ATA Scientific would like to thank all those that participated in our August 2017 Encouragement Award promotion.

The topic of our latest competition was focused on Malware such as Petya and WannaCry and ways we can protect our computer systems by taking lessons from the way nature deals with threats. To our delight, we received a large number of entries which was eventually whittled down to just 9 finalists. Each was scored based on originality, relevance and level of entertainment. Three entries were selected to receive our award– first prize at $1500 and 2 runners up at $600 each.


Congratulations to our first prize winner, Samuel Pinches, is a third year PhD student in the department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Melbourne, in the Ceramics and Minerals Processing Group with Professor George Franks.

“I have a real passion for learning how things are made, and I have found a keen interest in understanding the relationship between the unique properties of a material, the processes that can shape and change the material, and the applications that this combination can enable”. 

Samuel’s research is focused on examining a new process to potentially enable the production of complex shaped ceramics, more efficiently. The group is examining a modified freeze-casting process in order to produce dense near-net shaped ceramic parts. The goal of this new process is to reduce the time and cost per part, in order to improve the feasibility of mass producing complex-shaped ceramic parts. Previous work has identified that this process produces parts with major flaws, so Samuel’s work has focused on studying each step of the process, in order to develop a clearer understanding of what is occurring, and to identify the cause of defects observed in samples. By working to apply the knowledge that is gained, the group can minimise the flaws and optimise the product quality, as well as identify any limitations that remain for using this process in real world applications.

Having studied chemical engineering, Samuel’s goal is to continue finding engineering opportunities for solving multidisciplinary problems, such as the challenges associated with taking novel materials and processes out of the lab, and bringing them into real-world applications.

“I am grateful for the support from ATA Scientific with this award, and this award will enable me to attend the 1st Asia-Pacific International Conference on Additive Manufacturing (APICAM2017) in December this year.  I would encourage current students to keep an eye out for future awards!”

Photo of the Neurogenetics/Bioinformatics Lab at the University of Adelaide. Prof Jozef Gecz is in the pink shirt and Atma is next to Jozef in the black and white shirt.

Congratulations to our runner up, Atma Maria Ivancevic, a Postdoctoral Researcher at The University of Adelaide, Robinson Research Institute, Adelaide Medical School, Neurogenetics.  Atma works under the supervision of Professor Jozef Gecz, at The University of Adelaide.

Atma’s current project is focused on investigating structural variations in the human genome (e.g. deletions, duplications, mobile element insertions) and understanding their role in neurological disorders such as epilepsy and cerebral palsy. Using whole genome sequencing data and massively parallel computing infrastructure, Atma’s work is focused on design and optimizing pipelines to identify pathogenic variants. Ultimately, this will help to define the diverse spectrum of genomic rearrangements that contributes to disease risk in the human population.

“As an early career researcher, one of the biggest challenges is getting noticed at an international level in the scientific community”.

Atma plans to use her award to attend a prestigious international conference (e.g. 2018 Human Genome Meeting in Japan) that will allow her to network with the best genomics labs in the world. This is particularly important considering Atma’s immediate career plans are to move overseas for a postdoc next year in 2018.

Congratulations to our runner up, Dr Kendall Corbin, Post Doctoral Research Fellow in the College of Medicine and Public Health at Flinders University, South Australia. Kendall works in the Medical Biotechnology Department headed by Professor Chris Franco.

Her research focuses on finding novel and innovative ways to utilize agro-industrial waste and low-value marine resources for biofuel or medical applications. Interest in capitalising on these underutilised resources is attributed to the unique biological properties of extractable carbohydrates and bioactive compounds. Furthermore, the use of these residues is considered to be more socially and environmentally responsible than using edible portions of food crops.

One limitation that currently undermines the practicality of using waste biomass sources is the complexity of the material (more specifically the plant cell wall). Plant-based bioresources consists of a heterogeneous matrix of carbohydrates, polyphenol polymers and proteins that are difficult to separate into discrete, usable components without using toxic chemicals or high-energy inputs. To circumvent these limitations my research explores the potential to incorporate green chemistry approaches as a sustainable alternative for biomass processing. Kendall hopes that this innovative multi-facet approach will set the scene for further advancements in the field and ultimately our ability to convert trash (agricultural waste) into treasure (high-value products).

Kendall plans to use this award to attend one of the workshops/conferences organised by the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL). One of the key conferences of interest is Microfluidics 2018: New Technologies and Applications in Biology, Biochemistry and Single-Cell Analysis (Heidelberg, Germany).

We would like to thank all those that participated. The next Encouragement Award will be posted on our website soon.

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