Sydney scientists take home Young Tall Poppy Awards

University of Sydney researchers Dr Tegan Cheng, Dr Ayesha Tulloch and Dr Yu Heng Lau have all been recognised as leaders in research excellence and public outreach after being named respective recipients of the 2021 Young Tall Poppy Science Awards.

Awarded annually by the Australian Institute of Policy and Science, the Young Tall Poppy Science Awards recognise the work of early career scientists leading in their field.

Recipients are provided with the opportunity to speak about their research and engage in outreach activities, promoting science to school students, teachers, and the broader community.

Treating musculoskeletal disorders in children

Dr Tegan Cheng

Dr Tegan Cheng is a biomedical engineer, scientist and Group Leader of the EPIC Lab, based in Kids Research at the Children’s Hospital at Westmead.

Dr Cheng’s main research areas include the development of new orthopaedic implants and 3D printing ankle-foot orthoses for children with musculoskeletal conditions.

The treatment of musculoskeletal disorders in children’s growing skeletons comes with unique challenges, including the need to consider their small size, fast growth and high levels of activity.

“I am so excited to take part in the Tall Poppies program and share my love of science and engineering with everyone who will listen,” said Dr Cheng, who is from the Faculty of Medicine and Health.

Solving conservation and wildlife management problems

Dr Ayesha Tulloch

Dr Ayesha Tulloch from the School of Life and Environmental Science is an Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Research Fellow with a specialisation in using ecological knowledge to inform conservation decision-making processes.

Dr Tulloch’s interests include finding solutions to conservation and wildlife management problems related to ecological monitoring, dynamic processes, ecosystem restoration and collapse, conservation conflicts, spatial conservation planning and triage.

“It’s very exciting to foster an Australian culture that celebrates high achievers rather than ‘cutting them down’, and to inspire younger Australians about the possibilities of science,” said Dr Tulloch.

Dr Tulloch works with non-government conservation organisations, private industries and government agencies to develop ecosystem management solutions, prioritising investment in conservation actions to maximise our chance of living sustainably with our environment.

Designing on the molecular scale

Dr Yu Heng Lau

Dr Yu Heng Lau is a senior lecturer and group leader within the School of Chemistry who’s research lies at the interface of synthetic chemistry, synthetic biology and bioengineering.

Dr Lau and his team work as molecular architects, using natural proteins and peptides as building blocks for engineering all manner of useful things on the molecular scale, from cancer drugs to carbon capture and fixation devices.

“It’s an incredible honour to be chosen as one of the NSW Young Tall Poppy finalists,” said Dr Lau.

“I’m looking forward to using the Tall Poppy as a launch pad for doing more creative science-art hybrid outreach activities.

“Some of the most exciting outreach projects we’ve recently had involve working with artists and musicians which have leading to some awesome and very much academically non-traditional outputs!”

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