The New South Wales Young Tall Poppy Awards celebrates the achievements of nine impressive young researchers. Of this group, Dr. Angela Crean from University of Sydney was awarded Young Tall Poppy of the Year for her outstanding research in evolutionary ecology.
Dr Crean’s ground-breaking research focuses on sexual selection and non-genetic parental effects. With the help of some sea squirts, neriid flies, a microscope, and technology, she studies how environmental factors, like diet, affect sperm characteristics.
Dr Crean has found that healthier sperm correlate with healthier offspring. She also discovered that a female’s first mate can impact the size of her offspring with future mates. This discovery arouses questions about, for instance, about how sperm health affects future generations. Dr Crean plans to investigate these questions and eventually apply her research to humans.
“We are only just beginning to realize that a father’s lifestyle can have at least as much influence as a mother’s on the health of their children,” she reports.
In the future, Dr Crean hopes her work inspires improved techniques for helping people with low sperm quality.
Spreading the science knowledge
A series of workshops, seminars and lectures are delivered as part of the Young Poppy campaign—a communications initiative to encourage public engagement in science. That’s why each Young Tall Poppy commits to visit schools to share their new discoveries with students, teachers and the community.
“I think it’s important to inspire young people to take up careers in science – and to recognize the critical problem of securing a clean and sustainable energy supply,” said Dr. Kasal, one of the Young Tall Poppies awarded for his work in quantum energy production.
This public program experience enables Young Tall Poppies to translate their complex findings into simple terms that the general public can understand.
Selecting the winners
The Tall Poppy Awards are run in each state by the Australian Institute of Policy and Science. They celebrate passionate, up-and-coming STEM researchers and reward excellence in research as they also seek to improve public engagement with science.
Nominated by their peers, all Young Tall Poppies have under ten years post-doctoral experience. Selection for the top awards is based on leadership potential and research achievements. Since the Tall Poppy Awards were established in 2000, the AIPS has honored over 500 young scientists nationally.
This year’s New South Wales Tall Poppies are:
- Angela Crean, University of Sydney, for her work in evolutionary biology
- Bridianne O’Dea, University of New South Wales, studies how technology and social media can improve mental healthcare
- Emma Barrett, University of New South Wales, studies reasons why people who suffer trauma turn to Drugs, and effective approaches to substance abuse
- Emma Beckett, University of Newcastle, analyzes the link between dietary habits and gene function
- Ivan Kasal, University of Sydney, researches how quantum science can improve solar cell functioning
- Jemma Geoghegan, Macquarie Univeristy, studies how biological features of viruses can predict the risk of epidemics
- Louis Wang, Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute, analyzes factors that can assist in early detection of heart failure and factors that cause it
- Louise Mewton, University of New South Wales, designs online alcohol prevention programs, or “smart games,” that appeal to young audiences
- Matthew Baker, University of New South Wales, uses synthetic biology to study flagella motors
“These Tall Poppies show excellent promise in the scientific community,” said AIPS General Manager, Ms. Camille Thomson. “We look forward to seeing them inspire and guide future generations of scientists.”
Find out more about the Young Tall Poppy Awards