Student-led STEM research and technology on show

From rare-earth metals to microplastics - an unprecedented number of science students across all disciplines showcased their innovative research and technology at Ingenuity this week.

Ingenuity is the University of Adelaide’s annual interactive expo of projects across all science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) and architecture fields.

Faculty of Sciences Communication Award winners, from left, Mistrel Fetzer Boegheim (1st), Vinuri Silva and Sophie Dolling (2nd), equal third Chris Keneally and Julia Pilowsky.

Faculty of Sciences Communication Award winners, from left, 1st Mistrel Fetzer Boegheim, 2nd Vinuri Silva, Sophie Dolling (and Nina Wootton, absent), and equal 3rd Chris Keneally and Julia Pilowsky. Photo gallery

Winner of the Faculty of Sciences Communication Award was emerging earth scientist Mistrel Fetzer Boegheim from the School of Physical Sciences.

Mistrel's research project focused on the exploration of rare-earth metals, including elements that are commonly found in different parts of your smart phone.

The research forms part of the University's energy mining and resources strategic priority through the Australian Critical Minerals Research Centre; to ensure cost-effective, efficient and environmentally-sustainable discovery and extraction of critical minerals as we transition to a high-tech and clean energy world.

You can learn more about 'Rocks in Your Phone' in the Future Energy and Resources virtual showcase.

Marine biologists Nina Wootton, Sophie Dolling and Vinuri Silva from the School of Biological Sciences were voted by the judges as runners-up.

Their research aims to help us understand the impact of microplastics on ocean health. That's 8 million metric tonnes of plastic waste that enters the ocean annually - and then breaks down to smaller pieces.

Their emerging research is featured in the Our Built and Natural Environments portfolio.

Third place was shared by Julia Pilowsky and Chris Keneally, both from the School of Biological Sciences.

Julia's research is about building models to understand the spatial dynamics of North American megafauna since the Ice Age. The study will advance the fields of conservation biogeography and process-explicit ecological modelling.

Julia, a quantitative ecologist, has developed simulation modelling software that enables the modelling of species ranges over many millennia. She uses these simulation models to reconstruct how species become extinct, and to reconstruct the decline of threatened species, to make informed recommendations about where in the range these species might be successfully reintroduced.

Chris Keneally's research explores the Coorong ecosystem and how the genetics and ecology of microbial communities control nutrient cycling and other biogeochemical processes.

The project aims to understand the roles of the microbial community in response to salty conditions in the Coorong by asking three broad questions: Who's there? What are they doing? How does it relate to ecosystem processes?

The answers to these questions will help navigate a path to restoration of the Coorong's unique ecological character through better informed management.

Julia and Chris both featured in the Our Built and Natural Environments virtual room of the exhibition.

“The range of projects on display demonstrates how University of Adelaide students have applied their skills and experience gained during their courses to develop practical solutions to real-world problems," said Professor Katrina Falkner, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, Computer and Mathematical Sciences.

“Our students, as some of tomorrow’s leaders in their chosen fields, are already working on technology advances and solutions for our future society.”

Ingenuity 2021 was held at the Adelaide Convention Centre. It's a platform for students to professionally present their work to several thousand people each year: primary and high school students, industry representatives, University staff and students, and the general public.

They have the opportunity to engage with university students, share in their experiences, and learn more about studying STEM at the University of Adelaide.

If you missed the in-person extravaganza, you are still able to experience the content via our virtual reality platform.

Virtual expo

Tagged in Research, Engagement and Industry, School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences, School of Agriculture Food and Wine, School of Physical Sciences, School of Biological Sciences, Ecology, Environmental Science, Geology and Earth Sciences, Marine Biology