Research impact stories
Our planet experiences a range of natural disasters that can cause loss of life and displacement of communities. By using the latest technology and modelling to understand and predict ocean weather, this team have been able to help global communities.
Food security in Timor-Leste became a major issue following its independence in 2002. Having poor farming practices and increasing concerns over food security, by 2015 Timor-Leste was ranked fourth on the Global Hunger Index. During the hungry season which spans 3 – 4 months per year, farmers and their families experience severe food shortages, poverty and chronic hunger, leading to malnutrition and stunted growth in children. The UWA Seeds of Life program has impacted the lives of East Timorese by reducing the hungry season and improving food and nutrition.
Around 1.7 million women are diagnosed with breast cancer world-wide each year, with more than 15,000 women and over 100 men affected in Australia. Of these, around one in four will need repeat surgery to remove tumour cells, often missed in the initial surgery. Microscope-in-a-Needle is a highly miniaturised medical device that fits inside a needle and is capable of detecting cancer cells with high resolution 3D imaging. The Optical Micro-Elastography device will image the stiffness of malignant tissue at a microscopic level, allowing surgeons to feel whether all the tumour is gone. Both devices will be commercialised for theatre use and will significantly improve detection and removal of tumour tissue and reduce or eliminate the need for repeat surgery. These technologies will impact the lives of women and men world-wide.
Assessing student work in performance based learning areas is now much easier thanks to research developed out of The University of Western Australia and the subsequent formation of the company Pairwise. In collaboration with teachers and school associations, Pairwise has now successfully developed and commercialised the Brightpath approach, which is already being adopted in many schools across Western Australia.
In Australia, 22 percent of surgeries suffer from an ‘adverse event’. Whilst most events are minor and cause no permanent harm, 13 percent result in some form of disability 18 months later. 48 percent of these adverse events are preventable and as many as 70 percent are due to communication failures. Added to this are growing hospital wait lists and an ageing population. Public hospitals are now looking to implement efficiencies that can relieve the pressure. The SWANS team have come up with a simple, yet fresh approach of introducing pre-surgical briefings to operating theatres, and their pilot studies have already demonstrated very promising results.
Despite hardships endured, the Australian Aboriginal community remain one of the oldest surviving cultures on the planet. From the mid-19th century, photographs of Aboriginal people were taken for scientific purposes and were eventually archived in museums around the world. This culturally significant research reconnects families and country by bringing these lost ancestors home.
We can’t ignore the effects of climate change on how we live or our ever growing use of resources such as electricity and water. As consumers we look to be more environmentally conscious, but what about our houses and offices – are they running efficiently? This research team are creating innovation in the building design process and better management of resources such as gas, wind and solar power, water and electricity for building owners. Using existing smart and augmented reality technology as well as the concepts of sustainable living, this research could save consumers around 30% of the lifecycle cost of the building.
This team from UWA are exploring the Dampier Archipelago (Murujuga). What they have uncovered so far is astounding, and pushes back the known occupation of this place to before the Last Ice Age. It also contains an estimated one million engraved motifs of great scientific and cultural significance, an important part of understanding the human journey in Australia’s north-west. The Dampier Archipelago (Murujuga) is a National Heritage Listed place, contains heavy industry and is the traditional home of several Aboriginal groups.
Professor David Blair’s mentor at UWA challenged him to look out for the most difficult problems around. David chose gravitational waves. 40 years later the dream was realised after Professor Blair and his team’s contribution enabled the LIGO laser detectors to discover gravitational waves.
Dr Laura Boykin, Computational Biologist at UWA’s School of Chemistry and Biochemistry leads a team referred to by East African locals as the ‘Cassava Warriors’. Their research will result in a cassava plant that is resistant to viruses and whitefly and will help to end extreme poverty in East Africa and other developing countries.
Led by Peter Veth, Professor of Archaeology, the UWA team (the first to be granted permission to conduct a long-term heritage research project on Barrow Island) set out to establish how Australia was settled by Aboriginal people and what life was like. Celebrated amongst their findings was some of the earliest evidence of Aboriginal occupation of Australia (dating to approximately 50,000 years ago) anunique climatic records of Northern Australia and the discovery of some of the earliest human use of maritime resources east of Wallacea.
Led by Dr Julian Bolleter, Landscape Architect and Urban Designer at the Australian Urban Design Research Centre (AUDRC), UWA, ‘Take Me to the River’ has attracted national interest. The research aims to provide the people of Perth with a historical record of the ideas around Perth Water by exhuming old schemes and changing ideas of what Perth is, was, and could become.