Murdoch University to host free public lecture series


Forensic biologist Paola Magni will examine real life criminal cases in which insect and plant matter provided vital clues.
Forensic biologist Paola Magni will examine real life criminal cases in which insect and plant matter provided vital clues.

WORLD-CLASS researchers from Murdoch University will present a series of free public lectures on topics as diverse as covert whale research and the use of insects to help solve crimes.

Entitled Undercover, the lecture series aims to tackle common misconceptions and highlight interesting facts from some of the fields studied at the university.

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

“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 (blood thinner),” Dr Maker said.

“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 uses to determine the components of herbal medicines at the presentation, which begins at 6pm in the Hill Lecture Theatre on Murdoch University’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 www.eventbrite.com.au.

Future lectures:

March 6: Trumpist Populism and Islamist Radicalism

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.

March 13: The Truth About Crime

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.

March 20: Crimes, Critters and Clues

Forensic biologist, 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.

March 27: 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.

April 3: Japanese Popular Culture and its Fans

Leonie Strickland‘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.