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Scientist lauded for mining waste solution

A national competition has been won with an idea to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by using and reusing mining waste.

Environmental geochemist Dr Jessica Hamilton from ANSTO is the winner of the fifth Falling Walls Lab Australia event, hosted online by the Australian Academy of Science in partnership with the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Canberra and EURAXESS Australia and New Zealand.

Second place was awarded to Alan Robertson from ClearSky Genomics, while Andrew Law from the Garvan Institute of Medical Research took third place. The People’s Choice winner selected via a survey of audience members was Dr Dashen Dong, Research Fellow at RMIT.

The event featured ten contestants from across Australia presenting their ideas, research and initiatives on the theme ‘Which walls will fall next?’.

Three-minute pitch

Each participant had three minutes to make their pitch in front of a jury of eminent academics and leaders from business chaired by the President of the Academy, Professor John Shine.

Dr Hamilton, is a beamline scientist at ANSTO’s Australian synchrotron. Her winning pitch was on breaking the wall of recycling CO2 in mining. She has developed a relatively low-cost, low-energy-input process to make valuable products from mining wastes.

She used mining waste to trap carbon dioxide in mineral form, and then transformed mineral wastes into a metal-enriched resource that could be re-mined. This process could help lead to carbon-neutral mining operations.

Alan Robertson spoke about breaking the wall of genomics for doctors. His pitch was for a doctor/patient-focused genome browser, to help make genomics and its advantages accessible to all patients.

Andrew Law, third place winner, spoke on breaking the wall of ineffective cancer treatments. His pitch, a human-body analogue called ALTEN, helps doctors know in advance the effectiveness of cancer treatments, allowing for personalised healthcare and better outcomes for cancer patients.

People’s Choice winner, Dr Dashen Dong, pitched an idea to break the wall of aged care monitoring using soft electronic sensors. This aims to improve the quality of life in aged care and reduce anxiety of families.

Winners to compete internationally

The top three ranked presenters of the Lab will each receive $1000 prize money, high-quality online science communication training led by European experts and provided by EURAXESS Researchers in Motion, and a professional video created by the Academy’s own production team.

The video will be shared with the influential audience of judges and participants of Falling Walls Berlin and on the Academy’s social media platforms which have more than 2.4 million followers.

These winners’ videos will then compete against 90 others selected by international Labs and the Falling Walls nomination process, and a panel of judges will decide on 10 finalists who will take part in the digital live event ‘Emerging Talents Category Day’ on November 4.

The Emerging Talents winner will pitch their breakthrough project on the grand stage during the virtual live Falling Walls Day of  November 9 in front of an audience of industry leaders, decision-makers, investors and international media.