Future Science Platform
Achievements in 2019–20
Active Integrated Matter: ground-breaking advances at the interface of big data, advanced autonomous systems and materials science
Our flow electrochemical reactor, designed using computational fluid dynamic modelling and made using high surface area 3D printed materials, can accelerate a continuous chemical reaction by up to 30 times and dramatically improve productivity.
Our flexible robot skin protects the vital components of robotic devices from the extreme radiant heat of fires. This protective skin allows obotic devices to be deployed in reconnaissance and victim recovery, avoiding unnecessary risk to emergency services personnel.
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning: collaboratively discovering the next generation of scientific instruments that are enabled by data
We analysed animal and plant data and proposed new methods to select for higher yields and more resilient strains.
We developed privacy preserving machine learning algorithms on federated data, and computer vision algorithms for identifying anomalous events, such as by-catch on fishing vessels or illegal fishing.
We also integrated spatial, temporal, and genomic information about the environment for tracking and managing threats, such as germs or invasive species.
Deep Earth Imaging: imaging subsurface rock properties to unlock the potential of the greater depths in the Earth
Government agencies and industry adopted remotely sensed land deformation data to monitor groundwater resources.
We received a provisional patent for automated rock typing to speed up the identification of rock types and the acquisition of knowledge about their properties and the resources they host.
We developed a new algorithm to harness more of the seismic wavefield to derive more detailed images of the deep earth to guide exploration for mineral and energy resources.
Digiscape: building a common big data infrastructure to support Australian farmers and land managers
We licensed the GraincastTM crop yield forecasting system to Digital Agriculture Services, opening a path to it becoming an export technology. We also licensed the WaterWise digital irrigation scheduling system to Goanna Ag, who will take it to Australian farmers.
We launched two software tools at the environment and agriculture interface: LOOC-C, which allows farmers to quickly assess whether carbon farming will work on their property; and 1622-WQ, which determines if nitrogen from a sugar farm is heading towards the Great Barrier Reef.
Environomics: reinventing how we measure and monitor ecosystem health, predicting environmental change and finding new resources in nature
We discovered a simple way to estimate how long a species lives using DNA. The discovery revealed the lifespans of extinct species such as woolly mammoths and of long-lived and vulnerable species such as whales and turtles.
We collected ‘eDNA’ (the fragments of DNA that animals in the ocean shed) and used this data to quickly and accurately identify the presence of important species of fishes, plants and insects. We are developing a strategy for how Australia’s marine reserves can be monitored with eDNA.
By reading the DNA sequences and studying the pollen that bees collect on their bodies when they visit flowers, we measured plant biodiversity.
We also developed a fast and inexpensive way to read DNA sequences from the millions of preserved specimens in Australia’s National Collections. This will fast-track how we identify species and how we find new and useful biological resources.
Hydrogen Energy Systems: creating new science, capabilities and technologies across the emerging hydrogen value chain to support new Australian industries and large-scale emissions reduction
We developed a Hydrogen Industry mission, which will accelerate the translation of our multidisciplinary science and technology at an industry-scale. Our hydrogen energy technoeconomics work created new projects for our researchers and for local and international customers.
We took our world-class plant biology and industry-proofed nitrogen-fixing enzymes and laid the scientific foundation for a game-changing technology to produce hydrogen from sunlight, air, and water.
Precision Health: engaging with communities to create an integrated platform to manage a person’s health through tailored food, nutrition and lifestyle interventions
We launched the Innovations in Food for Precision Health initiative, which considers individual and population-level health challenges to give us a better understanding of current and future consumer dietary needs and the environmental, health and economic impacts of food consumption. The initiative will strengthen Australia’s science and innovation relationship as part of Australia’s Comprehensive Strategic Partnership with Singapore.
We partnered with Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University to work on the Healthy Ageing Project. Australian and Singaporean health, nutrition and data scientists will explore the cultural differences in people’s food and lifestyle behaviours as they age.
Probing Biosystems: obtaining real-time information from living organisms to provide customised health and medical interventions
NeuroLiB is currently under validation in a prospective clinical trial. This trial will guide clinical translational and generation of commercialisation pathways for this novel diagnostic blood test, which diagnoses traumatic brain injury.
We partnered with GenesisCare, the largest provider of cancer care services in Australia to develop novel theranostic agents for targeting difficult-to-treat cancers.
We secured four patents covering novel technologies across multiple MedTech domains, including implantable sensors, diagnostics, therapeutics and small molecule encapsulation.
Responsible Innovation: how we respond to the significant challenges presented by innovation in science and technology
By reviewing the risk governance of nanotechnology research and development in Australia over the last 15 years, we identified a range of well-developed practices in responsible innovation within our organisation along with opportunities to address social risks posted by new technologies more systematically.
Our research, in collaboration with our Investigative Analytics program identified a range of specific conditions that are likely to affect the confidence of end users who are tasked with making high-risk, high-consequence decisions that rely on predicted data.
Space Technology: identifying and developing the science to leapfrog traditional technologies and find new areas for Australian industry to work in
We developed a smart, power-efficient on-board hyperspectral data processing system for small satellites that can get more satellite data to the ground in a short period of time; it will be launched onboard CSIROSat-1 – our first CubeSat – in 2021. This data is used to monitor disasters, in precision agriculture and natural resource management, and in many other applications.
We also enhanced the international Open Data Cube satellite data management and analysis platform to include new types of data, including hyperspectral data, to increase the use and impact of these data types.
Synthetic Biology: artificial engineering of biological systems
Using directed evolution, we made coral more tolerant to temperature-induced bleaching. This assisted the coral to adapt and survive hotter conditions and has the potential to reduce the impact of reef bleaching from marine heat waves.
We also developed platform technology that enables an engineered bacterial strain to be used as the first step towards developing microbial factories to sustainably produce chemicals that currently come from non-renewable sources.