ATA Scientific would like to thank all those that participated in our April 2024 Encouragement Award promotion.

Our Award questions have received hundreds of fantastic original responses, some academic, some humorous and many highly inventive. Exactly what you would expect from young enquiring scientific minds.

These days it is tempting to use Artificial Intelligence (AI) as an easy way to respond to our Award questions. The spirit of science is based on honesty and inventiveness. We want you to respond in this spirit. Using an artificial prepackaged response is no substitute for your own imaginative thoughts. However, if AI is used in any way, then as a budding scientist you know that you should provide clear attribution.

Our latest competition asked the question:

Have you used AI in your work, research, or thesis? If so, has this resulted in any significant innovations or discoveries? If you are at the stage of considering using AI what risks or benefits do you expect for your work or research? Is there a danger that inaccurate, fake or unedited data could be gradually embedded undetected into a wide range of publications?


Three entries were selected to receive our award– first prize at $1500 and 2 runners up at $750 each.

Congratulations to Dr Nashwa Masnoon, Postdoctoral Research Pharmacist in the Laboratory of Ageing and Pharmacology, Kolling Institute, University of Sydney and Northern Sydney Local Health District.The Laboratory of Ageing and Pharmacology led by Professor Sarah Hilmer undertakes research in the laboratory and clinical settings to optimise medication use in older adults. Nashwa is a part of the clinical research team. Her research looks at ways to reduce medication-related harm in older adults, including use of digital clinical decision support tools to aid medication review.

Nashwa’s career goal is to combine her experiences in research, teaching and clinical practice to lead the field of geriatric pharmacology and ultimately, ensure appropriate medication use in older adults.

“The conference will be a fantastic opportunity for me to network and collaborate with experts in the field and I am very thankful to the ATA Scientific Team for the award”.

The award will allow Nashwa to present her research to national and international academics, researchers and clinicians at the joint conference by the Australasian Society of Clinical and Experimental Pharmacologists and Toxicologists, the Asia Pacific Federation of Pharmacologists and the Australasian Pharmaceutical Science Association in Melbourne (1-4 December 2024).

Congratulations to Dr Yoshika Janapala, a postdoctoral researcher at John Curtin School of Medical Research, Division of Genome Science and Cancer, Australian National University, working as part of team led by Professor Thomas Preiss.

As a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the John Curtin School of Medical Research (JCSMR) at the Australian National University, Yoshika focuses on unravelling the complex mechanisms of eukaryotic mRNA translation, particularly the regulatory role of the mRNA 5’UTR. Utilising the advanced Translation Complex Profile Sequencing (TCP-seq) technique, her research aims to illuminate ribosomal dynamics on mRNA, enhancing our understanding of translation processes in disease contexts and treatment responses. Currently, she is part of the Shine Dalgarno Centre of RNA Innovation, where she works to advance RNA therapeutics through methodological innovations.

Passionate about translating scientific insights into practical medical solutions, I am keen to collaborate with fellow professionals in academia and industry partners to advance mRNA technology and innovate healthcare solutions.

The award funds will be allocated towards attending two significant conferences. The primary portion will support participation in the 29th Annual RNA Meeting organised by the RNA Society, to be held in May 2024 in Edinburgh, Scotland. Additionally, a part of the award will be used to attend the Australasian RNA Biology and Biotechnology Association (A-RNA) conference in October 2024, which will take place in Melbourne.

These conferences are crucial for my professional development and will greatly enhance my current research by exposing me to the latest advancements and networking opportunities in the field of RNA biology, said Yoshika.

Congratulations to Anastasiya Potapenko, PhD student at Macquarie University, Motor Neuron Disease Research Centre, supervised by A/Prof Angela Laird and Dr Jennilee Davidson.

Her project is focused on a rare and incurable neurodegenerative disease known as Machado-Joseph disease or MJD. Anastasiya’s research aims to understand the function of the ataxin-3 protein (which causes MJD when mutated) as a deubiquitinating enzyme, and whether we can target this to help treat MJD and other neurodegenerative diseases.

While I am at the beginning of my PhD, in the future I would like to continue unravelling the causes of neurodegenerative diseases such as MJD as a postdoctoral researcher, with the hope that they will one day be treatable. 

I would like to greatly thank ATA Scientific for supporting this award, which will support me attending and presenting at Biomolecular Horizons 2024 in Melbourne.

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

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