UQ Foundation Research Excellence Award winners.
UQ Foundation Research Excellence Award winners.
22 September 2010

ELEVEN young University of Queensland researchers have been honoured at the 2010 UQ Foundation Research Excellence Awards.

A record total $910,000 in research funding comes with this year’s awards, which were announced last night (Wed, 22 Sept 2010) at Customs House in Brisbane.

The prizes — a highlight of UQ Research Week 2010 (September 20–24) —recognise outstanding performance and leadership potential among early-to-mid-career researchers. The 2010 winners are:

- Dr Warwick Bowen from the School of Mathematics and Physics receives $100,000 for his project that aims to achieve quantum control of a mechanical oscillator for the first time. His research will be key to the further development of nanotechnology, and the extension of ultra-precise microscopy and sensing techniques.
Video: Dr Warwick Bowen [4.6MB MP4]

- Dr Kristofer Thurecht, of the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology and the Centre for Advanced Imaging, receives $90,000 to develop new polymer molecules for improved cancer diagnosis and therapy. The work aims for significantly more effective chemotherapy, by targeting cancer cells directly — compared to current non-targeted methods.
Video: Dr Kristofer Thurecht [15MB MP4]

- Dr Michael Piper, of the Queensland Brain Institute, receives $90,000 for his study into the genes that control neural progenitor cell development in the embryonic and adult brain. The work is expected to lead better knowledge on how the brain forms, which will ultimately contribute to understanding of diseases such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.
Video: Dr Michael Piper [3.7MB MP4]
- Dr Michel Coppieters, of the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, receives $90,000 to study immune-inflammation of the nervous system in neuropathic pain, and how one nerve disorder may predispose patients to another. This research will provide significant insight into the mechanisms of neuropathic pain.
Video: Dr Michel Coppieters [4.2MB MP4]

- Dr Yong Wang, of the School of Mechanical and Mining Engineering, receives $85,000 for his research into the photocatalytic and mechanical properties of titanium nanosheets, to aid in the development of high-quality photocatalysts for hydrogen production, clean energy and environmental protection.
Video: Dr Yong Wang [3.5MB MP4]

- Dr Massimo Hilliard, of the Queensland Brain Institute, receives $80,000 to study the powerful neural regenerative abilities of a common nematode worm. The research eventually could enable scientists to rebuild connections in the human nervous system after spinal cord and nerve injuries.
Video: Dr Massimo Hilliard [4.7MB MP4]

- Dr Chamindie Punyadeera, of the School of Chemical Engineering, receives $80,000 for her project that is developing a simple saliva test for rapid heart disease diagnosis and heart failure detection. Compared to current blood testing, the system will allow faster treatment and minimised heart damage. Doctors will be able to diagnose in the field, and pre-equipped patients will be able to self-monitor and quickly medicate at home.
Video: Dr Chamindie Punyadeera [12MB MP4]

- Dr Elizabeth Stephens, of the Centre for the History of European Discourses, receives $80,000 for her multi-disciplinary research project that aims to assess the cultural impact of medical imaging technologies, looking at their uptake in popular media to consider how these are changing the way human bodies are seen and understood.
Video: Dr Elizabeth Stephens [4.6 MB MP4]

- Dr Greig de Zubicaray, of the School of Psychology, receives $75,000, to study the mental processes and brain mechanisms underlying why we are able to produce language fluently, and why in the case of aphasia, we cannot.
Video: Dr Greig deZubricaray [4.3 MB MP4]

- Dr Ben Hogan, of the Institute for Molecular Bioscience, receives $70,000 for his research into the human lymphatic system, which plays a key role in immune function, cancer and obesity. His team is working towards mapping the genes that determine lymphatic vessel development in the embryo.
Video: Dr Ben Hogan [4.5MB MP4]

- Dr Chenghua Sun, of the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology, receives $70,000 for his research into metal-free photocatalysts for solar hydrogen production, aiming to facilitate the application of nanomaterials in clean energy.
Video: Dr Chenghua Sun [3.6 MB MP4]

UQ Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Max Lu congratulated the winners and commented on the diversity of the research represented.

He said UQ had grown into one of the top echelon research hubs in Australia — and the world.

“UQ researchers were awarded more than $303 million in research funding for 2300 projects in 2009,” Professor Lu said.

“On research funding to universities, this placed UQ second nationally, just after the University of Melbourne.

“It is not by accident that UQ has reached such a level of prominence. It is all part of the equation in the virtuous cycle in research. That is — success breeds success.”

Significant investment from the State and Federal governments and from generous benefactors over more than a decade had brought UQ to a level of “real critical mass in many areas of research”.

“UQ’s excellent facilities and our heavyweight reputation in research is attracting many talented researchers to UQ — evidenced by the amazing group of young researchers who have this year won UQ Foundation Research Excellence Awards,” Professor Lu said.

The awards, which have been running for 12 years, are funded by the UQ Foundation.

Also announced at the ceremony were the UQ Foundation Research Excellence in Research Higher Degree Supervisor Awards, to honour the advisers who lead and inspire UQ research and higher degree students.

The winners were:

- Associate Professor Melissa Brown, a molecular biologist, Deputy Head of the School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences, and Deputy Director (Research) at the UQ Diamantina Institute. She has supervised seven research higher degree students to completion at UQ since 2001, and is now supervising another six.

- Professor Ian Godwin, a plant geneticist in the School of Land, Crop and Food Sciences. He has supervised 24 PhD and eight MPhil students at UQ since 1990.

- Professor Ottmar Lipp, a psychologist and Australian Research Council Fellow whose research bridges the areas of biological, clinical and social psychology. He has supervised 19 UQ research higher degree students since 1994 and is currently supervising nine.

- Professor Zhiguo Yuan, a control engineer and Deputy Director of the Advanced Water Management Centre. Since 1998, he has supervised 19 research higher degree students to completion at UQ and is currently supervising eight.

Two commendations were given for Excellence in Research Higher Degree Supervision 2010. They were:

- Professor Louise Hickson is an audiologist and Head of the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences. Professor Hickson has supervised 19 research higher degree students to completion at UQ; eight are currently under her supervision.

- Associate Professor Andrew Bradley is a biomedical engineer and Postgraduate Coordinator in UQ’s School of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering. He has supervised four research higher degree students to completion at UQ; eight are under his supervision now.

In addition, Dr Noel Scott, a senior lecturer in the School of Tourism, won an Early Career Advisor Commendation for Excellence in Research Higher Degree Supervision. He has supervised eight PhD students to completion at UQ since 2004 and he is currently supervising five.

For more information on Research Week, please visit www.uq.edu.au/research-week.

Media: UQ Communications, Fiona Cameron (+61 7 3346 7086, f.cameron2@uq.edu.au) or Penny Robinson (+61 7 3365 9723, penny.robinson@uq.edu.au)