Gene bank insures Kimberley wildlife against cane toad threat In a series of firsts, a team of scientists led by University of Newcastle ecologists Simon Clulow and Sean Doody, commenced work on a gene banking program to ‘future proof’ threatened wildlife in the Kimberley. Using a technology attempted on reptiles just once globally and never before attempted on reptiles in Australia, the team obtained Australia’s first live reptile sperm sample.
World-first emissions abatement technology The University of Newcastle received $30 million to develop and roll-out world-leading abatement technologies for fugitive methane emissions from underground coal mining operations. The new technologies could reduce these emissions from the sector by as much as 90 per cent and reduce Australia’s annual greenhouse gas output by three per cent.
Academy honours top UON mathematician The Australian Academy of Science elected University of Newcastle mathematician Professor George Willis as a Fellow, the most senior honour a scientist can receive in Australia. Internationally-recognised for the depth and influence of his contributions to diverse areas of mathematics which have had an effect on fields like robotics and control, Professor Willis was selected for his work with locally compact groups and fundamental concepts such as scale function and flatness.
Prestigious Cambridge scholarship University of Newcastle Electrical Engineering graduate Kumaran Nathan received a prestigious 2014 General Sir John Monash Scholarship, worth up to $150,000 over three years, to study at the University of Cambridge. Presented by The Honourable Tony Abbott MP, Prime Minister of Australia at a ceremony at The Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne, the scholarship will allow Mr Nathan to undertake pioneering work alongside the best of the world in his field.
Indigenous scholars head to world’s most prestigious universities Two outstanding young scholars from the University of Newcastle were awarded competitive Indigenous scholarships to continue their studies at Oxford and Cambridge – ranked among the world’s most prestigious universities. Nathan West, recipient of the Roberta Sykes Scholarship, will pursue postgraduate studies in social anthropology at either the University of Oxford or University of Cambridge. This is the second consecutive year this prestigious scholarship has been awarded to a University of Newcastle student; the 2013 scholarship was awarded to the University’s Kathleen Jackson, now undertaking a PhD in African and African American Studies at Harvard University. Jessica Buck, recipient of a Charlie Perkins Scholarship and a James Fairfax Oxford Australia Scholarship, will commence postgraduate studies in Neuroscience at the University of Oxford. Two to three scholarships are awarded annually in memory of Charlie Perkins – Australia’s first Indigenous man to graduate from a university.
University of Newcastle educator awarded #1 in his field The University of Newcastle’s Professor Nick Talley received the highest honour for an educator in his field – the Distinguished Educator Award – from global peak body the American Gastroenterological Association. An international authority in gastroenterology, Professor Talley was recognised for outstanding contributions to his field, which have furthered global understanding of digestive diseases and advanced the science and practice of gastroenterology for more than 30 years.
Professor Galvin crowned outstanding Australian innovator The creator of the Reflux Classifier, University of Newcastle Professor Kevin Galvin, was crowned one of Australia’s top innovators for his advanced research in chemical engineering and contribution to the mining and minerals industries. Professor Galvin received the 2014 Clunies Ross Award from the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE). The ATSE Clunies Ross Award is given in recognition of the outstanding application of science and technology that provides economic, social and/or environmental benefit to Australia. The Award has become one of the pre-eminent awards for scientists, technologists and innovators across Australia, recognising the achievements of many special people.
World’s most influential scientific minds: 2014 Professor John Forbes AM was recognised as one of the world’s leading scientific researchers, with the release of Thomson Reuters list of The World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds: 2014. The list included researchers who have published the highest number of articles that rank among those most frequently cited by fellow researchers. Professor Forbes was one of 65 Australians from the international list of 3,215 individuals across all fields of science and was one of just seven Australians recognised in the area of clinical medicine.
Companion robot technology Researchers at the University of Newcastle answered Tin Man’s plea for a heart with the invention of technology aimed at enabling robots to feel emotion in a near human-like manner. A major advancement in companion robot technology, it helps a robot to connect with a human user based on shared emotional experiences. The robot achieves this by scanning and interpreting features of the surrounding environment including colour, facial expression and fractal dimension – how comfortable we feel in a particular environment.
UON hosts (and wins!) the Eastern Uni Games The University of Newcastle took out the Overall Champion University for the 2014 Eastern University Games. In a dominant display in our home town, UON claimed 10 pennants to defeat University of Technology Sydney (6 pennants) and end UTS’s run of four straight EUG victories.
Central Coast campus 25th anniversary The Ourimbah campus commemorated the 25th anniversary of the University of Newcastle’s presence on the Central Coast with a number of celebrations organised with campus and community partners.
UON researcher collects prestigious medal In an Australian-first, University of Newcastle nanotechnology researcher Professor Reza Moheimani was awarded the prestigious Nichols Medal in Cape Town. Professor Moheimani collected his award at the opening of the IFAC World Congress. The Nathaniel B. Nichols Medal recognises outstanding contributions by an individual to ‘design methods, software tools and instrumentation’ or to ‘significant projects that advance control education’. Professor Moheimani, from the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, is at the cutting edge of the world’s progress in the field of Micro Electro Mechanical Systems (MEMS), and his latest breakthrough could revolutionise how doctors deal with patients with body implants, such as pacemakers.
Prostate cancer breakthrough
University of Newcastle researchers are leaders of a trials group that has discovered a powerful new prostate cancer treatment regime that can reduce the spread of aggressive but apparently localised tumours by more than 40 per cent. The five-year follow-up results of the Trans-Tasman Radiation Oncology Group 03.04 RADAR trial give Australian and New Zealand men with newly-diagnosed cancer a better chance of survival without increased long term side effects.
‘Artificial pancreas’ set to automate diabetes management Details of a revolutionary ‘artificial pancreas’ being jointly developed by University of Newcastle engineers and HMRI diabetes researchers were revealed with the launch of a new website – www.artificialpancreas.com.au. The system comprises a blood glucose sensor and an insulin infusion pump that operate continuously in a closed loop, linking via bluetooth to a smartphone-based management system. The secret, according to Laureate Professor Graham Goodwin from the University of Newcastle’s Research Centre for Complex Dynamic Systems and Control, is an intelligent algorithm created to calculate and deliver precise insulin dosage.
Personalised medicine breaks the mould of traditional treatment The University of Newcastle’s (UON) Professor Pablo Moscato is leading the revolution of how some of medicine’s greatest challenges, including Alzheimer’s Disease and cancer, are approached. Through the application of computer science and algorithms, Professor Moscato is driving the push for personalised medicine. He and his research team at UON’s Priority Research Centre for Bioinformatics, Biomarker Discovery and Information-Based Medicine (CIBM) use mathematical methods to interpret genetic data and scrutinise diseases such as breast cancer, Parkinson’s Disease and multiple sclerosis.
Scopus young researchers
UON academics featured prominently in the 2014 Scopus Young Researcher of the Year Awards, receiving honours in three of five categories. Associate Professor David Lubans received a Scopus Award in the Humanities and Social Sciences division, for his school-based research focusing on the physical activity and eating habits of children and adolescents.
The research activities of both Associate Professor Lubans and Dr Burrows are conducted in conjunction with the Hunter Medical Research Institute’s (HMRI) Cardiovascular Health Program. The prestigious Scopus Awards recognise outstanding young scientists and researchers in Australasia who have made significant contributions in their areas of research. Evaluated by expert panellists from Australia and New Zealand, applicants are judged on research output, impact and esteem.
Leading Indigenous historian awarded prestigious fellowship
Australia’s leading Indigenous historian, UON’s Professor John Maynard, was honoured by his peers with his election as a Fellow of the esteemed Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia (ASSA). The honour recognises his outstanding achievements promoting the advancement of the social sciences, through his work in Indigenous history. The ASSA is one of the four learned academies in Australia and focuses on promoting excellence in research in the social sciences and increasing public awareness of the role and value of social sciences.
UON in top 8 of Australian universities for health research
A University of Newcastle drug trial that has delivered rapid treatment benefits for stroke victims attracted more than $3.9 million from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) in its 2014 funding round. Led by UON’s Professor Mark Parsons, Director of the John Hunter Hospital’s Acute Stroke Services, and Dr Chris Levi, Director of Clinical Research and Translation at HNEH, the study explores the effectiveness of clot-busting drug Tenecteplase, more commonly used for heart attacks, as an alternative to conventional stroke treatments. Professor Parsons said the multi-million dollar grant would dramatically bolster the research team’s investigations. Overall, UON researchers received more than $17.8 million in funding from NHMRC in the 2014 funding round. The University achieved success above the national average in the grants process, with 24 UON proposals receiving funding.
Smoking and male fertility breakthrough
Mothers who smoke while they are pregnant or breastfeeding may be damaging the fertility of their sons, according to research published in Human Reproduction. The study, published online in Human Reproduction, one of the world’s leading reproductive medicine journals, is the first comprehensive animal model to show how smoking can affect the fertility of male offspring. Lead researcher, Professor Eileen McLaughlin, Co-Director of the University of Newcastle’s Priority Research Centre in Chemical Biology, said it was already known that smoking in pregnancy harmed the baby in the womb, with babies often born small and vulnerable to disease.
UON secures $11m arc funding The University of Newcastle (UON) was awarded almost $11 million in competitive research funding by the Australian Research Council (ARC) in its 2015 Major Grants announcement. The outcome, which places the University 9th in Australia will deliver funding to support 27 research projects across UON. Under the ARC’s Discovery Projects scheme, UON received $9.4 million for 24 projects, up from $8.8 million for 19 projects in 2014.
Health behaviour researcher honoured Internationally-renowned cancer care and health behaviour researcher, Laureate Professor Robert Sanson-Fisher AO, won the inaugural Research Australia NSW Government Health Services Research Award. Laureate Professor Sanson-Fisher was presented with the prestigious honour at the 2014 Research Australia Awards Dinner, in recognition of his significant contributions to the areas of health promotion, health service evaluation and chronic disease control.
Professor Hugh Craig from the University of Newcastle’s Centre for Linguistic and Literary Computing was elected as a Fellow to the Australian Academy of the Humanities. The appointment is one of the highest honours in humanities available in Australia. The academy elected 19 new Fellows at its annual general meeting on November 22. Professor Craig is a world leader in the development and application of quantitative, statistical and linguistic computing to early modern English literary studies.