Emerging changes in technology, climate change, and the economy have placed pressure on the nature of work and on employment relations. UWA researcher Dr Caleb Goods and his team have increased social awareness of the conditions faced by gig economy workers and work with leading bodies to push for an equitable change. His research in the mining and manufacturing sectors aim to help workers and communities, the government, and industry fairly transition to a more sustainable future of work.
Blackleg is a real problem for canola growers, realising an average of 10% yield loss per year. Led by Professor Jacqueline Batley, the UWA Batley Lab team, have developed an accurate screening platform to help Australian breeding companies identify resistance genes. They are also finding novel and sustainable sources of resistance genes; resulting in enhanced productivity, profit, stable yields for breeding companies, and a reduction in the need for farmers to apply fungicide on their crops.
Kelp forests play an important role in the health of our temperate marine environment and in the economy. A team led by Professor Thomas Wernberg, The University of Western Australia, has been instrumental in building recognition of The Great Southern Reef of Australia, an ecosystem of interconnected temperate rocky reefs dominated by kelp forests. Their research has shown how 40-60% of the world’s kelp forests have declined over the past 50 years due to human activity and climatic events such as extreme marine heatwaves. They are now providing novel solutions such as green gravel, helping to rebuild damaged kelp forests around the globe.
Precision measurement is critical for timing, electromagnetic and radio signals and underpins all measurement technologies. However, all electronics generate ‘noise’, which gets in the way of reading a pure signal.
Professor Michael Tobar is a world-leading researcher in precision measurement and testing fundamental physics. He and his team at The University of Western Australia have developed low noise oscillators and devices that respond to signals much more sensitively. Their patented technologies are purchased globally for multiple applications from fundamental research, metrology, high-tech communications, radar and defence.
We enter into contracts all the time, without knowing it, but most people will admit to not reading or understanding the fine print. A collaborative team of researchers led by UWA Professor of Law, Camilla Andersen have found an alternative to navigating through paragraphs of legalese. They have created comic book contracts, which include a set of pictures with some text, designed to drive behaviour so that disputes do not arise. This exciting visual direction for legal contracts is also providing industry with time and money savings, whilst providing better access to justice for users.
As offshore gas production facilities are turned on and off, the pipelines connecting the facility to the reservoir expand and contract. The result may be permanent axial movement of the pipeline, which puts stress on the structural members connected to it, and which must be appropriately engineered to avoid compromising the project. One approach to mitigating this pipeline ‘walking’ is the use a pipe-clamping mattress (PCM). Over the last year, the NGCF team have studied the behaviour of PCMs for three different offshore soil types, focusing on their ability to provide high restraint against walking over the operating life of a subsea pipeline. The outcomes of this research are being used in practice, with the objective to reduce cost without compromising performance.
Maintaining patterns of regular physical activity and good nutrition are important factors for developing good health in children. However, less than half of WA children are participating in the recommended minimum of 60 minutes of daily exercise. Research from a team at The University of Western Australia has led to the development of the KIDDO program, a platform that provides on-site and online resources and training programs for parents and educators of children, to understand the importance of physical literacy. The program aims to have children ready to move by the start of primary school and moving well and often by the end of primary school.
In 20-30% of breast-conserving surgery cases, cancer tissue is left behind, and patients require repeat surgery. This team at The University of Western Australia are developing a high resolution, hand-held device used by surgeons during breast-conserving surgery, to identify tumour tissue and get all the cancer out, the first time. The technology is on its way to improving the safety and reliability of breast conserving surgeries, with better health outcomes for patients and significant cost savings for our health system.
Since 2013, China has been ‘reviving’ the invented history of the Silk Road and is remapping international affairs through its Belt and Road Initiative. Whilst many western academics and media focus on the geoeconomic and geopolitical dimensions of the Belt and Road Initiative, Professor Tim Winter from the UWA School of Social Sciences is taking a more cultural and international relations approach. Through his work with UNESCO, Professor Winter is developing a database that will give countries along the Belt and Road insight around issues of development, tourist growth in the region, maintaining cultural heritage and for UNESCO the database will potentially also serve as a platform for world heritage nominations. His work is helping to preserve the material past in countries and locations that desperately need resources and assistance.
Pulses and legumes contain about twice the protein found in whole grain cereals and have been shown to reduce the incidence of cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Australia produces around 2.25 million tonnes of pulses annually. However, changes in the production environment such as climate, new pests, water shortages and higher farming costs requires pulse breeders to have better strategies to ensure crops can adapt to changing conditions. Dr Janine Croser and her team at UWA have developed the aSSD platform. The platform speeds the development of pure lines for plant breeders; with improved crop quality, predictability and resilience of offspring in harsh climate conditions for farmers as well as better quality food for consumers.