The Stand.

Stories from UOW

Welcome to The Stand’s first instalment of TL;DR – a cheat sheet to UOW’s latest break-throughs and most interesting people in 100 words (or fewer).

What is means to be mentally tough

Dr Christian Swann interviewed survivors of the 2015 Mt Everest avalanche. Photo by Paul Jones

Dr Christian Swann interviewed survivors of the 2015 Mt Everest avalanche. Photo by Paul Jones

Sports psychology researcher Dr Christian Swann interviewed survivors of the 2015 Mt Everest avalanche disaster to explore the role of mental toughness. They found that – beyond persevering at all costs – mental toughness is making the right decision when things get risky, even if that means giving up on a dream. To keep going and hope to survive would be seen as taking the easy option. Truly mentally tough mountaineers didn’t take unnecessary risks.
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Turning poo into power

Co-digestion process graphic

The process of co-digestion breaks down organic waste and produces methane gas as a byproduct. Graphic by Jasper Smith

Researchers are working with Sydney Water to produce renewable energy and reduce landfill by combining food waste with sewerage treatment. They mix different types of organic waste in a large air-tight container. As bacteria breaks down the waste, methane gas rises to the top of the tank. It can then be used to produce heat and electricity. The solids settle on the bottom and can be used as nutrient-rich fertiliser for agriculture.
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By your side

Jason Carrasco with his published book, By Your Side. Photo by Paul Jones

Jason Carrasco with his published book, By Your Side. Photo by Paul Jones

In one of his first uni classes, Jason Carrasco had bad back pain. The pain was caused by a rare form of testicular cancer. While in hospital for treatment, he met a girl named Cassie Nascimento who was in remission after treatment for a brain tumour. Cass helped Jason through the long and exhausting battle. The day after Jason was cleared of cancer Cass was told her cancer had returned. She passed away on 11 November 2013. Their friendship is the subject of Jason’s book, By Your Side, an inspirational story about the courage and love between two young people.
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Using gold to make medicine

Dr Chris Hyland and Melanie Drew in the research lab. Photo by Paul Jones

Dr Chris Hyland and Melanie Drew in the research lab. Photo by Paul Jones

A team of chemists is using gold as a catalyst to create new chemical structures that could be used in pharmaceuticals. Gold is highly reactive when in a certain oxidation state. It temporarily binds to strained molecules in a reaction, kicking off a cascade of bond forming and breaking to produce a completely new molecule that may be turned into new medicines. No gold ends up in the final product, so it can be recovered and re-used.
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Comparing brain samples

Dr Natalie Matosin was named in Forbes 30 under 30 in 2017. Photo supplied.

Dr Natalie Matosin was named in Forbes 30 under 30 in 2017. Photo supplied

Molecular neurobiologist and UOW graduate, Dr Natalie Matosin studies post-mortem brain samples of individuals who were living with psychiatric disorders. By characterising changes to gene expression and proteins, and identifying how they are different, Dr Matosin is hoping to find new targets for drugs that could potentially correct some of the detrimental molecular effects.
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Farming for good

Callum Champagne on the Green Connect farm in Warrawong, New South Wales

Callum Champagne on the Green Connect farm in Warrawong, NSW

Callum Champagne is the Farm Manager at Green Connect – a not-for-profit urban farm that produces and sells fair food. It’s a chemical-free farm that’s good for the environment as it minimises food miles and wastage. It’s good for the community by improving food literacy and bridging the gap between producer and consumer. And it’s good for the former refugees and young people who help grow the food.
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Bound for Antarctica

PhD student Rachelle Balez is preparing for the trip of a lifetime. Photo by Paul Jones

PhD student Rachelle Balez is preparing for the trip of a lifetime. Photo by Paul Jones

PhD student Rachelle Balez was selected to be part of the 2017-18 Homeward Bound leadership program. The year-long program is aimed at female scientists and culminates in a three-week expedition to Antarctica. While it’s a departure from her usual lab work studying Alzheimer’s disease using stem cells, she is proud to be part of a program that highlights the influence of women and their ability to lead our planet to a sustainable future.
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Main animation by Matt de Feudis

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