Seven new members have been appointed to the South Australian Premier’s Science and Industry Council for three-year terms beginning on January 1.

The new members are:

  • Professor Peter Langridge, South Australia’s 2011 Scientist of the Year and Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics;
  • Professor Suzanne Millar, Director of the South Australian Museum;
  • Professor Lynne Cobiac, Deputy Chief CSIRO Food and Nutritional Sciences;
  • Mr Paul Sandercock, Vice President Asia Pacific, SMR Automotive Australia;
  • Dr Craig Priest, 2011 Tall Poppy and Research Fellow Ian Wark Research Institute, University of South Australia;
  • Mr Kim Scott, BAE Systems, Director of Land Systems Division Business Unit; and
  • Mr Mike Heard, Former Chief Executive Officer, Codan Pty. Ltd; Board of the Leaders Institute of South Australia Inc (LISA).

The new appointees join the Premier, Minister Kenyon, Chief Scientist Don Bursill, and seven existing members:

  • Dr Ian Gould, Chair, CSIRO Mineral Resources Sector Advisory Committee; Chair, SA Minerals and Petroleum Expert Group; Chancellor, University of SA; Member of the Economic Development Board (EDB);
  • Professor Angel Lopez, joint South Australian 2010 Scientist of the Year, Clinical Professor in the Faculty of Medicine, University of Adelaide; Director of the Centre for Cancer Biology and Head of the Division of the Human Immunology at SA Pathology;
  • Professor Tanya Monro, joint 2010 South Australian Scientist of the Year, Director, Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing; Director, Centre for Expertise in Photonics, University of Adelaide;
  • Dr Gabrielle Todd, Senior Research Fellow, School of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences, University of South Australia;
  • Dr Leanna Read, Managing Director, TGR Biosciences Pty Ltd; Member of the EDB;
  • Professor Phyllis Tharenou, Executive Dean, Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences, Flinders University; and
  • Mr Dennis Mutton, Chair, BioInnovation SA.

Following the retirement of Professor Paul Greenfield as Vice-Chancellor of The University of Queensland and Go8 Chair,

The Panel of the Strategic Review of Health and Medical Research in Australia  held its second meeting on 19 December 2011 in Melbourne.

Dr Alexander Zelinsky, an expert in information technology with the CSIRO, has been appointed as the Federal Government’s new Chief Defence Scientist and head of the Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO).

Funding totalling more than $105 million has been allocated to ten research programs under the National Health and Medical Research Council’s Program Grants to commence in 2013.

A new open source application developed at Murdoch University is giving researchers a revolutionary new way of accessing supercomputers.

University of Queensland astrophysicist Dr Tamara Davis, together with researchers from Denmark, has earned 4th spot on Physics World magazine's top 10 scientific breakthroughs in 2011, for developing a groundbreaking method to measure cosmic distances in the universe using light from quasars.

Determining accurate distances to celestial objects is the key to establishing the age and energy density of the universe. Quasars, which are active galaxies fuelled by the black hole at their heart, are found just about everywhere in the universe and outshine almost all other sources of light, making them ideal for measuring these distances.

Dr Davis, from UQ's School of Mathematics and Physics, worked with researchers Dr Darach Watson, Dr Kelly Denney and Dr Marianne Vestergaard at the Niels Bohr Institute in Denmark.

The secret to calculating astronomical distances is to be able to know how bright something is intrinsically. In the 1990s, it was discovered that supernovae could be used as “standard candles”.

The team's new discovery shows that quasars can be used in a similar way, and as quasars are more luminous than supernovae they can potentially be used to determine much larger distances.

“Quasars don't disappear after a couple of months like supernovae do. That means that in addition to being observed out to greater distances, repeat observations can be conducted to make the measurements more accurate,” Dr Davis said.

Physics World is a specialist magazine of UK's Institute of Physics. In deciding the top 10 breakthroughs of the year, the editorial team looked at factors such as the fundamental importance of the research, its significant advance in knowledge, its strong connection between theory and experiment, as well as its general interest to all physicists.

“We are particularly impressed with how you and your colleagues have expanded astronomers' ability to look back in time using (quasars), objects that are ubiquitous in the universe,” reads the citation from Physics World.

Dr Davis is an ARC Future Fellow, and winner of numerous prestigious awards, including the AIP Women in Physics Lecturer award (2011), L'Oréal Women in Science Award (2009), the Louise Webster Award (2009), and most recently, the overall winner of the 201

The Victorian Government has released a new manufacturing strategy which includes a number of initiatives to stimulate research and innovation in the manufacturing sector.

The Victorian Government has launched a new Collaborative Networks Pilot Program with up to $1.5 million in funding to support innovative projects in Victorian businesses.

Science, research and tertiary education have been grouped together in a new federal portfolio to be headed by Senator Chris Evans, following the ministerial reshuffle announced this week by the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard.  Senator Kim Carr, who was Minister for Industry, Innovation, Science and Research,  has been demoted from Cabinet to the outer ministry as Minister for Manufacturing and Minister for Defence Materiel.

The winners of the Australian Academy of Science 2012 awards for scientific excellence have been announced.

Energy company Chevron has invested more than $5.7 million to establish an endowment to support a Professorial Chair in Gas Process Engineering in perpetuity at The University of Western Australia.

A commercial wind power forecasting system called Wind Insight will provide greater security to Australia’s electricity power systems.

The University of New South Wales has successfully delivered its first free-of-charge intellectual property to an industry partner, reconnecting a former PhD student with his clean-energy creation.

This is the first Australian deal forged under the Easy Access IP framework, which was adopted by UNSW in November in a bid to turn more university-bred research into practical, real-world solutions.

“The deal went extremely well,” said Kevin Cullen, CEO of NewSouth Innovations, the commercialisation company of UNSW. “Easy Access did exactly what it was designed to do and that was to make the technology easily available.”

Roam Consulting, a Brisbane-based firm that specialises in energy market modelling, has used UNSW research to develop Wind Insight, a commercial wind power forecasting software.

By extracting key information from numerical weather prediction systems, the program can alert power system operators in advance of potential rapid changes in wind power output. This allows operators to more effectively manage the grid and set up power reserves as needed, which will help maintain power system security.

Engineer Nicholas Cutler, who works at Roam Consulting, originally developed the technology as a PhD student with his supervisors at UNSW in the School of Electrical Engineering and Telecommunications.

"My research aim was to develop a wind power forecasting technique to facilitate the uptake of wind power into the national electricity market," said Cutler.

The Australian Energy Market Operator funded a further year of research at UNSW to develop a prototype version of the program.

As the amount of installed wind power continues to grow, Cutler said Wind Insight could become an important tool for all electricity market participants, as rapid changes in wind power can impact electricity spot prices.

The simplified Easy Access IP framework has given Cutler access to the code he created while working at UNSW, and the opportunity to turn it into an operational tool that is ready for commercial deployment.

There are currently six technologies available under the Easy Access IP model, with more on the horizon as NewSouth Innovations continues to assess the University’s IP portfolio.

“We hope that by seeing how simple the process is it will spur more interest and demand,” said Cullen, “and that this will lead to more deals over the next year.”

The University of Queensland has created a $20 million partnership between industry, government and researchers to initiate and operate the new Centre for Coal Seam Gas (CCSG). The funding of up to $20 million has been committed by Queensland, QGC, Santos and Arrow Energy to operate the centre for the first five years.

The CCSG will harness capability from UQ and other academic collaborators and be hosted by UQ's Sustainable Minerals Institute (SMI).

Queensland Premier Anna Bligh has announced a major new collaboration between DSM Biologics of The Netherlands, The University of Queensland's Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN), and the Queensland Government.

The collaboration involves the development of next-generation smart medicines, called biologics, at a $65 million scale-up facility under construction at the Princess Alexandra Hospital.

Biologics are medicines based on natural proteins made using DNA technology, offering exciting new treatment options for a wide range of diseases including cancer and auto-immune disorders.

Biologics may be used for a variety of medical conditions for which there are no other treatments – and offer the only known potential treatment for Hendra virus infection.

The collaboration makes it possible for both development and potential large-scale commercial production of the experimental Hendra virus antibody, among other therapeutics, in Queensland.

DSM Biologics will operate the scale-up facility, owned by the Queensland Government entity Biopharmaceuticals Australia Pty Ltd, under construction next to the Translational Research Institute (TRI). The facility will produce clinical and commercial grade biologics for global markets.

The Federal Government has announced a new $249 million Industrial Transformation Research program and cadetship package.

The Minister for Innovation, Senator Kim Carr, has announced the fourth and final tranche of the Innovation Investment Fund (IIF), Round Three, which will allocate up to $100 million in venture capital for early stage investments.

A $140 million advanced manufacturing teaching and research facility has been launched at Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne will be a major boost to Australia's manufacturing and materials industry.

Changes to the Commercialisation Australia scheme have come into effect which will mean that businesses developing new products, processes or services will not have to repay Early Stage Commercialisation grants. Further,  the annual turnover limit for applicants has been lifted from $20 million to $50 million.

Australia and New Zealand have signed a new agreement on marine observation and research which will formalise existing work between the two countries and increase understanding of the climate systems that affect the region.

Professor Margaret Sheil, the Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Research Council, will be the next Provost of the University of Melbourne.

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