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Guinness World Record attempt: UNSW Science Showcase

On Monday 27 November 2017, we celebrated our diversity, broke a world record and celebrated our achievements at the end of year faculty celebrations. 

To break the world record, we’ll need everyone in the one area dressed in a laundered lab coat, safety goggles, and holding a piece of (safe and uncontaminated) lab equipment for 5 minutes. We will supply this kit if you need it. To break the stereotype, we’ll then take off our lab coats and goggles and show the world what real scientists look like. The contrasting images will be used in a major campaign to engage communities with our work”
— Emma Johnston 2017
UNSW Science Participants.

UNSW Science Participants.

Congratulations to our new Associate Professor!

It is my great pleasure to announce that Belinda Ferrari has been successful in her applications for promotion to Associate Professor, effective 1 January 2018.

Belinda joined BABS as a Senior Lecturer in 2008 as part of the Environmental Microbiology discipline. Her research focus is microbial diversity of soil bacteria in the Antarctic region in collaboration with the Australian Antarctic Division. In recent years, Belinda has headed the School’s Industry Outreach Committee, and this year was successful in being awarded a prestigious ARC Future Fellowship, which she will take up at the beginning of 2018.

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FEMS 2017; the 7th Congress of European Microbiologists.

In July, Nicole Benaud was fortunate enough to attend FEMS 2017; the 7th Congress of European Microbiologists, held in the beautiful city of Valencia, Spain. The congress focused on antimicrobial resistance and infections, sustainability and climate change.

Nicole presented the results of recent work by Ferrari Lab members (herself and Eden), with a poster titled ‘Harnessing Long Read SMRT Sequencing Technology for Natural Product Gene Discovery in Polar Desert Soils’.

 

Image: Nicole looking proud next to her poster. Image taken by Nicole.

Image: Nicole looking proud next to her poster. Image taken by Nicole.

ARC Future Fellowship

A huge congratulations to Dr. Belinda Ferrari, a successful applicant for the highly competitive ARC Future Fellowship award. 

Atmospheric carbon fixation: a novel microbial process in Antarctic soils. This project aims to challenge our global understanding of carbon fixation. In most ecosystems, phototrophy supports higher-trophic life, yet no genetic evidence for photosynthesis exists in Antarctic desert soils. The project will determine the significance of atmospheric chemotrophy, a microbial driven process based on the consumption of atmospheric gases that it is proposed supports energy maintenance and biomass assimilation in nutrient-starved Antarctic desert soils. Additionally, the project will establish if these processes are structuring soil microbial communities, particularly in response to climate change. The expected project outcome is knowledge of primary production at the nutritional limits of life. This should provide significant benefit, such as a shift in our knowledge of the biological sciences as a new minimalistic mode of primary production.

News at the Ferrari Lab

As Mukan Ji prepares for his final presentations as part of his PhD, the Ferrari Lab welcomes Angelique Ray, who will be undertaking her Honours year in 2017. 2016 Honours student Eden Zhang is back and begins her PhD! Undergraduate lab assistant Lucien Alperstein has started a small research project as part of his coursework for Advanced Science (Microbiology) under the wing of PhD candidate Nicole Benaud.

The lab also welcomes closer ties with UNSW's Centre for Astrobiology. The Centre focuses on interdisciplinary research into the origin and evolution of life on Earth and throughout the universe.

Graduation

Congratulations to Sally Crane and Eden Zhang, who graduate from an MPhil (Biotechnology) and Honours (Biotechnology) respectively! Both Sally and Eden have plans to stay with the Ferrari Lab and begin PhDs in 2017.

Sally Crane, Belinda Ferrari and Eden Zhang, post-graduation. November 2016.