UNSW researchers recognised in Most Innovative Engineers awards

UNSW researchers recognised for their breakthroughs.

The pioneering developments of two UNSW-affiliated Engineers Professors Melissa Knothe Tate and Professor Ana Deletic have been recognised in Engineers Australia’s awards for Most Innovative Engineers for 2017.

More than 200 engineers were nominated, highlighting the outstanding work Australians have done in their field over the past two years at home or overseas. Thirty engineers made the final list across 10 categories.

Professor Melissa Knothe Tate received an award in the Research and Academia category, for developing imaging technology that aids in the treatment of osteoarthritis and osteoporosis. This breakthrough technology developed under the project, ‘Cell's-eye view of human hips’, enables researchers to navigate and zoom into bones, which can be analysed at cellular and subcellular levels, "just as you would with Google Maps", Professor Tate said. 

Professor Melissa Knothe Tate

Professor Knothe Tate’s research team uses these maps of cellular networks making up tissues and organs to understand how cellular health relates to health and/or degeneration of tissue and organs, for example with advancing age or in diseases such as osteoarthritis and osteoporosis.

The novel approach brings together cutting-edge imaging technology, multibeam scanning electron microscopoy (mSEM) with Zeiss Microscopy AG in Germany, and rendering of these massive data sets using geospatial approaches enabled through the Google Maps API. Using the mSEM, imaging means work that once took 25 years can be done in weeks.

Geospatial mapping enables the team to see how failing health in individual cells or clusters of cells affects the health of the network as a whole, bringing researchers closer to a set of laws that govern biological behaviour.

The winner in the Community category was Professor Ana Deletic, UNSW’s new Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research) who developed low-energy water treatment technologies in a project called ‘Green-blue walls’. The vertical walls, which are made of planter boxes and vines, conceal filters designed to treat storm and grey water, which is recycled to irrigate urban gardens. “We believe this technology can transform our cities to become green, cool and clean,” she said.

Professor Ana Deletic

Initially from Serbia, Professor Deletic undertook her PhD in Civil Engineering at the University of Aberdeen, before moving to Monash University in 2003 where, as Associate Dean Research for the Faculty of Engineering, she built an internationally recognised research team in urban water management. Professor Deletic will take up her new position at UNSW on July 17.

The Dean of Engineering, Professor Mark Hoffman, congratulated Professor Tate and Professor Deletic, saying research developments such as these demonstrated that engineers’ work helps improve the world we live in.

The list of Most Innovative Engineers was published in the July issue of Engineers Australia’s Create magazine. View the full list of winners here.


- Valeska Halpin

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