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

The topic of our latest competition was focused the science of de-extinction, the concept that we can bring back to life species that have gone extinct through cloning and genetic manipulation. The question examined the potential benefits and dangers raised by the reintroduction of extinct species. Those who favoured de-extinction chose to focus their entry on the effects of recent human activity and climate change as a moral reason to support the process. Several discussed the possibility of reconstructing and testing extinct genes for novel properties in the pursuit of developing new drugs for presently incurable diseases. Reanimation was also suggested as a way of helping currently endangered species by restoring lost genetic diversity. Aside from these and other obvious benefits, the potential dangers seemed to overwhelm many particularly those familiar with the vivid dinosaur scenes showcased in the movie “Jurassic Park”.

We were pleased to receive such a diverse range of high quality responses, all of which were deserving winners. Each entry was scored based on originality, relevance and level of entertainment.


After much deliberation, 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, Shravanti Joshi, a final year PhD student at the Centre for Advanced Materials and Industrial Chemistry (CAMIC), RMIT University. Shravanti works under the supervision of Dr Samuel J Ippolito, and Dr Ylias Sabri, School of Science at RMIT University.

Back Left: Dr Ylias Sabri, Back right: Dr Samuel Ippolito, Front: Dr Shravanti Joshi, CAMIC, School of Science, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia.

Shravanti has recently completed her doctoral work at the Mercury Laboratory, CAMIC. Her research primarily dealt with synthesis of defect engineered hierarchical nanomaterials for ultra-sensitive and selective CO2 detection. From the environmental monitoring perspective, selective CO2 detection is imperative as it is widely recognised as an occupational hazard, toxic contaminant and strong asphyxiant. However, its accurate monitoring still remains a formidable task owing to its chemically inert nature. During her PhD candidature, Shravanti demonstrated a high level of achievement with 6 peer-reviewed first author articles in respected journals such as Journal of Materials Chemistry A, ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces etc.

“It’s definitely motivating to receive such encouragement award for which I’m grateful to ATA Scientific Instruments for extending strong support”.

Shravanti plans to use the award money to attend the International Conference on Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (ICONN 2018), being held from 29 Jan-2 Feb at the University of Wollongong. Shravanti plans to present an invited lecture entitled “Prolated BaTiO3 spheroids decorated with Ag@CaO as Reliable CO2 Gas Sensitive Layer”.

“ICONN 2018 will be a perfect international platform for an early career researcher like me to showcase achievements in the field of chemical sensing to my peers and collaborators around the world. This journey from a novice mechanical engineer to a confident material scientist further motivates me to continue with germane work that will produce invaluable insights on how to use smart nanomaterials innovatively for competitive lab-on chip technologies in the field of environmental remediation and subsequent challenges for practical applications”.

Congratulations to our runner up, Larissa Fedunik, second year Chemistry PhD student at the University of Newcastle under the supervision of Professor Scott Donne and Dr Alicia Bayon at CSIRO Energy.

Larissa’s PhD research is focused on thermochemical energy storage (TCES) for solar thermal applications. TCES has excellent potential because of its high energy storage density and the fact that it uses inexpensive materials such as calcium carbonate (limestone). Larissa is working on the synthesis and laboratory-scale demonstration of enhanced materials to increase efficiency and cyclability.

“Solar thermal energy generation and storage can provide Australia with clean, inexpensive energy and I hope to raise public awareness about it – everybody has heard of PV but solar thermal doesn’t get nearly enough attention!”

“I plan to use the award to attend a chemistry conference with a strong focus on renewable energy technologies or even the Public Communication of Science and Technology (PCST) Conference. I think communication between scientists, government and industry is essential”.  

Congratulations to our runner up, Stephen Bernard Drane, from Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences studying under the supervision of Professor Raymond Norton.

Stephen is currently in the final throes of completing his Masters thesis, detailing work undertaken to evaluate peptide toxins from animal venom for possible therapeutic applications.

“My true goal is to combine my love for science with my equally ardent love for performance, and forge a career making science interesting and accessible for society at large”.

Stephen plans to use the award to attend the Public Communication of Science and Technology 2018 conference, to be held in Dunedin NZ in April. This is an international science communication conference, where Stephen plans to network with people in the industry and learn the most effective strategies for getting the wider public engaged with the ongoing endeavour of scientific discovery.

We would like to thank all those that participated. The next Encouragement Award will be posted on our website in 2018.

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