Macquarie has an ambition to be one of Australia’s, and one of the world’s, great research universities, and last Wednesday 4 November, we recognised and honoured our leaders in their fields furthering that work at the 2015 Research Excellence Awards.
“Our international reputation is built upon the excellence of the research undertaken by our highly committed and talented researchers across a broad spectrum of research activity,” says Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Sakkie Pretorius. “The night was a true showcase of the outstanding research and innovation being undertaken at Macquarie.”
The 2015 Research Awards were this year aligned with our five Future-shaping Research Priorities which were developed as a means to support the University’s current and emerging areas of disciplinary research strength with the significant challenges of today and tomorrow.
“Their breadth and local, national and global relevance offer researchers a considerable level of stability over the next 10 years. Each recognises the world-leading research with world-changing impact undertaken across the range of disciplines by researchers at Macquarie,” says Sakkie.
Congratulations to six staff, recognised with Excellence in Research – Five Future-Shaping Research Priorities Awards
Professor Jennifer Hudson
Healthy people: Improving emotional health
ARC Future Fellow and Centre for Emotional Health Director Professor Jennifer Hudson is working to stamp out childhood anxiety. Through international collaboration with more than 15 different institutions and anxiety clinics from around the world, the team is able to create tailored, individualised treatment for children with anxiety disorders. “If we can improve the emotional health of young people, then we can have an impact on individuals across their lifespan – improving their life satisfaction, their happiness and their emotional health,” she says.
Professor Wendy Rogers
Resilient societies: Supporting surgical innovation
ARC Future Fellow Professor Wendy Rogers is on a mission to make surgery safer for patients around the world. Her team developed the Macquarie Surgery Innovation Identification Tool (MSIIT), a questionnaire that identifies how much a surgical intervention differs from usual practice. If it meets a certain threshold, the tool triggers support to make it safer for the patient. “My grand plan is to use the conceptual tools from moral philosophy and ethics to identify and understand practical issues in healthcare and to try to resolve them in ways that make healthcare safer and better for people,” she says.
Professor Stefan Trueck
Prosperous economies: Modelling electricity prices
Centre for Financial Risk Co-director Professor Stefan Trueck wants to keep utility prices reasonable in Australia. He creates statistical or econometrical models to forecast the price behaviour of electricity. This is particularly important for large customers such as retailers who buy electricity on exchange and could be at risk with extreme price fluctuations. His models help hedge those risks. “I want to do things that help people, that help the economy and help financial markets to achieve better outcomes,” he says.
Associate Professor Brian Atwell
Secure planet: Improving our crops
Associate Professor Brian Atwell wants to feed the planet. Conservative estimates show that the Earth’s temperature will rise on average 0.9 degrees Celsius over the next century, which could mean disaster for plants that are highly sensitive to their environment. Atwell’s team has found a gene in heat-tolerant rices in northern Australia that allows photosynthesis at higher temperatures, enabling higher productivity of the plant. “There will be a group of people who have an open mind about using wild plants in Australia to try to improve the 15 or 20 major foods that feed almost everybody on this planet,” he says.
Professor Nicolle Packer
Innovative technologies: Understanding disease
Professor Nicolle Packer is helping in the fight against every disease in humans. Data from all over the world come together in her team’s project, UniCarbKB, to understand how sugars attach to the surface of cells and interact to bring about diseases. With the innovative technologies and the informatics needed to analyse data, the project makes it possible to develop new targets and diagnostics for these diseases. “I truly believe these molecules are important in the way our bodies function and how they stop functioning,” she says. “As one of my post-docs has said to me, ‘It’s all about sugars. It always was and always will be.’”
Professor David Raftos
Innovative technologies: Safeguarding our oyster industry
Professor David Raftos is working to future-proof Australia’s oyster industry. Besides being New South Wales’ largest aquaculture industry, oysters are instrumental in forming estuarine ecosystems such as that in Sydney Harbour and the Hawkesbury River. Working with the Australian oyster industry, Raftos’ team discovered a set of genes in oysters that allows them to survive disease and tolerate environmental changes. “So far our results are remarkable,” he says. “In just a single generation of breeding using this new technology, we’ve had a 30 per cent improvement in the number of oysters that survive disease outbreaks.”
See the full playlist of videos online, including those highly commended in these award categories.
Distinguished Professor Award: Seven of our academic finest bestowed with a mark of distinction
Also announced during the 2015 Research Excellence Awards, the Distinguished Professor award is the highest academic honour Macquarie can bestow on a member of our academic community, recognising professors who have made an outstanding contribution to their field of scholarship or discipline and to the University.
Seven staff will carry this title in 2016, including six renominated from the first cohort awarded in 2010.
The six continuing recipients of the 2015 Macquarie University Distinguished Professor Award are:
- Professor Mark Westoby, Faculty of Science and Engineering
- Professor Naguib Kanawati, Faculty of Arts
- Professor Sue O’Reilly, Faculty of Science and Engineering
- Professor David Throsby, Faculty of Business and Economics
- Professor Stephen Crain, Faculty of Human Sciences
- Professor Ronald Rapee, Faculty of Human Sciences
Newly nominated in 2015:
- Professor James Guthrie, Faculty of Business and Economics
Congratulations to all our award winners.