A Curtin University virtual reality program sharing Western Australia’s stolen generation history and a passionate PhD student researcher dedicated to improving the health of pre-term babies have been honoured at this year’s WA Premier’s Science Awards 2023.
Missions Connect, an immersive and interactive virtual reality tool that is transforming former mission sites into healing spaces for Stolen Generations survivors, was named the Science Engagement Initiative of the Year and Curtin and Telethon Kids Institute PhD student researcher Denby Evans is the Student Scientist of the Year.
Curtin University Vice-Chancellor Professor Harlene Hayne congratulated both Curtin winners on their awards.
“The Premier’s Science Awards recognise the State’s best and brightest, and I am delighted the important work of both the Missions Connect team and Denby Evans have been recognised,” Professor Hayne said.
“Missions Connect demonstrates the benefits of advancing First Nations knowledge and fostering understanding through technology and Denby’s research into the lung health of pre-term babies paves the way for new medical treatments.
“Both winners are shining examples of Curtin’s commitment to research and programs that have real world impact, not only in WA but around the globe.”
Missions Connect provides the oldest living culture in the world with the newest technology to address one of Australia’s most pressing national priorities, reconciliation, by providing a shared understanding of the history of European encounters with First Nations people.
The program, led by Curtin Professor Reena Tiwari in partnership with Jim Morrison from Bringing Them Home WA, has garnered widespread success in just six years, including international recognition from UNESCO, raising awareness among participants and audiences of the value of technology.
Denby Evans is passionate about making unique discoveries that improve the lung health of Western Australia’s tiniest members of society – those who are born early.
Her research has found that airway cells behave differently after preterm birth, even months or years after the initial hospital stay, paving the way for novel interventions.
Denby has published high impact papers and won multiple awards for her research excellence, facilitating presentation of her work worldwide. Denby also promotes STEM learning and research to young people through visits to primary schools where she shares her enthusiasm for science.
The Premier’s Science Awards recognise and celebrate the outstanding scientific research and engagement taking place in WA across six award categories. For more information on the 2023 winners, visit here: Premier’s Science Awards: 2023 Winners (www.wa.gov.au)