2018 UTS winners
The judges had the difficult task of choosing the winners for 2018. The 2018 prizes were awarded to:
- Federico Volpin (Faculty of Engineering and Information Technology)
First prize: $3000 and will represent UTS at 2017 Asia-Pacific 3MT competition
- Shannon Foster (Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences)
- Gautam Pingali (Faculty of Design, Architecture and Building)
People's Choice: $1000
2018 UTS finalists
In 2018, eight finalists presented to the panel of judges.
Federico Volpin (Faculty of Engineering and Information Technology)
Pee cycling: Transforming our urine into valuable fertiliser
Pee cycling: Transforming our urine into valuable fertiliser
Federico Volpin, UTS Three Minute Thesis 2018
Our urine is like liquid gold. And I’m going to prove it to you.
That is because urine is incredibly rich in nitrogen and phosphorus which are essential elements to make our proteins, cell tissues and most importantly, our DNA. There’s not a single living organism who can survive without phosphorus.
However, our phosphorus reserves are expected to start depleting in less than 30 years from now. Since we cannot make artificial phosphorus it is imperative that we start recycling and reusing the phosphorus in our waste in order to feed a population which is growing exponentially.
Urine in particular, because of its high nutrient concentration is the single largest source of phosphorus and nitrogen from urban areas. We have estimated that every year just at UTS we are flushing down the toilets over 30000 kilograms of phosphorus and nitrogen with our urine.
That means that if we would have recovered all those nutrients since the foundation of UTS, 30 years ago, by now we would have saved over $18 million.
So why are we not using urine directly as a fertiliser already? Well, apart from the obvious answer, it stinks, the presence of pharmaceuticals in urine makes its direct application not an option as we don’t really want them to end up in our food.
And that is why in my research I’m developing a new process to produce a urine based fertiliser which is safe, odourless and effective. In this process, I’m using a membrane very similar to the one which protects the cell in our body to filter out the nutrients from the contaminants. The nutrients are then crystallised into fertiliser which is exactly identical to the commercially available one.
By tuning the chemistry of the membrane we can now achieve over 99% rejection of the pharmaceuticals while recovering the majority of the phosphorus and nitrogen.
We are now applying this technology at the UTS Engineering building which is a 15-story high-rise office building And to prove the feasibility of this technology we are using all the urine collected from the male urinals at the FEIT building.
The ultimate goal is to produce and commercialise a fertiliser which is safe and effective.
So please, next time you have to answer the call of nature, do it at UTS.
[laughter and applause]
Shannon Foster (Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences)
The Narinya of the D’harawal People of War’ran
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that this video may contain images of people who have died.
The Narinya of the D’harawal People of War’ran
Shannon Foster UTS 3MT 2018
My research is documenting my family stories.
My family are the D’harawal people of the Sydney region here and we’ve been here for as long as we know. My family was on the front line of colonisation and a lot of our stories have been silenced through colonization over the last 230 years.
My research is decolonizing those knowledges. I’m using indigenous research methodologies and D’harawal storytelling methodology to decolonize those knowledges and to let everybody know who we are and where we’ve been for so long.
Tonight I’d like to tell you a story that arises actually from my initial findings and the story is about my father who is that little boy that you can see in the very front of that photo behind me. My father was born in the 1940s which is known now as the assimilation period of colonization here in Sydney. He was born into La Perouse community, a mission to south of where we are right now, and he was raised around aunties and uncles and cousins and language and culture and stories and knowledge.
For my father his father was an Aboriginal man, strong man in culture and song, but his mother was white. That meant that in the eyes of the government my father was a half-caste. He was a mixed blood and the only outcome for him was to assimilate into white society. So it was very unsafe for my father to be in the La Perouse community, so the family kept moving around and they found themselves in Herne Bay, a mission on Salt Pan Creek which is now known as Riverwood. And that’s where this photo’s been taken, sitting on the front steps with his brother and sister, half-caste children waiting for a housing commission house.
You see the government wanted to entice Aboriginal families into housing commission houses to keep the eye on them and to watch what the mixed Bloods were doing to make sure that the mixed Bloods and the half-castes were marrying other white people and creating children that would look like me.
My father’s family having a white mother and an Aboriginal father were dumped in the middle of a white suburb under a policy called the “salt and pepper technique” of assimilation. If both of your parents were Aboriginal, you were sent out to Blacktown, what we knew then as ”The black’s Town”, thus the name.
So my father grew up amongst all white people, in intense races and abuse violence. He only lasted to year seven at high school. His whole entire life was built out because of what happened to him through these process of assimilation and I now have to explain to him through my research that I’ve found out that his whole entire life has been orchestrated by those policies of assimilation that he unknowingly fed right into their hands and married a white woman so that they have children that looked just like me.
What the government didn’t count on was that you can breed up the color in our skin but you cannot breed out the culture in our hearts and minds—that there’s no way our stories will die while I stand here today.
Gautam Pingali (Faculty of Design, Architecture and Building)
Development for whom?
Development for whom?
Gautam Pingali UTS 3MT 2018
Imagine tomorrow I walk into your house, and I say your house is not yours anymore.
Now imagine if I am the government and you are poor and uneducated, you don’t know your rights. Worse still even if you did you do not have any money to go to the court. So you take whatever little compensation you can get and you try to survive.
Every year, governments are on the world of promoting industrial development and India is no different. It wants to be recognized as a world economic power but it needs to do so but balancing its social needs.
This is especially tricky in the state of Jharkhand because Jharkhand is India’s richest mineral state and it is also heavily populated by indigenous communities who are protected by law from displacement. However, recently the government of Jharkhand amended the law to say all land that is not privately owned belongs to the government and as the indigenous communities have traditionally never held private land they got displaced.
My research seeks to understand how the indigenous protection laws get amended for development. Government officials are saying that the indigenous protection laws are outdated and that they need to be adapted to the present time. They say that the indigenous need to accept development.
However, they’re not consulted in the policy-making process. Interviews with the indigenous communities though reveal that they are not against development and they want to be involved in the decision-making process of the policies, because historically they benefited very little from them.
By giving voice to the indigenous communities this thesis hopes more inclusive policies of development get designed. So tomorrow when the government comes to your house you get to be a stakeholder instead of an obstructive.
And I’d just like to conclude by saying that this is not just a thesis, this is about lives of real people.
Yingyod Lapwong (Faculty of Science)
Knowing your alien
Yingyod Lapwong, UTS 3MT 2018
Okay, let me ask you a question first.
What should we do if there were aliens coming to attack our planet? Should we prepare for the fight or should we send someone to negotiate for the peace. Actually it’s not that simple as you might have seen in the movies.
Aliens are going to show up and attack Us without a warning. And it seems like we were going to lose at the beginning, because we didn’t know them and we didn’t know what to do. So I believe to fight back we might need to learn as much as possible about them, and that is what I’m doing.
So fortunately the Gecko are the aliens that I’m dealing with is that something from outer space. Let me introduce you to the aliens, house Gecko. Now it’s the Asians house Gecko. And now you might smile and think that oh it is just a little cute and harmless creature. But don’t let this creature fools you. This gecko have proof that it can cause a lot of problems.
So they’re competing with local Gecko, transferring disease and parasites or being a pet in household. It is now one of the most widespread reptiles species in the world and it is still spreading. So in my thesis I want to learn about the factors that help this Gecko to disperse, especially in terms of behaviour.
First of all back in Southeast Asia these Geckos live together with several other species, but it is the only one that successfully become an invasive species around the world. So I went back to Thailand, I captured some of them, put them in specially designed arena in order to study and compare their behaviours. I found that in comparing with other geckos this gecko is very curious as well as very good at hiding at the same time.
So next time when you go a vocation in Thailand, just make sure you check your back carefully, before you fly back here. Otherwise you might bring some of them back with you unintentionally.
And for this I’m serious. Actually in Australia this gecko have arrived for nearly a century, but it was previously restricted to the northern part of the country. It is now spreading south so I want to understand how this gecko adapt to the cold climate of New South Wales—behaviour or physiology.
So the next thing I’m going to do is I’m going to study the thermal preference, the thermal tolerance, and the thermal regulation behaviour of the southern population in comparing with the northern population. I believe that my finding will help the government to prevent this gecko from spreading further, not only in Australia but all also the other place in the world.
Eamon McGinn (UTS Business School)
Do politicians listen to their voters?
Eamon McGinn, UTS 3MT 2018
Do you ever feel like a politician just don’t listen to us?
I know whenever I’m in that voting queue I’m always thinking This doesn’t really matter. The same person’s going to be elected and they probably won’t listen to what I want. I’m mostly thinking about the sausage sizzle I’m gonna get afterwards.
But is this actually right? In my research, I decided to look into whether politicians listen to us or whether they just follow their own ideology. This is a very important question for us as a society because in our democracy we need our politicians to listen to us so that they can put in place the policies that we want to live under. If they don’t listen to us who knows where we’re going to end up.
But it’s also an important question for economists, because in our theories we think that politicians should get really close to what their electorates want, but we need data to actually check this theory.
So to do this I was actually able to make use of data from the same sex marriage national survey that was out last year that many of you probably took part in. That survey was a really unique opportunity to look at this question, because it involved everyone in Australia voting on one topic and providing feedback to their politicians who very quickly debated on it and voted on it in Parliament.
But how to see whether they took adverts into account? I can’t look at how they voted because they only voted once. And most of them actually voted yes. But by making use of new techniques from machine learning I can actually look at how the politicians talk. So to do this I gathered around 60,000 speeches that have been given in Parliament since 2014. I used some algorithms to narrow those down to around 4,000 that look at same-sex marriage. Then I use machine learning approaches to see how opposed or supportive those speeches are of same-sex marriage. I was then able to look at how that support or opposition changed after the release of the same sex marriage national survey.
On the whole it looks like for most of us our politicians actually did listen to our votes they tried to get a bit closer to the position of their electorate. This was particularly the case when the politicians ideology matched up with the ideology of the electorate. There were only a small number of us where the politicians were strong in their opposition to same-sex marriage where it appears that they didn’t listen to their voters.
So all up it looks like our votes were heard and our politicians did adjust their behaviour. This is democracy in action.
So what does this mean for you, day to day? I think my research shows that regardless of ideology or party, you should be getting in contact with your local representatives to let them know what you think on the important policy issues. The research shows that they might just listen. More broadly for our democracy, it says that we could think about building in some of those direct feedback approaches, like the same-sex survey, into and normal structures. And if we do this my research shows that we might just get a better democracy and a better society out of it.
Thank you very much.
Melissa Brunner (Graduate School of Health)
#TwitterMind: Using social media after a traumatic brain injury
Melissa Brunner, UTS 3MT 2018
Dave was having a great time snowboarding with his mates. They were absolutely shredding it.
Sarah was driving home from work and really looking forward to date night with her partner.
But in an instant, both of their lives completely changed. They were in accidents and hit in the head and they both now had a traumatic brain injury which affects thousands of young Aussies every year. Everything that was easy for them was now hard and tiring.
Imagine having to learn how to walk and talk again. You can’t go back to uni or work. You cry or get angry at the drop of a hat. And your mates totally don’t want to hang out anymore. One by one you lose all of your friends and even your partner.
As a speech pathologist I help people like Dave and Sarah to rebuild their social communication skills, so they can be included making new relationships and enjoy connecting with people again.
If I asked everyone here today who uses social media? Most of us would say yes. Over 60 percent of Aussies use social media every single day.
So does social media help people who are in rehab after a brain injury? Well we didn’t know.
So in my research I interviewed people who had a brain injury and ran focus groups with rehab teams to find out. I also looked at how people who have a brain injury use Twitter, and who they connected with by analyzing their tweets and their social networks.
Why Twitter? Well it’s popular. But also tweets are really short and that just might help people like Dave and Sarah to communicate and connect again. People with a brain injury all told me they use social media to connect with other people to make new friends and find information they tweeted messages of support and we’re creating a really positive online community, sharing their lives with the world.
But they learnt to use social media through trial and error. Some overcome challenges on their own but most got confused or overwhelmed.
And rehab teams either restricted their social media use to protect them or helped after problems that had already happened.
In using social media after a brain injury there isn’t any guidance, training or support. It can be hard work. So we need to find the best ways to support them in using it and finding out how to do this by listening to the voices of people who have a brain injury and building their experiences into rehab programs. Mainly such as helping guide health professionals to support people just like Dave and Sarah to use social media to connect again with their loved ones with new mates and the world, so that they’re not alone.
Bernadine Romero (Faculty of Health)
The impact of evidence based sepsis guidelines on emergency nursing practice and emergency management
Bernadine Romero, UTS 3MT 2018
What if I told you there’s a disease that kills more patients than bowel and breast cancer combined, or that someone with this disease is five times more likely to die than someone suffering from a heart attack or stroke?
This disease could strike anyone at any time and at any age – sepsis. Sepsis is one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality across the globe accounting for more than 6 million deaths annually worldwide. It occurs when the body has an overwhelming response to an infection and if left unrecognized and untreated results in organ dysfunction and ultimately death.
In 2011 the New South Wales government introduced a sepsis pathway across all emergency departments to improve the early recognition, resuscitation and referral of patients with sepsis. One of the key aspects of this guideline is the administration of antibiotics within 60 minutes of recognition. However we do not know how guidelines has changed practice amongst emergency clinicians.
My research aims to determine the impact of sepsis guidelines on the assessment and management of septic patients and to provide further insight into how healthcare practitioners use these guidelines in an emergency setting.
But the first part of my study I conducted the medical record audit of adult patients through the sepsis diagnosis before and after the implementation of guidelines. I discovered that patients presenting with sepsis on average were seen 19 minutes faster. There was also an improvement in time to antibiotic treatment and this was demonstrated by a 230 minute reduction in the average time to antibiotics from 308 minutes to 78 minutes.
The second part of my study is really looking at sustainability and the impact of guidelines on clinician behaviour, specifically what are clinicians doing? have they been able to sustain change in practice? To answer this question I’m going to conduct a second medical record audit four years after the implementation of guidelines. Focus groups and interviews with EDU nursing, medical staff and key stakeholders will provide further insight into the implementation of guidelines and how they’ve managed to change practice and clinician behaviour.
This research will contribute to our understanding of how evidence-based practice guidelines are implemented and determine if they’re sustainable in a real-world clinical setting. It’ll also determine how guidelines have managed to change practice and clinician behaviour.
This research—sorry, excuse me—this information will ensure that patients presenting with sepsis receive evidence-based care that may save lives.
Erika Whillas (Institute for Sustainable Futures)
Increasing community engagement in urban green space planning
Erika Whillas, UTS 3MT 2018
Cities must start adapting to climate change.
The past eighteen years have been among the hottest on record, and the way we’re going average global temperatures are going to rise six degrees Celsius by 2100.
Sydney is set to reach what is called climate departure by 2038, which means that every year after 2038 will be hotter than any year before 2005. In recent years Sydney has experienced record-breaking heat waves and these are only going to intensify.
So what can we do to cool our cities? One proven strategy is to increase urban green spaces. On a hot summer day urban park can be 4 degrees celcius cooler than surrounding areas. So we need more urban parks, and to design them well we need the community to participate in the decision-making processes.
But for urban planners community engagement can be time-consuming and expensive. They usually end up in mountains of post-it notes that need to be transcribed and categorized and analyzed and this is before they make it to a decision maker. So if you want more well-designed parks we need to make community engagement processes easier.
Now this wouldn’t just help our cities become more resilient to climate change, it would also help strengthen our democracy. Now why is this important? Well, because people are losing faith and trust in government. In our last national election we have the lowest voter turnout recorded since compulsory voting began in 1925. And when we don’t vote and we don’t participate, we’re not represented.
So this is the crux of my thesis: we need more urban parks to cool our cities and we can use the planning of these spaces to engage the community in democratic decision-making processes. And to do this we need to make community engagement easier for urban planners.
And that’s what I’m working on. I’ve teamed up with a New York restoration project a not-for-profit that operates 56 green spaces in New York City, and together we’ve codesigned a map-based survey and workshop tool that makes their community engagement processes easier to run, easier to report, and easier to replicate.
One of our projects is a redevelopment of an industrial site in South Bronx. And this is particularly exciting because the community that we’re engaging with is by and large from lower socioeconomic brackets and these are the people who are typically overlooked in decision-making processes.
So making our cities more resilient to climate change and improving our democracy can seem like mammoth tasks. But we can make really great progress by increasing and improving our urban parks.