Awards and recognition: who shone in September


2020 Eureka Prize finalist Dr Sophie Calabretto 

Every month we celebrate impressive achievements within the Macquarie community. Got something to share for next month? Tell us.

It all adds up for Macquarie Eureka finalists

Congratulations to Sophie Calabretto, who is honoured among this year’s Australian Museum Eureka Prize finalists in the Promoting Understanding of Science category. The Prizes are considered the leading science awards in the country – sometimes referred to as the ‘Oscars’ of Australian science.

Sophie is recognised for her commitment to raising the profile of mathematics in Australia.

“We need to change people’s perception that mathematics is only for very smart people. Or that it is dull, or even irrelevant,” she says. “Mathematics is everywhere and it is the language through which we engage with the modern world.

“My hope is that my science communication and outreach activities will help break the stigma that surrounds mathematics, especially for young women.”

Dr Maina Mbui has also been nominated in this year’s awards as part of the Social-Ecological Research Frontiers team for Excellence in Interdisciplinary Scientific Research.

This combined team of researchers has assembled the largest dataset of its type on conditions in over 6000 reefs across 46 countries around the globe, allowing them to locate and learn from coral reef ‘bright spots’ – places that are doing better than expected, despite ongoing pressures from climate change, overfishing and pollution.

“Coral reefs are in decline and current strategies for preserving them are insufficient,” he says.

“Using big data and location intelligence has allowed us to extract the signal from the noise in global data to identify several characteristics that improve the state of coral reef ecosystems, and solutions that can be applied more broadly across the world’s coral reefs.”

The Eureka Award winners will be announced in a live online ceremony on Tuesday 24 November.

The Australian names the nation’s top researchers

In their special Research report, published on 24 September, The Australian names the nation’s top research performers based on citations in top journals in each field.

Alongside Distinguished Professor Ian Paulsen, who was named among Australia’s top 40 Lifetime Achievers in research, eight Macquarie staff were named as Field Leaders and two as Rising Stars. Macquarie was also named the overall top research institution in ten fields.

Congratulations to all our recognised researchers.

Double recognition for The Lighthouse

Macquarie’s innovative digital research news platform The Lighthouse has been recognised with two industry accolades in one week.

The site has been shortlisted for the Mumbrella Publish Awards for Best Response to COVID-19. Publishing a huge array of stories relating to the pandemic (including Professor Alvin Ing’s world-first study of asymptomatic patients stuck on an Antarctic cruise ship), the site is meeting a growing appetite for trustworthy news based on peer-reviewed research and expert opinion.

Content marketing software leader NewsCred has also named The Lighthouse among their Top 20 Australian Content Marketing brands for 2020.

“While 2020 could rightly be described as the Australian university sector’s ‘annus horribilis’, Macquarie University has continued to shine a light on the important work being done by its academics via its content hub The Lighthouse.”, the NewsCred report says.

Research boost for solar panel efficiency and cost reduction

Macquarie has successfully secured three significant grants in the latest round of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) funding. Announced last week on behalf of the Australian Government, $15.14 million was awarded to 16 research projects to help address solar photovoltaic (PV) panel efficiency, overall cost reductions and end-of-life issues.

Dr David Payne from the School of Engineering, and Head of PV and Optical Characterisation Lab, has been awarded $420,000 for the Macquarie-led project: Substitution of niche-market PV production tools with cost-effective consumer-electronics technology.

Associate Professor Shujuan Huang from the School of Engineering is also MQ Chief Investigator on two successful collaborative projects: Durable Silicon Perovskite Tandem PV ($987,285) and Triple Junction Silicon-Perovskite-Perovskite Tandem PV ($1,494,340).

Asia Society Australia names Macquarie Professor as inaugural Scholar-in-Residence

Congratulations to Professor Bates Gill – political analyst, scholar of China, author, and Professor of Asia-Pacific Security Studies – who has been named the inaugural Scholar-in-Residence at Asia Society Australia.

The Scholar-in-Residence Program appoints leading thinkers to Asia Society Australia to provide analysis on the critical issues facing Australia in Asia; to engage with Australian business and government, and to contribute to Asia Society programs and publications.

Bates is an expert on Chinese foreign policy, with a long record of research and publications on international and regional security issues. He is the former CEO of the US Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, and a former Director of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. Bates was also the co-editor of Asia Society Australia Disruptive Asia Special China Edition in 2019. Currently, his work focuses on Chinese foreign and security policy, US-China relations, and the US role in Asia.

Student wellbeing support recognised at national awards

Trish Behan, Senior Teacher at Macquarie’s English Language Centre (ELC), has won the national John Gallagher Award for her work on student wellbeing and mental health. Announced at the English Australia conference last month, the John Gallagher Award recognises outstanding contributions to the sector by an individual.

Trish has been working for several years in this important space, including hosting PACE Psychology students at the ELC to work with ELC students to de-stigmatise mental health issues. The outcomes from the PACE units includes a video that is now embedded in the MQ Wellbeing app, and the Psychology students were themselves highly commended in the 2019 PACE awards for this work. Trish also set up the state-wide Student Advisor network, and is the Convenor of the national English Australia Mental Health SIG.

Director of Macquarie University International College and English Language Centre Dr Pamela Humphreys says: “We are delighted to have the work of the ELC recognised as a leader in this emerging field, and proud of Trish’s work specifically.”





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