30 September 2008

UQ staff and students won four of the nine award categories at the 11th annual 2008 Women in Technology awards held at the weekend in Brisbane, including the strongly-contested student division.

Second year UQ Information Technology student Sarah McDowell took out the prestigious Unisys ICT Student Award from fellow UQ student finalists Jacinta Fitzgerald and Nicola Holmes.

The Unisys Student Award category was open to all undergraduate and vocational students in the ICT field and aimed to recognise the achievements of women working and studying in the technology industries in Queensland.

Judges noted that Ms McDowell, who already holds a number of IT qualifications, demonstrated a “commitment to education and to working to gain a high level of knowledge in the sector.”

Professor Paul Bailes, Head UQ’s School of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering, said one of the School’s main aims was to encourage high-achieving students irrespective of gender to study ICT with a view to undertaking future careers in industry, research or both.

“UQ’s ICT programs provide students with opportunities to focus on the aspects of the technology that best suits their interests,” he said.

“The Bachelor of Information Technology emphasises how ICT enables applications in business and government.

“The Bachelor of Multimedia Design focuses on human factors in the design, development and application of information technology, while the several ICT-related fields of the Bachelor of Engineering concentrate on the fundamental enabling software and hardware systems.”

“The WiT Awards are an excellent way of showcasing the incredible depth and breadth of women working in Queensland’s technology industries.

“Both finalists and winners in each category should be extremely proud of this recognition and their individual accomplishments in technology."

UQ winners also included:

Biotech Outstanding Achievement Award
Winner: Professor Maree Smith of UQ’s School of Pharmacy, who is one of Australia's leading researchers in pain and has particular expertise in testing molecules of effectiveness as pain drugs. Professor Smith leads an internationally-recognised team of 20 research staff and students. Since 1998, Professor Smith has published more than 65 peer-reviewed papers and is a member of the editorial review board for Pain: Clinical Updates.

Griffith PhD Career Start Award
Winner: UQ PhD student Melinda Kambouris of the Mater Medical Research Institute, whose honours and PhD studies have focused on a major complication of haematopoietic stem cell transplantation known as graft-versus-host disease. This is a debilitating, potentially fatal side effect that affects 50 to 85 percent of patients undergoing this treatment.

QLD Government Executive Award
Winner: UQ PhD graduate Dr Judy Halliday of the University’s main commercialisation company, UniQuest Pty Ltd, Before joining UniQuest last year she was the Head of Preclinical Development and Clinical Development at Alchemia Limited.

UQ also sponsored the Women in Technology Biotech Research Award, won by Dr Neena Mitter of Emerging Technologies.

Media: For more information, contact Steve Forster (telephone 07 3365 2382, email: s.forster@uq.edu.au) or Jan King at UQ Communications 0413 601 248.