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Read about geneticists working on resurrecting extinct species, and biologists working to prevent species from becoming extinct in the first instance. Technologists creating an enhanced future reality and friendly robot assistants, or nanotechnologists discovering new treatments for chronic pain and devices that will allow us to get just the right amount of sun to keep us healthy. Agriculturalists growing the food of the future, and sports scientists using technology to create super human athletes. Climate scientists mapping our climate past to help us predict our climate future, or material scientists ensuring that future generations can colonise Mars.

We asked a selection of scientists and other experts what impossible challenge they are working to solve, and what’s next for their field?

FUTURE FOOD

Dr Kim Johnson
Senior Research Fellow, La Trobe University
Field of expertise: Plant biology

“My work aims to understand how plants feel and respond to physical stress, a question that has remained impossible to answer for over 100 years. We want to make possible plants that are more resilient to stress …” Read More

RESURRECTING EXTINCT SPECIES

Professor Andrew Pask
Professor of Genetics, The University of Melbourne
Field of expertise: Evolution and Development, Genetics

“I’m working on the de-extinction of the Tasmanian tiger (thylacine). This was a tragic loss of a truly unique and fascinating marsupial. I would love to be able to bring this animal back!” Read More

SAVING THREATENED SPECIES

Dr Amy Coetsee
Threatened Species Biologist, Zoos Victoria
Field of expertise: Conservation, Eastern Barred Bandicoots

“I believe that nothing is impossible, there are just problems that haven’t been solved yet. One of these is the eradication of foxes and feral cats from mainland Australia. These introduced predators are responsible for many mammal extinctions in Australia and have pushed many more species to the brink of extinction.” Read More

 

Chris Hartnett
Threatened Species Project Officer, Zoos Victoria
Field of expertise: Threatened Species Conservation

“Many would say it’s impossible to bring critically endangered species back from the brink of extinction – especially when numbers are very low.  I’m working towards making this possible, because every species is precious.” Read More

AUGMENTED REALITY & VIRTUAL REALITY

Samuel Tate
VR Experience Designer, PHORIA
Field of expertise: Spatial Computing Design

I always dreamed of having magic powers – now I can have 3D worlds and impossible creatures floating around in front of me. I can play with them with my hands, they can recognise my voice, they can see what I see. I can create something with code and have it floating in my living room in stereoscopic vision, interacting with my world.” Read More

SOCIALLY AWARE ROBOTS

Professor Elizabeth Croft
Dean of Engineering, Monash University
Field of expertise: Robotics

“I am working towards making possible a robot in every home, supporting our lives. Robots that see and understand their environment. That can explain themselves and understand people. Robots that can cope with the whole human being and the emotional side of humanity.” Read More

3D PRINTING & ACCESSIBLE INFORMATION

Dr Matthew Butler
Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Information Technology, Monash University
Field of expertise: Accessible Information for those who are Blind or have Low Vision

“I want to make ALL information available for people who are blind or have low vision. This might be information essential for day to day living, but could also be that which we enjoy for pleasure, such as arts and culture. What if we had technologies and processes embedded in the creation of visual material that could facilitate access by all?” Read More

MICROBIOLOGY FOR LOW-VISION AUDIENCES

Dr Erica Tandori
Artist in Residence, The Rossjohn Lab, Biomedicine Discovery Institute, Monash University
Field of expertise: Science Artist, Science communication to diverse audiences (low vision and blind), Sensory Science

“With technologies like microscopes and synchrotrons we have the ability to see viruses, microbes, bacteria, cells and atoms that are normally hidden from view to the naked eye. But for many people with low vision or blindness, even these technological aids cannot help them see or understand the complexities of these tiny structures. Our challenge is to recreate these tiny molecules into something that can be held in your hands, explored, felt and even something that you can hear and smell!” Read More

HUMAN PERFORMANCE AND SPORT

Professor Sam Robertson
Professor of Sports Analytics, Victoria University
Field of expertise: Sports Analytics and Human Performance

“We are trying to identify how new heights of human and sports performance can be reached through various scientific areas working together. For instance, how can improved ways of physical training and new technologies be harnessed to take human performance to never before seen levels. This not only has relevance for improving sporting prowess, but also how we can explore deep sea and deep space.” Read More

NANO-MATERIALS

Dr Rajesh Ramanathan
Senior Research Fellow and Co-Leader, NanoBiotechnology Research Laboratory (NBRL), RMIT University
Field of expertise: Materials Chemistry and Bionanotechnology

“My group and I have created a wearable, disposable and simple to use sensing device to monitor our exposure to solar UV which can be tailored to different skin types. This device contains a spot of ink that darkens in colour when you have received your recommended dose of UV based on the colour of skin.” Read More

CIRCULAR FASHION/ TEXTILES

Associate Professor Nolene Bryne
Associate Professor in the Institute for Frontier Materials, Deakin University
Field of expertise: circular design, textiles and fibres

“Previously thought to be impossible, improvements in the technology and new fibres becoming available has meant that 3D printing clothing is becoming a reality. Given these developments perhaps anything is possible… including novel fibre and textile technologies enabling a manned mission to Mars and potentially a future Mars colony!” Read More

CLIMATE HISTORIES & FUTURES

Dr Linden Ashcroft
Lecturer in Climate Science and Science Communication, The University of Melbourne
Field of expertise: Australian climate, climate change, climate history, citizen science, science communication

“All across the country in libraries and attics there are diaries, books, ledgers and logbooks full of priceless weather information that have been collected by dedicated men and women. These data have never been scientifically analysed, so are not contributing to our national understanding of Australia’s weather and climate. I am working on finding and recovering these valuable records.” Read More

BUBBLES, OCEANS & CLIMATE

Professor Richard Manasseh
Professor in Mechanical Engineering, Swinburne University of Technology
Field of expertise: Fluid dynamics

“Show me a photo of the bubbles that appeared underwater at the instant you poured a glass of water, and I hope to tell you the sound you made when you poured it. This is currently impossible. But if we could do this, we might be able to use simple instruments to measure the rate at which oceans absorb carbon dioxide, which has a big effect on the rate the world is heating up.” Read More

SOUND

Stu Favilla
Lecturer in Interaction Design, Swinburne University of Technology
Field of expertise: Spatial Sound, Interaction & Motion Design

“I am working towards improving the clarity of the spatial sound image. Spatial sound technologies are helping people who are visually impaired to navigate their environments. Spatial sound is also being used to study noise (pollution) in crowded cities and amongst communities.  Mapping and charting noise helps us understand its contribution to heart disease, depression and anxiety.” Read More

TREATING UNWANTED, SEVERE PAIN

Dr Paulina Ramírez García
Postdoctoral Research Fellow, CBNS/Monash University
Field of expertise: Nanomedicine

“There are many scientists including myself in the world right now who are trying to create a pill that can effectively stop pain. Current painkillers are only effective for specific types of pain and there is a lot of people whose pain cannot be treated. The impossible now is to stop the, so far, unstoppable and untreatable pain.” Read More

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