CNBP at Macquarie Uni Open Day

19 August 2017:

‘The power of light to measure’ was the phrase commonly expressed by Centre researchers staffing the CNBP stand at this year’s Macquarie University Open Day.

This was in response to potential University students and their family members, who were looking to find out more about nanoscale biophotonics as well as to better understand potential opportunities that might be open to graduates who successfully gain a degree in biology, physics or chemistry.

Many of the visitors left the CNBP stand impressed as to the broad application of biophotonics in the healthcare, food safety and manufacturing sectors. They also learnt more about the current activities of the CNBP, particularly in creating new sensing and imaging technologies to better understand molecular activity taking place within the living body.

The Open Day at Macquarie University saw many thousands of people visit Campus and engage with both staff and current students, in their exploration of courses open for undergraduate study.

Below, CNBP researchers Dr Wei Deng (left) and Dr Lianmei Jiang (right) get ready to talk nanoscale biophotonics as the doors open at the 2017 MQ Uni Open Day.

 

Outreach at Concordia College

16 August 2017:

Students from Concordia College got the low-down on STEM careers—as well as learnt more about lasers, laboratories and the life of a scientist at a school outreach event organised and run by CNBP researchers from the University of Adelaide.

The event, celebrating National Science Week, saw a team of CNBP scientists and researchers visit Concordia College and present a variety of talks, DIY laboratory videos and science demonstrations, to over 150 Year 9 students with an interest in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).

CNBP’s Dr Hannah Brown, present on the day, sees outreach as a key responsibility for the science community.

“Getting high school students interested and engaged in STEM subjects is critical—not only to inspire future generations of young scientists but also in supporting the Australian economy more generally. What we hope to do with our outreach efforts is to show that science and technology can be fun and exciting, and potentially rewarding as a future career choice as well.”

Following the event, feedback from both students and teachers present was hugely positive with the CNBP team also gaining a great deal of satisfaction from their interactions and demonstration efforts.

Below: CNBP researchers Hannah Brown, Georgios Tsiminis, Patrick Capon and Aimee Horsfall with students, at the conclusion of a successful session of science outreach at Concordia College.

New CNBP research assistant

16 August 2017:

CNBP would like to welcome Robyn Kievit to the team. Located at the University of Adelaide, Robyn has joined the CNBP as a research assistant. She will primarily work within the Origins of Sensing biological challenges group (understanding the role of brain immune signals in the creation of chronic pain) with Dr Sanam Mustafa. Robyn will also set-up standard sensor validation protocols for testing of novel sensors being developed by Prof Andrew Abell’s team.

It’s great to have you on board Robyn!

Launch of CNBP and CU partnership

15 August 2017:

The University of Colorado Boulder (CU) and the Centre for Nanoscale BioPhotonics (CNBP) have officially announced their research partnership status at a launch event that took place at CU today.

The collaboration between the CNBP, an Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence, and the University of Colorado Boulder, will explore the use of novel CNBP biophotonics tools and techniques to examine in real-time, neuroinflammatory processes that govern behavior.

The novel immune sensing technologies developed at CNBP will allow circuit-specific measurement of immune molecule release during stress-related paradigms in rodents performed at the University of Colorado Boulder.

The overarching goal of the collaboration is to better inform intervention efforts
focused on stress- and ageing-related diseases.

Partner Investigators at CU are Professor Steven Maier and Professor Linda Watkins with CU’s Dr Michael Baratta (the successful recipient of the CNBP-American Australian Association Fellowship in 2016), also working closely with this partnership.

Below: CNBP Director Prof Mark Hutchinson (left) presents a partner plaque to Partner Investigators – Professor Steven Maier and Professor Linda Watkins.

 

Girls in Physics

15 August 2017:

Emma Wilson, CNBP PhD student has participated in a ‘Girls in Physics’ outreach program run by the Vicphysics Teachers’ Network in Melbourne, August 15, 2017.

The program, a breakfast event whereby female scientists working in physics or related areas, are teamed up with a table of Year 11/12 female students, is an opportunity to encourage young women to take up further studies in STEMM related subjects after high school.

“This year the main speaker presenting was Katie Mack, an Astrophysicist,” says Emma.

“The aim of the breakfast is to inspire young women and to have people such as myself on hand to answer any questions the students might have regarding a career as a scientist.”

CNBP attracts the crowds at RMIT Open Day

13 August 2017:

Over 400 interested members of the public, including prospective students,  dropped by the CNBP laboratories as a part of RMIT University’s annual Open Day event, Sunday 13th August, 2017.

The Centre had two optics laboratories open and both were fully staffed by researchers eager to share their knowledge and enthusiasm for science.

In the first laboratory, an Olympus wide field microscope was on display with a live-cell incubation chamber and a daphnia (water flea), with brightfield and fluorescence videos.

In the other, a cryogenic confocal microscope was on show, which is able to look at the optical properties of nanomaterials, down to temperatures of 4K (which is -269 deg C).

According to CNBP node leader at RMIT, A/Prof Brant Gibson, the day was a great success.

“We saw a large, interested and engaged crowd who really wanted to find out more about our research and activity, and were curious as to how nanoscale biophotonics was going to impact society over coming years.”

There was also a large number of prospective students who visited and talked with CNBP team members. They had a wonderfully diverse range of interests ranging across the physics, chemistry, biology, IT and engineering disciplines.”

“It was fantastic to see the next generation of excited young scientist!”

Cambridge visit furthers research

10 August 2017:

After successfully receiving an ANN Overseas Travel Fellowship, CNBP researcher Dr Peipei Jia has arrived back at the University of Adelaide after a two month visit to the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology (LMB) in Cambridge, UK.

While there, Peipei had the opportunity to test both techniques and potential application for his work on the fabrication of large-area freestanding gold nanomembranes.

More specifically, tests undertaken while at Cambridge showed that the gold membrane had the size, quality and robustness  for the critical application of resolving molecular structures in Cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM).

Work continues but the nanophotonics structure is expected to have significant impact on both structural biology and electron microscopy.

CNBP at ‘Science meets Policymakers’

8 August 2017:

CNBP was well represented at the STA ‘Science meets Policymakers’ event held in Canberra, August 8, 2017.

Researchers A/Prof Guozhen Liu, Dr Alf Garcia-Bennett, Dr Sanam Mustafa and Dr Hannah Brown all attended and heard a number of talks on topics ranging from ‘A Whole Government approach to Science Policy’, to ‘A Crash-course in STEM and Policy Making’ through to discussion on ‘Positive and Meaningful Contributions to Policy.’

A/Prof Guozhen Liu particularly enjoyed the ‘Working Round Table’ discussion. “We discussed the 2030 Strategic Plan for the Australian Innovation, Science and Research System, which will help shape future science activity in Australia. It was emphasized that Australia encourages both fundamental and applied research, and that research excellence is key.”

A/Prof Liu also noted the importance of effective communication between stakeholders. “Methods and approaches to drive effective and engaged connections between Universities, Government and Industry were topics that were explored and discussed in depth throughout the day.”

The ‘Science meets Policymakers’ event brought together researchers and practitioners from a range of science and technology disciplines, with policymakers from across government departments and agencies. Objectives included to make connections and to examine the intersection between the evidence base and actual policy development.

Immobilization of enzymes onto solid supports

4 August 2017:

The study on “Solid-binding peptides for immobilization of thermostable enzymes to hydrolyze biomass polysaccharides” by CNBP Researcher Dr Andrew  Care and led by CNBP Associate Investigator  A/Prof Anwar Sunna has been featured on Renewable Energy Global Innovations as a key scientific paper.

The work was originally published in the scientific journal Biotechnology for Biofuels (February, 2017).

 

Welcome to a new CNBP researcher

27 July 2017:

CNBP welcomes its newest researcher to the team, Shi Xian (Edward) Moh who is based at Macquarie University.

Edward has previously been a part of Prof Nicki Packer’s glycomics group, successfully undertaking both his Honours and PhD study under her supervision. His study included detailed analysis of glycans, glycopeptides and glycoproteins and more specifically, research into using the glycosylation on the antibody immunoglobulin M (IgM) for specific labelling.

At CNBP, Edward will be initially examining functionalisation of the IgM antibody and other proteins, via chemo-enzymatic engineering of the glycans, for reproducible, multi-purpose labelling suitable for targeting specific cellular molecular receptors.

Edward’s experience includes detailed characterisation of proteins and their glycosylation by mass spectrometry; molecular biology of protein expression and purification, synthetic biology techniques, separation technologies; and coaching and advising undergraduate students in the world’s largest international synthetic biology competition, iGEM.

Welcome to the CNBP team Edward!