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Peeling back the layers

Cover imageANU PhD student Erica Seccombe has been working with the NCI VizLab to reveal the unexpectedly beautiful insides of the humble garden slater.

“I wanted to explore the slater with x-ray to get a new view of the creepy crawlies under our feet in the garden,” says Ms Seccombe.

With the help of Professor Tim Senden, Head the ANU Department of Applied Mathematics, and the NCI VizLab’s Dr Ajay Limaye, who developed the Drishti visualisation software, Seccombe used the 3D Micro X-ray Tomography unit to delve into the finer features of the armoured insect.

“Drishti is amazing,” says Seccombe. “It allowed us to explore the slater virtually. You can go through the layers – through skin, fat, muscle and bone – virtually dissecting the bug, exploring it in a million different ways. We’ve looked at this slater a thousand times, and we are still seeing parts of the slater we have never seen before.

“Tim and Ajay are open to other ideas and are so flexible in their thinking – there are no square pegs in round holes over here. Scientists are creative people, so we have a natural affinity. It’s great to come to the other side of campus and collaborate with these amazing minds on something so beautiful.”

See more of Erica Seccombe’s work at

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