Encouragement Award, June 2016

ATA Scientific would like to thank all those that participated in our June 2016 Encouragement Award promotion.

Once again, we received a wide range of high quality responses, all of which were deserving winners. Three distinctive posters were selected to receive our award– first prize at $1500 and 2 runners up at $600 each. We hope these awards will give our young talented researchers a helping hand to continue their work in building essential scientific knowledge.

Congratulations to our first prize winner, Ms Chathurika Perera, PhD student at Macquarie University, Department of Environmental Sciences. Chathu is studying under the supervision of Professor Damian Gore.

Chathurika’s project is focused on Phytoremediation, a cost effective, environmentally friendly technology that can play a vital role in reducing soil erosion, contaminant dispersal and restoring the ecology at mined or industrial contaminated sites. Phytoremediation also enables habitat to be provided for birds, insects and other animals concurrently with remediation outcomes. Chathu is using multiple analytical techniques during her project including XRF spectrometry for elemental determinations of bulk samples, and scanning electron microscopy (SEM) for imaging and finding where plants store metals at the cellular level. This study will find plants that allow effective and sustainable treatment of sites contaminated with a range of metals such as copper and cadmium, and metalloids such as arsenic.

“I want to become an environmental scientist working in the area of water quality, which is increasingly important given global changes in population and environmental degradation”.

Chathurika plans to use the award to present her research at the EGU (European Geoscience Union General Assembly) meeting in Vienna, Austria from 23-28th April 2017.

The EGU Assembly is one of the largest and most prestigious geoscience meetings in the world and it covers all disciplines of the Earth and planetary sciences. Participating in the EGU Assembly will provide Chathu with a forum to meet other scientists, including early career researchers, and discuss her work with experts in all fields of geoscience.

A copy of the winning poster can be downloaded here.

Congratulations to our runner up, Ikechukwu Anthony Ike, third year PhD student from Chemical Engineering in the Institute for Sustainability and Innovation, Victoria University. Anthony is studying under the supervision of Prof Mikel Duke and Prof John Orbell.

Anthony’s research centres on novel applications of iron based materials in wastewater treatment, harnessing the unique magnetic and catalytic properties of iron in an attempt to resolve the key problems of fouling and energy inefficiency in membrane water treatment processes. Anthony hopes to continue working in the area of wastewater treatment after his PhD as he considers this field of research critical for the sustainability of any modern economy.

“The Encouragement Award will help me to attend the 9th International Membrane Science and Technology Conference (Adelaide, 5-8 December 2016) which I expect would afford me additional opportunity to interact and network with other researchers and stakeholders in wastewater treatment to further my research career”.




Congratulations to our runner up, Ms Hannah Glover, third year PhD student working under the supervision of Dr Michael Morris at Sydney University. The lab studies embryonic stem cells and aims to understand the processes governing amino-acid mediated stem cell differentiation to neural cells. Hannah’s project focuses on understanding the mechanism of the amino acid, L-Proline, in regulating cell fate and cellular characteristics involved in regulation of pluripotency and differentiation.

“After myPhD, I would love to pursue a postdoc overseas in the field of tissue engineering”.

Hannah plans to use her award to help her travel to two conferences in the US – Crossing Boundaries to propel tissue engineering into the clinic at Stanford University, CA on September 12-14th and From Stem Cells to Human Development, in Southbridge, MA in September 25-28th 2016”.

We would like to thank all those that participated. The next Travel Award for 2016 will be posted on our website soon.

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