Monday, September 28, 2015

UQ rewards its excellent researchers

Research into areas as diverse as avocados, batteries and climate change has shared in a $515,182 total pool in the University of Queensland’s Research Week awards.

Six early- to mid-career researchers and two supervisors were honoured at UQ’s annual Foundation Research Excellence Awards and the Awards for Excellence in Research Higher Degree Supervision at Customs House.

University of Queensland
L to R: Joseph Powell, Penelope Sanderson, Ian Hesketh, Linda Worrall, Elizabeth Worrall on behalf of Alice Hayward, Danielle Shanahan on behalf of Richard Fuller, Zhongfan Jia, Bing-Jie Ni, Eve McDonald-Madden (Photo credit: UQ)

The awards were presented by UQ Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Høj and guest speaker Professor Ingrid Scheffer from the University of Melbourne.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Robyn Ward said the awards would help these early career researchers advance their excellent research endeavours.

“All of the winners show exceptional promise to become discovery leaders of the future,” Professor Ward said.

“These awards recognise that our early career researchers are pursuing important work and developing innovations that create change for people all over the world.”

The UQ Foundation Research Excellence Awards—now in their 17th year—recognise excellence and the promise of future success in research for UQ’s early- to mid-career researchers. The awards will enable the researchers to further their exciting research endeavours.

The 2015 winners

Dr Alice Hayward ($95,733) from UQ's Queensland Alliance for Agricultural and Food Innovation, who aims to create a biodegradable, non-toxic, non-GM spray to induce root formation in avocados, aiming to  help the industry meet growing consumer demand and make avocados more affordable.

Dr Zhongfan Jia ($79,283), from UQ’s Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology, who is developing a totally plastic battery to power future flexible and wearable electronic devices that is suitable and safe to dispose in the recycling bin.

Dr Bing-Jie Ni ($90,500), from UQ’s Advanced Water Management Centre, who is investigating ways to transform organic waste into renewable fuel, including developing an innovative platform for storing and transporting liquid bio-products.

Dr Ian Hesketh ($52,660), from UQ’s Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, who is examining ‘Big History’, which brings together findings from astronomy, geology, biology and anthropology to place human history within the larger story of all life—beginning with the Big Bang.

Dr Eve McDonald-Madden ($99,796), from UQ’s School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Management, who is developing methods to detect when climate predictions fail to capture how the climate is actually changing. The research will contribute to saving plant and animal species that would otherwise go extinct as a result of climate change.

Dr Joseph Powell ($97,210), from UQ’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience, who is analysing genetic data to help understand how the mutations that occur in people’s DNA contribute to disease susceptibility. This knowledge could then be translated to clinical practice to improve patient care.

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