QUT Institute for Future Environments

Institute for Future Environments

The Institute for Future Environments (IFE) is a transdisciplinary research and innovation institute at QUT that brings together researchers and students to collaborate on large-scale projects relating to our natural, built and digital environments. The IFE generates knowledge, technology and practices that make our world more sustainable, secure and resilient. Transcripts of IFE podcasts are available upon request.

All Episodes

The freedom of journalists to do their jobs and report in the public interest has been under threat since the US terror attacks in 2001. The imprisonment of Peter Greste along with two of his Al Jazeera colleagues in Egypt in 2013 on terrorism charges has been followed in recent years by similarly concerning incidents in Australia and overseas that have thrown a sharp spotlight on the erosion of press freedom. In this Grand Challenge Lecture, Peter Greste explores how journalism became a target and what we can do about it.

Dec 2020

54 min 6 sec

IFE Distinguished Visitor Lecture recorded on 29 April 2020 at QUT. This presentation discusses the model used to conduct research at the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) and its Synthesis Centre (sDiv). Dr Winter discusses iDiv/sDiv's successes and challenges, and the strategies used to bring people together to work on cutting-edge environmental research.

Aug 2020

38 min 5 sec

IFE Distinguished Visitor Lecture - recorded 15 February 2018 at QUT. Providing society with the energy it needs is getting more challenging by the day, thanks to greater emissions, urbanisation and climate change. This podcast discusses an initiative called Urban Energy Hub which aims for a higher integration of renewables in urban energy systems and how this has worked in practice in Switzerland and Sweden.

Aug 2020

38 min 45 sec

IFE Distinguished Visitor Lecture - recorded 31 January 2020 at QUT. While the energy consumption of our world steadily increases at the rate of three per cent per year, fossil fuel resources are steadily consumed, and energy-related geopolitical tensions rise at an alarming rate. Humans inevitably seek alternative energy sources, new methods of storing energy for stationary and mobile applications, and energy savings. This lecture will describe ventures into the world of hydrogen fuel, as well as potential new families of room temperature superconducting materials based on silver (2+) compounds for non-resistant conduction of electric current.

Aug 2020

53 min 13 sec

IFE Grand Challenge Lecture - recorded 26 July 2019 at QUT. We have entered the time where climate change is not a distant concern, but one that is undermining basic human development and survival around the world right now. As fear and alarm increases in communities across the globe, have we reached the point of no return? Is it too late to mitigate our climate emergency, or is there still hope for a cleaner, better planet? In this Grand Challenge Lecture, Andrew Higham reviews progress towards the 2020 climate turning point and elaborates on the necessary diplomatic and political pathway to keep the promise of the Paris Agreement alive.

Aug 2020

40 min 48 sec

IFE Grand Challenge Lecture - recorded 1 May 2020 at QUT. Professor Bertsch explores the scientific and technological trends and opportunities that will help shape a sustainable future for Queensland. He examines the science and technology trends and challenges as Australia moves towards a population of 50 million and covers topics such as technology drivers, the circular economy, synthetic biology in sustainable food production, the current COVID-19 pandemic and emerging challenges and opportunities.

Aug 2020

53 min 45 sec

IFE Grand Challenge Lecture - recorded on on 23 August 2019 at QUT Gardens Point. Many challenges and opportunities lie ahead as we contemplate a renewable hydrogen energy future. The transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources is our highest priority to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, mitigate global climate change and ensure human life is sustainable for the centuries to come. Future possibilities include large-scale solar generation plants, a potentially lucrative hydrogen export industry for Australia and new farming and food production pathways.

Dec 2019

1 hr 11 min

IFE Grand Challenge Lecture recorded at QUT on 6 September 2019. Astrophysicist and Australian Government Women in STEM Ambassador, Professor Lisa Harvey-Smith will discuss the grand challenges facing Australia’s STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) industry, particularly highlighting emerging opportunities in astrophysics, supercomputing and space. Professor Harvey-Smith will also examine how barriers to the equal participation of women in STEM threatens Australia’s effectiveness to tackle these new challenges, and explain how the implementation of the new national Women in STEM Decadal Plan hopes to transform the sector.

Nov 2019

1 hr 8 min

IFE Grand Challenge Lecture - recorded 25 October 2019 at QUT. Is it time to move past the era of ‘practical reconciliation’ to something more substantive and defined by Indigenous Australians? This presentation will discuss the challenges and opportunities that QUT is facing while undertaking the redevelopment of its strategic plan and the vision for Indigenous Australian engagement and empowerment.

Nov 2019

43 min 50 sec

The Earth's atmosphere is contaminated by many pollutants, all of which are harmful to life and the environment. The need to clean up our air for the future health of the planet is widely understood and accepted, but how do we remove these contaminants safely and efficiently?

Nov 2019

51 min 55 sec

IFE Distinguished Visitor Lecture recorded on 28 June 2019. Pichia pastoris, one of the most commonly used eukaryotic expression hosts, was reassigned to the genus Komagataella in 1995 and divided into the three species: Komagataella phaffii, K. pastoris and K. pseudopastoris. Most biotechnological applications for protein expression employ the species K. phaffii. Innovative concepts for the K. phaffii genome and expression cassette engineering enable improved protein expression and extend the fields of application for this non-conventional yeast. In particular, great potential can be seen in synthetic pathway expression and biological manufacturing of chemicals, where the lack of tools for engineering have so far limited the range of possible applications. Recent advances in this field now offer new opportunities for efficient expression of multiple genes by simple molecular engineering and balanced co-expression to optimise product yields and compositions.

Oct 2019

54 min 53 sec

IFE Distinguished Visitor Lecture, recorded at QUT on 17 July 2019.Dr Scott Davidoff from NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab discusses virtual reality (VR), artificial reality (AR), data science, and other discoveries and technologies of the digital age, and how these achievements can be used with prototyping techniques to overcome obstacles and become a force multiplier for research.

Oct 2019

50 min 7 sec

IFE Distinguished Visitor Lecture - recorded 7 June 2019 at QUT.The digital revolution offers opportunities for science to discover unsuspected patterns and relationships in nature and society, on scales from the nanoscale to the cosmic, from local health systems to global sustainability. Access to global data has created the potential for scientific disciplines to achieve more holistic understanding of the complexity that underlies human challenges by exposing their deep structure through the integration of data across relevant disciplines.

Oct 2019

42 min 32 sec

IFE Distinguished Visitor Lecture - recorded 9 July 2019 at QUT.As urbanisation increases around the world, there’s a growing push to create smarter cities through the implementation of technologies such as artificial intelligence and the internet of things. Smart cities have the potential to use resources more efficiently, but they also require substantial infrastructure, which comes with its own costs.In this podcast, Professor Saleem Ali discusses how the digital architecture of smart cities can be reconciled with the material needs of developing the infrastructure to run them.

Oct 2019

41 min 34 sec

IFE Grand Challenge Lecture - recorded 3 May 2019 at QUT.Queensland's Chief Entrepreneur and CEO of technology enterprise Everledger, Leanne Kemp, shares World Economic Forum predictions on the industries of the future, the important sustainability challenges and choices we face, and the skill sets needed for success in the future. She also shares best practice examples from around the world.

Oct 2019

32 min 29 sec

IFE Distinguished Visitor Lecture - recorded 5 June 2019 at QUT. The effective implementation of environmental policies has a huge impact on the conservation of biodiversity. However, policies can change according to the socio-economic and political situation. Brazil is facing an important political transition that could impair environmental policies, affecting biodiverse regions with negative impacts around the world. This Distinguished Visitor Lecture provides a critical evaluation of Brazilian environmental policies (how good they were), and discusses future political scenarios (how bad they could be). A particular emphasis will be given to the new Brazilian Forest Code, the main law that protects native vegetation on private properties.

Oct 2019

45 min 8 sec

IFE Distinguished Visitor Lecture - recorded 30 May 2019 at QUT.Associate Professor New's research involves developing molecular imaging tools to understand the interactions of metals with cellular functions, with a focus on fluorescent and magnetic resonance sensors. In this lecture, she presents progress made in studying three main aspects of cellular inorganic chemistry: imaging the metabolites of metal-containing drugs; tools to study cellular metal pools; and studies of redox homeostasis of cells varies with drug treatment. The lecture will specifically cover strategies to optimise the properties of molecular imaging sensors.

Sep 2019

46 min 55 sec

IFE Distinguished Visitor Lecture, recorded 30 April 2019 at QUTAlthough there would be great benefits to both sides were they to work productively together, scientists and politicians sing from different pages of the hymn book. Presented by Professor Herbert E. Huppert, recipient of the Australian Academy of Science 2019 Selby Fellowship, this Distinguished Visitor Lecture examines the often knotty and difficult relationship between science and politics.

Aug 2019

49 min 26 sec

IFE Grand Challenge Lecture, recorded 12 April 2019 at QUTToday, we live longer and more prosperous lives than ever before. As a species, we have made huge advances to create conditions for better health for billions of people, however this progress is taking a heavy toll on the planet's natural systems. In this lecture, Professor Jones explores the links and interdependencies between our health and the health of our planet, with particular reference to understanding how rapid global environmental change impacts the emergence and spread of high-impact infectious diseases like Ebola or SARS. She also outlines how recent advances in the resolution and coverage of remote-sensing satellite data and cutting-edge machine-learning algorithms open up the possibilities of developing global early warning systems to prevent and manage future epidemics.

Jul 2019

54 min 8 sec

IFE Grand Challenge Lecture, recorded 15 March 2019 at QUTArtificial intelligence offers considerable promise - the robots can perhaps take the sweat, and do all the dirty, dull and difficult jobs - but how do we ensure the future is bright? How long even do we have before machines are as capable as us? And when they are, how can we be sure they'll behave ethically and to our benefit?

Apr 2019

41 min 28 sec

IFE Distinguished Visitor Lecture, recorded 15 February 2019 at QUTSwinburne University of Technology is creating an Industry 4.0 Testlab for Carbon Fibre Composite Product Automation which will be embedded in the Factory of the Future as part of Swinburne’s Industry 4.0 Hub. The Testlab will bring a world-first, digital approach to the rapid manufacture of these engineered, lightweight, high-strength materials.

Mar 2019

48 min

IFE Grand Challenge Lecture, recorded 1 March 2019 at QUTLet's talk about the economy of algorithms. What is this new world, where the confluence of the ‘Internet of Things’, algorithms as economic agents and new business models changes the way we live, work, and think? What new opportunities does it bring? What could go wrong? And what is our role - as academics, citizens, customers, humans - in this new world? In the first IFE Grand Challenge Lecture for 2019, Professor Marek Kowalkiewicz will challenge your thinking and inspire ideas for the next steps: whether it is a new business model (how do you advertise to a fridge?), a research question (who is liable if something goes wrong?), or just a life-changing decision (I need to hire an army of robots).

Mar 2019

42 min 31 sec

IFE Distinguished Visitor Lecture, recorded 17 August 2017 at QUT

Jan 2019

39 min 50 sec

IFE Distinguished Visitor Lecture, recorded 24 May 2018 at QUT

Jan 2019

58 min 50 sec

IFE Distinguished Visitor Lecture, recorded 26 July 2018 at QUT

Dec 2018

30 min 46 sec

IFE Distinguished Visitor Lecture, recorded 30 July 2018 at QUT

Dec 2018

53 min 32 sec

IFE Grand Challenge Lecture, recorded 27 October 2017 at QUT

Dec 2018

43 min 35 sec

IFE Grand Challenge Lecture, recorded 21 September 2018 at QUT

Dec 2018

38 min 25 sec

IFE Grand Challenge Lecture, recorded 1 November 2018 at QUT

Dec 2018

40 min 17 sec

IFE Grand Challenge Lecture recorded on 27 July, 2018.

Dec 2018

41 min 13 sec

Working together to secure the future of our national icon - A special QUT Grand Challenge Lecture facilitated by Robyn Williams from ABC's The Science Show, recorded 10 August 2018 at QUT

Sep 2018

1 hr 5 min

IFE Growing the Global Bioeconomy Seminar, recorded 16 July 2018 at QUT

Aug 2018

47 min 4 sec

IFE Grand Challenge Lecture, recorded 4 May 2018 at QUTIn today’s media landscape, there is much discussion of closing the gap for Indigenous Australians, but a decade on, only three of the seven targets set by the Council of Australian Governments are on track. The four targets not yet achieved directly affect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth: reading and writing, school attendance, life expectancy and employment.With more than half the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population being 25 years or younger, and with no simple solutions in sight, it is time to prompt intergenerational change beginning with Indigenous youth.In his address, Wayne Denning explores such solutions as: positive self-identification, in which Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth need to see themselves as successful, strong, happy, confident human beings who are comfortable within their culture; the promotion of their Aboriginality; and the amplification of programs that encourage youth self-empowerment and lead to a ‘youth movement’.

Jul 2018

38 min 7 sec

IFE Distinguished Visitor Lecture, recorded 9 May 2018 at QUT.Unfortunately, warfare and conflict in their many forms seem destined to blight our world for the foreseeable future. While war continues to be fundamentally a human endeavour whose character remains largely unchanged, the nature of contemporary and future conflict is undergoing significant changes.Speaking from direct and extensive experience, Major General Jeff Sengelman (retired), as a former commander of Special Operations Australia, will reflect on high-performance special forces teams and the attributes that have made them so globally successful under the most extreme conditions and circumstances. From this, he will more widely discuss how autonomous and semi-autonomous systems, and the technologies that underpin them, are likely to impact fundamentally on current cultural, military, societal, ethical and legal approaches to conflict and warfare.Ronald C. Arkin is Regents' Professor and Director of the Mobile Robot Laboratory in the College of Computing at Georgia Tech and is the Director of the Mobile Robot Laboratory. He served as STINT visiting Professor at KTH in Stockholm, Sabbatical Chair at the Sony IDL in Tokyo, member of the Robotics and AI Group at LAAS/CNRS in Toulouse, and recently completed a year’s leave at QUT and CSIRO.

Jun 2018

49 min 47 sec

IFE Grand Challenge Lecture, recorded 25 May 2018 at QUT.Through the 20th century, research laboratories at the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge embodied two leading models of research, based on competing philosophies of how research is conducted and research teams are assembled and supported.The Cavendish Laboratory at Cambridge, under the guidance of J.J. Thomson and his acolytes, focused on recruitment and environment, producing a stunning succession of discoveries that underpin modern physics and chemistry. Several decades later, Howard Florey’s team at Oxford took a problem-based approach, carefully assembling the team best equipped to solve the antibiotic challenge, resulting in the discovery that has arguably saved more lives than any other.Towards the end of the 20th century and on the other side of the world, policymakers and research administrators came together to develop a blended system that harnessed the best of each of these models. For more than a decade and supported by successive Australian governments, Backing Australia’s Ability provided a coherent, overarching structure to nurture a research ecosystem in which each element could thrive in collaboration with the others.Professor Sheil will argue that examples of breakthrough innovation – such as the cervical cancer vaccine or CSIRO’s invention of Wi-Fi – must be read in the context of this ecosystem approach, which underpinned a research model that is at once engaged yet open; problem-oriented yet curiosity-driven.This Grand Challenge Lecture is a call to arms for a revival and modernisation of such a systems approach, in which government, the universities, industry and the publicly funded research agencies each understand (and are funded for) their respective roles, yet find benefit in working collaboratively and generatively, within the most productive open-source template for adaptive innovation in the world of today and tomorrow.

Jun 2018

35 min 47 sec

IFE Grand Challenge Lecture, recorded on April 6 2018 at QUT.

May 2018

52 min 10 sec

IFE Distinguished Visitor Lecture, recorded 14 March 2018 at QUT

Mar 2018

1 hr 1 min

IFE Grand Challenge Lecture, recorded 6 October 2017 at QUT

Feb 2018

54 min 20 sec

IFE Grand Challenge Lecture, recorded 14 July 2017 at QUT

Feb 2018

46 min 42 sec

IFE Distinguished Visitor Lecture, recorded 10 August 2017 at QUT

Jan 2018

50 min 21 sec

IFE Lecture, recorded 1 September 2017 at QUT.

Jan 2018

43 min 23 sec

IFE Distinguished Visitor Lecture, recorded 29 September 2017 at QUT

Jan 2018

39 min 26 sec

IFE Grand Challenge Lecture, recorded 8 September 2017 at QUT

Jan 2018

51 min 51 sec

IFE Distinguished Visitor Lecture, recorded 31 July 2017 at QUT

Nov 2017

53 min 21 sec

IFE Grand Challenge Lecture, recorded 11 August 2017 at QUT

Aug 2017

38 min 10 sec