EQUS student to compete in FameLab National Final

Best of luck to ARC Centre of Excellence for Engineered Quantum Systems PhD student Ben McAllister as he competes in the British Council's Famelab competition.

After four state-based competitions, the judges have uncovered some truly inspiring new talent. Now it is time to narrow the field even further and to find our National winner. 

The Australian National winner will compete at the FameLab international finals at the Times Cheltenham Science Festival in the UK in June – this is the largest science communication competition in the world. 

You can join the FameLab audience at at the Octagon Theatre, University of Western Australia in Perth on the 10th of May as these bright young minds tell their stories to a panel of amazing judges including the ABC’s The Science Show host Robyn Williams, Former Chief Scientist of Western Australia, Lyn Beazley AO, and Director of the British Council in Australia, Helen Salmon. Astrophysicist, Associate Professor Alan Duffy, will MC the event once again. 

A livesteam will be available from 6.30pm AWST on May 10. 

Hear Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) researchers explain complex concepts while the clocks ticks - armed with only their wits and a few props! Jargon and PowerPoint are strictly banned. 

Helen Salmon, Director of the British Council in Australia, says, “Research tells us that the opportunities of the future will be for people that combine creative and STEM skills, while Education Ministers seek to break down silos between science and arts in schools. FameLab celebrates creativity in science - the imaginative act of wondering what might be, the testing of ideas, the narrative skill in sharing complex concepts, the innovation that will shape our future. We are proud to work with our partners to bring these inspiring semi-finalists to a national stage." 

Ben will present on "The organ experiment: Shining a light on dark matter". Read his full abstract below.  

Presentations will be judged according to FameLab’s 3Cs: content, clarity and charisma! 

The FameLab 2018 National Finalists are: 

  1. Taryn Laubenstein – James Cook University / ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies: Reef fish kryptonite: Tradeoffs limit adaptation to climate change 
  2. Zane Stromberga – Bond University: Role of histamine as a potential mediator of overactive bladder 
  3. Toby Hendy - Australian National University: Poking plants 
  4. Richard Charlesworth - University of New England: Coeliac disease diagnosis can be a pain in the posterior 
  5. Pegah Maasoumi – ARC Centre of Excellence in Exciton Science: Solar windows 
  6. Mortaza Rezae – Curtin University / Autism CRC: Enabling independent community mobility for individuals with autism spectrum 
  7. Muthu Vignesh Vellayappan – Monash University: Heart saving sandwiches 
  8. Vanessa Pirotta – Macquarie University / Hudson Institute of Medical Research: Using drones to collect whale snot 
  9. James Wong – University of Western Australia: Breathing while you hop: How do kangaroos do it? 
  10. Khandis Blake – University of New South Wales: What's the deal with sexy selfies? 
  11. Ben McAllister – ARC Centre of Excellence for Engineered Quantum Systems: The organ experiment: Shining a light on a dark matter 
  12. Anisa Rowhani-Farid – Queensland University of Technology: Towards a culture of open science and data sharing in health and medical research 
Ben McAllister, ARC Centre of Excellence for Engineered Quantum Systems / UWA

The organ experiment: Shining a light on dark matter

What is the nature of the dark matter that surrounds us? Is it composed of axions, a theoretical particle? How might we detect it, and what can it be used for? We have known for decades that the regular matter that we understand composes less than 1/6th of all matter in the universe, and that we are surrounded at all time by mysterious “dark” matter of unknown composition. Many believe it is composed of a particle known as the “axion”, although this particle is yet to be conclusively observed. I am building an experiment to detect dark matter axions. Detection however, is only the first step. Think of what humanity has accomplished using only the small proportion of matter we understand. The potential benefits and impacts to society of a new type of matter that is five times as abundant are staggering, and difficult to overstate. A deeper understanding of our universe invariably leads to progress in science, technology and wider society. We must always push at the boundaries of our knowledge. The nature of dark matter is one of the greatest unknowns facing the scientific world today, and as such it presents a significant opportunity for discovery and progress.

Major funding support

Australian Research Council

The Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Engineered Quantum Systems (EQUS) acknowledges the Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and their continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respects to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders past and present.