Leading Griffith University researchers have been honoured at the Vice Chancellor’s Research Excellence Awards held at the Gold Coast campus.
The awards were presented by Senior Deputy Vice Chancellor Professor Ned Pankhurst and Chancellor, Mr Henry Smerdon AM.
“Tonight’s nominees and winners are only part of Griffith’s research excellence story,” Professor Pankhurst said.
“I am sure you all agree that the 2016 Vice Chancellor’s Research Excellence Awards showcase just the tip of the University’s proud research legacy.
“On behalf of the University, I take great pleasure in congratulating the winners and commend the far-reaching benefits and diversity of your research.”
Excellence in Research Leadership
The award for excellence in research leadership was awarded to Professor Paul Taçon, Director of Griffith University’s Place, Evolution and Rock Art Heritage Unit.
For more than 36 years, Professor Taçon has been exploring the rock art sites of Australia and south-east Asia, while collaborating with Indigenous people in archaeological research.
In 2016 alone, he helped establish the Australian Research Centre of Human Evolution and the Griffith Centre for Social and Cultural Research. He led a large field research team in northwest Arnhem Land which discovered 160 undocumented rock art sites. He also published more than a dozen research papers, as well as a book
“In the more than 12 years I have been at Griffith University, I have worked hard to build many successful research teams and projects, mentor junior colleagues and guide PhD students through their research programs,’’ Professor Taçon said.
“Winning the Vice Chancellor’s award for Research Leadership caps one of the most incredible periods of my research career.”
Excellence in an Early Career Research
Dr Lyndel Bates from the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice won the award for excellence in an early career researcher.
Her research within road policing focuses on the high-risk group of young drivers and includes assault-related violence and traumatic brain injury including a project on the psychosocial impact on family and caregivers when an individual receives a brain injury from an assault.
As an early-career research Dr Bates has an outstanding record, author/co-author of 25 journal articles and book chapters. She has earned more than $400,000 in external research income and developed strong collaborations with both Australian and international agencies.
“Winning the Griffith University Early Career Researcher Award for 2017 is very exciting for me personally but, more importantly, its professional contribution highlights the importance of research in the area of road policing to save lives,’’ Dr Bates said.
“A lot of the research I undertake involves very strong collaborations with industry and government partners including the Queensland Police Service, Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads, the Brain Injury Rehabilitation Service (Queensland Health) and Roadcraft Driver Education.
“This award recognises not only the research contribution but the importance and strength of these research and collaborative partnerships.”
Excellence of an Individual Mid-Career or Senior Researcher
The award for excellence for an individual mid-career or senior researcher went to Professor Vicky Avery, from the Griffith Institute for Drug Discovery. She heads the Griffith University Drug Discovery Programme for the CRC for Cancer Therapeutics (CTx) and the Discovery Biology team.
Professor Avery was recognised for her outstanding research in drug discovery over the past 18 years. Her vision is to promote world class drug discovery, utilising advanced image-based platforms, ultimately impacting on access to quality therapeutics for all.
She aims to address fundamental basic research questions, to better understand the biology and to facilitate drug discovery in the search for novel lead molecules, particularly where drug resistance is apparent or the disease is neglected.
Her objective is to improve and expedite drug discovery, and to endeavour to provide platforms where currently they are non-existent, limited or of poor quality.
“To receive this acknowledgement is fabulous,” Dr Avery said.
“It is always wonderful to receive recognition for what you do, especially when it is something that you love doing and means so much to you.
“To be the selected as the recipient of this award from so many amazing and truly remarkable researchers is very humbling.”
Excellence Award for Research Supervision
Professor Cordia Chu from the Centre for Environment and Population Health, a part of Griffith’s Menzies Health Institute Queensland, was recognised for her distinguished record in research supervision.
Since 1996, Professor Chu has supervised to completion 34 PhDs, 3 MPhils, 6 honours and more than 45 Masters theses.
Professor Chu has developed research expertise in areas integrating environment and health such as healthy cities, workplace health and safety risk management, gender and reproductive health, migrant and vulnerable populations, population and settings-based health promotion, climate change adaptation for health.
“It’s a great honour to receive this award. I would like to acknowledge the wonderful supportive learning culture we have developed with students here at the Centre and the support we have received from Griffith,” Professor Chu said.
“I am very proud of our graduates and the real contributions that they make towards policy and practices in many countries.
“Our main focus is on producing translational research which makes a real difference in the global communities.
“Currently, we are seeing enormous opportunities for students in the areas of global health and international development.”
Excellence of a Research group or Team
The Laboratory for Vaccines for the Developing World team led by Professor Michael Good from the Institute for Glycomics won the award for Research Group/Team.
Professor Good’s team’s outstanding work led to a major translational outcome for the Institute in 2016, with the signing of a significant licensing agreement with major international vaccine manufacturing company, Olymvax Biopharmaceuticals in China.
Their needle-free vaccine targets Streptococcus A infections, the cause of strep throat and rheumatic heart disease.
Globally it is estimated that at least 18.1 million people are currently affected by rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease, with 500,000 deaths each year. Invasive group A streptococcus kills about 20 per cent of patients within seven days of infection.
The lab’s team of more than 10 researchers could potentially see a vaccine in the market within the next 6-8 years.
“It’s very important to have both the basic discovery research and the applied and translational aspect of vaccine orientated research in our team,” Professor Good said.
The winners of the Remarkable Minutes video competition were also announced at the ceremony. They were Dr Jason van de Merwe from the Australian Rivers Institute for “Marine wildlife cell-based toxicology” and Mr Chris Little from the School of Engineering and Queensland College of Art for “Creating Windows Into our Past”.
“While the Research Excellence Awards celebrates the pinnacle of the University’s research achievements, the Remarkable Minutes videos demonstrates the untold story of research in progress and the passion of our researchers in seeking to share their research stories and to encourage us all to share in that journey,” Professor Pankhurst said.
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