Black Holes and Helium the Focus for Forrest Research Foundation Scholars

Gazing skyward at the behaviour of distant black holes to understand the nature of the Universe and peering in on tiny proton collisions in helium to help advance cancer therapy are the important aims of two Curtin University PhD students named prestigious Forrest Research Foundation Scholars.

Callan Wood, PhD scholar. Image Credit: Curtin University

Working within Curtin’s School of Electrical Engineering, Computing and Mathematical Sciences, Kate Spicer’s research will involve the modelling of proton collisions in helium, and ultimately in water – to produce knowledge that will be used in work towards nuclear fusion, and in the development of proton cancer therapy.

Callan Wood’s radio-astronomy research at the Curtin Institute of Radio Astronomy will use data from observations made around the world to construct images of giant jets emerging from black holes, in order to expand our understanding of the basic physics of the Universe.

Curtin University Vice-Chancellor Professor Harlene Hayne congratulated Ms Spicer and Mr Wood on receiving the prestigious scholarships.

“Ms Spicer’s fascinating research will contribute to the solving of two of the world’s biggest challenges – a major global health issue and the quest for cleaner energy,” Professor Hayne said.

“Aiming to produce real-time imaging of jets from black holes, Mr Wood’s work is staggering in scope and ambition as it aims to explain nothing less than the very nature of our Universe.”

Ms Spicer said receiving the Forrest Research Foundation Scholarship was an opportunity to increase the visibility of women in STEM fields while making progress in important areas of research.

“Despite the headway that has been made, women are still under-represented and often not taken as seriously as their male counterparts within their careers in science,” Ms Spicer said.

“I am honoured to be an example of high achievement for other women and girls with similar career ambitions and hope that I might encourage them to pursue their dreams.”

Mr Wood said he too was honoured to be a Forrest Foundation Scholar and looked forward to the experience.

“I’m excited for the incredible opportunities that this scholarship will provide me throughout my post graduate studies, in particular working with likeminded peers who are passionate about their studies, and are pursuing interesting and unique research projects,” Mr Wood said.

“I’m confident my experience with the Foundation will be useful in ensuring the success of my own research project in the coming years.”

The Forrest Research Foundation was established in 2014 following a donation of $65 million by Andrew and Nicola Forrest through the Minderoo Foundation.

The Forrest Foundation has supported four PhD scholars to commence their studies in 2022.

Further information on the Forrest Research Foundation can be found online here.

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