Explore more Australian science

Science drives innovation and economic, social and cultural change.

It’s at the heart of the innovations that transform the human condition: vaccines, smart phones, flight and clean energy.

It tells us how our world is changing, and what we can do about it, if we choose to.

It reveals where we, our world, our galaxy, and our Universe came from, and where we’re going.

Stories of Australian Science celebrates discoveries and the people behind them.

We have hundreds of stories from every State and Territory. And we have a host of special collections including:

We’ve featured more than 200 stories so far, all of which are available online.

Scroll down for more, or search by organisation, Australian state, or field of science using the menus on the left-hand side of this page.

And if you’d like to see your work in the collection take a look at our submission guidelines.

Stories of Australian Science 2015 is now available online

Read the individual stories here, or view them together as a PDF here.

You can use thCapturee search tool to locate stories by keyword. Alternatively, click here to see our online table of contents.

Our 2015 collection features more than 50 stories and celebrates the best of the past year’s Australian science: from the underground hunt for dark matter to 3D-printed jet engines; from printed body parts to insulin in plant seeds; from better tasting bread for China to the underlying genetics of epilepsy. And there’s a special feature on Australia Japan collaboration.

We’ve presented the collection to the World Congress of Science Journalists in Korea, and are continuing to distribute 15,000 copies to journalists, science leaders and influencers, embassies, schools, MPs and others in Australia and around the world. Read the full distribution here.

Earlier editions of Stories of Australian Science and our other publications

Over the past nine years, we’ve profiled the breadth and depth of Australian science in our magazines — from astronomy to zoology, climate science to quantum mechanics.

You can download pdf copies of previous editions of the storybook here or view them online.

Expanding treatments for the ‘Australian’ cancer

The chances of surviving melanoma are getting better every year. But some cancers still become ‘resistant’ to treatment, and others don’t respond at all.

Helen and her colleagues are searching for clues on how people will respond to treatment. Credit: Carolyn Seri for Melanoma Institute Australia Report
Helen and her colleagues are searching for clues on how people will respond to treatment. Credit: Carolyn Seri for Melanoma Institute Australia Report

A collection of over 10,000 blood and 4,900 tissue samples from the biobank at the Melanoma Institute Australia is being used to hunt for clues to predict which patients won’t be responsive to treatment from day one. The researchers, from Macquarie University, are also looking for the basis of developed resistance by the cancer.

Continue reading Expanding treatments for the ‘Australian’ cancer

Widening the net on Motor Neurone Disease

Recent advances pinpointing genes involved in the inherited form of Motor Neurone Disease (MND) are now being used to hunt for the culprits of ‘sporadic’ cases.

Ian and his team are hunting the genes involved in Motor Neurone Disease. Credit: Paul Wright
Ian and his team are hunting the genes involved in Motor Neurone Disease.
Credit: Paul Wright

Sporadic MND is the most common form (around 90 per cent), and unlike the ‘familial,’ disease, it appears in patients without a family history.

Continue reading Widening the net on Motor Neurone Disease

What happens next?

You’re in hospital: should you stay? Should you leave? What’s your risk of dying?

The patient’s ‘forecast’ is continually updated with the results of each of their medical tests. Credit: Chris Stacey, Macquarie University
The patient’s ‘forecast’ is continually updated with the results of each of their medical tests. Credit: Chris Stacey, Macquarie University

By mining electronic health records, researchers at Macquarie University believe they can help improve decision making by health professionals.

Dr Blanca Gallego Luxan is investigating using hospital information and state health and death registries to fill gaps in patient care – whether due to discontinuity of care, lack of information on a condition, or simply the limits of what humans can predict.

Continue reading What happens next?

More accurate readings of the heart

Almost everyone has had their blood pressure measured with an inflatable cuff around the arm. But as useful as this is, it can differ from the reading at the heart itself.

Using a mathematical model to transform how we measure blood pressure. Credit: Mark Butlin
Using a mathematical model to transform how we measure blood pressure. Credit: Mark Butlin

Twenty years ago Sydney scientists found a way to get that extra information. They created a model that gives the pressure at the main artery of the heart, using the wrist’s pressure pulse (the shape of the ‘waves’ that both travel along arteries when the heart pumps blood, and travel back to the heart as it fills with blood).

The model wasn’t applicable to children, since their limbs are still growing – so now they’re adapting it to fit.

Continue reading More accurate readings of the heart

Hoarding disorder: why is it hard to part with stuff?

“I’m fascinated by why people love objects so much,” says Dr Melissa Norberg, Director of the Behavioural Science Laboratory at Macquarie University.

Melissa wants to know what makes objects so appealing. Credit: Chris Stacey, Macquarie University
Melissa wants to know what makes objects so appealing. Credit: Chris Stacey, Macquarie University

“What is it about the items (or the person) that makes objects so appealing?”

While we’re all guilty of holding on to a few sentimental things, Melissa’s interest is in studying those who meet the criteria for hoarding disorder.

With Associate Professor Jessica Grisham at the University of New South Wales, Melissa has been investigating how mood affects peoples’ ability to throw things out.

Continue reading Hoarding disorder: why is it hard to part with stuff?

Cool Kids goes bush – helping rural children with anxiety

Just under half the children in Australia with a mental health issue aren’t receiving the appropriate treatment, and one third of their parents say the main impediment is a lack of access to treatment options.

Lauren is using technology to help rural children with anxiety. Credit: Chris Stacey
Lauren is using technology to help rural children with anxiety. Credit: Chris Stacey

“We’ve got all these great programs that we know work, but kids in rural Australia have just not been getting access to them,” says Dr Lauren McLellan, a clinical psychologist and Research Fellow at the Centre for Emotional Health.

Continue reading Cool Kids goes bush – helping rural children with anxiety

Helping patients cope with cancer

Pairing psychology with cancer treatment has a profound impact on the wellbeing of patients, Associate Professor Maria Kangas and her team at the Centre for Emotional Health have found.

CBT helps give patients the skills to cope with the challenges of cancer diagnosis. Credit: Chris Stacey
CBT helps give patients the skills to cope with the challenges of cancer diagnosis. Credit: Chris Stacey

In a recent clinical trial, head and neck cancer patients were offered weekly cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) sessions concurrent to their radiation therapy appointments.

After just seven sessions, patients reported a significant decline in cancer-related anxiety and/or depression. And after a year, 67 per cent were no longer experiencing any anxiety or depression and were doing better than the control group who had received regular counselling, but not CBT.

Continue reading Helping patients cope with cancer

Changing the minds of dementia patients

“I’m ecstatic about the impact our programs have on kids, and knowing that we’ve changed their lives for the better. But we need to ask ‘what about our retirees?’” says Professor Ron Rapee, ARC Laureate Fellow, and former Director of the Centre for Emotional Health.

Viviana is developing programs that might help lower susceptibility to dementia. Credit: Myles Pritchard, Macquarie University
Viviana is developing programs that might help lower susceptibility to dementia. Credit: Myles Pritchard, Macquarie University

Retirees are less likely to suffer from mental health problems but they still develop anxiety and depression – and there’s increasing evidence these conditions are risk factors for dementia.

To make things worse, they’re often left untreated as there’s a perception that it’s normal for older people to suffer depression as they lose their friends, health and independence.

Continue reading Changing the minds of dementia patients

Genetics guiding anxiety treatment

For years we’ve been identifying genetic markers linked to mental disorders. Now it appears those same markers could also tell us who will best-respond to treatment.

Genetic data are another piece in the puzzle of personalised treatment for anxiety. Credit: Chris Stacey, Macquarie University
Genetic data are another piece in the puzzle of personalised treatment for anxiety. Credit: Chris Stacey, Macquarie University

A study of over 1,500 children, as part of the international Genes for Treatment collaboration, found those with a specific genetic marker were more responsive to psychological therapy than those without.

Continue reading Genetics guiding anxiety treatment