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Outreach at Fresh Science

8 November 2017:

The world’s smallest fibre-optic probe that can simultaneously see and sense deeply inside the body (Dr Jiawen Li) and an anti-cancer drug that can be switched ‘on’ and ‘off’ inside the body to help reduce chemotherapy side effects (PhD student Kathryn Palasis). These were the research narratives developed by the two CNBP scientists who attended the ‘Fresh Science’ outreach training program on the 7th-8th November in Adelaide, South Australia.

“I had a great time participating in Fresh Science,” said Kathryn Palasis.

“We had a full day of media training which included practise interviews with journalists from TV, radio and print, who taught us how to best explain our science to the general public. We then had the opportunity to present our work to some very eager and inquisitive school students, and later had to summarise our research to a crowd at the pub in the time it took for a sparkler to burn out! It was a great learning experience and a lot of fun – plus I got to meet some really cool local researchers who are all doing exciting work.”

Dr Jiawen Li also enjoyed the experience. “What I got from the program was the ability to promote my science to the media, knowledge on how to be noticed by journalists and the experience of being interviewed, as well as broader presentation skills aimed at communicating complicated science concepts to a general audience. The two days were extremely rewarding!”

Fresh Science (run by Science in Public) is a national competition helping early-career researchers find, and then share, their stories of discovery. The program takes up-and-coming researchers with no media experience and turns them into spokespeople for science, with a day of media training and a public outreach event in their home state.

Below – Fresh Science participants. Kathryn Palasis fourth from left. Dr Jiawen Li fourth from right. Photo credit: Fresh Science/Science in Public.

 

Ecolinc STEM program

16 October 2017:

Centre Associate Investigator, Dr Kate Fox from RMIT University has participated in the Ecolinc STEM for Women program in Melbourne, Oct 16th, 2017.

Ninety students (Years 9 and 10) attended the event where they  got to learn of the experiences from a range of women who work in a variety of STEM related areas. They also heard from education providers about potential career pathways in STEM and listened to the career journeys of successful women in science.

The students were from Upper Yarra, St Albans, Dandenong, Southern Cross Grammar, Bacchus Marsh, Overnewton College, Highview College, Bellarine and Whittlesea.

 

Student poster award

14 October 2017:

Aimee Horsfall, CNBP PhD student at the University of Adelaide has been awarded a student Poster Award (of four), with cash prize, for her poster titled “Introduction of a new fluorescent constraint on-resin” at the 6th Modern Solid-Phase Peptide Synthesis Symposium, held at Fraser Island from the 12-14th of October. The symposium is a satellite conference of the 12th Australian Peptide Conference which was held in Noosa from the 15-20th October which Aimee also attended.

Nano ‘terminator style’ antennae

12 October 2017:

The liquid metal, shape-shifting T-1000 Terminator cyborg, featuring in a 1991 science-fiction film Terminator 2, was made possible due to breakthroughs in computer-generated imagery.

Some 25 years later, using breakthroughs in physics and chemistry CNBP scientists Dr Ivan Maksymov and Prof Andy Greentree at RMIT University have shown reconfigurable liquid-metal optical nanoantennae.

“An optical nanoantenna operates similarly to a conventional radio-frequency antenna, but its size is millions of times smaller” explains Dr Ivan Maksymov, “so it can receive and emit light similar to how a mobile phone antenna receives and emits radio waves.”

“The shape and length of the metal components that form a radio-frequency antenna determine its major properties such as operating frequency and radiation pattern,” explains Prof Andy Greentree, “so a liquid metal that can change its shape by applying voltage allows for changing antenna properties, which otherwise is difficult to achieve with fixed metal parts.”

“However, reconfigurability of optical nanoantennae is even more difficult to achieve than in radio-frequency antennae, because of their small size and lack of technologies enabling us to apply voltage to nanoscale sized objects. Therefore, we proposed a new solution – reconfiguration of liquid-metal nanoparticles using ultrasound.”

Continued Dr Maksymov, “A liquid-metal nanoparticle can change its shape due to capillary oscillations, which can be seen by everybody when observing water drops falling from a leaking kitchen tap. Drops change their shape when they detach from the tap and fall into the sink. In our work, we use ultrasound to change the shape of liquid-metal nanodroplets, which changes the nanoantenna’s operating frequency.”

“But fundamental physics remains the same as in the case of water drops.”

The paper ‘Dynamically reconfigurable plasmon resonances enabled by capillary oscillations of liquid-metal nanodroplets’ is accessible online.

Lung tissue aspiration

11 October 2017:

A new publication from CNBP researchers explores the integration of an optical coherence tomography (OCT) probe into a flexible needle for lung tissue aspiration. The paper (lead author Jiawen Li pictured), was published in the Journal of Biomedical Optics and is accessible online.

Journal: Journal of Biomedical Optics.

Publication title: Flexible needle with integrated optical coherence tomography probe for imaging during transbronchial tissue aspiration.

Authors: Jiawen Li; Bryden C. Quirk; Peter B. Noble; Rodney W. Kirk; David D. Sampson; Robert A. McLaughlin.

Abstract: Transbronchial needle aspiration (TBNA) of small lesions or lymph nodes in the lung may result in nondiagnostic tissue samples. We demonstrate the integration of an optical coherence tomography (OCT) probe into a 19-gauge flexible needle for lung tissue aspiration. This probe allows simultaneous visualization and aspiration of the tissue. By eliminating the need for insertion and withdrawal of a separate imaging probe, this integrated design minimizes the risk of dislodging the needle from the lesion prior to aspiration and may facilitate more accurate placement of the needle. Results from in situ imaging in a sheep lung show clear distinction between solid tissue and two typical constituents of nondiagnostic samples (adipose and lung parenchyma). Clinical translation of this OCT-guided aspiration needle holds promise for improving the diagnostic yield of TBNA.

Children’s University Regional Lecture Series

17 September 2017:

Georgina Sylvia, CNBP researcher, was recently involved in two outreach events organised as part of the Children’s University Regional Lecture Series, which aims to stimulate interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM subjects) for school children in Years 6-9.

At the first event at Renmark, she presented exciting chemistry demonstrations to year 7 and 8 students from the local community at the McCormick Centre for the Environment. The students were engaged in groups of 25 and encouraged to participate in the experiments and to ask and discuss science related queries.

The best quote of the day heard by Georgina – “Chemistry is awesome!”

The second outreach event was held at ‘Riverland Field Days’, 15-16th September, 2017. This community event is held annually “showcasing horticultural, agricultural and general farming products and services along with many general exhibitors.”

Children’s University, as a part of the Regional Lecture Series, set up a stall where Georgina and other researchers demonstrated and engaged kids in activities such as Engineering (building catapults from popsicle sticks), Chemistry (Slime making) and Biology (an aroma-sensory panel activity).

Feedback from Georgina – “The best part of this event was encouraging parents and caregivers to get involved in the activities with their kids, and to learn things together. Another great experience for me was encouraging a little girl to get involved in the catapult-making engineering activity, and seeing her so excited to participate!”

Below – Georgina (second right) at the Field Days event.

Charge transfer in helical peptides

1 September 2017:

Understanding the electronic properties inherent to peptides is crucial for controlling charge transfer, and precursory to the design and fabrication of bio-inspired next generation electronic components.

However, to achieve this objective one must first be able to predict and control the associated charge transfer mechanisms.

Here CNBP researchers demonstrate for the first time a controllable mechanistic transition in peptides resulting directly from the introduction of a side-bridge.

Journal: RSC Advances.

Publication title: A controllable mechanistic transition of charge transfer in helical peptides: from hopping to superexchange.

Authors: Jingxian Yu (pictured), John R. Horsley and Andrew D. Abell.

For more information, access the paper here.

School tour of Braggs labs

31 August 2017:

Caritas College students visiting the University of Adelaide for a ‘science day’ were shown around laboratory spaces in the Braggs Building by CNBP PHD students Kathryn Palasis (pictured) and Georgina Sylvia.

The 23 Year 9 school students were given a tour through a synthetic chemistry lab and then spoke with both CNBP researchers about the work being done and their journeys through University. This was followed by a further tour through a fibre-optics laboratory.

According to Kathryn, “The students seemed engaged and interested, particularly with the fibre-optics tour. And feedback from Amy (who organised the day) was that the students enjoyed it and that the teachers were very appreciative. Personally I spoke to a girl who said she was interested in studying science at university which was very pleasing to hear, and hopefully we encouraged others to see it as an appealing career path as well.”

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!