Researchers open doors to public in new series

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Researchers open doors to public in new series

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Published on 27 June 2014

The latest research towards developing a new childhood vaccine and creating DNA-based computers will be the first topics of an exciting lecture series at the University of the Sunshine Coast.

USC researchers from the Faculty of Science, Health, Education and Engineering are opening their doors to the public in the Research@USC series, to be held once a month from Tuesday 15 July.

The free community lecture series will share the insights and progress of academics working across the faculty’s disciplines, allowing time for questions and answers and the chance to meet the researchers during light refreshments.

The first Health lecture, also part of USC’s annual Research Week from 14-18 July, will be held on 15 July from 5.30pm to 8pm at the Innovation Centre on campus.

Senior Research Fellow Dr David McMillan, who previously worked at the Queensland Institute of Medical Research, will discuss his projects involving new vaccines for untamed infectious diseases.

“Vaccines are the difference between life and death for millions of children. However there are still major human pathogens for which no vaccine is available,” he said.

“I’ll explain what vaccines are and how they protect you, and describe my group’s progress on developing a vaccine to prevent infection with Streptococcus pyogenes, a bacterium responsible for half a million deaths each year.”

The bacterium causes many human diseases ranging from mild skin infections, typically in the throat, to deadly systemic diseases.

Senior Lecturer in Molecular Engineering Dr Joanne Macdonald will inspire with her work on DNA computing and technologies of the future.

“I’ll be exploring recent advances in molecular computing, such as intelligent sensors and human cyborgs,” she said.

Dr Macdonald, who holds a joint appointment with Columbia University in New York, has previously helped develop a DNA-based machine that can play tic-tac-toe against humans and a molecular calculator that can add and multiply small numbers.

She has also been working on creating a dipstick that can detect viruses, such as the Hendra virus, using molecular circuitry.

The 2014 lecture series will continue with Engineering on Tuesday 19 August, Environment on Tuesday 16 September, Primary Industry on Tuesday 21 October and Education on Tuesday 4 November.

To register for a lecture, email ed.foshee@usc.edu.au or call 5459 4529.

Julie Schomberg

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