Friday, 20 October 2006

ANU Bee guru wins Prime Minister's award for Science

OK, I admit a little bias here because it involves one of my PhD supervisors, but I think it's worth a mention. Professor Mandyam Srinivasan, a world expert on honeybees and pioneer of a field of robotics that takes its inspiration from insect vision, was awarded the Prime Minister's award for science on Monday night during a ceremony at Parliament House.

Professor Srinivasan's work has contributed significantly to our knowledge of how insects solve complex navigation problems with such apparent ease, despite possessing a brain the size of a pin head. He has concentrated mostly on the vision system of the honeybee, which is known to be highly specialised to the tasks it performs. Perhaps the most significant lessons learnt from this work are that you can achieve a lot with a small amount of computing power, which is why robotics researchers are so keen on insects. Srinivasan was one of the first to implement insect-inspired navigation strategies on robots equipped with cameras. This is now a well established field of robotics research, and has helped bring robotics research forward many years, after a long time spent getting seemingly no where.

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Wednesday, 11 October 2006

Science careers, as mentioned in 13 August show

On the 13 August show, Rebecca, Jacinta and I had a bit of a chat about science careers, and mentioned a panel discussion being hosted by Robyn Williams as part of the Australian Science Festival.

The audio of that discussion is now available from the Science Show web site and featured:
  • James Bradfield Moody (CSIRO Land and Water and ABC TV's The New Inventors)
  • Jenny Graves (Research School of Biological Sciences, Australian National University)
  • Barry Marshall (University of Western Australia and winner of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2005)
  • Penny Sackett (Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics Mt Stromlo and Siding Spring Observatories, Australian National University)

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