‘Undercover’ lecture series to reveal research secrets

February 16, 2017

Dr Paola Magni

Dr Paola Magni is a forensic biologist at Murdoch

World leading researchers from Murdoch University will be presenting a series of free public lectures on topics as diverse as covert whale research and the use of insects to help solve crimes, starting later this month.

Entitled ‘Undercover’, the lecture series aims to tackle common misconceptions and reveal interesting facts about a diverse range of topics investigated at the University.

Award-winning biochemist Dr Garth Maker, who has helped to expose the potential dangers associated with herbal medicines, will kick off the lecture series on Monday 27 February.

“In our research, we found that 92 per cent of the traditional Chinese medicines we analysed had some form of contamination or substitution, including undeclared pharmaceutical agents such as warfarin,” said Dr Maker, a senior lecturer in the School of Veterinary and Life Sciences.

“This is obviously very concerning and it is our goal to see stricter rules placed on these herbal medicines so that consumers are better protected. The common misconception is that ‘natural’ means ‘safe’ but our work has demonstrated this isn’t necessarily the case.”

Dr Maker will also discuss the range of techniques he utilises to determine the components of herbal medicines at the presentation, which begins at 6pm in the Hill Lecture Theatre on Murdoch’s Perth Campus.

The public lectures on the theme of Undercover will continue on a weekly basis throughout March and into April. Each of the lectures is aimed at a general audience and all are free to attend.

People are encouraged to register for each event via the Eventbrite website here.

The public lectures will continue at Murdoch University throughout 2017, with each term having a different theme. Future themes will be entitled Healthy Futures, Age of Discovery and Human Contact. Keep checking the Eventbrite link for details.

6 March – Trumpist Populism and Islamist Radicalism

Dr Ameer Ali from Murdoch’s School of Business and Governance will take a critical review of President Trump’s populist policies and include an analysis of the economic impact of these policies on western nations like Australia.

13 March – The Truth About Crime

Dr Joe Clare from the School of Law will present research findings showing declining crime figures across the western world, contrary to reports in the popular media. He will also explain how the current ‘tough on crime’ agenda in Australia is failing to acknowledge research evidence about what works to prevent crime.

20 March – Crimes, Critters and Clues

Forensic biologist, Dr Paola Magni will talk about a number of real life cases in which insects, crustaceans, molluscs, microorganisms and plants have been used to gain key information for each investigation.

27 March – Solving whale mysteries using tags and drones

Professor Lars Bejder, the 007 of the marine field, will explain how gadgets are used to spy on and monitor whale populations and will show stunning aerial footage of the ocean giants. He and his research team from the Murdoch University Cetacean Research Unit (MUCRU) utilise drones to study the body condition and health of whales.

3 April –Japanese Popular Culture and its Fans

Dr Leonie Stickland‘s lecture on Japanese popular culture and its fans, will focus on examples of manga, anime, gaming and pop music which have huge followings in Japan and around the world.

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