News Archive 2015

Global Challenges program hoping to touch lives with researchSharon Robinson 250 by 166

Director of Global Challenges, Professor Chris Gibson appeared in The Illawarra Mercury discussing how Global Challenges approaches interdisciplinary research. There are multitudes of ways to approach interdisciplinary research but the Global Challenges approach is all about the people, their novel ideas and projects he said. “What we’ve discovered since the launch of the program in 2013, is that by empowering researchers at all stages of their careers to stretch beyond their disciplinary comfort zones to work on a shared challenge, often translates into truly remarkable research that has the power to effect real change.”

Many of the projects focus on improving the health and well-being of Australians including how our prison population is cared for, developing a multi-sensory room for people with disabilities and dementia, and a climate change study looking at integrated approaches to enhancing marine and coastal governance in the South Pacific Ocean island country Niue.

The Illawarra Mercury, September 22, 2015.

Photo: Professor Sharon Robinson researching how plants respond to climate change in Antarctica and Australia.

Australian scientists need your help to make condoms sexierProject Geldom

Universal access to reproductive and sexual health is one of the great challenges and human rights issues of the 21st century.

The lack of condom use, partially due to stigmas around a decrease in sensation, affects the health and well-being of many people in developing countries today. This project has received funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to realise a Next Generation Condom made of new tough hydrogel materials, in order to improve feeling and increase regular use.

The challenge of moving from having to wear a condom to wanting to use one goes well beyond materials development. This Global Challenges project has expanded to include engagement with key communities to identify barriers to condom acceptance and to collaboratively design novel solutions.

This project has featured numerous times in the media including Science Alert (6 July, 2015).

Read more about the Next Generation Condom here and see how it's making global impact.

Photo: Dr Robert A. Gorkin II and Dr Sina Naficy pictured right.

If you don’t like looking at wind farms, why not build them at sea?Windfarms at sea

Professor Clive Schofield, Global Challenges Leader for Sustaining Coastal and Marine Zones discusses one approach that would serve to sidestep the problems of terrestrial wind farms (real or perceived) is to send turbines offshore.

Marine renewable energy, whether from wind, wave or tidal sources, is set to become a major supplier to global energy needs.Among the differing technologies, offshore wind is emerging as the most efficient and competitive player with significant expansion in Europe and Asia.  

The original article appeared in The Conversation, June 23, 2015.

Photo credit: The Conversation.

WA ocean users oppose shark nets and culling: university studySharks: Threatened and threatening

In NSW the Shark Meshing (Bather Protection) Program (SMP) has been a key shark management strategy since the 1930s. In recent years, and in light of policy change and action in Western Australia, shark hazard mitigation strategies that involve pre-emptively killing sharks have come under international scrutiny (see recently published research by Gibbs & Warren about shark hazard policy and ocean users in WA).

An article featured in the WA Herald Sun (10 June, 2015) highlighting the fact that less than 16 per cent of respondents supported the use of baited drumlines, which were used off Perth and the South-West between January and April last year to catch and kill sharks. The most strongly supported strategies for reducing shark hazards were research and education, and encouraging people to understand and accept risks associated with going into the water.

Learn more about the Global Challenges project which looks at shark ecology and conservation in the Illawarra and Shoalhaven regions; and investigates key concerns of stakeholder institutions regarding shark management.

Photo credit: Paul Jones, UOW. Dr Leah Gibbs pictured right.  

3D printing creates flutes that makes a beautiful sound3D Flutes Group 250 by 166

This multidisciplinary project explores the potential for 3D printing to change the music industry by creating custom-designed flutes that can be played in a number of microtonal scales. It brings together a team of researchers from backgrounds in music, engineering and the arts.

The flutes will be played in several performances later this year and featured in numerous international media including The Sydney Morning Herald (6 June 2015). 

In 2014, the team received project funding to continue development and were presented with the Vice-Chancellor's Award for Interdisciplinary Research Excellence.

Read more about the 3D printed flute project and see how they are making an impact.  

Hear them being played. 

Photo and video credit: Paul Jones, UOW.  Pictured right: 3D printed flutes project team

Global Challenges' Enabilise project looks at better mobility aidsEnabilise 250 by 166

This truly collaborative Global Challenges project was featured in the Illawarra Mercury (26 May, 2015). It brings various disciplines from within the University together with external parties AusIndustry, Aged and Community Services NSW/ACT and the Illawarra Forum Inc to formulate a team dedicated to addressing the mobility needs of Australia’s aging population.

It specifically aims to understand mobility issues experienced by people over the age of 55 that are not being adequately serviced by existing mobility aids. The issues identified will help inform the development of new equipment. 

Read more about the Enabilise project here.

Research Assistant, Eliza de Vet pictured right with Warrigal resident Jean O'Connor.

Photo credit: Robert Peet, Illawarra Mercury

Launch of Southern Manufacturing Innovation GroupSMIG Launch 13 May 2015 250 by 166

UOW has initiated bringing together innovative manufacturers in the region with university researchers to form a Southern Manufacturing Innovation Group.

The Group was officially launched by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation), Professor Judy Raper, at UOW’s Innovation Campus on 13 May, 2015.  A series of themed ongoing networking events will be run to provide a forum for manufacturers in the region to connect with researchers from UOW.

“UOW has a long history of industry engagement. We are part of a region that was founded on manufacturing and is now facing transformation. UOW is deeply committed to the future and vitality of this sector. Establishing a forum for collaboration is just one way we aim to support ongoing development,” Manufacturing and Innovation Leader of Global Challenges at UOW, Professor Geoff Spinks said.

Read more about the Southern Manufacturing Innovation Group here.

Photo from left: Elizabeth Eastland, Professor Judy Raper, Professor Geoff Spinks and Bruce Thomson. Photo credit: Greg Ellis, Illawarra Mercury.

Why the world is wary of China’s ‘great wall of sand’ in the sea?Clive Schofield 250 by 166

Professor Clive Schofield, Global Challenges Leader for Sustaining Coastal and Marine Zones (pictured right) discusses the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea gaining considerable International attention. They comprise over 120 islands, islets, rocks and reefs scattered over 240,000 square kilometres of maritime space. Even though they appear as insignificant specks on the map they are close to vital sea lanes. They also potentially give rise to broad maritime claims, within which valuable resources exist. 

The leaders from the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) recently took the extraordinary step of warning China that its island-building activities in the contested South China Sea “may undermine peace, security and stability” in the region.

Ensuring stability and maritime security in this area is crucial to Australian and global interests. An estimated 60% of Australian trade passes through the South China Sea, with US$5 trillion in trade overall flowing through the region.

The original article was published in The Conversation, May 8, 2015.

Why are young Australian Unis punching above their weight?Australian Universities

Global Challenges Director, Professor Chris Gibson, discusses the latest Times Higher Education rankings of universities under 50 years old paints a positive picture for the Australian higher education sector.

Of the Top 100 Under 50, Australia has more high-ranking universities (16) than any other country. What is it about the Australian higher education system that allows new universities to flourish more so than in the US or UK? What does the THE Top 100 Under 50 result say about our “need” for reform in the higher education sector?

With 16 in the Top 100 Under 50, the Australian university landscape is arresting: of consistent, strong overall standards beyond the country’s older universities, of high quality across many young institutions – not just a couple of standout cases, as is typical for most other countries on the list.

This article appeared in The Conversation, May 5, 2015.

Handmade board just what the surf doctor orderedChris Gibson & Andrew Warren 215 by 166

Professor Chris Gibson and Dr Andrew Warren (pictured right) were featured in The Australian about their book called "Surfing Places, Surfboard Makers: Craft, Creativity and Cultural Heritage in Hawaii, California and Australia".  The article looks at the inspiration behind the book along with a look into how the manufacturing surfboard industry survived the global financial crisis and how hand-crafted boards are seeing a resurgence.      

Read more about the book and their journeys following the evolution of surfing on the Global Challenges Blog. You can also watch their short video that traces the last 100 years of surfing history.

This article appeared in The Australian, February 17, 2015.

Photo and video credit: Paul Jones. 

Last reviewed: 20 June, 2017

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