Encouragement Award October 2019

ATA Scientific would like to thank all those that participated in our Oct 2019 Encouragement Award promotion.

The topic of our latest competition focused on Dr Who, a long running BBC Sci-Fi program in which Dr Who uses a time machine called the Tardis to travel back forth in time. Participants were asked to imagine if they could travel back in time, what past scientist/engineer or moments of discovery would they choose to visit and observe and why?  We were delighted to receive so many interesting responses, all of which were deserving winners. Each entry was scored based on originality, relevance and level of entertainment.


Three entries were selected to receive our award– first prize at $1500 and 2 runners up at $600 each.

Congratulations to our first prize winner, Martha Alexandra Blank, PhD student at the St Vincent’s Institute of Medical Research, Bone Cell Biology and Disease, working under the supervision of Prof. Natalie Sims and Prof. TJ Martin.

Martha is combining her Bachelor degree in Engineering and Masters degree in Molecular Biotechnology to investigate what makes bone strong and healthy. Martha moved from Austria to Melbourne to study bone biology in one of the world’s leading laboratories for osteology. Martha is currently in the second year of her PhD project, a major aim of which is to find pathways through which bone mineralisation is initiated and regulated, and how it contributes to bone strength in healthy and disease models, to find new approaches to treat bone fragility such as eg. osteoporosis. It is critical to understand how bone mineralisation works in order to uncover new therapeutic strategies, since there are currently no effective treatments to restore a healthy skeleton.

“I will use funding provided by the ATA Scientific Encouragement Award to attend the Australian and New Zealand Bone and Mineral Society conference 2019 in Darwin to present and discuss my latest results and share them with researchers from all around the world. Especially in science, I strongly advocate communication as a powerful, yet under-rated, tool which can lead to amazing new collaborations and approaches for your own projects. It is therefore necessary to regularly attend conferences and workshops to talk to other scientists outside of your laboratory about their work and findings”.

Congratulations to our runner up, Sam Peppou-Chapman, PhD candidate at University of Sydney, School of Chemistry, working under the supervision of A/Prof. Chiara Neto.

Sam’s work focusses on understanding how the many desirable properties of lubricant-infused surfaces arise and how they can be better designed for a given application. Lubricant-infused surfaces are a new class of functional surface that work by trapping a thin liquid layer on the surface. This liquid layer makes the surfaces exceptionally low adhesion and gives them application as anti-biofoiling, anti-icing and self-cleaning surfaces. By developing a novel mapping technique using Atomic Force Microscopy, Sam has been able to track the depletion of these surfaces down to the nanoscale and further understand the forces underlying the stabilisation of liquid on the surface.

Sam plans to use his award to cover costs of attending the Australian Colloid and Surface Science Student Conference (ACIS) conference in Feb 2020.

Congratulations to our runner up, Georgia Sinclair, PhD student at RMIT University, School of Chemistry, working under the supervision of A/Prof. Oliver Jones.

Georgia’s research focuses on the concern over the presence of PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) in ecosystems and the lack of knowledge of the dosage needed to have an adverse effect. The significance of her research will contribute to conclusive biochemical information surrounding the toxicity of PFAS for the world to benefit. Metabolomics is the study of hundreds and thousands of small molecules in all living things such as carbohydrates and amino acids. Her project will employ a metabolomics approach to identify the biochemical pathways affected by a range of PFAS concentrations in model organisms.

Georgia would like to use her award to contribute towards attending the 8th World Congress of the Society for Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) which will be held in Singapore in 2020. The conference will allow Georgia to be exposed to the latest developments in metabolomic and ecotoxicology research and gain valuable experience presenting and communicating my work.

Ecotoxicology is an area of science that I am very passionate about and want to follow as a career. I would like to contribute to the development of national and international chemical guidelines, either through academia or as a principle scientist in industry”.

We would like to thank all those that participated. The next Encouragement Award is now available to enter here. Entries close 31 March 2020.

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