Monday, June 24, 2024

Tallest poppy honoured in Queensland science awards

Associate Professor Carissa Klein, an ARC Future Fellow at The University of Queensland working in the field of conservation science, has been awarded the 2023 Queensland Young Tall Poppy of the Year.

Queensland Science Minister, Leanne Linard said Associate Professor Klein received her award for her research to resolve one of the biggest challenges currently facing humanity – feeding the world’s increasing population without having an overwhelming environmental impact.

“My sincere congratulations to our Queensland Young Tall Poppy of the Year, Associate Professor Carissa Klein, and all our deserving young scientists who are recipients of a 2023 Tall Poppy award,” the Minister said.

“The outstanding research being undertaken by these young scientists, and all scientists researching throughout Queensland, shows why our State is considered one of the leading scientific locations in this country.

“Young scientists are instrumental in addressing global challenges such as climate change, infectious diseases and sustainable technology development, and the work being undertaken by our awardees shows how far we have come and continue to progress in these areas.”

Associate Professor Klein’s work focusses on seafood and, by interrogating fishing and seafood trade data, is improving understanding of what seafood species are eaten and where it comes from, while assessing the social and environmental implications of seafood consumption to improve the sustainability of fishing and seafood trade policies.

Her studies often feature in Australian and international media, reaching a global audience, while locally she visits primary and high schools to educate students about the importance of protecting coral reefs and eating sustainable seafood.

Held annually around Australia, in Queensland the Young Tall Poppy Science Awards are hosted by the Australian Institute of Policy and Science (AIPS) in partnership with the Office of the Queensland Chief Scientist.

“The Queensland Young Tall Poppy Science Awards are our way of recognising and celebrating scientists who are doing amazing things, both in their science and in making the world a more informed place,” said Australian Institute of Policy and Science co-chair, Professor Maria Kavallaris AM.

“We know that these 13 young scientists, experts in a wide range of scientific disciplines, will inspire other researchers to share in the passion for solving today’s problems and making groundbreaking advancements in their chosen disciplines.

“We also know that STEM careers are essential for a growing and competitive economy, but unfortunately, the demand for STEM graduates continues to outstrip supply.

“Through these awards we hope to show that STEM programs and initiatives can nurture young scientists to play a crucial role in addressing that imbalance.

“These awards show that young scientists can continue to push the boundaries of knowledge and innovation, and contribute to society’s advancement, paving the way for a brighter and more scientifically literate future for us all.

“Our sincere congratulations to all Tall Poppies for 2023.”

The awards recognise and celebrate researchers who demonstrate scientific excellence combined with a unique passion for science communication, which can inspire young people to enter STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) study and careers.

They were inaugurated in 1998 on the centenary of the birth of Howard Florey, an Australian pharmacologist and pathologist who shared a Nobel Prize in 1945 with Ernst Chain and Sir Alexander Fleming for his role in the development of penicillin.

Other 2023 Queensland Young Tall Poppy Science Awardees are:

  • Associate Professor Hongzhi Yin, The University of Queensland, for his research to return control of AI and its reliance on data to users through decentralised computing to process and analyse data on connected personal devices rather than through centralised “big tech” companies. 
  • Dr Sarah Wallace, The University of Queensland, for her speech pathology-based research to improve services for victims of aphasia (the inability to comprehend or formulate language due to brain damage).
  • Dr Cheng Zhang, The University of Queensland, for his research on the design of new, efficient methods to remove toxic PFAS from drinking water, wastewater, and the environment, as well as developing technology to convert PFAS into useful products, addressing the issue of PFAS pollution in more than 1000 sites in Australia. 
  • Dr Cullan Howlett, The University of Queensland, for his research mapping the positions and motions of galaxies and his studies into dark matter and gravity, to lead to new and improved technologies for applications such as GPS.
  • Dr Zeinab Khalil, The University of Queensland, for her research into new chemical compounds and potential solutions for drug resistance, addressing the increasing issue of bacteria becoming increasingly resistant to antibiotics. 
  • Dr Samuel Robinson, The University of Queensland, for his chronic pain research using the chemistry of plant and animal stings to identify new ways for drugs to target the body’s pain signalling circuitry, leading to a new generation of painkillers for chronic pain.
  • Dr Nathan Boase, Queensland University of Technology, for his chemical research into treatments for debilitating diseases by looking at ways to combine disease detection and treatment, instead of relying on separate processes for diagnosis, treatment, and monitoring disease progression, leading to improved therapy and reduced side-effects. 
  • Dr Melanie Finch, James Cook University, for her geological research into how minerals needed for green energy technology are concentrated in rocks, helping to find new mineral deposits for these technologies. 
  • Dr Kevin Koo, The University of Queensland, for his prostate cancer detection research to develop “novel nanobiosensor” technologies allowing improved non-invasive prostate cancer detection methods.
  • Dr Chun Xu, The University of Queensland, for his craniofacial and orodental research using nanotechnology to develop new materials and 3D printing technologies to assist in repairing bone defects and conditions such as cleft lips and pallets. 
  • Dr Sobia Zafar, The University of Queensland, for her dental research, particularly in the area of paediatric dentistry, and her introduction of innovative teaching tools in digital dentistry that helps dental students move from laboratory simulations to patient care.
  • Dr Nora Tischler, Griffith University, for her quantum physics research that among other things uses photons (the fundamental particles of light) to encode, manipulate, and read quantum information, leading to new ways to process, store, and communicate information that is more powerful and efficient than today’s information processing methods.

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