Congratulations to former MinEx CRC PhD student Dr Fernando Fontana recipient of the UniSA FII Norton Jackson Material Science and Engineering Medal.

This medal is is awarded to the most outstanding UniSA Future Industries Institute graduate from the previous year, who has demonstrated the most potential or real application of research in industry.

Examples include versatility in application of science to the materials industry, or diagnosis and solution of diversified materials problems.

Dr Fontana’s thesis, ‘Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy for downhole chemical assay’ created data acquisition and interpretation strategies to extend the capability of a downhole LIBS-based tool for rapid geochemical analysis and generated geological interpretations from the resulting data. Fernando’s supervisors were Assoc Prof Caroline Tiddy, Dr Ben van der Hoek (both UniSA), Dr Yulia Uvarova and Steven Tassios (both CSIRO).

Comments from the judges included:

  • “As a young man I visited a field drilling/core team in the desert near Radium Hill and was conscripted to assist in labelling the cores prior to their shipping off for assay. The Fontana project certainly would have made a big difference.”
  • “Fernando has worked to develop a real-time geochemical assay tool and what he has achieved is in high demand among industries because the technology can reduce exploration expenditure and risk.
  • Fernando has already been offered a job in a mining company (prior to finishing his PhD and without sitting in an interview) – I have felt this itself is evidence of real world application of his research.”
  • “The method developed by Fernando offers real-time data from drill holes. This is promising for reducing exploration costs and enhancing safety in the minerals industry, and both are critical factors.”

Now his postgrad is done and dusted, you can find Fernando at Rio Tinto working as a Specialist Geologist.

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