News

Two Young Tall Poppy Science Award winners in Faculty of Science



15 October 2010

Dr Richard Payne, from the School of Chemistry, and Dr Joanne Whittaker, from the School of Geosciences, have won NSW Young Tall Poppy Science Awards, run by the Australian Institute of Policy and Science and sponsored by the NSW Office for Science and Medical Research.

Dr Payne and Dr Whittaker were presented with their awards by NSW Minister for Science and Medical Research Jodi McKay at a ceremony held at the Powerhouse Museum on Thursday 14 October.

Dr Joanne Whittaker, from the School of Geosciences, has won a 2010 NSW Young Tall Poppy Science Award. Pictured with Professor Dietmar Müller, also from School of Geosciences. Photo credit: 247 Studios.
Dr Joanne Whittaker, from the School of Geosciences, has won a 2010 NSW Young Tall Poppy Science Award. Pictured with Professor Dietmar Müller, also from School of Geosciences. Photo credit: 247 Studios.

The ten Young Tall Poppy winners in NSW this year also included Associate Professor Sharon Naismith, from the University of Sydney's Brain and Mind Research Institute.

The prestigious Young Tall Poppy Science Awards recognise the achievements of Australia's outstanding science and medical researchers under the age of 35, working in universities, research institutes and laboratories in private industry, private practice and government organisations.

"This outstanding group of young scientists are already making their mark in their respective fields of research and science and I congratulate each of the finalists," said NSW Minister for Science and Medical Research Jodi McKay.

"The diverse and complex work being carried out by this year's finalists is remarkable and highlights the depth and breadth of world-leading science being done here in NSW."

The ten Young Tall Poppy winners will spend the next year engaging with teachers, school students, parents and the broader community around NSW and across Australia as part of the Tall Poppy Campaign run by the Australian Institute of Policy and Science.

Dr Richard Payne, from the School of Chemistry, has won a 2010 NSW Young Tall Poppy Science Award. Pictured with Dr Alison Findlay from Pharmaxis. Photo credit: 247 Studios.
Dr Richard Payne, from the School of Chemistry, has won a 2010 NSW Young Tall Poppy Science Award. Pictured with Dr Alison Findlay from Pharmaxis. Photo credit: 247 Studios.

"Over the next 12 months the winners will play an important role as 'knowledge ambassadors' to the next generation of scientists as part of the Tall Poppy Campaign. The Young Tall Poppies will visit schools around the State to encourage students to continue their science studies and talk to them about the diverse career opportunities available in the science sector," said Minster McKay.

Dr Joanne Whittaker's research is focussed on examining the relationships between the deep Earth, crustal and surface processes. Her current research involves developing a new model of plate tectonics to more accurately reconstruct India's motion through time.

Plate tectonics are an important driver of long-term sea level and climate change, including the global CO2 cycle. It is hoped Dr Whittaker's models will be a key input into palaeo-climate models used to reproduce key global climatic periods.

"I'm over the moon about being a 2010 Young Tall Poppy. Being only 5'2" it is probably the first (and possibly only) time in my life that I've been called tall!" exclaimed Dr Whittaker.

"I am definitely looking forward to participating in the Young Tall Poppy program of communication events through 2010-11. I have participated in some outreach activities before, such as Science in the City, but the Young Tall Poppy program will be a great opportunity to get a lot more practice at communicating all the exciting things we are working on in the School of Geosciences to the broader community and also to reach a lot more people," said Dr Whittaker.

Dr Richard Payne is focussed on using organic chemistry to discover new therapeutics for the treatment of a number of diseases including tuberculosis (TB) and cancer. He has designed molecules which bind with and block proteins that TB needs to survive, making them possible new TB drug candidates.

Dr Payne has also been involved in the cataloguing of molecules which appear on the surface of cancer cells but not normal cells; these could allow the immune system to attack the cancer cells.

"I am honoured to be a recipient of a NSW Young Tall Poppy Award. It is a great feeling to be recognised for both my research and community work," said Dr Payne.

"I am looking forward to contributing to the Young Tall Poppy Program of Communication. This is particularly special for me next year as it is the International Year of Chemistry and I am already starting to plan for various events. My previous community events have involved giving special interactive lectures to high school students and I've also appeared on the ABC TV show Catalyst about my research into the development of new TB drugs."

See the complete list of NSW Young Tall Poppy Science Award winners at: www.aips.net.au/331635.html


Contact: Katynna Gill

Phone: 02 9351 6997

Email: 220d3f0d572c1216175d5d38261a3b2c16503842134b334d2e01