz technologies.

Continue reading

Life as a PhD student abroad: exploring the wonders of Canada

The author hiking in British Columbia, Canada.

The author hiking in British Columbia, Canada.

By Rachael Bartlett,

If I had been told a year and a half ago that I would be spending five months living on the other side of the world I would have been sceptical. After receiving financial support from the Global Challenges Program, advice from my supervisors and completing what felt like tons of paperwork, I found myself in Canada on a rainy July morning.

Knowing no one and having never lived so far from home, I arrived feeling both incredibly excited and terrified.

Continue reading

Notes from the road: finding inspiration in Israel

Professor Bernard Lietaer with the author in Israel.

Professor Bernard Lietaer with the author in Israel.

By Global Challenges PhD Scholar Irit Alony

A trio of special guests was about to visit Israel at the end of May 2014, probably representing three very different interest groups. It was a relatively peaceful time, and Pope Francis was about to pay a visit to the Holy Land. Relatively low security threats made the singer Justin Timberlake and his crew comfortable enough to have a huge concert in HaYarkon Park in Tel Aviv, which is only a few hundred metres from Tel Aviv University.

Those few hundred metres were significant for me – where the third person was visiting.

A far less well-known visitor, but far more meaningful to me, was the world-guru of complementary currency, Professor Bernard Lietaer. Continue reading