Meet the CSIROseven: using scientific smarts to solve key 21st-century problems

They’re young, they’re smart, and they’re working with Australia's CSIRO to help solve the big scientific challenges of our age.

CSIROSeven group portrait: these young Australian scientists are tackling some of our most significant 21st-century problems.
CSIROSeven group portrait: these young Australian scientists are tackling some of our most significant 21st-century problems.
CSIRO

CSIRO has pulled seven of its brightest young scientists out of their labs and enlisted them in a campaign to recruit future thinkers, innovators, scientists and entrepreneurs.

“It’s time for our scientists, who are the brightest and best there are, to break out and really push the importance of the work they do – the effect their work has on all Australians every day, and the importance of innovation,” CSIRO General Manager of Communication, Oona Nielssen said.

Known as the CSIROseven, the group is drawn from different areas of the organisation’s science and from across its 54 sites around Australia.

“There is an imperative for change in the way innovation and the research world is viewed and, as this is [National] Science Week, we thought it was time to bust a few of our scientists out of their labs and get the message out,” Nielssen said.

“I think CSIRO and Australia needs to have a sharper approach, in that we need to act and we need to be bold and we need to make sure we have the best people working on big problems and big ideas.

“CSIROseven is about taking that message and attitude and busting a few perceptions, both externally and internally, about what CSIRO does and how we go about it.”

Jane Bowen, one of the CSIROseven, said a key part of our future will be taking care of people. “Our population is ageing and obesity is on the rise; our health system will be swamped. We’re working on sensors for remote patient care and diets that are individually tailored to your unique DNA,” she said.

Energy emissions and our finite resources will also be critical challenges for Australia and the world. CSIRO's Dr Matthew Hill is working on the answer. “We’re working on crystals that act like super sponges, soaking up carbon emissions. We can then turn the pollution into something useful, like plastic or more energy,” Dr Hill said.

The CSIROseven work across a vast portfolio of research areas, from advanced materials to computational linguistics, wearable technology, nutrition, ecology and oceanography.

“We hope that by sharing our stories and our research, we will inspire others to start thinking about working in science and technology. These careers are growing 1.5 times faster than any other,” Bowen said.

“There is no better feeling in the world than getting up in the morning knowing you’re helping to make life better and easier for people.”

About The CSIROseven

MIBU FISCHER: Fisheries, Brisbane

Mibu Fischer, fisheries scientist.
Mibu Fischer, fisheries scientist.
CSIRO

“I grew up with a strong cultural connection to the land and ocean.”

Mibu Fischer is working to ensure the long-term sustainability of recreational fisheries, educating Australians on the importance of keeping Australia’s ocean ecosystem thriving for future generations. Her childhood affinity with the sea has developed into scientific endeavours in adulthood, and she now hopes to educate people on community and institutional levels.      

MATTHEW HILL: Advanced materials, Melbourne

Matthew Hill, advanced materials scientist.
Matthew Hill, advanced materials scientist.
CSIRO

“At the heart of it for me, it's about doing something that can possibly help people.”

Shaping an energy efficient future, Matthew Hill is working on crystals that clean gas, water and air, and sponges that soak up pollution. With the potential to completely transform the way we dispose of gases like carbon dioxide, Hill’s studies are also focused on designing more cost-effective energy solutions.

JANE BOWEN: Nutrition, Adelaide

Jane Bowen, CSIRO nutritional scientist.
Jane Bowen, nutritional scientist.
CSIRO

“It's so rewarding to work on things that really can make a difference to people's lives.”

Jane Bowen’s unique holistic approach to how we eat allows her to design solutions that succeeded where many diets have failed. From approaching the language around dieting to drawing on her own parenting experiences, Bowen and her team have shown that getting different results requires different thinking. She believes that in the future, diets could be tailored to people’s DNA, providing unique customised programs for every individual.        

STEPHEN WAN: Digital, Sydney

Stephen Wan, digital scientist.
Stephen Wan, digital scientist.
CSIRO

“Looking beyond the videos of cats and celebrity Twitter battles, public social media can tell us so much about who we are as a community.”

With more than 100 million tweets posted every 24 hours, Stephen Wan can take the pulse of Australia to learn about public opinion on the topics of the day. He creates algorithms that can turn the bottomless sea of social media data into something that is useful, developing programs that are sensitive to the subtle nuances of language.        

NICK RODEN: Oceans, Hobart

Nick Roden, oceans scientist.
Nick Roden, oceans scientist.
CSIRO

“Some think it's just trees that give us the air we breathe, but the oceans also generate oxygen. So even if you live in the middle of the desert, you still have a connection to the ocean.”

From the greens of the golf course to the bright white of Antarctica's snow fields, Nick Roden has traded in life as a pro golfer to research one of the most misunderstood environments known to man: the ocean. He is investigating how the ocean can supply oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide and the impact this has on Earth’s environment.       

SAMANEH MOVASSAGHI: Wearables, Sydney

Sameneh Movassaghi, 'wearables' scientist.
Sameneh Movassaghi, 'wearables' scientist.
CSIRO

“I believe there is infinite potential in using technology to connect people to each other.”

Every second counts in an emergency. Samaneh Movassaghi is working on new life-saving body sensor technology that could one day transmit your heart rate, temperature and blood pressure through to your doctor in real-time. She hopes the technology will relieve financial, resource and accessibility barriers in healthcare.      

VIVEK SRINIVASAN: Futures, Melbourne

Vivek Srinivasan, futures scientist.
Vivek Srinivasan, futures scientist.
CSIRO

“Knowing just a few different future scenarios can help us all better prepare, and understand the role innovation will play.”

Tapping into the knowledge of 5,000 CSIRO experts, Vivek Srinivasan is helping to forecast how Australia, our industries and our economy will change over the next 20 years. With a background in engineering and deep interest in technology, management consultant, he spends his days asking the big question, ‘What is coming next and what can we do about it?’.

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