Worldwide Vision – from Syria’s Crisis to Poverty in the Pacific

March 28, 2017

How to humanise the refugee crisis that has seen a record 65.3 million people displaced? World Vision CEO Chris Clarke did so by portraying the tale of 12 year old Syrian refugee Adel, who he met in a makeshift Lebanon refugee camp with his widowed mother and five younger sisters.

At 12, he was digging potatoes for 12 hours a day to pay back the farmer for the pocket handkerchief of land they had built their leaking plywood and plastic shelter on. When they met, he had 75 more days to clear the debt. His sisters were suffering post-traumatic stress disorder. Nightmares of gun toting soldiers they had seen back home had one sister often run from their paltry shelter in the middle of the night, screaming and terrified. It was Adel who had to chase after her, bring her back, comfort her till she could sleep again.

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Avoiding Conservation by Numbers and How Genetics Can Help

February 21, 2017

Did you know the little spotted Kiwi was nearly lost when just 5 individuals remained? A conservation program saw its numbers grow. But a bigger population is not enough. Dr Helen Taylor, research fellow in conservation genetics at the University of Otago, is tackling what happens when a population crashes and inbreeding – a threat to even thriving populations – affects the survival and reproduction of subsequent generations.

Dr Taylor discussed how conservation is often considered to be a numbers game – if we increase the size of a threatened species’ population, we think this a conservation success. Unfortunately, population growth is not always the full story; factors such as genetics have a big part to play in whether or not a species will survive.

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Science for Survival: AMN8’s Nano Trio

February 14, 2017

Three top international women scientists working in advanced materials and nanotechnology conference inspired an overflowing audience, including primary and high school students, by describing their work and experiences on the road to science.

Many common threads bound together the stories of Professor Silvia Giordani, Dr Carla Meledandri, and Professor Natalie Stingelin. We learnt that science is hard and science is unexpected – taking the path of science opened doors they never expected and took them to places they never thought they’d go. Science means learning all the time – it means being driven by curiosity and being stubborn to get results. And all three had inspiring high school science teachers! For more on the panel’s talk and Q&A with the audience, read the article in The Spinoff.