Summer Research Program at JKMRC – an undergraduate impression

Elliot Brown, UQ undergraduate of Bachelor of Engineering (honours) (Chemical and Biological), shares his experience as a summer researcher at JKMRC

I recently completed a 10-week summer research program at the Julius Kruttschnitt Mineral Research Centre in Indooroopilly. My supervisors were Mayra Jefferson Montoya and Liza Forbes who are a part of the flotation chemistry team.

With Mayra, I worked on developing a validation data set for an algorithm that will automatically segment and classify different mineral textures in ore bodies. This involved manually segmenting and classifying backscattered electron (BSE) images using eCognition, an image processing software. I worked through 640 different images, classifying over 1 million different particles.

side by side comparison of BSE and segmented and classified in eCognition
Example of mineral segmentation and classification using eCognition. Image credit: Elliot Brown

Validating results is crucial to help identify errors and create robust results. Even though the work I completed could be somewhat repetitive and tedious, knowing that what I did was contributing to a world-first validation data set kept me focused and motivated. I guess that’s the beauty of the beast of research. Discovering and creating something completely unknown to humanity is difficult, it does come with challenges. However, the reward in the end is priceless, regardless of the outcome.

Elliot Brown working at a desktop
Elliot Brown

Why apply for the Summer Research Program? I attended research presentations and industry conferences to better understand the world of mining, metallurgy, and mineral processing. During an industry partner presentation, I saw the interesting relationship between research and industry, the dynamics and challenges that are faced when collaborating with industry partners and the importance of continuing this partnership.

Each fortnight I participated in the flotation chemistry team meetings that taught me invaluable skills regarding teamwork and communication in a professional setting. Initially, I was stressed about how I was going to meet my target of segmenting and classifying 640 images. Mayra was incredible at listening to my concerns and helped me find ways to overcome the challenges I was facing. Communication is vital when working in a team. We are all here to help each other.

Working in a research centre for 10 weeks has shown me the complexity, challenges, and beauty of what is entailed in research. From the backbone of acquiring grants and writing proposals to collecting and analysing data, and writing and publishing undergoing and completed work.

This position was my first professional engineering experience. I was welcomed into a beautiful team of supportive and dedicated academics. Being surrounded by a diverse and interesting group of people made every day new and exciting. A big thank you to everyone I have met along the way.

Connect with Elliot Brown

Last updated:
17 February 2023