Monash researchers win three prestigious Eureka Prizes

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Researchers from Monash University have been awarded three 2022 Australian Museum Eureka Prizes in recognition of their innovative contributions to their field of research.

The winners include Dr Kirsten Ellis from the Faculty of Information Technology, Professor Paul Wood from the Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences (FMNHS) and a team from FMNHS including Monash’s Associate Professor Eric Chow, Professor Christopher Fairley, Professor Catriona Bradshaw, Professor Marcus Chen, along with Professor Jane Hocking and Professor Deborah Williamson from The University of Melbourne.

The Australian Museum Eureka Prizes honour excellence across the areas of research and innovation, leadership, science engagement and school science, and are presented annually in partnership with some of the country’s leading scientific institutions, government organisations, universities and corporations.

Monash Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) and Senior Vice President Professor Rebekah Brown said: “On behalf of Monash, we are excited and extremely proud of the researchers recognised with this distinguished award, acknowledging their hard work and dedication to excellence in research.”

“The Eureka Prizes are among the nation’s most prestigious science awards, representing one of the highest honours in research and innovation in Australia and we’re very excited to see the work of talented Monash researchers recognised on the national stage.”

THE MONASH WINNERS AND THEIR RESEARCH CONTRIBUTIONS ARE:

Australian Infectious Disease Research Centre Eureka Prize for Infectious Diseases Research

Associate Professor Eric Chow (Monash Central Clinical School), Professor Christopher Fairley, Professor Catriona Bradshaw, Professor Marcus Chen, along with Professor Jane Hocking and Professor Deborah Williamson from The University of Melbourne.

Rapid rises in sexually transmitted infection (STI) and antibiotic resistance are a growing global concern. A research team at Monash University in collaboration with The University of Melbourne has explored new routes of transmission for gonorrhoea, and developed novel interventions and strategies to treat and improve the control of gonorrhoea, chlamydia, syphilis and Mycoplasma genitalium and to optimise antimicrobial stewardship. This includes (1) conducting the first clinical trial to compare the efficacy of azithromycin with doxycycline for rectal chlamydia to inform Australian and international treatment guidelines; (2) investigating new agents for resistant M. genitalium and developing a novel resistance-guided treatment strategy to improve cure of M. genitalium that changed international policy and practice; (3) using genomics to respond to sexually transmitted pathogens; and (4) identify kissing as a risk factor for gonorrhoea transmission and investigating mouthwash as a potential intervention for oropharyngeal gonorrhoea.

Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources Eureka Prize for STEM Inclusion

Dr Kirsten Ellis, Inclusive Technologies Lab, Faculty of Information Technology

TapeBlocks are novel STEM inclusion activities that inspire people to experiment with building creative circuits. This innovative approach to circuit making facilitates engagement in STEM for people with a range of disabilities so that everyone is able to enjoy the benefits of playing with electronics and creating circuits for themselves. The TapeBlock kits include foam blocks with conductive tape and outputs such as small colour changing lights, fans and buzzers. These easy to create kits are being used to break down barriers and challenge perceptions of who is able to participate in STEM engagement activities. The plan is to further refine and extend TapeBlocks to meet the needs of different participants and improve the support materials, including online tutorials and lesson plans.

UTS Eureka Prize for Outstanding Mentor of Young Researchers

Paul Wood AO, Adjunct Professor in Microbiology, Monash Biomedicine Discovery InstituteProfessor Wood is nominated for this award for his vision and leadership to establish the Industry Mentoring and Networking in STEM (IMNIS) program. The idea for the IMNIS programme stemmed from a training program for PhD students called “Project to Product”, which was established alongside Monash’s Associate Professor Jose Garcia-Bustos and Associate Professor Priscilla Johanesen to introduce PhD students to how to translate their science to products and work with industry. IMNIS is now the premier Australian mentoring program for PhD students and early career postdocs in STEM, with over 400 individuals being mentored each year. IMNIS continues to expand and is now a high-profile program within the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE) and part of the new Elevate program to boost women in STEM. The success of IMNIS is a credit to Professor Wood’s vision, leadership, and tenacity to design and build a mentoring program that would have the scale to make a real impact on the future careers of thousands of young researchers in Australia.

 

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