2018 Victoria Fellows profiles

The 2018 Victoria Fellowships were awarded to:

Life sciences:

 

Physical sciences:

 

Dr Cristina Giogha

Hudson Institute of Medical Research

‘Shigella’ species are highly infectious bacterial agents that cause bacillary dysentery in humans that can lead to severe life-threatening complications including septicaemia and pneumonia.

As Shigella is a human specific pathogen, there are currently no appropriate methods for studying Shigella intestinal infections in vivo, which impedes research into understanding how the bacteria cause disease. However, technological advancements have now made it possible to use 3-dimensional miniature organ-like cultures called ‘organoids’ to study human diseases.

For Dr Giogha, this study mission to Weill Cornell Medical College in New York will provide training on how to perform highly efficient gene-editing on complex intestinal organoids, which is not currently performed in Australia and provide useful knowledge for Victorian researchers outside her field of host-pathogen interactions.

 

 

 

Ms Claire Gorrie

The Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity

Disease and infection caused by bacterial pathogens, particularly those that demonstrate antimicrobial resistance (AMR), are a significant public health threat across the world. In order to manage this threat a real-time, sustainable, automated approached is needed for surveillance and reporting.

Ms Gorrie plans to visit three leading UK institutions: the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention; the Antimicrobial Resistance and Healthcare Associated Infections at Public Health England; and the Holden Laboratory, Infection and Global Health Division at St. Andrews University.

The study mission aims to bring back knowledge and training to develop the approaches required to monitor the introduction, evolution, and transmission – including outbreak detection – of antimicrobial resistant bacteria in Victoria as well as insight into what could work in implementing effective surveillance and reporting in Victoria.

 

Mr Aidan Kashyap

Hudson Institute of Medical Research

Each year more than one million babies globally die on their first day of life. At birth the umbilical cord must be clamped and the lungs must fill with air. If the umbilical cord is clamped before the lungs are ready to take over, then the baby’s heart is left without enough oxygenated blood to pump around the rest of the body.

For most infants delaying cord clamping for only a few moments provides enough time for their vigorous cries to fill the lungs with air. However, some infants are unable to establish stable breathing and must be transferred to a resuscitation table. But moving the infant away from the mother requires the umbilical cord to be clamped immediately.

Researchers in the Netherlands have designed a resuscitation table, called Concord, that allows infants to be kept close to their mothers while respiratory support is delivered. Aiden Kashyap’s study mission will investigate the feasibility of incorporating Concord into the delivery room at Monash Health and other Victorian hospitals.

 

 

 

 

 

Dr Alistair Legione

The University of Melbourne

The popular penguin parade at Phillip Island is worth nearly half a billion dollars annually. A sudden disease outbreak causing mass mortality, as has been seen in other Australian wildlife populations such as the Bellinger river snapping turtle, can drastically reduce the long term survivability of a wildlife population. The aim of pathogen surveillance is to minimise threats to these important populations and agricultural industries, through methods that allow early detection of infectious organisms.

Dr Legione’s study mission is to gain expertise in using innovative sequencing technologies for pathogen surveillance, microbial genomics, and outbreak analysis. Each area contributes significantly to the Victorian economy, creating both jobs and produce that are vital to our way of life. He will visit experts at three UK institutions in Edinburgh, Birmingham, and Cambridge.

 

Dr Benjamin Mentiplay

La Trobe University

With the current ageing population, musculoskeletal conditions and orthopaedic surgeries are on the rise. Total knee replacements in Australia, for example, increased 140% between 2003 to 2016. So it is important to understand and identify the movement patterns that are associated with these musculoskeletal conditions to reduce injury risk.

Dr Mentiplay is researching the biomechanics of patients with osteoarthritis or following orthopaedic surgery and examining innovative technology such as wearable sensors that include accelerometers and inertial monitoring units. It is important to examine how and why the body moves in patients with musculoskeletal conditions to identify any abnormal movement patterns that may lead to further injury. He will travel to Singapore, Canada and the US meeting with the key researchers dedicated to musculoskeletal research. The technology for biomechanics assessments has the potential for further use in clinical practice across Victoria.

 

Dr Nicholas Welch

CSIRO

Currently, the success and viability of vital new implantable medical devices and cell therapies such as the cochlear implants, indwelling medical sensors, and diabetes islet cell treatment are severely hampered by the natural foreign body response (FBR) that results in the formation of a fibrotic capsule around the implant.

The study mission by Dr Nicholas Welch aims to understand how to modulate and overcome this tissue response and develop new types of biomedical devices and therapies, or provide important improvements in performance and longevity of existing devices. The first applications will be in the treatment of diabetes with indwelling glucose sensors and implantable cell therapies for insulin production, and in the electro-stimulation of nerve cells as with the cochlear ear implant. Dr Welch will travel to Switzerland, Germany, France and Greece to advance his knowledge and research.

 

 

Physical sciences

 

Dr Sepideh Afshar

Monash University

The dairy industry, particularly the milk sector, is one of the largest agricultural industries in Victoria. Fonterra, Murray Goulburn and Tatura milk industries are popular manufacturers, producing products such as milk powder, infant formula and whey protein.

Spray drying is a preferred method where heat sensitive materials are used in the dairy industries. However, the drying process is an energy intensive key manufacturing step.  Dr Afshar is researching multi-stage spray drying systems. A drying workshop located at INRA (Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique) is one of the world’s premier sites for drying research. This study mission will link her skills and experiences into the industry scale, reduce the manufacturing costs through technological innovation and bring updated knowledge of cost-effective spray drying to Victoria.

  

 

Dr Nima Haghdadi

Deakin University

3D printing of metals has been studied and applied in recent years, however, the potential of smart manufacturing for manipulating material microstructures during printing that are currently in demand from the mining, aerospace and energy industries has yet to be explored.

3D printing technology leads to material savings of up to 90% and production cost savings up to 50%. Despite the clear potential of this technology, there are some significant differences and complexities in the thermal aspects of the 3D printed component, compared to a conventionally processed part.

This study mission to Max-Planck Institute in Germany will see Dr Haghdadi design the 3D printing schedules so that thermal cycles will not deteriorate the properties but enhance the performance of these alloys. This knowledge will position Victoria as a leader in the production of high performance high entropy alloys.

 

Dr Liam Hall

The University of Melbourne

The application of “quantum sensing” to chemical reaction systems will be a new research direction for the field of quantum sensing for Dr Liam Hall. He will progress this work during the study mission to the Institute for Quantum Optics at Ulm University in Germany. His research has so far focused on analysing the response of quantum mechanical defects in diamond, known as nitrogen-vacancy (NV) centres.

The technology developed during the study mission will allow Dr Hall to pioneer a new and independent research program in which quantum sensing techniques are applied to solve critical problems in fields of advanced manufacturing and synthetic chemistry.

The research will contribute to the development of many important technologies in Victoria that are reliant on process monitoring during manufacture, particularly the development of clean energy technology.

 

Dr Bartlomiej Kolodziejczyk

H2SG Energy (Aus) Pty Ltd

While the world is slowly moving towards more sustainable energy solutions, batteries and hydrogen are gaining significant interest as potential energy storage technologies. However, very little work has been done in Australia to investigate solid state hydrogen storage technologies.

Dr Bart Kolodziejczyk’s study mission to China will investigate the recycling of “one-pot electrochemical sodium metaborate back to sodium borohydride”. The experience will allow him to perform similar recycling attempts in Victoria, with the aim of building an electrochemical cell (a solid-state hydrogen storage cartridge) with a function for electrochemical recycling in one device without generating any by-product.

If the prototype device works on a small scale in Victoria, Dr Kolodziejczyk and his team will create a spin-off company from H2SG Energy to do further R&D and manufacture complete hydrogen-based batteries.

  

Dr Flora Salim

RMIT University

In today’s smartphone and Internet of Things era, assistive technology such as Google Maps that advise you of the best route in the current traffic conditions and fitness tracker apps that remind you to hit your 10,000 steps a day, are widely used. However, the usage and functionalities of these devices are often constrained to one particular application and domain.

This study mission aims to enable various applications, such as context-aware and location-based services, smart assistants, and intelligent monitoring, to be more effective and robust. If widely adopted, this has a great potential to boost Victoria’s productivity, economy, public safety, and well-being, enabling city planners and operational managers to have increased awareness of dynamic situations. Dr Salim plans to visit Kassel University in Germany and the University of Cambridge in the UK.

 

Dr Sumeet Walia

RMIT University

We collect one billion times more data on our cars than our bodies. This implies that we're able to get diagnostic information from our car every time it is serviced yet most of us know little about how our bodies are performing. Research into multi-functional wearable electronics focuses on understanding the challenges that can enable large-scale incorporation of functional wearable electronics into remote healthcare diagnostics, digital monitoring, smart data storage and high-speed electronics.

Victoria will benefit from access to enhanced research capabilities, participation in the best international network of wearable electronics researchers, industry partnerships, and economic benefit through licensing of intellectual property. Dr Walia plans to travel to the US and Canada to explore joint development opportunities and to understand the advanced manufacturing processes for wearable electronics.

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