2017 finalists

Tahlia Perry

University of Adelaide

Saving our beloved echidnas using genetic tools

Tahlia's project aids echidna conservation and captive breeding. She has helped captive breeding programs in Australia by developing a genetic test to identify the sex of echidnas, as males and females have an identical appearance. This has allowed keepers to know which echidnas to pair, ultimately increasing reproductive success rate. Her aim is to help ensure survival of echidnas in a time where many mammals are in danger of extinction.

Vini Gautam

Australian National University

Rewiring the brain

Vini is developing scaffolds that guide the growth and function of brain cells and restore the connectivity of neuronal circuits after brain damage or injury. Damage to the brain due to an accident, stroke or degenerative neurological diseases can result in cognitive, physical and emotional disabilities. Vini is using state-of-the art tools to develop a neural engineering scaffold, which will provide a platform for the neuronal cells to re-connect with each other after damage.