More than one hundred scientists across Sydney have volunteered to share their research knowledge at free events in public libraries during National Science Week. Among them are Dr Paul Rymer from Western Sydney University and Dr Camilla Hoyos from the University of Sydney who discuss their upcoming library talks on sleep and how plants respond to climate change with Olivia McRae.
Dr Paul Rymer
Dr Paul Rymer is a researcher at the Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment at Western Sydney University. His talk in Blacktown explores his research on how plants respond to climatic factors through immediate physiological responses, and through genetic changes to traits over time.
Rymer jokingly remarks that “we’re torturing plants with [extreme] temperatures and water regimes to see when they fail.”
Rymer’s research on plant resilience feeds into his topic at Penrith library on how trees can cool cities through shade and plant transpiration, and which trees do it best.
Rymer says Penrith is amongst the hottest and driest parts of Sydney, meaning plants are more likely to be exposed and potentially die.
“If you’re planting trees you want them to persist, but you also want them to provide a cooling service,” says Rymer.
His research links to projects such as 202020 vision, which aims to plant more trees in urban areas, and Which Plant Where, which helps select plants that can cope with the future weather and climate conditions.
Dr Paul Rymer will present two different talks – one at Blacktown library about how plants adapt to extreme conditions, and another at Penrith Library on the 13th of August at 6:30PM about how trees can be used to cool urban spaces.
Dr Camilla Hoyos
Researching something very different to Rymer is Dr Camilla Hoyos. She’s a sleep researcher working at the Woolcock Institute and the Brain and Mind Centre at the University of Sydney who investigates how sleep affects our health.
After having studied nutritional science, Hoyos started a PhD studying the health outcomes of people with sleep apnoea.
“I wanted to be the one coming up with the questions,” she says. “Researchers like finding out the answer to their question and being the first one to know that answer… that’s quite fun.”
Hoyos now investigates how intervention in sleep disorders can improve brain health as we age, particularly with neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
We all sleep, but Hoyos says a lot more happens during sleep than most people think. “Our brains build up waste and toxins during the day and the way that we get rid of those is sleep… it’s a nice thought that while we sleep we’re getting rid of all these toxins.”
So sleep easy knowing that you’re doing something productive.
You can attend Dr Camilla Hoyos’ talk at Five Dock library on the 15 of August at 6:30PM.
Guest post by Olivia McRae. Talking Science is a series of free events in public libraries curated by Inspiring Australia. Find an event in a library near you at the National Science Week website.