Public Forum in conjunction with OzBio2010 

WEDNESDAY 29 SEPTEMBER 2010 1830-2000

 This public forum does not require registration and is free of charge.


 Sponsored by ANZAAS, La Trobe Institute for Molecular Science, Bio21 University of Melbourne and The Victorian Government

 Location: Plenary Hall 2, Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre

Three panel members will each give a 10-15 minute talk, and the rest of the time will be questions and answers, and general discussion.

Moderator: Robyn Williams  (host of the ABC's Science Show since 1975)

Speaker / Panel Member 1:

Dr Deborah O’Connell, Sustainable Ecosystems, CSIRO, Canberra

"Energy from Biomass"

Dr O'Connell currently leads a major interdisciplinary team of 20 scientists on a project entitled Sustainable Biomass Production for Biofuels and Bioenergy in Australia: Can biomass provide low emission fuel and energy without compromising food, water and biosecurity? She has specialised in the emerging area of 'integration' science and systems analysis to provide insight into complex issues. This requires integrating multiple disciplines, being able to elicit complex research questions and provide tractable research approaches that draw on different forms of knowledge and skills. Since 2005 Dr O'Connell has led the CSIRO team that produced a series of industry reports including the high profile report Biofuels in Australia – an overview of issues and prospects. These reports have set the agenda for biofuels and bioenergy research in Australia.

Speaker / Panel Member 2

A/Prof Kirsten Heimann, James Cook University, QLD., Australia

"Algae for biodiesel and CO2 removal"

Kirsten Heimann is the director of the North Queensland Algal Identification/Culturing Facility within the School of Marine and Tropcial Biology at James Cook University and leads a microalgal research team focusing on ecotoxicology and the development of microalgae for the commercial production of fertilizers, animal feeds, neutraceuticals, and biofuels. She has published extensively in diverse research areas in high ranking journals including Nature, Molecular Biology of the Cell, and Journal of Biological Chemistry. Kirsten’s research and teaching has won several awards, the most recent the Queensland Smart Women – Smart State Award for Research Excellence in 2008.

Speaker / Panel Member 3

Professor Lucas van Zwieten, Department of Primary Industry, NSW

"Biochar for energy production and carbon sequestration"

Lucas van Zwieten (PhD) is a Principal Research Scientist with NSW Department of Primary Industries and Energy, and adjunct Professor at the National Centre for Rural Greenhouse Gas Research, University of New England. Research on biochar is internationally acclaimed through the 2007 United Nations association of Australia World Environment Day Award “Meeting the Greenhouse Challenge”. Work has been shown on ABCs Catalyst program (2007), a CNN “special report” in 2008, BBCs ecopolis in 2009 and ABCs Landline in 2009. Findings from his research have been published in the “Financial Review,” “Sydney Morning Herald” and “the Age” business sections. He is currently supervising 3 PhD students and manages over 200 field plots testing biochar in Australia, and is a project collaborator on the National DAFF biochar project administered by the CSIRO. Lucas also works on risk assessment and remediation of chemicals in the environment.


OzBio 2010 Media Release 20 August 2010

 Free public forum on bioscience advances to help address the challenge of global warming

Scientists around the world are increasingly searching for new ways in which the natural environment can be harnessed to produce alternative fuels and reduce carbon in the atmosphere.

 Australian researchers are at the forefront of this pioneering work to generate new, environmentally friendly forms of energy, sustain crops to help provide food security, and restrict factors contributing to global warming.

 These exciting scientific advances will be showcased at a free public forum in Melbourne on Wednesday 29 September 2010.

 Entitled Biosciences and Global Warming – Options for Low CO2 Energy Production, the forum will be held from 6.30pm to 8.00pm at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre.

 It will be a public extension of the international OzBio 2010 conference running in Melbourne from 26 September to 1 October.  OzBio 2010 will bring almost 2,000 scientists from around the world to Melbourne to address latest advances in understanding the molecular and genetic causes of human diseases and potential new treatments, and the booming field of plant biology.

 OzBio 2010 is a combination of the conferences of the International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, the Federation of Asian and Oceanian Biochemists and Molecular Biologists, and ComBio – Australasia’s premier broad-based biological sciences meeting.

 Professor Nick Hoogenraad, Head of the School of Molecular Sciences at Melbourne’s LaTrobe University, said the free public forum was designed to engage the broader community in some of the most exciting areas of biological research.

 He said biological science had been revolutionised by the sequencing of the human genome, and advances in understanding of the genetic make-up of other microbes, animals and plants.

 “This is providing unprecedented insights into basic biological functions which, in turn, are helping us to understand more about human illnesses. Similarly, these technologies are helping us to understand more about plant growth and the impact of various plants on human health and the environment.”

 The public forum will particularly focus on latest research on the production of biofuels from plants and algae.

Dr Deborah O’Connell, Sustainable Ecosystems, CSIRO, will talk about obtaining energy from biomass, and whether biomass can provide low emission fuel and energy without compromising food, water and biosecurity.

 Associate Professor Kirsten Heimann, Director of the North Queensland Algal Identification and Culturing Facility, will outline advances in micro algal research to produce fertilizers, animal food and neutraceuticals.

 Professor Lukas van Zwieten, Principal Research Scientist with the NSW Department of Primary Industries and Energy, will explain early outcomes from a project to produce biochar, a charcoal-like product that is added to the soil to improve fertility and increase carbon absorption.

 The free forum, moderated by science journalist and broadcaster, Robyn Williams, will provide time for questions from members of the public.

 For more information, go to


 Professor Nick Hoogenraad can be contacted on (03) 9479 2196 or 0418 324753