Dr Tayyaba Zafar

Research Field: Star Dust

Stars burn their hydrogen gas and progressively convert it into other elements, like carbon, silicon, iron etc. In the right conditions, these elements can combine to form compounds referred to as dust. The dust, in turn eventually forms new stars, planets, moons, asteroids, and us. Even the piece of paper you are reading this on is made of stardust! 

Dust is ubiquitous and absorbs and scatters optical starlight and re-radiates it at infrared wavelengths. Dust alters the appearance of astronomical objects, making its study critical for a full understanding of our universe and for a deeper insight into our own place in the universe. Dr Zafar measure and understand how stars produce dust, what particular chemicals are present in dust, how dust is distributed throughout the universe, and how dust has changed over cosmic history. 

Tayyaba’s community engagement has includes TV and radio interviews, presenting at community events, participating in school visits and projects, and Homeward Bound program. Dr Zafar was awarded PhD from Copenhagen University, Denmark in 2011 and is currently a Lecturer at Macquarie University.

Prof Aniruddha Desai

Research Field: Applied Technology

Prof Desai focuses on developing technology-based solutions for important industry and community problems in areas such as transport safety and mobility, energy management, logistics and supply chain, production agriculture and healthcare by undertaking targeted multidisciplinary research across science and engineering.

His work involves both experimental as well as commercial R&D ranging from developing new intelligent Internet-of-things microchips to undertaking large scale data analytics using AI to provide insights and decision support for users of the new solutions.

Nearly every major project delivered by him has involved community or end user engagement through live technology deployment trials and most of his projects have been profiled on TV, radio and in print media.

His outreach activities have ranged from recording science TV show for kids to delivering topical seminars at Parliament for MPs and their staff and giving expert evidence at parliamentary inquiries contributing to policy dialogue.

Prof Desai has a Master’s degree in Micro-electronics, a PhD in Computer Science and is currently Director of La Trobe University Centre for Technology Infusion.

A/Prof Alice Motion

Research Field: Chemistry & Science Outreach

Making science and scientific research accessible for everyone has never been more important. Open science, science communication and citizen science projects are just some of the ways we can make the research in our institutions more widely available and understandable.

A/Prof Alice Motion is a chemistry researcher, educator and public communicator of science. She is the leader of the Science Communication, Outreach, Participation and Education (SCOPE) research group at the School of Chemistry at the University of Sydney. Alice’s research explores open source drug discovery and innovations in science communication, education and outreach. As a leader in the field of open science, Alice’s teams aim to share all data and scientific information freely with the public and scientific community.

Alice’s extensive public engagement spans original ABC science podcasts, a weekly science segment on FBi Radio, TV appearances, school visits, and a plethora of public performances at events in Australia and internationally. Alice completed her PhD at the University of Cambridge in 2012 and is currently a Westpac Research Fellow at the University of Sydney.

A/Prof Francine Marques

Research Field: Heart Disease

High blood pressure is the main risk factor for death globally, as it is the underlying cause of most
cases of heart attacks and strokes. It is well established that people with high fibre diets also have
lower blood pressure, but until recently we did not understand why and how.

Associate Professor Marques discovered that blood pressure can be reduced by substances that gut
microbes produce when they are fed fibre. Her research focuses on how gut microbes affect high
blood pressure, and how they could be used to prevent cardiovascular disease.

Francine is a passionate communicator and advocate for medical research and evidence-based
journalist. Her public outreach includes radio, TV, blogs and newspapers. She regularly volunteers for
fundraising campaigns for the Heart Foundation, and inspired by her own experience with cancer,
for the Cancer Council, Ovarian Cancer Australia and the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation.
A/Prof Marques completed her PhD at the University of Sydney in 2012, and is currently a Heart
Foundation Future Leader Fellow at Monash University, where she leads the Hypertension Research

Dr Carla Eisemberg

Research Field: Ecology

Dr Eisemberg’s research focuses on relationships between wildlife ecology, harvest and conservation practices to assist communities to manage their resources. Wild meat is an important source of nutrients to remote communities. However, changes in harvesting technology and accessibility have increased the pressure on these resources.

Her research on the northern long-necked turtle has showed that its meat has an extremely high concentration of Iron. The results of her research have the potential to influence future health programs addressing anaemia, as well as an inspiration for indigenous enterprises in remote communities, such as turtle farming and sustainable harvest.

Dr Eisemberg also studies wildlife conservation and management practices in Northern Australia, Papua New Guinea, and the Brazilian Amazon. By comparing areas located in different regions of the globe but similar in weather and remoteness, her research identifies patterns and solutions towards wildlife conservation through local economic benefits and sustainable use.

Dr Yuval Yarom

Research Field: Computer Security

Over the last decades our society has become increasingly reliant on computers’ ability to store and process our data. At the same time, these computers have become a prime target for malicious agents aiming to exploit the computers’ access to personal or confidential data.

Yuval’s research evaluates the capability of modern computer hardware to protect the data it processes and develops strategies and techniques for mitigating identified limitations.

Yuval’s research has identified and tackled vulnerabilities in computers and computer software used by virtually every computer user. He has worked with vendors such as Intel and Apple on improving the security of their products.

Yuval’s science communication efforts include multiple interviews for articles in national and international media and public speaking for professional and for general audiences. He enjoys mentoring young people interested in programming and maintains an active presence on social media (Twitter @yuvalyarom).

Yuval received his PhD from the University of Adelaide in 2014. He is currently a Senior Lecturer at the School of Computer Science in the University of Adelaide and a contributing researcher at the Trustworthy Systems group in Data61, CSIRO.

Dr Yan Jiao

Research Field: Chemical Engineering

Imagine an unlivable planet earth with depleted fossil fuels and severe greenhouse effects, which will happen in the future if we do nothing. We need to act early to address the dwindling supply of fossil fuels, and the climate change caused by these fuels.

Dr Jiao’s research is developing innovative catalyst materials that can convert clean and inexhaustible energy resources to transportable fuels, to replace the traditional fossil fuels. She is designing more efficient and reliable materials via computer modelling.

Dr Jiao has participated in the organization and delivery of activities for Young Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) events. She has Led the production of an online video on the topic of design new catalyst materials for clean energy conversion and has given webinars on the topic of designing new catalyst materials for clean energy conversion.

Yan completed her PhD in 2012 at the University of Queensland. She is currently a Senior Lecturer at the University of Adelaide

Dr Rhiannon Schilling

Research Field: Applied Agronomy

Soil constraints, such as high levels of sodium, affect 68 % of cropping land in Australia. Sodic soils with high levels of sodium have multiple chemical and physical properties that restrict root growth and subsoil water use leading to reduced overall crop growth and grain yield.

Dr Schilling’s research is developing agronomic solutions to improve crops to overcome soil constraints. Her research has focused on increasing root growth and subsoil water use in sodic soils by pyramiding tolerance to multiple soil constraints into elite wheat varieties.

Rhiannon is an enthusiastic agricultural scientist who participates in a diverse range of outreach activities including print and broadcast media, speaking about her career with primary and secondary school students and presenting her research to grower groups at field trial crop walks.

Dr Schilling received her PhD from The University of Adelaide in 2014 and is currently the Program Leader of Agronomy at the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI) within Primary Industries and Regions South Australia (PIRSA).

A/Prof Maria Inacio

Research Field: Epidemiology

As our population ages the need for services that help us live at home longer or transition to aged care homes (when needed) will grow. This demand needs to be met with good quality aged care services. Unfortunately, concerns about the services provided to Australians are so significant that they have resulted in a Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.

A/Prof Inacio and her team lead research into the causes for good or poor-quality care and build evidence and tools to reduce the chance of poor outcomes. Their research uses integrated information from the aged care and health care sectors to inform improvements in this area.

A/Prof Inacio’s most meaningful science communication activities have been with policy-makers and regulatory bodies. She has tried to inform, and potentially influence, how safety and quality of care can and should be monitored.

Maria completed her PhD in 2013 at the University of California, San Diego (USA).

She is the Director of the Registry of Senior Australians at SAHMRI, Adjunct Associate Professor at UniSA, a The Hospital Research Foundation Mid-Career Fellow, and will be a NHMRC Emerging Leadership (2) Investigator (commencing 2021).

Dr Margaret Shanafield

Research Field: Hydrology

Although most Australian rivers go dry each year, the frequency and duration of those dry periods is changing, bringing hardship to the environment and communities. We don’t fully understand what physical hydrologic processes contribute to the generation of streamflow after rain events, and how much of that streamflow recharges our aquifers.

Dr Shanafield makes and uses new tools in field experiments, and analyses the data using computer models to better understand these rivers and their connection to groundwater, so that we have a better understanding of the hydrologic cycle and therefore water availability.

Results of Dr Shanafield’s work on Ewens Ponds is contributing to current management strategies and the proposed Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act listing. She has presented to the local irrigation district in her study area and met with landowners to disseminate research findings. Her research has been featured on the TV show “Scope” and she loves going to the river with her childcare’s kindy room to show them how limnologists catch aquatic insects.

Dr Shanafield received her PhD in 2010 from the University of Nevada, Reno (USA). She is currently a Senior Lecturer/Researcher at Flinders University.