Leading Griffith University researchers were honoured at the Vice Chancellor’s Research Excellence Awards held at South Bank campus on April 19.
From a range of areas including drug discovery, nutrition care and clean energy, Vice Chancellor and President Professor Ian O’Connor said the nominees and winners represent only part of Griffith’s outstanding research excellence story.
“I am sure you all agree that the 2015 Vice Chancellor’s Research Excellence Awards showcase just the tip of the University’s proud research legacy,” he said.
“I take great pleasure in congratulating the nominees and winners, and commend the far-reaching benefits and diversity of your research.”
Excellence in Research Leadership
For his significant research accomplishments Professor Ron Quinn AM was awarded the 2015 Lifetime Research Leadership award.
Professor Quinn is the Foundation Director of the Eskitis Institute for Drug Discovery, where he has led a team of researchers investigating treatments for human diseases in the areas of cancer, infection and immunity, neglected diseases, neurological disease and stem cell biology.
Professor Quinn is also the driving force behind Nature Bank – the world’s first integrated drug discovery platform encompassing a library of over 200,000 optimised natural product fractions derived from a diverse collection of over 72,000 samples of plants and marine invertebrates from tropical Queensland, Tasmania, China, Malaysia and Papua New Guinea.
He said being able to teach the next generation of scientists and continue his research focus was what kept him inspired and motivated.
“I like to help students get where they want to go but I also like to challenge them on what they are learning,” he said.
“There are many researchers out there still doing things that we did in the 1950s and I think that is crazy in today’s scientific world.
“I want to show that you don’t have to do that, that there are other ways to attack this problem and make it more systematic.”
Excellence in an Early Career Researcher
Dr Ball was recognised for her work on improving the nutrition care provided by primary health care professionals to patients with chronic disease.
Her current research involves the development and implementation of an intervention that supports GPs and Practice Nurses to promote healthy eating in consultations. Her work has aided better understanding of what “best practice” nutrition care looks like, increased continuing education opportunities for health professionals and improvements to university nutrition education for medical students.
Excellence of an Individual Mid-Career or Senior Researcher
The award for excellence for a mid-career or senior researcher went to Associate Professor Eddie Shanqing Zhang.
Professor Zhang’s research addresses global pressures on water and energy security. He established the Energy Storage research lab and energy storage program within the Centre for Clean Environment and Energy with an emphasis on developing low cost, long lived, sustainable and efficient energy storage devices including lithium ion batteries, lithium-sulphur batteries and supercapacitors.
Professor Zhang, who works in the Griffith School of Environment and the Centre for Clean Environment and Energy, said his lifelong dream had been to develop new technologies that would change the world.
He said he was humbled to receive such a highly regarded research award for his years of dedication to his research.
“It is very encouraging of my hard work and I hope it helps make more people aware of what I am trying to achieve through my research.”
Excellence Award for Research Supervision
Professor Donna Pendergast was awarded the Research Supervision Award for her dedication in guiding her students throughout their individual Higher Degree Research journeys.
Since her appointment as the Head of School Education and Profession Studies in 2009,
Professor Pendergast has maintained a full load of HDR student supervision that far exceeds her teaching and learning time allocation. In that time Donna has supervised 10 Griffith and 13 University of Queensland PhD students to completion and currently supervises 11 HDR students.
“Being recognised through this award means a lot to me,’’ she said.
“HDR supervision is probably the most exciting part of my work, with people who are highly motivated and contributing to new thinking in their field of research.
“It’s a privilege. Candidates are developing new ways of working, and are right on the coalface of learning. For an educator, it’s exciting.”
Excellence Award for Research Team or Group
As Queensland’s premier centre for health economics and one of just three in Australia, its health economists are leaders in health economics approaches and in demand as chief investigators on NHMRCE Projects, Centres of Research Excellence and program grants.
Projects include the CRE to Reduce Inequality in Heart disease, The Cognitive Decline Partnership Centre, the CRE in Sun and Health and the Program on Optimising Heart Disease Prevention and Management. The Centre hosts the Griffith Birth Cohort Study facilitating important mother/baby research studies.