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Curtin researchers shine in Young Tall Poppy Science Awards

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Four Curtin researchers have been recognised among Australia’s future science leaders at the Western Australian Young Tall Poppy Science Awards, for excellence in research and communicating science beyond the walls of the laboratory.

Brain injury trauma researcher Dr Sarah Hellewell, geoscientist Dr Hugo Olierook, 3D underwater imaging engineer Associate Professor Andrew Woods and digital marketing Associate Professor Mingming Cheng have been named winners in the Australian Institute of Policy and Science’s 2023 awards.

The emerging leaders in their fields have been recognised for their activities in inspiring science in school students and teachers, as well as promoting a greater understanding and appreciation of science in the community.

Curtin University Vice-Chancellor Professor Harlene Hayne congratulated Curtin’s Young Tall Poppies on being honoured for their significant contribution early in their careers.

“It’s wonderful to see Curtin’s researchers recognised for their achievements and contribution to science across such a diverse and interesting range of academic disciplines,” Professor Hayne said.

“These awards are widely considered to be an early indicator of Australia’s future scientific leaders, identifying excellent early career scientists.”

The four Curtin University winners are:

Dr Sarah Hellewell is one of Perth’s leading experts in traumatic brain injuries, and she is in the top 0.3 per cent of international leaders on the topic. She is developing and applying new tools to examine changes in brain structure and function after injury from the whole brain to an individual cell level. With this new understanding of brain pathology, Dr Hellewell is leading the design and testing of new treatments to lessen or reverse the damage. She is a regular media commentator and her recent articles published in The Conversation, have reached more than half a million readers.

Dr Hugo Olierook is a geoscientist from Curtin’s School of Earth and Planetary Sciences and the John de Laeter Centre. His research is informing policymakers on ways to prevent future climate change. His techniques are also assisting the mining industry in sourcing sustainable metals like copper and lithium, for wind turbines and electric cars. Dr Olierook is empowering the next generation of geoscientists through his leadership in taking Curtin’s educational program GeoOutreach to WA’s schools.

Associate Professor Andrew Woods is an early career researcher and engineer developing new underwater imaging and 3D reconstruction methods for maritime archaeology within Curtin’s HIVE (Hub for Immersive Visualisation and eResearch) visualisation facility. He is also leading the development of deep-water 3D imaging systems and bringing lost maritime archaeology to life in visual 3D.

Associate Professor Mingming Cheng is a highly cited digital marketing researcher, specialising in social media analytics and tourism from Curtin’s School of Management and Marketing. He is listed among Australia’s top 40 young rising stars of research and ABC Top 5 (Humanities). Associate Professor Cheng leads the social media research lab at Curtin and has developed customised workshops on social media marketing for high schools, government agencies and community leaders across the Asia-Pacific region.

At a ceremony to be held later this year, one overall state winner will be named the 2023 Western Australian Young Tall Poppy of the Year.

The awards recognise Australian researchers for their excellence in demonstrating scientific and analytical rigour and their impact in outreach activities within three to 10 years of their PhD being conferred. For more information about the awards, visit here.

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