Campus research round-up

Science yo

It’s hip to be cube

On May 26, the Australian spacecraft INSPIRE-2, a project led by the University of Sydney, was launched from the International Space Station. INSPIRE-2 is a cubesat — a research satellite that will be part of a network of 50 built by university teams from around the world to “perform first-class science” in the largely unexplored lower thermosphere (approximately 100km above Earth’s surface). This was the first launch of an Australian cubesat. Good luck, little guy.

Lab report

Everyone knows that dogs are pure and full of love, but can owning a dog actually make you healthier? Associate Professor Emmanuel Stamatakis from the Charles Perkins Centre and Sydney School of Public Health wants to find out. Participants in the Physical & Affective Wellbeing Study of dog owners (PAWS) pilot will see if dog ownership causes changes in physical activity, cardiovascular and metabolic health, and psychosocial wellbeing. Spend time with dogs for science? Beautiful.

Not so peckish after all

Going from the fluffy to the foul: turns out ibises, objectively the worst bird, are actually picky when it comes to food. New research published in Behavioural Ecology by lead author Sean Coogan, a PhD student at the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre and School of Life and Environmental Sciences, shows the notorious “bin chicken” has a strong preference for high-carbohydrate foods, despite their natural diet typically being low in carbohydrates and high in protein and fat. “Urban Australian white ibis seem to be taking advantage of the abundance of high-carb human foods available in [cities]… It could be a situation similar to humans, where we have a preference for high-carb foods perhaps because those foods were relatively rare in our ancestral diets,” Coogan says. In short, the ibises’ appetites are evolving — guard your lunch!