Researchers light-up festival

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA10 September 2016:

Researchers from the RMIT University node of the Centre for Nanoscale BioPhotonics (CNBP) were out in force to support this year’s AstroLight Festival at Scienceworks, Melbourne, undertaking a wide variety of talks, displays, hands-on activities and demonstrations that entertained and educating over 2000 excited members of the public.

From talks encompassing laser combat in the movies (and how lasers work in real life), to the natural ‘glow-sticks’ found in the living environment, to astronomy at the nanoscale, the CNBP-RMIT team had a blast, in taking their passion for lasers, optics, fluorescence, and all things ‘light-based’ and molecular out to the wider community.

From an evening of highlights, brought together by professional researchers, industry bodies, science communicators and community science groups (and over 250 volunteers), there were amazing wonders of astronomy, light and science to be seen at AstroLight 2016. Not least, a cutting edge fluorescence microscope brought to the event by CNBP that allowed attendees to view the amazing biology that makes up cells, to a scanner that could take 3D images of objects in real-time, to colourful laser based activities that demonstrated just how light waves work.

A/Prof Brant Gibson, CNBP node leader at RMIT University saw the festival as a huge success. “All of the contributors and organisations came together to share their knowledge and expertise and there was plenty of fun and engaging activities for individuals of all ages to participate in.”

Gibson was particularly happy with the way in which the CNBP-RMIT researchers came together to support the event. “They worked tirelessly in producing suitable talks and demonstrations as there was a real desire to showcase our science in the most appealing and engaging way possible. The large numbers of people at our stand and in our CNBP demonstration rooms, all curious about biophotonics, was testament to the effort, energy and enthusiasm shown by our team in making this event so memorable.”

Gibson also commented on the importance of taking science out to the community. “It’s critical that we communicate the fantastic research that we are doing, and that we do it in a way that makes it real and important to the general public and that they can see how it impacts on their everyday lives. Of course, making it fun and exciting as well, is the perfect way to showcase what we do which is why AstroLight is such an outstanding festival.”

Inspiring the next generation of potential researchers was also a key objective to participating. “We really want to encourage an interest in, and continued learning in STEM subjects that will foster future innovation,” said Gibson. “Hopefully some of the children wowed by our lasers and talks will be doing my job in twenty-five years time. Wouldn’t that be great!”

Below РCNBP researcher Emma Wilson demonstrates use of a fluorescence microscope.

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