12th International Conference on Biomedical Engineering (ICBME)
7-10 December 2005, Singapore
Centre for Bioengineering
Department of Mechanical Engineering
University of Canterbury
The 12th International Conference on Biomedical Engineering was held in Singapore 7-10 December 2005 with over 500 papers presented in this very broad research field.
I am finishing the second year of my PhD research in the Centre for Bioengineering. My research is on modelling and controlling the glucose and insulin metabolism in the human body.
Hyperglycaemia, or high blood glucose, is a problem in diabetes mellitus patients, as well as in intensive care patients, due to the stress of their condition. The mortality of intensive care patients can be drastically reduced by keeping blood glucose within a normal range. Blood glucose can be lowered by administering insulin, whereas the optimal dosing of insulin is a very difficult task.
Our work applies engineering techniques to develop medical applications that will improve the care of intensive care and diabetes patients, by optimising the insulin dosing to better control blood glucose levels.
My research involves physiological modelling of insulin and glucose kinetics to better understand how they distribute and interact in the body, as well as the development of clinical applications employing these models to directly improve clinical outcome. The glycaemic control applications are regularly trialled in the Christchurch hospital intensive care unit. A pilot study to test a new model-based diagnostic tool to assess insulin resistance is also being carried out. This test will allow an early and accurate assessment of this major risk factor in the development of type-2 diabetes, enabling an early and more effective intervention.
At the conference I gave two talks presenting some major results of my research so far:
- A fully identifiable physiological model of insulin kinetics for clinical applications.
- A highly correlated method to assess insulin resistance in broad populations.
The feedback I got was very good and I had some interesting conversations with other researchers in the field. Otherwise, the conference was interesting as it represented a very broad field of research and I could get a brief overview of the major areas of research being undertaken in this area.
The conference provided me with a very valuable experience in presenting and discussing my research to an international audience. I would like to thank the Canterbury Branch of the Royal Society of New Zealand for the financial assistance that enabled me to attend this conference.
TENCON'05 IEEE International Region 10 Conference
21-24 November 2005, Melbourne, Australia
Milind Arun Thakur ME student
Electrical and Computer Engineering
University of Canterbury, Christchurch
NZ Poster Presentation: Link layer error mitigation in Rural UHF-MIMO linking systems
TENCON'05 was an international technical conference sponsored by IEEE Region 10 which was held in Melbourne Australia from 21-24 November 2005 with goal of providing international forum for specialist presentations, discussions and interactions. Papers from broad research fields like computing, communications, signal processing, technology and society and energy and infrastructure were presented at the conference.
The poster presentation discussed the system design and protocol development issues involved in the work along with the analysis of some of the critical results to quantify the ability of the design to achieve good performance. The poster generated a lot of interest because of the fact that the design was simple yet efficient and was practically implementable over a commercial product. Delegates, particularly representing telecommunication based companies, showed a keen interest in a possible design and development of associated commercial product.
This conference, which was my first, gave me a platform to showcase my research and at the same time gave me ideas to refine my work through discussions with established researchers. Some of the other presentations at the conference associated with my area provided me with some good technical information and the ongoing development in this field.
Attending this conference was a worthwhile experience. I would like to thank Canterbury Branch of Royal Society of New Zealand for financially assisting me in presenting my work and attending the conference. I would also like to thank Tait Electronics Ltd. for allowing me to carry out my research work. Finally, I must thank my supervisor Prof. Harsha Sirisena and co-supervisor Dr. Ian McLoughlin for helping me for the paper and throughout the course of study.
Australasian Society for Ecotoxicology Conference 2005 (ASE Conference 2005)
The University of Melbourne, Australia
25-28th September 2005
Lily Chin, PhD student, Plant Biotechnology
Poster presentation: “Phytoremediation”
There are all sorts “stressors on the environment” (referring to toxins) said one of the keynote speakers. To everyone’s chuckles, he puts a huge full-scale photo of George W Bush, with his index finger pointing right at the audience. And that was projected on two large screens, side by side.
The ASE Conference 2005 was an excellent conference dealing with toxins in the environment: how to identify, monitor, remove/detoxify and understand their impact on the environment and endocrine system. Regulations and guidelines that are associated with this field were also presented. The toxins ranged from excess salts, heavy metals and pesticides to estrogens from the standard milking cow.
My PhD is involved in the solution side of ecotoxiciology: how can we remove the toxins from the environment. The key focus of my research is lead (Pb) removal from the environment using plants (phytoremediation). Of particularly interest is enhancing phytoremediation by identifying what plant compounds help plants tolerate and accumulate Pb. Our poster presentation discussed how in-vitro and in-vivo results helped us identified tannins as one of the compounds. The poster generated a lot of interest, from those involved in removal of pollutants from waterways to those in the mining and phytoremediation fields.
The conference was not only a chance to showcase a small section of my PhD work, but also an excellent chance to mingle with real Aussies, chat with people sharing the same interests, learn about aspects of ecotoxicology different from my own project (e.g. biomonitoring), and drink the supplied bottle of “100% non toxic” water.
Melbourne was a truly buzzing multicultural city, with trams (which you board and exit in the middle of the road) and a fascinating mix of extremely new and historic buildings.
Attending this conference was very worthwhile experience, made possible with the support of travel grants from organizations including the RSNZ, Canterbury Branch. I sincerely appreciate your support. Thank you!
15th IFOAM Organic World Congress Shaping Sustainable Systems Conference
20-23 September 2005
Harpinder Singh Sandhu, Bio-Protection and Ecology Division, Lincoln University
The international organic community converged on Adelaide, Australia for the 15th IFOAM Organic World Congress "Shaping Sustainable Systems," with more than 1000 delegates from 72 countries from September 20-23, resulting in a Congress Declaration calling on governments to practically support organic agriculture by increasing investment and to internalize social and environmental costs in the prices of agricultural products and remunerate organic farmers for ecosystem services they provide.
My PhD work at Lincoln concerns the evaluation of nature's services or ecosystem services (ES) in agriculture. ES include services such as pollination of crops, biological control of pests, weeds and diseases, carbon sequestration, soil formation and protection, nutrient mineralisation, water regulation, air purification etc. ES are vital for human existence on earth; for example, a decline in the pollinators of crops would have serious economic implications; or a disruption of the carbon cycle could bring rapid climate change and thereby threaten the very existence of civilization, as we know it.
The importance of ES or nature's services is now very well established and ES have been demonstrated to be of very high economic value. However, recent reports, such as those of the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment in New Zealand ("Growing for Good") and the Millennium Assessment (MA) all point towards damage being done to these services worldwide. Intensification of agriculture in the last century has resulted in the substitution of many ES with chemical inputs. An example is the use of urea in place of nitrogen fixation and insecticides in place of pest-eating predators. This has resulted in some serious detrimental effects which have led to worldwide concerns about the environmental consequences of modern agriculture. Moreover as the world approaches 'peak oil', so called conventional agriculture may no longer be able to depend as heavily or as easily on oil-derived 'substitution' inputs. Population growth and increasing food demands in the next 50 years also pose great challenges to the sustainability of modern farming practices.
My oral paper presentation was a part of my PhD study that recognises these challenges and estimates the provisions of nature's services on arable farmlands in Canterbury. It also provided the economic value of key ES and thereby assesses their worth on farmland. Once the levels of ES are known, new eco-technologies based on novel and sound ecological knowledge can be targeted to enhance ES to improve farm incomes and replace unsustainable inputs. This ensures long- term sustainability of farms.
This conference provided me with a platform to share my research and also gave me an opportunity to see and discuss first hand, the research being done on other related aspects of organic agriculture. It also provided me an opportunity for detailed discussions with established researchers, and I am very thankful to the Canterbury Branch of the Royal Society of New Zealand for the financial assistance they provided, and which enabled and assisted my attendance at the conference.
31st International conference on Micro- and Nano-Engineering (MNE05) Vienna, 19 - 22 September 2005
Leo Pius Schuler, PHD student MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology, University of Canterbury, Christchurch
The 31st international conference on Micro- and Nano-Engineering was held in Vienna, Austria, from September 19 - 22, 2005. Over 600 delegates attended from around the world, 183 posters and 135 oral papers were presented in four parallel sessions. I was especially interested to learn about latest results in the area of Micro & Nano systems, the Nanoscale Engineering & Fabrication as well as emerging trends in Biotechnology.
During my talk, I reported the latest of my research, which is in the area of Micro & Nano - Systems and their fabrication. I specialise in the growing and characterising of Zinc Oxide (ZnO), using sputtering technique. ZnO is a versatile material which has attractive dielectric, piezoelectric, semiconducting, acusto-optic, nonlinear optical, and electrical properties. ZnO nanomaterials are promising candidates for nanoelectronics and photonics as ZnO has piezoelectric, ferroelectric, and ferromagnetic properties. ZnO-based semiconductor and nanowire devices are also promising for the integration on a single chip.
The deposition of polycrystalline and insulating ZnO films using DC and RF sputtering and the use as UV sensing device was illustrated using figures, graphs and movies. The crystal quality was compared using X-ray diffraction (XRD), Photoluminescence (PL), atomic force microscopy (AFM), scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and piezoelectric measurements. The grain size, roughness, piezoelectric properties, PL response, and the effect of dry etching (RIE) on the film properties have been evaluated. It proved that in our lab deposited ZnO using reactive DC sputtering yields high piezoelectric values of up to 10.5 pC/N and subsequent annealing in nitrogen atmosphere results in very good PL response. A working prototype was fabricated using this optimised ZnO and the results of UV sensing trials were presented.
My oral presentation received considerable attention and I was able to discuss my research with fellow researchers in this expanding area. I would like to thank everybody who has helped me to attend this important conference, particularly my supervisor, Dr Maan Alkaisi and the RSNZ Canterbury Branch for their generous financial support.
IASTED 5th International Conference on Visualization, Imaging and Image Processing
Benidorm, Spain, 7th - 9th September 2005
Julian Maclaren, PhD candidate, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Canterbury
Oral presentation of a paper: Correction of Translational Motion Artifacts in Magnetic Resonance Imaging
My research is in the field of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). This is becoming an increasingly valuable tool for both clinical and research use. MRI provides excellent contrast for imaging soft tissues and, unlike X-ray CT, does not use harmful ionising radiation.
One problem with MRI is the considerable length of time it takes to obtain an image. This means that the subject must stay very still during scanning - not easy for infants, stroke patients or those suffering from Parkinson’s disease. Together with my supervisors (Assoc. Prof. Phil Bones, Dr Richard Watts and Prof. Rick Millane), I am working on a solution to this problem. Our approach uses information contained in the MR signal so would not require any additional hardware and thus would be suitable for use on all existing scanners. Termed TRELLIS MRI (Translation & Rotation Estimation using Linear Least-squares & Interleaved Strips), the algorithm acquires data in a trellis-like pattern (i.e. a square lattice) to gain information about the motion of the object during the acquisition.
At the IASTED conference, I presented some preliminary simulation results. These show that TRELLIS has some promise and merits further development and clinical testing. The scope of the conference was image processing in general, rather than medical imaging or MRI. However this was still very relevant to my research as the same principles can often be applied to a range of imaging problems in different areas.
Motion affected Shepp-Logan head phantom (left) and corrected version using TRELLIS (right)
Attending the conference was a fantastic experience for me. As it was my first international conference, I had little idea of what to expect. However I received some very positive feedback on my presentation which was a real confidence boost. Next year, I hope to attend the annual meeting of the International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine. This conference is probably the premier international meeting for MRI and is often where cutting-edge developments in the field make their first appearance. My experience this year, as well as being valuable in its own right, will stand me in good stead for future events such as this.
I would like to thank the RSNZ, Canterbury Branch, and the NZ Government (NZPSAA award, administered by Education NZ) for their support towards attending this conference.
Julian back home: tramping in the Seaward Kaikouras with senior supervisor, Assoc. Prof. Phil Bones.
9th Asian Pacific Regional IAU Meeting 2005 (APRIM)
Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia
25-29 August 2005
Siramas Komonjinda, Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Canterbury
The Asian Pacific Regional IAU Meeting (APRIM) is a series of astronomy conference by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) that is held every 3 years for astronomers from any country in the Asia-Pacific region, including New Zealand. This year the conference was hosted by the Institut Teknologi Bandung (ITB), Indonesia and it took place in Bali from 26 to 29 July, 2005.
Currently, I am a PhD candidate in Astronomy in the department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Canterbury. My research is focused on spectroscopic binary star systems. I am studying the orbit of these binary systems. At the Mt John University Observatory, Lake Tekapo, we have a high efficiency and resolution spectrograph, which can give us a very precise radial velocity of stars. Analysing the changes in radial velocity, one can find the shape of a binary system orbit, including those orbits with a very small eccentricity (e < 0.1, for circular orbit e = 0). There is a theory on the circularization (the orbit is becoming circular) and synchronization (the orbital period is equal to the stellar rotation period). Testing this theory from previous observations, which have more than two orders of magnitude larger error bar than the results from our spectrograph, is difficult. The aim of my research is to use our high efficiency and resolution spectrograph to observe the binary systems and analyse the orbital shape, study the distribution of eccentricity of these systems and test the theory of circularization and synchronization.
The preliminary results of my research were presented at the 9th APRIM conference. This included the orbital analysis of the binary system, HD 30021. The results from this star show a very small eccentricity orbit of e = 0.00215 ± 0.00033 with a standard error of 17 m s1, compared with the previous work by Lucke and Mayor (1982) of 530 m s-1. This shows that our instrument can give a higher confidence level of orbital parameters of binary systems and can help us improve the theory of circularization and synchronization.
In the same trip, I participated in the Vatican Observatory Summer School 2005 (VOSS 2005) at Castel Gandolfo, Rome, Italy. The Vatican Observatory organizes this 4-week-long school every two years for 25 selected graduate students from around the world. This year, the school ran under the topic of Astrobiology.
Attending the APRIM conference and the VOSS 2005 was a great opportunity for me. I got much new information and ideas for my PhD study and had a very good experience in participating in these international events. I met many professional astronomers and new faces in astronomy from around the world.
I would like to thank the Royal Society of New Zealand, Canterbury Branch for the financial assistance for this trip. I also would like to thank the IAU, to the Wood Fund at the University of Canterbury, to the Vatican Observatory Foundation and to the Royal Thai Government for all their support.
17th Conference on Climate Variability and Change, 13th Conference on Middle Atmosphere and 15th Conference on Atmospheric and Oceanic Fluid Dynamics at the American Meteorological Society (AMS)
13-17 June, 2005
Petra Huck, Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Canterbury
The 17th Conference on Climate Variability and Change was held together with the 13th Conference on Middle Atmosphere and the 15th Conference on Atmospheric and Oceanic Fluid Dynamics at the American Meteorological Society (AMS) Meeting in Cambridge, USA from 13-17 June 2005. The conference was very interesting and I returned with new ideas and new motivation for my project.
Currently, I am enrolled in my second year as a PhD student in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Canterbury. My field of research is atmospheric physics, and in particular I am studying the dynamical effects on the Antarctic ozone hole. Since the discovery of the Antarctic ozone hole in 1985 the severity and the size of the ozone hole has increased steadily. However this increase has shown significant interannual differences. It has been suggested that these variations are strongly linked to atmospheric dynamics and in particular planetary-scale waves in the atmosphere.
At the conference I gave a presentation about the results achieved during my first year of the PhD, which are also published in Huck et al. 2005. In our study we confirmed that the long term trend of inter-annual ozone depletion can be explained by the halogen loading in the stratosphere. The interannual variations however are controlled by anomalies in mid-latitude planetary wave activity and South Pole temperature and therefore these measures can be used to model year-to-year variations in ozone depletion.
Applying the regression model output to chemistry climate model temperatures and wave activity we can predict that the recovery of the ozone hole might be slower than expected due to decreasing halogens in the stratosphere. This effect is likely to be due to climate change.
Besides new information and ideas, I enjoyed this conference in particular because I met very interesting and important people. Most people stayed at the same hotel as where the conference was held and therefore it was easy to start conversations in a quite relaxed environment.
I would like to thank the Canterbury Branch of the Royal Society of New Zealand for the financial assistance to attend this conference.
Huck, P.E., A.J. McDonald, G.E. Bodeker, and H. Struthers, Interannual variability in Antarctic ozone depletion controlled by planetary waves and polar temperature, Geophysical Research Letters, 32, L13819, doi: 10.1029/2005GL022943, 2005.
Molecular Biology and Evolution 2005 Conference
19-23 June, 2005
Auckland, New Zealand
School of Biological Sciences, University of Canterbury
I am a PhD student in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Canterbury. With the support of the Canterbury Branch of the Royal Society I attended the Molecular Biology and Evolution Conference in Auckland in June this year. This was the first time the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution has held its annual conference outside North America.
My PhD research involves using human DNA to trace prehistoric population movements in the Pacific. I am looking at the changes within a small piece of DNA that is present in a cell's mitochondria. The mitrochondrial DNA is separate from the chromosomal DNA which is inherited equally from both parents. Mitochondria are responsible for energy production in cells, and their DNA molecule encodes some of the proteins necessary for this function. Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), with its sequence of about 16, 500 nucleotides (A,G,C or T), is much smaller than the chromosomal DNA which consists of approximately 3 billion nucleotides. Because of this relatively small size it is possible to sequence the entire mitochondrial genome for an individual, and I am focusing on using entire mtDNA sequences from the Pacific in my project.
As mtDNA is passed from a mother to her children, without a paternal contribution, distinct lineages emerge both within and between populations over several generations as small changes accumulate due to random mutation. Analysis of the present-day distribution of these mtDNA lineages can be used to infer prehistoric relationships between populations and patterns of migrations. This approach has been popularised by Bryan Sykes in his book 'The Seven Daughters of Eve', focusing on the European mtDNA lineages. In the Pacific a mixture of lineages is present in differing proportions, believed to represent the early human settlers of Australia and New Guinea who entered the Pacific at least 40,000 years ago, and later migrants into the Pacific, probably originating from Taiwan about 5000 years ago.
The Molecular Biology and Evolution Conference was very relevant to my research as one of the sessions - 'Evolution in the Pacific'- concentrated on molecular work being carried out on Pacific organisms. Many of these talks described research examining aspects of human prehistory in the Pacific. Speakers presented findings on molecular analyses of plants (the ti plant and the bottle gourd) which are being used to trace Polynesian settlement history and explore the issue of South American contact; and on the implications for prehistory of the epidemiology of hepatitis B infections in the West Pacific.
My presentation was entitled 'mtDNA genomes and the peopling of the Pacific' and was a part of this session. It was great to be able to present my work to a diverse audience of molecular biologists, and very valuable to discuss aspects of the project with others, both directly after the talk in the question and answer time, and through discussions with many individuals throughout the entire conference. I appreciate the support provided by the Canterbury Branch of the RSNZ to attend this conference. It was a great opportunity to gain experience in presenting my research to an international audience and inspiring to hear of other work being carried out in the field of molecular evolution.
57th International Symposium on Crop Protection
10 May, 2005
Crop and Food
The 57th International Symposium on Crop Protection (ISCP) was held in Ghent, Belgium in May 10, 2005. Over 200 posters and 80 oral papers were presented and delegates came from 47 countries. This symposium provided a forum for the interdisciplinary exchange of the latest developments, techniques and advances in crop protection field.
My presentation at ISCP was a part of the platform session ‘Integrated pest management’. The paper entitled ‘Evaluation of transgenic approaches for controlling tuber moth in potatoes’. It was the culmination of my PhD study at Lincoln University.
Potato tuber month (PTM) is a major insect pest of potato crops. The larvae mine into foliage and exposed tubers, making them difficult to control with insecticide applications or cultural methods. The presented paper was about our research programme on a wide spectrum of strategies to genetically engineer potato plants with resistance to PTM. Genes encoding protease inhibitors, biotin-binding proteins and Cry proteins, under the transcriptional control of the CaMV 35S promoter, have been independently transferred to potatoes. Of these approaches, cry genes have proved the most useful.
In transgenic potatoes it is desirable to couple high-level expression of transgenes in the foliage with no expression in the edible tubers. To accomplish this we have investigated the use of a light inducible Lhca3 promoter from potatoes. There is the possibility that insects may evolve resistance to the expression of cry genes. Plants that express two dissimilar Cry proteins (gene pyramiding or gene stacking) have the potential to delay the appearance of insect resistance more effectively than single-toxin transgenic plants. We presented the feasibility of two strategies for transgene pyramiding in potatoes. The delegates were impressed by the results from these investigations.
My oral presentation received considerable attention from among delegates because we have investigated and compared many transgenic approaches to control one insect pest.
I am very pleased to have attended the symposium. It allowed me to participate in the outstanding New Zealand contribution to the ISCP. It also allowed me to develop my skills and experience. I would like to thank the RSNZ Canterbury Branch, Crop and Food Research and Bio-Protection and Ecology Division of Lincoln University for their generous financial support that made it possible for me to attend this symposium. I would also like to thank my supervisor, Prof. Tony Conner, who helped me prepare for symposium.
14th International Emission Inventory Conference
Las Vegas, USA, 11-14 April, 2005
Maurice Marquardt, Soil and Physical Sciences , Lincoln University
New Zealand signed and ratified the Kyoto protocol in 2002. It is now obliged to lower its Greenhouse Gas emissions on average to the 1990 emission levels during the first commitment period (2008-2012). Currently New Zealand is 23% above its Kyoto target.
The aim of my Master Thesis was to investigate the greenhouse gas flux of the Marlborough Region and to analyse if Marlborough was carbon neutral, emitting as many emissions as sequestered through regional forests.
Funding from the Royal Society and Landcare Research Ltd. allowed me to present the findings of my research on the 14th International Emission Inventory with a poster titled: Is Marlborough carbon neutral? An investigation of the Greenhouse Gas Balance on the Marlborough Region, New Zealand.
This was the first time I had attended and presented my research at an international conference. It provided a very good opportunity to demonstrate New Zealand research to an interested international audience and to engage with various other researchers in this area.
The research is based on United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change requirements and the New Zealand National Greenhouse Gas Inventory, making the results more meaningful and comparable to other regions within and outside New Zealand.
I therefore identified and estimated all significant anthropogenic regional greenhouse gas emissions, providing the Regional Council with a detailed overview of the current regional emissions. This should enable the council to adapt future plans and policies to address major emission sources and to prepare for mitigation and adaptation measures.
Currently the Marlborough region is not yet carbon neutral, emitting 35% more emissions as sequestered by regional forest plantations. Emissions from transport and agricultural, mainly sheep farming, are the major emitters in the area.
The final emissions budget for Marlborough equals 310 Gg CO2 equivalent, which is relatively low compared with emission estimates based on national average figures. The reason for Marlborough's low GHG budget is its unusually large area of exotic forest plantations and the low population density. Emissions per capita, however, are above national average, resulting from the large agricultural sector in the region and the through flow traffic, being the gateway from and to the North Island.
I very much appreciate the support of the Royal Society and Landcare Research, and the opportunity to attend this conference. I would also like to thank my two supervisors Prof. Graeme Buchan and Prof. Rob Sherlock at the Lincoln University for guidance during my Masters research.