Tag Archives: UWA

Collaboration platform welcomes universities

The Australian National University and the University of Western Australia have become the first research institutions in Australasia to join IN-PART, a global university-industry collaboration platform.

Researchers at these universities will have access to a growing community of 2000+ R&D professionals from over 600 businesses in Europe, Oceania, the UK, and the USA, who use IN-PART to collaborate with universities in the commercialisation of academic research.

“The potential of the output from world leading research at Australian institutions is huge, but the limited industrial base means that it is essential we partner with corporate world leaders to realise that potential”, said Professor Michael Cardew-Hall, Pro Vice-Chancellor of Innovation at The Australian National University.

“The ANU has strong links with many partner research institutions worldwide and strategic partnerships with major corporations. However, developing new partnerships that are mutually beneficial is a key strategy for the University”.

The Australian National University (ANU) and the University of Western Australia (UWA) will join 70 universities from the UK, USA, Japan, and Europe — including Cambridge, Cornell, and King’s College London — who currently use IN-PART to publish innovation and expertise from academics who are actively looking to interact with industry.

“We’re very excited about being able to profile our projects to targeted people in relevant industries, and to show people that UWA and Australia are the home of some amazing innovations. Just as our researchers rely on collaborating locally and internationally, tech transfer offices need to look further afield for development partners with particular expertise and routes to market”, said Simon Handford, Associate Director of Innovation at the University of Western Australia.

“Hopefully, IN-PART can help us meet future R&D partners and give more projects the chance of being translated into something that can be put to use”.

Launched in January 2014, IN-PART has facilitated the first point of contact for a range of university-industry collaborations that include licensing deals, co-development projects with joint funding, academic secondments, and long-term research partnerships.

This information was first shared by IN-PART on 11 August 2016.

Fighting poverty and championing equality

Featured image above: Laura Boykin (centre) and her colleagues.

The University of Western Australia‘s biologist Dr Laura Boykin has long been fascinated by science. But it wasn’t until she started working in East Africa to help farmers that she truly realised its power to make a difference.

Once she did that, she was hooked.

It’s this feeling of making a difference that lures her to some of the poorest regions on earth to understand and control whiteflies (Aleyrodidae), and their menace on the cassava crop that feeds some 800 million people in the developing world.

Understanding whitefly and its impact on cassava not only increases yields but also tackles poverty. Aiding the crop’s growth is quite literally saving lives.

“Cassava is dying at an alarming rate and a lot of people are worried that if this plant is not on farms there’s going to be a large portion of people without enough to eat,” Boykin says.

So now does she help? Whiteflies kill cassava by transmitting viruses to the plant when they feed on it.

The native whiteflies are increasingly turning to cassava as a food source as temperatures warm and other food sources disappear.

Boykin and her colleagues from East Africa have come to realise there are many different sorts of whitefly, with varying degrees of impact.

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Laura Boykin with some of the farmers she seeks to help through her scientific work. Credit: Laura Boykin.

So they have been studying the genome sequence of the whiteflies to determine which ones pose the most risk. And they hope to eventually develop a whitefly-resistant variety of cassava.

In the meantime, Boykin and her colleagues help where they can by advising farmers when to plant what species of food in a bid to prevent whitefly impact.

In doing so, they are also building the capacity of East African scientists wanting to work on genomes and the supercomputing required to decode DNA sequencing.

Helping her fellow scientists in this way is what really fires her up.

“If you look around in science, you’ll see it’s a white person’s game,” she says.

“I don’t think that’s right and it’s boring. Scientists in East Africa are brilliant – they just don’t have the same access to resources. So I want to do everything I can to help remove those barriers.

“When I’m in a nursing home I’m not going to remember the papers I’ve written, I’m going to remember the people—that’s what gets me out of bed and makes me so excited about my work.”

Boykin is sharing tales of her fight against the whitefly at Pint of Science Australia.

– Samille Mitchell

This article was first published by ScienceNetwork WA on 21 May 2015. Read the original article here.

Sport statistics offer transport solutions

Featured image credit: Jimmy Harris

Fremantle Dockers and West Coast Eagles fans could improve their team’s on-field chances by yelling out to the players to pass the ball, according to a new complex mathematical network theory.

University of Western Australia (UWA) statistics whizz Calum Braham has developed and applied his theory against AFL ball-passing statistics supplied by Champion Data, for the 2014 Premiership Season.

The theory means he can show that teams which distributed the ball more evenly between players were the most likely to win.

But it could also enable teams to acquire supplementary statistical information by applying the method to their own team’s network.

“One example is the closeness centrality, which measures how well a player is connected to other players in their network,” Braham says.

“As would be expected, Matt Priddis has the highest value for the Eagles and Nat Fyfe for Fremantle,” he says.

“Players with high scores for the betweenness centrality…were Jack Darling and Shannon Hurn for the Eagles and Lee Spurr and Nat Fyfe for the Dockers.”

Betweenness centrality is the measure of the extent to which a certain player connects to other players on their team and contributes to the transport of the ball towards the goals.

Teams could use this information to supplement existing performance statistics, Braham says.

“I have shown how complex network methods can provide useful statistical information about football, which goes beyond the data that clubs obtain through other methods,” he says.

UWA applied mathematics professor Michael Small, who guided Braham’s research, says the basic principal of the theory could be applied to other ball sports.

“One of the unique advantages in applying the theory to Australian Rules football is that it’s a very loose and fluid game, with players not held in a stringent position,” Small says.

“In other sports where people are required to stay close to a pre-determined position the results of the analysis may be very different, but there is no reason it wouldn’t work for them as well,” he says.

The aim of the research was to develop tools of complex network theory and show how they can be applied to social dynamics in team sports and other transport problems including industrial logistical inefficiencies.

“For example, the state’s many mineral processing industries would benefit from this type of development because the process from mine site to refinement and shipping involves many interconnected and interdependent steps that can be modelled with these techniques,” Small says.

– Rueben Hale

This article was first published by ScienceNetwork Western Australia on 9 May 2016. Read the original article here.

Award for medical researcher’s global impact

Associate Professor Kevin Pfleger is Head of Molecular Endocrinology and Pharmacology at the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research and his team studies how hormones and medicines act in the body.

Perkins Director Professor Peter Leedman said that the Mid-Career Research Award was well-deserved.

“Associate Professor Pfleger is an outstanding mid-career researcher who has an impressive history of innovation,” he said.

“He and his team are recognised worldwide for their technology development and application to understanding disease mechanisms at the molecular level. His primary focus is currently a treatment for chronic kidney disease, but he is also studying mechanisms underlying cardiovascular disease and cancer, as well as rare diseases”.

Associate Professor Pfleger holds patents for both technological innovations and a novel therapy for chronic kidney disease. These are being commercialised by spin-out company Dimerix Bioscience Limited that has recently been acquired by ASX-listed Sun Biomedical Limited.

Sun Biomedical has just announced that the first patient has been enrolled in a Phase II clinical trial of the innovative new treatment for chronic kidney disease, DMX-200.

Professor Leedman said the Vice Chancellor’s award was also a recognition of Associate Professor Pfleger’s contributions to the broader scientific community, including his extensive advocacy, mentoring and transdisciplinary activities.

Originally published by the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research on 16 September 2015