Michael Seo is a research scientist. He co-invented a specially designed nano-technology, called GraphAir, that has the potential to solve one of the world's big future challenges - access to clean drinking water.

[Music plays and images flash through of an eye looking at the centre of an orange circle, Dr Michael Seo talking to the camera, working at his desk and then working on an experiment and text appears: Dr Michael Seo, Research scientist and Graphair co-inventor]

Dr Michael Seo: As a scientist, my key motivation is discoveries or inventing something new which no one has ever done before which would benefit Australian and global citizens, to have a positive, beneficial impact on their lives.

[Images flash through of Michael talking to the camera, Michael putting a piece of film into a vice, clamping it together, screwing it up and then the camera zooms out to show his experiment again]

The reason why I like about STEM is because I get to realise that I could understand how daily devices work, how the you know telescopes, or how the medical device imaging works, or I wanted to know how things work.

[Images flash through of Michael talking to the camera, a scalpel working around the rim of a circle and the eye looking into the circle]

The key thing that STEM can provide is the logical thinking, asking yourself why this happens. If you’re good at science I’m sure you’ll be able to apply the same logical thinking in different kinds of fields.

[Image changes to show Michael talking to the camera and then the image changes to show a male looking at a piece of film held in a pair of tweezers]

Technology is actually developing much faster rate than the society.

[Images move through of liquid being syringed from a beaker and then being put onto a microscope slide]

And all the technology drivers are actually based on STEM subjects.

[Image changes to show a male looking at something on a microscope slide]

There is nothing at the moment which is not based on science which is driving the future.

[Image changes to show Michael bending down and taking a sample of water from Sydney Harbour and then examining the sample he has taken]

So, if you want to be the driver of the future, that is one of the key reasons what STEM can teach you to do.

[Image changes to show Michael talking to the camera]

So, I think STEM is essential.

[Music plays and the CSIRO logo and text appears: Where could a STEM career take you? #STEMinSchools]

[Text changes to read: Australia’s innovation catalyst]

Meet Michael Seo :  Micheal is helping solve some of the world's biggest environmental problems.

When did you first become interested in STEM?

I have always been interested in understanding how things work – cars, electronics, machines. I wanted to understand the things that are so fundamental to our everyday life, and that's what attracted me to STEM. As I grew older, and started to read about the founders of many famous multinational companies, including Samsung and Hyundai. I realised many of these successful founders had a common background education in STEM and business. This motivated me to undertake a dual degree in Science and Commerce during my undergraduate years.

How did you get into nano-techology?

I decided to study Science and Commerce at university because I believed that having a diverse skills set would be beneficial from a future career perspective. I always knew I wanted to invent things to help people. I didn't know the exact shape that would take, but I knew I couldn't be doing this kind of work without STEM skills. Technology is going to drive much of our future. I predicted that nanotechnology would be next "thing" and I wanted to do or build something new which would benefit humanity in the end.

Tell us more about GraphAir

I am currently leading a project at CSIRO developing the ultimate water purification membrane. It uses a nano-material called graphene, and it has the potential to help address one of the greatest challenges we will face over the next century – access to clean, safe drinking water. Our graphene product is made from recycled cooking oil, and using that it can transform dirty water - including oily waste water, chemical waste water or household/industrial waste water - into usable tap water in a single step. I trust that the good science and engineering work we do today will, in the years to come, provide a real benefit to Australia and the world.

Water security is becoming one of the top problems which humanity will face over the next century, and I have a clear vision and strong motivation to solve this problem. STEM has given me the tools to invent.

Dr Michael Seo, CSIRO Research Scientist

Learn more about GraphAir

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