Wednesday, May 25, 2016

On to Brisbane

We said goodbye to Sydney and headed to Brisbane where we visited the University of Queensland.
Yesterday we left Sydney and headed towards Brisbane. With nothing else on our agenda, we had some time to walk around and become more familiar with our new environment. Brisbane is notably different from Sydney, with an overall more relaxed atmosphere and much, much warmer. After a laid back day of exploring and dinner along the river, we were ready for our visit at the University of Queensland the next day.

To get to the University of Queensland (UQ), St. Lucia campus, we headed off on a ferry down the river. I personally lamented about my regular commute to campus; ferry rides definitely surpass walking in every possible way.

At UQ, we focused on touring the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN), our host gave us a brief overview of studying at UQ and the purpose of AIBN. One of six research institutes at UQ, AIBN has a heavy focus on publications and industrialization. With research focused on tangible benefits to the general public.

The majority of our day was focused on lab tours. The chemistry lab focused on material development with current projects in catalysts for plastic generations, lithography, microbial surfaces, and tensile and thermal measurements of surfaces. We then went on a tour of the UQ’s ANFF node, lead by Dr. Jane Fitzpatrick. This node of ANFF, unlike the node in UNSW, specializes in bio nano fields, working with lithography, microfluidics, solar cell work, and nano-needle development.

The third lab visit was to the molecular biology lab, lead by professor Stephen Mahler. Dr. Mahler is studying a fascinating cure to cancer treatments, specifically using antibodies to activate T-cells to recognize cancer cells and combat them. With successes in curing Melanoma, he hopes to study ways to combat various other cancerous cells. In the molecular biology lab, they specialize in growing cells with particular abilities and testing the cells to find the most favorable cell lines. Postdoc. Jun Zhang took us to the cell and tissue engineering part of the lab, which cultures tissue cells and cell masses, some of which may be cancerous, to perform experiments on.

For our last tour, we went on a tour of the theoretical computational lab. In the computational lab, they run simulations on various biological and chemical interactions, many of which are either too dangerous or difficult to perform on a large scale. With focuses in quantum chemical calculations and molecular dynamic simulations, they are also examining using different materials for more efficient rechargeable batteries. Their server has 600 cores and 3 terabytes of storage space.