UNSW Library Building

UNSW's ARC Future Fellows 2020 are conducting research projects in engineering, arts and social sciences, law and science.

The Fellows have been awarded more than $9.5 million to conduct research projects in engineering, arts and social sciences, law and science. 

A closeup of a 3D visualisation of a coronavirus particle

A scientifically accurate simulation, cinematic in approach, shows soap acting on contaminated skin covered with tiny coronavirus particles. Image: UNSW Sydney

As the number of new infections rise, a 3D-simulation from UNSW prompts us to lather up.

A 3D-visualisation of soap destroying the coronavirus is a poignant reminder that simply washing your hands can help stem the pandemic, UNSW academics say.

“With the threat of the second wave upon us, simple hygiene is something everyone can do to prevent the spread of the virus,” says Professor Pall Thordarson, from UNSW Science. “Soap can destroy the virus on your skin.”

The scientifically accurate simulation, a collaboration between UNSW Art & Design and UNSW Science, shows soap acting on contaminated skin covered with tiny coronavirus particles.

The simulation uses a cinematic approach and evocative animation to deliver a message that’s accessible to adults and children alike.

“One of the very few pieces of good news about this virus is that it’s actually very fragile – if you wash your hands with soap, the whole virus basically collapses like a house of cards,” Prof. Thordarson says.

“Soap molecules break up the greasy external lipid molecules of the virus and weaken its membrane, making it less and less stable. Soap also rips away some of the virus’s membrane to create new soap bubbles.

“And that’s enough to destroy the virus. So please use soap and water or an alcohol-based sanitizer frequently.”

The simulation was created by UNSW’s 3D Visualisation Aesthetics Lab, which explores arts- and design-led visualisations of complex scientific and biomedical data. The Lab creates immersive platforms that play out scientific phenomena, such as drug interactions with cancerous cells or interactive personalised scans of strokes to help patients understand their treatment.

“3D-visualisations make complex science comprehensible. The creative industries are in a unique position to be able to offer these kinds of innovative educational simulations,” says Associate Professor John McGhee who created the simulation with UNSW 3D Visualisation Aesthetics Lab post-doctoral researcher Dr Andrew Lilja.

“We collaborate with colleagues engaged in cutting-edge research to create interactive media that brings to life the detail behind biomedical processes.”

The Lab are investigating the potential to engage with the face-mask debate and other public health issues through a series of educational 3D-simulations.

Luke Steller teaching students how to find fossils

The rocks in Pilbara are three-and-a-half billion years old – roughly the same age as the rocks that might hold signs of life on Mars. Photo: UNSW

As Perseverance prepares to launch for Mars, two UNSW PhD students look back on a field trip that gave Indigenous high school students a behind-the-scenes look at the rover’s upcoming mission.

woman wearing a face mask at Bondi beach

It is being suggested that NSW authorities should consider strongly urging Sydneysiders to wear face coverings in public to stop the new spread of coronavirus. Image from Shutterstock

Analysis suggests when COVID-19 cases reach 100 over 14 days, an outbreak gets very difficult to control — as we saw in Victoria. Over the last fortnight, NSW has recorded at least 154 new cases.

people sneezing with no mask, 2 different types of cloth masks, and a surgical mask.

The researchers took videos of what happens when you talk, cough and sneeze in different scenarios — while not wearing a mask, wearing two different types of cloth masks, or wearing a surgical mask.

If you’re not sure whether wearing a face mask is worth it, or you need to wear a mask but are unsure which type, new research should help you decide.

A team of UNSW researchers took videos of what happens when you talk, cough and sneeze in different scenarios — while not wearing a mask, wearing two different types of cloth masks, or wearing a surgical mask.

Learn more about their video case study in this Conversation article.

USA and China paper boats

There has been a creeping militarisation of the South China Sea by nations seeking to secure extended maritime resource zones. Image from Shutterstock

As tensions in the disputed waters mount, it's important to understand how this conflict began and what international law says about freedom of navigation and competing maritime claims.