Friday, May 20, 2016

Macquarie University and Cochlear

Today we went for a full day visit to Macquarie University. There we listened to several fascinating lectures and toured some facilities.
Today we went for a full day visit to Macquarie University, and as a side note, I’d like to point out the amount of locations named after Macquarie in Sydney is quite impressive, from Mrs. Macquarie’s chair to Macquarie road (of which there are no lack of) to Macquarie Park, and now Macquarie University.

Aside from all that, at Macquarie University, our tour was focused on the Physics and Astronomy department. There we met with Dr. Jim Leger, who actually teaches at the University of Minnesota, but is currently on sabbatical at Macquarie. He gave a presentation on the importance of collaboration in science, and how many projects succeed because of the different universities, businesses, and people who work together on it.

Next, we heard a brief presentation by Dr. Ewa Goldys, who specializes in nanoscale biophotonics. She is developing new approaches to measuring spinal fluid make-up, especially in the case of a spinal injury. She also talked a bit about Nanoruby, which is a nanoparticle created at Macquarie by crushing up rubies, and how it can be used to treat diseases or deliver medicine. After lectures, we had lunch and were able to experience the hologram room. While I say hologram room, it is actually an illusion of a room created by a two-dimensional image with lasers. Designed by Paula Dawson, the room depicts three different scenes of a party, depending on where you see the room from. It was absolutely fantastic how real the rooms looked, even the mirrors in the room where working mirrors, changing as you change your angle.

After some lab tours, we had a couple more lectures from Dr. David Inglis, Dr. Judith Dawes, our host for the day, and Dr. Yves De Deene. Dr. Inglis talked about his research in the experiences of objects in nanoscale and in fluids, which is important because this is often how things exist within our bodies. Dr. Dawes, who specializes in photonics and laser research, talked about various uses of lasers in medicine, and how lasers might both increase the speed of surgeries and in certain cases, decrease the pain experienced by the patient. Dr. Yves De Deene spoke on MRIs and radiotherapy, and the dangers on radiotherapy. However, he is currently researching ways to both lower the dangers of radiotherapy and increase the effectiveness. Especially looking into biologically guided adaptive therapy, which changes as the patient is treated.

We then went on a tour of both the photonics lab and the anechoic chamber. In the photonics lab, we witnessed the precision and speed at which a laser cuts at via a demonstration of a Mayan calendar cut onto a silicon plated sheet.

The anechoic chamber is a chamber built to eliminate all echoes and sound waves. Walking into the room, you immediately feel a difference as your ears try to adjust to the lack of sound. Set up in the anechoic chamber is a 360-degree speaker system, where they can try to imitate the sound of any environment. This can be used to treat patients with hearing loss or various hearing problems.

The last stop on our full day tour was the Cochlear company on campus. Cochlear is a company that specializes in and makes, you guessed it, cochlear implants! A very high tech and beautiful building, it’s set on campus to utilize the newly built hearing lab in Macquarie University. We learned briefly the companies various products and the work it goes into making each of them, as they are all handmade. It was fascinating to be able to see how this amazing piece of technology was built; however, we were unable to take pictures within the production room.