20 September 2006

Eight up-and-coming University of Queensland researchers have been honoured with awards totalling $552,000 at the 2006 UQ Foundation Research Excellence Awards held at Brisbane Customs House tonight (Wednesday, September 20).

The researchers are conducting studies in areas as diverse as the ethics of terrorism, reducing greenhouse gases in coal-fired power stations, new treatments for breast cancer and science communication.

Now in their eighth year, the annual awards recognise outstanding performance and leadership potential, and form part of UQ Research Week (September 18-22).

UQ Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor David Siddle congratulated the winners and commended the diversity of their research.

Professor Siddle said the UQ Foundation Research Excellence Awards were among a range of initiatives created by the University to foster and nurture exciting research projects.

"Awards such as these are designed to foster the next generation of quality researchers," he said.

"This year’s winners were part of a strongly contested field. The quality and diversity of their research augurs well for the University."

Professor Siddle said the University’s research and research-training performance consistently ranked in the top three among Australian universities on widely-accepted measures. UQ researchers competed favourably with the world’s best in many areas.

He said as part of UQ’s research strategy, the University had invested significant sums in key projects and had been able to attract matching financial support from government and external donors.

This approach has been extremely fruitful, particularly in projects related to bioscience, nanotechnology and neuroscience.

"UQ Research Week has highlighted a selection of important projects and the UQ Foundation Research Excellence Awards have introduced the work of some of our brightest young researchers," Professor Siddle said.

Funding for the winning researchers was provided by the UQ Foundation, UQ’s research-only budget, and the Vice-Chancellor’s Strategic Initiatives Fund.

The 2006 winners are:

Dr Joan Leach, of the School of English, Media Studies and Art History, received $55,000 to study the growing professional class of science communicators, which has sprung up to mediate between science and the general public.

Dr Mark Schembri, of the School of Molecular and Microbial Sciences, received $75,000 to identify good bacteria that will prevent harmful bacteria from causing urinary tract infections and better treatments.

Dr Steve Chenoweth, of the School of Integrative Biology, received $80,000 to investigate the genetic triggers of key differences between males and females including longevity and particular disease rates.

Dr Joe da Costa, of the School of Engineering, received $80,000 to develop hollow fibre technology that can separate oxygen from air, making the process of capturing carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, in coal fired power stations much easier.

Dr Ming-Xing Zhang, of the School of Engineering, received $65,000 to develop lighter alloys to replace steel parts in next-generation, fuel-efficient cars, trucks, air- and space craft

Dr Gregory Monteith, of the School of Pharmacy, received $67,000 to investigate calcium transportation and how it could lead to a treatment for breast cancer.

Dr Darren Trott, of the School of Veterinary Science, received $55,000 to improve understanding of a remarkable bacterium, which is an important cause of diarrhoea in animals and humans, and develop new treatments to control it.

Dr Alex Bellamy, of the School of Political Science and International Studies, received $75,000 to research and write a book about the ethics of terrorism.

Media inquiries: Andrew Dunne at UQ Communications (3365 2802 or 0433 364 181).
High resolution images of the Research Excellence Award winners are available by contacting Diana Lilley (3365 2753 or email d.lilley@uq.edu.au)