Silk Road diplomacy in the 21st century

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.

From single seed to pure breed

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.

The beauty of symmetry

Symmetry is everywhere, at every scale. Many problems faced by engineers, scientists and mathematicians use group theory and symmetry to help solve them.

For over 40 years, Emeritus Professor Cheryl Praeger has been dedicated to the pursuit of mathematical knowledge. Her work in pure mathematics has provided tools and theories with real world application, including in: large computer systems, the world wide web, agricultural crop experiments and the weaving process. She has pioneered the role of women in mathematics in Australia and continues to encourage the next generation of mathematicians.

Democracy and divided societies

The spread of democratic governance is central to the promotion of peace and in upholding stable global and regional relations. Professor Benjamin Reilly is an internationally recognised political scientist at The University of Western Australia whose research focuses on democracies in the Indo-Pacific region. His work on democratic governance, political development, electoral system design, and party politics in post-conflict environments has helped shape political and electoral reform in new and emerging democracies, and he also advises governments on these issues.

Stay well, play well

Stay well, play well

Most musicians ensure their musical instrument is kept in perfect condition, but do not look after their own physical and mental performance health in the same way. Sound Performers has been developed by an interdisciplinary team led by Suzanne Wijsman at The University of Western Australia and Bronwen Ackermann at the University of Sydney. Sound Performers is a globally accessible online tool to help teachers educate musicians at all stages about their occupational health, and optimise their performance through healthy practice.

The power of people in shaping good health

A team of researchers at the Psychology of Active Healthy Living group at The University of Western Australia have dedicated their research to understanding the power of others in shaping healthy behaviours. Their community-based programs including Mummy Buddy and MAN v FAT Soccer have shown that the presence of a strong support network can have positive effects on a person’s general health and mental well-being.

Parkinson’s: when you sleep better, you feel better

Sleep is one of the pillars of health. However, sleep disturbances can be a common symptom in Parkinson’s, affecting up to 98% of patients.

From their studies, and from what is known about how the brain works, Dr Maria Pushpanathan, UWA School of Psychological Science and her colleagues have shown that there are relationships between sleep and daytime function. By improving sleep symptoms, potentially, the progression of Parkinson’s may slow and, subsequently, the quality of life may improve. Translating this new knowledge could also have major clinical implications for the treatment of problematic sleep issues in people with Parkinson’s.

Dr Ionat Zurr and Mr Oron Catts, co-founders of SymbioticA

SymbioticA: provoking dialogue about artful science

Art is supposed to do the avant-garde, be radical and ask the deepest questions about life and about the position of the human in this world. For almost 20 years, UWA’s SymbioticA has been interested in the growing gap between our cultural understanding of life and what we know about life through science. But more importantly, what we choose to do to life through technology. Through their exhibitions and research the group has developed new technologies, influenced policymaking and articulated cultural ideas around scientific knowledge in the pursuit of critiquing the ethical and cultural issues of the manipulation of life.

What’s a breastfeed?

Over the last hundred years there have been huge advances in medical care for pregnancy and childbirth such as: assisted reproductive technologies, blood tests for hormone levels, ultrasound assessments of pregnancy and neonatal intensive care units. However, we are not seeing similar advances to treat issues relating to lactation.

A Tailored Prescription in Exercise

As a PhD student, Daniel Green had a keen interest in finding new ways to help sporting people get better at what they do. However, it wasn’t long before he realised that many of the techniques he used to measure human fitness and function could be applied to people at the other end of the health spectrum; patients with heart disease and end-stage heart failure. In subsequent years, Prof Green developed a team at UWA that has had profound impacts on establishing exercise science a recognised allied health profession, leading worldwide agendas to optimise the way that patients are clinically managed using exercise and establishing a better understanding of how exercise exerts its benefits on the heart and arteries.