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.
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.
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.
UWA’s sustained research program into molecular genetics and the identification of molecular markers in canola crossbreeding has led to the development and release of 50 new improved canola varieties since 2004, with higher yield, disease resistance, and herbicide tolerance for weed control, thereby improving the long-term sustainability of Australian cropping systems. These canola varieties which have been adopted by farmers because of their higher yield and disease resistance, allow more sustainable crop rotations and improved farm profits. Significant economic benefits have also been delivered to seed production and distribution companies. New breeding methods have the potential to improve crop adaptation to climate change.
UWA researchers have developed cheaper and safer offshore pipelines to reduce the cost of building and maintenance in oil and gas infrastructure. This has been achieved via the delivery of new design paradigms that have been adopted by operators and verifiers worldwide, and which now feature in international standards for pipeline design.
Insufficient physical activity by children are associated with poorer physical and mental health. The Child’s Play project, led by Associate Professor Wood and Dr Martin at the UWA School of Population and Global Health has generated community engagement with nature-play spaces in Western Australian schools and local communities. The researchers collaborated with Healthway, Rio Tinto, Kings Park Botanic Garden and Parks Authority, the WA Department of Education, Nature Play WA, Kidsafe, urban planners and architects, as well as local councils and schools to identify play space designs that were preferred by children and supported play. Collaborators have used UWA research to inform their strategies around open spaces and evaluate their new and existing parks and playgrounds.
The Investment Framework for Environmental Resources (INFFER) is a set of tools and frameworks that has redirected investments worth tens of millions of dollars by methodically demonstrating the value for money, or lack of it, in environmental project options. Since 2011, 20 of Australia’s 56 regional environmental management bodies have undertaken training in INFFER and are now using it to develop, evaluate and prioritise environmental projects. INFFER helps managers assess and rank environmental and natural resource projects and provides a framework for economic thinking in the decision processes. Impacts have been seen in greater environmental benefits through better design and prioritisation of environmental projects in publicly funded programs.