CSRM Researcher Wins UQ Excellence Award

18 Sep 2012

A group of talented researchers and supervisors has been recognised at a special ceremony tonight for 2012 Research Week at The University of Queensland.

The 2012 UQ Foundation Research Excellence Awards and the Awards for Excellence in Research Higher Degree Supervision are a highlight of Research Week (September 17-21).

UQ welcomed guest speakers Professor Aidan Byrne, CEO of the Australian Research Council, and The Hon Mr Dale Shuttleworth MP, State Member for Ferny Grove and Minister's Parliamentary Special Adviser on Science and Innovation.

Now in their 14th year, the UQ Foundation Research Excellence Awards encourage excellent early career researchers and support their career advancement.

2012 saw $626,000 bestowed on eight researchers from a range of faculties, centres, schools and institutes across the University.

The 2012 winners are:

 Dr Brock Bastian, of the School of Psychology, receives $72,000 to explore the potential benefits of physical pain, in particular how controlled and moderate pain may be energising and rejuvenating for individuals, may be meaningful, and may motivate interpersonal connection and strengthen group life.

 Dr Oliver Baumann, of the Queensland Brain Institute, receives $70,000 to investigate the role of the human cerebellum in emotion regulation, which may enable a better understanding of and potential treatment for a range of disorders that have been linked to cerebellar dysfunction, including schizophrenia, autism and depression.

 Dr Tamara Davis, of the School of Mathematics and Physics, receives $85,000 for her research into the nature of dark energy – making new predictions for astronomical observations that may help explain why the expansion of the universe is accelerating.

 Dr Daniel Franks, of the Centre for Social Responsibility in Mining, receives $81,000 for his project to critically reflect on how the resources sector is addressing the challenges of sustainable development and the role of communities, civil society, government and industry sustainability professionals in such change.

 Dr Richard Fuller, of the School of Biological Sciences, receives $85,000 for his project to determine how much of the world should be set aside for conservation to enable long-term survival of wild plant and animal species, and to improve the planet's resilience to environmental challenges such as climate change.

 Dr Ryan Taft, of the Institute for Molecular Bioscience, receives $85,000 for his research to discover the genetic mutations that underlie rare paediatric brain deterioration disorders, which will eventually lead to reliable and rapid genetic screening and the development of tailored therapies.

 Dr Da-Wei Wang, of the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology, receives $78,000 for his research to develop highly reliable, high-energy lithium batteries that can be used to power electric or hybrid vehicles and smartphones.

 Dr Graeme Were, of the School of English, Media Studies and Art History, receives $70,000 for his research into how people in the Asia-Pacific region access, use and apply digital images in the course of their lives. The research will lead to an understanding of how local people utilise digital images to relate to their past and their land, a revival of local traditions and practices, as well as assisting museums in understanding issues around cultural restitution.

UQ Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Alan Lawson congratulated the award winners, all of whom show exceptional promise to be leaders of discovery.

"These awards matter not only for the future of research at UQ, but also for the global competitiveness of Queensland and Australia," Professor Lawson said.

"By encouraging young innovators to continue careers in research, we help Australia foster the talent that will contribute to addressing global problems," he said.

"During the life of these awards we have provided about $8.6 million to 118 researchers, some of whom have attracted tens of millions of dollars to Queensland, and have helped shape the economy as well as their own areas of research.

"UQ is committed to continuing this annual awards program, and to working with governments, industry, philanthropists and not-for-profits to fund the projects of promising young researchers."

Three supervisors received the UQ Awards for Excellence in Higher Research Degree Supervision.

Approximately 4000 students are enrolled in research higher degrees at UQ and their success is underpinned by advisors who guide them through their candidature. Since 2000, UQ has acknowledged and rewarded outstanding advisors through these awards.

The Dean of the UQ Graduate School, Professor Zlatko Skrbis, paid tribute to this year's winners and the importance of the awards in recognising the dedication and inspiration of these advisors in shaping tomorrow's research leaders.

"Great supervisors are key to the overall research experience and play an integral role in enabling the students to realise their academic potential," Professor Skrbis said.

The 2012 winners are:

 Professor Stephen Adkins, of the School of Agriculture and Food Sciences, who has promoted extensive collaboration with international and industry partners, and fosters an empathetic and team-minded approach among his RHD students, including a mentoring program.

 Professor Richard Morgan, of the School of Mechanical and Mining Engineering and Director of the Centre for Hypersonics, who has encouraged development through international student exchanges with overseas collaborators, whilst engendering internal cooperation within the study body.

 Professor Jenny Ziviani, of the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences and Queensland Health, who has worked with students to ensure they have realistic goals, build a national and international research network, and are exposed to incremental learning experiences tailored to their needs.

Commendations for Excellence in Research Higher Degree Supervision have been awarded to:

Professor Bill Vicenzino, of the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, for his considerable contribution to the mentoring of research higher degree students at UQ.

Dr Barbara Sullivan, of the School of Political Science and International Studies, Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences, for her outstanding supervisory practice and considerable contribution to the mentoring of research higher degree students at UQ.