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University of Sydney conservation biologist Dr Ayesha Tulloch has been named the overall New South Wales Young Tall Poppy of the Year recipient for 2021.

Dr Tulloch, an Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Research Fellow specialising in the use of ecological knowledge to inform conservation decision-making processes, was selected from 10 research winners spanning various disciplines from across the state.

The annual NSW Young Tall Poppy Science Awards are hosted by the Australian Institute of Policy and Science (AIPS).

These awards recognise and celebrate researchers who demonstrate scientific excellence combined with a unique passion for science communication, which can inspire young people to enter STEM study and careers.

“I am honoured to have been recognised as the overall NSW Tall Poppy of the Year recipient for this year,” said Dr Tulloch from the School of Life and Environmental Sciences.

“At their core, these awards are about celebrating scientists who are making a difference in terms of outreach and impact, and that’s so important to me.”

Dr Tulloch’s interests include finding solutions to conservation and wildlife management problems related to ecological monitoring, fire, farmland restoration, conservation conflicts and spatial conservation planning.

“Australia is unfortunately known around the world for its terrible record of animal and plant extinctions and shocking rates of land clearing, instead of being celebrated for its unique natural places and wildlife,” Dr Tulloch said.

“My goal is to work with the people and the organisations that want to help recover wildlife, whether it’s on farms or in national parks.

“My work has taken me from the desert rangelands of Australia to the rainforests of Madagascar to help organisations, governments and farmers deliver better outcomes for wildlife.

“I’m really proud of having been part of great science teams making a real impact on nature conservation, like Australia’s Threatened Species Index and the Africa Biodiversity Collaborative Group.

“These teams are building tools and educational material that are making a difference to how we manage the land.

“For the future, I’m expanding my research to explore the complex links between nature and people, and how we can intervene in agriculture and food systems to have the best outcomes for both wildlife and humans.”

The University of Sydney had a total of three researchers honoured with Young Tall Poppy Science Awards this year.

Dr Tegan Cheng from the Faculty of Medicine and Health was honoured for her ongoing research into treating musculoskeletal disorders in children, whilst Dr Yu Heng Lau from the School of Chemistry was recognised for engineering solutions on the molecular scale.