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Curtin Science Outreach

August Science Events 2013

By Emma Donnelly 1 August 2013 Campus Life Chemistry Community Relations National Science Week Presentation Public Events Science Science Outreach Scientist No Comments »

3 August 2013

Curtin Photo Comp closes

4 August – 10.00am to 4.00pm

Curtin Open Day (Curtin)

10 August – all day

Curtin @ National Science Week Launch (Perth Cultural Centre)

For more information visit:

10 August – 9.30am to 11.00am

The Many Murders of Harold Shipman (Kenwick Library)

For details or to book: call Kenwick Library on 9397 3099

15 August – 6.00pm to 8.00pm

Innovations in Health and their impact on the future of healthcare (Curtin)

For more info or to book: 08 9266 2563 or

16 August – 6.00pm to 8.30pm

The “fickle finger of fate”: the science of forensic fingerprint detection (Maritime Museum)

To book:

17 August – 10.00am to 4.00pm

Curtin University @ South West Science Spectacular (Dalyellup)

For more info check out:

19 August – 6.30pm to 8.00pm

Traces of Contact: Murder Amongst the Military: A Case Study in Forensic Science (Curtin)

For more info or to book:

For more information on National Science Week events in WA visit


By Emma Donnelly 15 May 2013 Science Outreach No Comments »

Your school is invited to participate in an

inspiring presentation

“Australian Science and Engineering:

Reaching for the Stars”

Science and engineering shape so much of our lives and Australia is a great place for discoveries and innovations that are amongst the best in the world. I will tell you about two of them. One is Australia’s $50M program to develop bionic vision, aiming to restore sight to the blind and emulate the Australian success of the Bionic Ear that has given hearing to many from the deaf community.

The other is the largest science project ever planned for our planet: the Square Kilometre Array (SKA). This multi-nationally supported mega-network of radio telescopes is being built across desserts in South Africa and Western Australia. It will require computing powers that far outreach our present capacity and is likely to generate many technological spin-offs. Its projected completion date of 2025, along with its probable lifespan of some 50-100 years, means that we are building the SKA for you if you chose to become a scientist or an engineer! Even if you don’t, just knowing what Australia can achieve will be exciting.

Who is Professor Lyn Beazley?

Professor Lyn Beazley was appointed Chief Scientist of Western Australia in 2006. She was awarded Officer of the Order of Australia in January 2009 and made a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering later that year. Lyn is a member of the new Technology and Industry Advisory Council (TIAC) to the Western Australian Government. In March 2011, she was inducted into the inaugural Western Australian Women’s Hall of Fame.

After her education at Oxford and Edinburgh Universities, Lyn built up an internationally renowned research team that focused on recovery from brain damage, much of the research done at the University of Western Australia.

Lyn has served on numerous bodies advising State and Federal Governments, including advisory boards to the Australian Research Council, the Australian Synchrotron and Western Australia’s Low Emissions Energy Development (LEED) Fund. She is a member of several boards such as The Institute for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) and the Botanic Gardens and Parks Authority (BGPA).

What is ATSE?

The Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE) was inaugurated in 1976. Fellows are men or women who are “Australian citizens or persons normally resident in Australia” who are eminent by reason of their achievements in technological sciences or engineering”.

One of the objectives of the Academy is to provide a forum for the study and discussion of issues relevant to the formulation of public policy for technological sciences and engineering based activities, and the communication of expert advice to Government and the community.

The Western Australian Division of ATSE holds annually an Eminent Speakers Seminar to promote this objective and help advance responsible and sustainable development of Western Australia.

Further information about the Academy:

Audience: High school science students in year 8 to 10 (and others as there is still space)

Date: 28 May 2013

Time: 10.30 to 11.45am (please arrive by 10.10am)

Location: Curtin University. Building 213 Room 104 – grid reference O,10


Drop off point: Bus slip way off Beazley Ave (near building 200A) – grid reference N,8

Cost: Free plus a limited number of transport subsidies available to schools (via redemption from Scitech)

To book: visit

Questions? contact the Curtin Science Outreach Manager on (08) 9266 1021

RACI (WA) 2013 Bayliss Youth Lecture: Chemists and Heritage Conservation

By Emma Donnelly 5 March 2013 Chemistry For schools For teachers Presentation Public Events RACI Science Science Outreach Science researcher Scientist No Comments »

Join Dr Ian MacLeod as he discusses his work using chemistry to ‘conserve old things’ – ranging from rock art to shipwrecks and even old tombstones. Hear about how exciting and challenging it is using chemistry in weird and wonderful settings. Ian’s talk will feature fascinating imagery including shipwrecks, cars and Aboriginal rock art sites.

About Dr Ian MacLeod
Ian MacLeod has been a member of the RACI for more than 40 years and for more than 30 of them he has worked as a conservator in the Western Australian Museum.  He has developed several new methods for stabilising heavily degraded objects and has developed techniques for stabilising massive iron artefacts on the seabed. Ian has a passion for all forms of decay and has learned to “talk” to corroded metal objects and to get them to open up and tell their remarkable stories collected over more than 400 years. Ian has established an international reputation for excellence in applied chemistry research and he can always find order in the chaos of the natural world.

Date: 19 March 2013
Time: 7.00pm (please be seated by 6.45pm)

Location: Curtin University – Exhibition Room, Level 1, Building 500

The Bayliss Youth Lecture is free but bookings are essential and places are limited.The Bayliss Youth Lecture is organised by the RACI WA Chemical Education Group. We gratefully acknowledge the support of Rowe Scientific, Curtin University and University of Western Australia.

Future dates for the Bayliss Youth Lecture 2013 will be announced shortly (including schools and regional venues).

Any enquiries or venue suggestions should be directed to Professor Simon Lewis at

Visit for updates on the latest Western Australian RACI education and public events.

Professor Simon Lewis
Professor of Forensic and Analytical Chemistry
Curtin University
Tel | +61 8 9266 2484
Email |

QUASARS – A story of discovery from the Milky Way to the edge of the Universe

By Emma Donnelly 4 March 2013 Astronomy Campus Life For teachers Physics Presentation Public Events Science Science Outreach Science researcher No Comments »


You are invited to participate in an inspiring presentation by Professor Ron Ekers – CSIRO Fellow – Australian Telescope National Facility

QUASARS – A story of discovery from the Milky Way to the edge of the Universe

50 years ago, on 16 March 1963, the discovery of the first quasar, 3C273, was published in Nature. The discovery was based on a lunar occultation observed at the Parkes radio telescope in Australia and a red-shift measurement of the identified star obtained at the Mt Palomar optical observatory in California.

The discovery of quasars resulted in a paradigm shift in astronomy as it was realised that the violent explosions in the nuclei of galaxies could be seen to the edge of the universe and that it would take a black-hole to provide the energy.

In this talk Professor Ekers will follow the steps in this discovery process starting from the puzzle of the source of radio emission coming from space, illustrating how a sequence of discoveries which changed our view of the Universe were made and also how the unexpected discoveries were often missed.

It will conclude with a glimpse of what we have learned in the last 50 years and where we might go next with telescopes such as the SKA.

About the speaker: PROFESSOR RON EKERS was appointed Foundation Director of CSIRO’s Australia Telescope National Facility in 1988 and he continued in this role until 1 March 2003, when he took up his Federation Fellowship.

He graduated from the University of Adelaide in 1963 and gained his PhD in astronomy at the Australian National University in 1967. His professional career has taken him to the California Institute of Technology, the Institute of Theoretical Astronomy in Cambridge, UK, the Kapteyn Laboratory in Groningen, The Netherlands, and the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, New Mexico USA. He was director of the VLA, the major national radio telescope in the USA, from 1980 until 1987.

He was elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science, a Foreign Member of the Royal Dutch Academy of Science in 1993, a Foreign Member of the American Philosophical Society in 2003 and a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2005. He is past President of the International Astronomical Union (IAU) and a member of the Advisory Board for the Peter Gruber Foundation Cosmology Prize.

Ron’s research interests include extragalactic astronomy, especially cosmology, galactic nuclei and radio astronomical techniques. His Federation Fellowship project addresses fundamental issues in star formation in the early universe and instrumental techniques including detection of high energy particles.

Audience: This is a public event. Curtin staff and students are also welcome to attend.

Date: 19 March 2013

Time: 7.00 to 8.00pm (please arrive by 6.45pm)

Location: Curtin University

Cost: Free

To book: visit

Day 5 – Samples for geochemical analysis

By Anais Pages 11 November 2012 Science Outreach 2 Comments »

For our second day of sampling, we return to the same site to take samples for geochemical analysis. I am taking samples at different water depths. Once I have a sample I immediately store in glass jars covered by aluminium foil. The deepest samples are the hardest to get as I don’t have a weight belt with me (so I keep floating up) but with the help of my colleagues, I manage to get samples from all the different types of microbial mats.

Other researchers collect different information – this one is measuring complimentary oxygen and pH values in the microbial mats using microelectrodes.

The team of cameramen take underwater videos at different sites to get an overview of the different shapes and features of the stromatolites.

After a long day – we finally drive back to the station.

For our last dinner, we have a very “Australian dinner” of kangaroo and emu meat. While the rest of us were still in the field – Ryan offered her help to prepare the dinner. The cook asked her to pluck the emu…

When all of us are back to the station, we start organising the samples and our personal belongings and start loading the 4WDs. I store my samples in an electric esky so they do not get altered by light or temperature.

After sunset, we have a very nice last dinner and light a campfire.

Tomorrow, we will drive back to Perth in one trip. Some of the researchers from the US will stay in Perth a few more days and will work at Curtin with us to prepare the samples before to ship them back to the US. Others will fly back as soon as we get back to Perth.

My samples will be stored in the dark, in a cold room before I start analysing them over the next few weeks.

Day 4 – Samples for DNA analysis

By Anais Pages 9 November 2012 Anais Pages Chemistry Field Trip Research Science Science Outreach Science researcher Scientist Scientist's journal stromatolites No Comments »

Once again, we wake up quite early in the morning. Some of us are getting a bit tired as we have a few snorers in the group! Nonetheless, we all are ready to go back to the beach.

This time, the microbiologists prepare their equipment and start taking samples using plastic syringes. I’m not used to this type of sampling but I still try to provide help when I can.

Seawater is being sampled and filtered straight away by Richard, sitting in the yellow plastic boat.

All of the samples taken today are stored in a “mini-laboratory” organised in the farm station. The microbiologist even shipped their microscopes from the US so they can start looking at bacteria in-situ.

We come back to the station and have a well-deserved quick shower after spending a few hours in the cold and salty water. After dinner, we quickly organise the sampling program for the following day while the microbiologists start working on their samples.

Day 3 – Reconnaissance

By Anais Pages 9 November 2012 Anais Pages Chemistry Field Trip Research Science Science Outreach Science researcher Scientist Scientist's journal stromatolites No Comments »

The night was cold so it was good that we all brought many sleeping bags. We have buffet breakfast early in the morning and try to get ready quickly. This morning, we meet with a ranger from the DEC (Department of Environment and Conservation) who will supervise the sampling and will make sure that the stromatolites are not being damaged.

We discuss about the sampling plan for the following days and jump in the 4WDs about an hour later.

We arrive at the site and after taking pictures, we all go in the water to have a closer look at the stromatolites. The water is quite cold (about 15°C). A team of cameramen that is taking part of the field trip starts taking pictures and videos. We spend a few hours in and out of the water in order to recognise the different types of microbial mats and record their location.

On the way back, we see a family of emus.

During the dinner, we discuss the schedule for our first day of sampling (for DNA analysis).

Day 2 – travel to site

By Anais Pages 7 November 2012 Anais Pages Chemistry Field Trip Research Science Science Outreach Science researcher Scientist Scientist's journal stromatolites No Comments »

Today we are up early to begin our second leg of driving to Shark Bay. On the road, we stop at the Pink Lake, near Port Gregory.

We also stop in Kalbarri to see the cliff and the Natural Bridge. Here is a picture of us, the four students who are taking part of this trip (from left to right, Aimee from the US, me, Ryan from the US as well and Tasmyn, originally from Canada but doing her PhD in Sydney).

As we drive north the temperature keeps increasing (and so does the number of flies!). We finally arrive at the station during late afternoon.

We are sleeping in a big shed, two people per room. I am sharing with Tasmyn, the PhD student from Sydney. We try to organise all our science equipment and store our belongings in the room so we don’t lose or misplace anything.

After we have unpacked, we start exploring the station. We have to use the water tank for drinking water. We have to arrange our own hot water by lighting a fire to heat it. We have to be quick as many of us want to have a shower after the long drive.

We admire the sunset before dinner. And go to bed straight after tea as we have a big day of science planned for tomorrow.

Day 1 – Departure

By Anais Pages 6 November 2012 Anais Pages Chemistry Field Trip Research Science Science Outreach Science researcher Scientist Scientist's journal stromatolites No Comments »

We’re driving up to Shark Bay in two days, stopping at Geraldton for one night.

There’s not much to tell about today. We drove to Geraldton, stopping in the Swan Valley with our US “tourists” to let them try some local wine.

Once in Geraldton we checked in to our accommodation and then went out to a restaurant to celebrate one of the researcher’s birthdays. We all chatted about our PhD research projects and it seems we all have very different but interesting projects related to early-life on Earth!

Getting ready for the field trip

By Anais Pages 5 November 2012 Anais Pages Chemistry Field Trip Research Science Science Outreach Science researcher Scientist Scientist's journal stromatolites No Comments »

I am going to Shark Bay ( tomorrow to sample modern stromatolites.

A modern stromatolite is one that is currently alive. Because of their resemblance with early-life stromatolites, they provide a unique insight into what the world was like at the dawn of time.

You can find out more about stomatolites here:

(,,, )

This field trip is in collaboration with researchers from UNSW, MIT and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

Here are a few people who are involved in the field trip:

Prof. Roger Summons and PhD student Aimee Gillepsie from MIT – biomarkers work

Dr Phoebe Cohen and a team of cameramen from MIT – Photo and video work

Prof. Pieter Visscher from University of Connecticut – microbiology work

Dr Joan Bernhard and Dr Virginia Edgcomb from WHOI – microbiology work

Prof. Lindsay Collins and Dr Ricardo Janhert from Curtin University – geology work

Prof. Malcolm Walter and PhD student Tasmyn from UNSW – DNA work

PhD student Anais Pages from Curtin University– biomarkers work

I will work with other researchers to take samples for DNA analysis and chemical composition.

This field trip requires a lot of organisation because so many people are involved. The accommodation is booked and we are stying on a farm station at Shark Bay. Thankfully – the station supplies our food so we don’t need to pack any.

However, I still have some of my own packing to do. I need to take glass jars so I can collect samples, aluminium foil to cover the samples, an esky to keep the samples cool, permanent markers, gloves, etc. I have to take my laptop and underwater camera fully charged up, as there is no electricity in my room! Thankfully, there is still internet access in the main house of the farm station.

I don’t need camping gear as we will be sleeping inside a shed but I do need a sleeping bag as the nights will be cold up there. I also need snorkelling equipment and a wetsuit for the sampling part.

The researchers from the US sent their gear a couple of weeks ago and they arrived at Curtin University last week. They’re currently checking their equipment to make sure nothing is missing or broken.

The researchers are picking up five rental 4WDs in the morning and we start loading up all the equipment in the afternoon.

As you can see (picture below), we have a lot of boxes/bags and it is taking a while to get everything ready.

We all make sure that we haven’t forgotten anything and have a good night of sleep before we start the long drive.

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