Check out our calendar of events and participate in our seminars, public lectures, information sessions and more.

4.30pm 3 June 2021

Modelling the Global Ocean Circulation

The oceans have absorbed >90% of the heat energy and ~40% of the carbon dioxide added to Earth’s climate system over the industrial era. This heat and carbon is pulled around by the ocean circulation, which can act to push water from the surface to the deep ocean and back, or from Equator to poles. Ocean circulation occurs on planetary scales, but also depends on fluid processes that can be as small as millimetres. In this talk I will show how we use our knowledge of fluid mechanics to formulate global ocean and sea ice models which can be used to investigate the behaviour of ocean circulation and predict future climate states. The advent of high-performance computing has allowed us to simulate the ocean with ever-increasing resolution, revealing new dynamics into how turbulence and mixing alter the ocean circulation and Earth’s climate.

Master of Earth SciencesEarth & marine sciencesEngineeringEnvironment & sustainability

4.30pm 4 June 2021

The economics of evolution: sons or daughters?

One of the most commonly asked question when a woman is pregnant is whether the parents know if it is a boy or a girl. In humans you have an (almost) 50% chance of guessing the answer correctly. But why is this? Can you correctly explain why there are as many sons as daughters born in humans? I will discuss the evolutionary principles that underlie the evolution of offspring sex ratios in animals. You might be intrigued to learn that offspring sex ratios can vary hugely across different species. Using basic economics ideas about costs and benefits, combined with game theory, evolutionary biologists can predict the conditions under which male-biased or female-biased offspring sex ratios will evolve. Even better, we can then test these theory-based predictions and show that they are surprisingly accurate. These findings provide some of the best evidence for a ’selfish gene’ approach to the study of evolution. This talk will highlight the world class theory-driven research conducted at the Australian National University. And if your goal is to carry out applied science to become a millionaire, I will suggest a way in which you could apply this seemingly esoteric sex ratio theory to food production.

Master of Science in Biological SciencesMaster of BiotechnologyMaster of Science in Quantitative Biology & BioinformaticsBiologyHealth

4.30pm 7 June 2021

There is no leadership if no one follows: Why leadership is necessarily a group process

In this talk, Professor Platow argues that leadership is fundamentally a group process: leaders must be ‘one of us’. He builds an argument around recent social identity theory and self-categorisation theory analyses of leadership. In doing so, he highlights the essential nature of shared psychological group memberships as the key mediating processes through which leadership develops. Through a review of existing research, he then demonstrates: (1) how leadership is exerted through in-group-based social influence; (2) how the more that more group members capture the attributes of ‘us-in-context’ – the more they are in-group prototypical – the greater will be their leadership potential; and (3) how common attributes associated with leadership (i.e. trust, charisma, fairness) can all be understood as outcomes of shared psychological group membership. Leadership, however, is not simply about ‘being’, it is about ‘doing’ as well. In this manner, Professor Platow discusses the importance of acting to advance the group (in the form of social identity advancement) and crafting a sense of the group (in the form of social identity entrepreneurship).


4.30pm 8 June 2021

More with less: How will we produce food crops for 10 billion with less resources?

The predicted increase in the world population to around 10 billion people by 2050 will require the world to produce more food in the next few decades than in all of its previous history. This will ideally need to happen on less land and with reductions in the amounts of fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides, which cause huge environmental and human health problems. Plant survival and yield will also be severely affected by a more variable and extreme climate. To achieve this, we need to produce crop plants that withstand environmental stress and have higher yield despite requiring less agricultural inputs. This talk will present recent advances in the Division of Plant Sciences at the Australian National University that span from exploration of our basic understanding of how plants survive in stressful environments, to opportunities in breeding and engineering crops with higher yield and improved disease-resistance. In addition, we develop strategies to use beneficial soil micro-organisms to provide nutrients to crop plants without the harmful environmental effects of synthetic fertilisers.

Master of Science in Biological SciencesMaster of BiotechnologyMaster of Science in Agricultural InnovationBiologyEnvironment & sustainabilityHealth
Anna Herring

4.30pm 9 June 2021

Storing CO2 in Rocks

Nearly all pathways identified by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that limit climate-change induced temperature rise to less than 2oC rely on large-scale diversion of carbon emissions away from the atmosphere and instead into permanent storage. Geologic carbon sequestration involves the capture of emitted carbon dioxide (CO2) from point source emitters (or potentially, directly from the atmosphere) followed by injection into porous rocks deep underground. In order to be able to predict where the CO2 will go once it’s been injected– and to design safe strategies to prevent the buoyant CO2 from bubbling back up to the surface– we need to understand how the fluid CO2 moves through the tortuous pore spaces of the rocks, on length scales ranging from the size of individual bubbles to the size of geologic formations. At the ANU National Laboratory for X-ray MicroComputed Tomography (CTLab), we use X-ray microscopy to map mineral and fluid distributions in three dimensions during high-pressure injections of CO2 into rock cores. I will provide an overview of this X-ray imaging technology, as well as what we have learned about multiphase fluid dynamics from our experiments, and how we can use this knowledge to help design safe and efficient CO2 injection and storage strategies.

Master of Science in Precision Instrumentation & MeasurementPhysicsEarth & marine sciencesEnvironment & sustainability

4.30pm 10 June 2021

Dualities in Mathematics and Physics

The “unreasonable effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences” is well-argued (cf. the famous 1960 article by Eugene Wigner). However, this goes both ways. It is clear, especially since the recent progress in understanding quantum field theory and string theory, that the effectiveness of physics in mathematics is equally striking. In this talk we discuss, by example, how ideas arising in physics, in particular using dualities, have had a profound influence in developing new mathematics, and have led to many results (conjectures) that remain inaccessible to `rigorous proof’ using current mathematical techniques.

Master of Mathematical SciencesPhysicsMathematics

4.30pm 11 June 2021

Leading the way for autonomous vehicles: optical gyroscopes for inertial navigation

The idea of a smart, autonomous future is tantalisingly close to becoming reality. In recent years, the push towards fully autonomous transport has driven large advances in enabling techniques such as machine learning, sensor fusion and the development of lower cost, higher fidelity sensors. To achieve full autonomy however, vehicles must become self-aware of their occupants, their immediate surroundings, and lastly, their location in the world at large – autonomous navigation. With the Global Positioning System (GPS), today we can determine our absolute location on the planet to within 10 metres, with an update rate of 1 Hz to 10 Hz - an impressive feat. However, the limited accuracy and update rate has a significant impact when, for example, autonomously operating in dense, urban areas or tunnels where GPS signals may be compromised. For full autonomous navigation, inertial navigation systems are therefore required to fill in the gaps. Inertial navigation refers to methods that integrate onboard measurements of acceleration and rotation rate to determine the change in position and direction of a device. This is a challenging task as inertial navigation systems are extremely sensitive to biases and drift, leading the measurements astray. For longer term GPS denied navigation this necessitates the use of highly sensitive, well-calibrated accelerometers and gyroscopes. In this talk, I will discuss inertial navigation, its current applications and the key associated challenges, with a focus on rotation sensing using optical gyroscopes. I will describe the limits of the current state-of-the-art and then give an overview of the work undertaken at the Australian National University to develop the next-generation of high-precision, low-cost optical gyroscopes for an autonomous future.

Master of Science in Precision Instrumentation & MeasurementPhysicsEngineeringAstronomy & astrophysics
Dr Will Grant

4.30pm 15 June 2021

Misinformation in the time of COVID

Ever since the Covid-19 pandemic was declared, governments, public health leaders and scientists around the world have had to deal with not only a terrible virus, but an ‘infodemic' of misinformation. Throughout the pandemic we’ve seen dubious information about cures and vaccines, and dodgy information about the origins of the virus spreading around the world, leading to worse decision making and lives lost. In this talk Dr Will Grant explores some of the contours of misinformation during the pandemic, and what we as science communicators might do about it. 

Master of Science CommunicationGraduate Certificate of Science Communication Available Fully OnlineScience communicationHealth
Dr Po Lam Yung

4.30pm 16 June 2021

Wave propagation - a mathematical perspective

The propagation of waves in space, such as that of electromagnetic waves in telecommunication, is instrumental to many aspects of science and engineering. Various physical phenomena, such as dispersion or interference of waves, can be understood via a mathematical study of the wave equation that governs wave propagation. In this talk, we will formulate a number of fascinating mathematical questions concerning wave propagation, and reveal surprising connections to geometry and number theory. Some of these questions remain open, and we will examine some challenges that lie ahead.

Master of Science in Mathematical SciencesPhysicsEngineeringMathematics

4.30pm 17 June 2021

Semiconductor nanostructures for optoelectronics applications

Semiconductors have played an important role in the development of information and communications technology, solar cells, solid state lighting.  Nanowires are considered as building blocks for the next generation electronics and optoelectronics.  In this talk, I will introduce the importance of nanowires and their potential applications and discuss about how these nanowires can be synthesized and how the shape, size and composition of the nanowires influence their structural and optical properties. I will present results on axial and radial heterostructures and how one can engineer the optical properties to obtain high performance lasers, THz detectors, solar cells and to engineer neuronal networks. Future prospects of the semiconductor nanowires will be discussed.

Master of Science in Precision Instrumentation & MeasurementMaster of Science in Quantum TechnologyPhysicsEngineeringAstronomy & astrophysics