Leeming friends vie for state’s top science gong


Jun Li and Kaiming Bi are finalists in the 2016 Premier's Science Awards.
Picture: Marie Nirme        ww.communitypix.com.au   d457361
Jun Li and Kaiming Bi are finalists in the 2016 Premier's Science Awards. Picture: Marie Nirme        ww.communitypix.com.au d457361

THEY are colleagues, neighbours and good friends but Curtin University lecturers Jun Li and Kaiming Bi could soon have reason to argue.

The two men, who live next door to each other in Leeming, are competing finalists for the Early Career Scientist of the Year Award as part of the Premier’s Science Awards.

Dr Li and Dr Bi moved from UWA to Curtin University in early 2014 where they both work in the Centre for Infrastructural Monitoring and Protection.

A senior lecturer, Dr Li is developing next-generation diagnostic technologies for monitoring the condition of civil infrastructure such as bridges, buildings and offshore structures.

“Both in WA and all over the world there is a lot of ageing infrastructure,” Dr Li said.

“For instance, there are a number of bridges built 40 or 50 years ago that require our attention.

“Using a sensor network and data analysis platform we can monitor the conditions of those bridges to ensure they are operating safely and avoid any increased risk while minimising future maintenance costs.

“Most recently we have been working on developing a new sensor that can measure the relative displacement of structures, rather than just the absolute displacement we obtain from the traditional sensor.”

Dr Bi’s research interests lie in earthquake engineering and structural dynamics, and he is the first researcher to systematically investigate the influence of local soil conditions on earthquake ground motion.

“Structures are built using a number of different foundations and in a number of different soil types – one location may be a rock site and another may be soft soil,” Dr Bi said.

“Different soil types can influence the wave propagation of the earthquake, which can significantly influence the structure’s response.

“If we understand how structures and foundations perform in different soil types, we can tailor the most economic and safest structures for a given location.”

Dr Bi has also developed a pipe-in-pipe concept to control the vibrations, and by extension wear and tear, of the subsea pipelines used extensively in the state’s oil and gas industry.

Winners of the Premier’s Science Awards will be announced on August 18.