Invited Speakers


Keynote Speaker

Alan Finkel, AM PhD FTSE

Characterisation of currents in nature’s ion-flow nanomachines underpins development of new medicines.

Nature is replete with working molecules, many of which are extraordinary nanomachines.  Of particular interest to neuroscientists and medicinal chemists are the “ion-channels” that mediate the flow of ions across cell membranes into and out of cells.  The sequenced activation of ion channels underpins the electrical signalling within the brain and between the brain and other organs.  The vast quantities of ion channels in each of the tens of billions of active brain cells contribute to the processing power that enables you to be reading this synopsis.

The individual ion-channel currents are tiny, of the order of a picoamp, with activation durations of a fraction of a millisecond.  Thus, to record the flow of currents the measurement system needs to have a bandwidth of ten kilohertz or more.  Extraneous and thermal noise start to overwhelm the signal, but sensitive picoammeters and signal detection software are up to the task.

The currents through the nanoscale proteins are measured using fine tipped microelectrodes and planar electrodes that can measure the current through individual ion channels.  Automated equipments using these electrodes as sensors are used for pharmaceutical drug discovery and safety profiling.  The industry also uses extremely sensitive fluorescence and luminescence systems that will be briefly described.

Speaker Biography

Alan Finkel AM PhD FTSE is Chancellor of Monash University and President of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering.  He is the co-founder and chairman of Cosmos Magazine, the chairman of the Australian Centre of Excellence for All-Sky Astrophysics and the CEO of Stile Education.

For three years until 2012 Alan was involved in the provision of low-emissions electricity to operate electric vehicles.  Previously, for nearly twenty-five years, Alan was the CEO of Axon Instruments, a California-based company that made precision scientific instruments used at pharmaceutical companies and universities for the discovery of new medicines.

Alan is passionate about educating the next generation.  He established the Australian Course in Advanced Neuroscience to provide advanced training to early-career scientists and he leads a secondary school science program named STELR that is currently running in nearly 350 secondary schools around Australia.

Plenary Speaker

Commander Blake McBride

Title: An Overview of ONR Global's Science Support Tools and an update on the renewed Arctic focus.

The Office of Naval Research Global (ONRG) works with scientists around the world to improve scientific understanding through international collaboration.  This presentation will present an overview of the funding programs ONRG uses to foster collaboration around the world.  The presentation will also give a short overview of the U.S. interest in the changing Arctic by covering recent developments, research focus areas and opportunities for future research.

Speaker Biography

Commander Blake McBride was commissioned an Ensign in the United States Navy in 1993 at Officer Candidate School in Newport, Rhode Island. He then served as a forecast duty officer at Fleet Numerical Meteorology and Oceanography Center, in Monterey California. He later qualified and served as a category “A” hydrographer for the Naval Oceanographic Office where he collected data used in the production of nautical charts. In 2002 he reported aboard the USS BONHOMME RICHARD (LHD 6) where he served as ship’s Meteorologist and Legal Officer completing two deployments during operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. His subsequent tours were as the Executive Officer (XO) of the U.S. National/Naval Ice Center in Suitland, Maryland where he directed the analysis and forecasting of sea ice in both the Arctic and Antarctic; and Director of Staff for the Deployable Joint Task Force at NATO’s Southern Headquarters in Naples, Italy.

His most recent tour was as the Arctic Affairs Officer and acting Deputy Director for the Navy’s Task Force Climate Change on the staff of the Oceanographer of the Navy (OPNAV N2/N6E) in Washington DC. He currently serves as an Associate Director (AD) of research for Meteorology and Arctic Technologies for the Office of Naval Research (ONR) Global in Tokyo, Japan.

His education includes a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics from Stephen F. Austin State University; a Master of Science degree in Meteorology and Physical Oceanography from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California; a Master of Science degree in Hydrographic Science from the University of Southern Mississippi; and a Master of Arts degree in National Security and Strategic Studies from the U.S. Naval War College. CDR McBride is a Meteorology and Oceanography (METOC) officer, a Joint Qualified Officer (JQO) and a qualified Information Dominance Warfare Officer (IDWO) and Surface Warfare Officer (SWO).