Eight young scientists from the University of Melbourne have been awarded 2012 Young Tall Poppy Science Awards for Victoria. Among the recipients are major Tall Poppy winners who were awarded for their work on preventing preeclampsia in pregnant women and sustainable protection of crops from insects

All winners are leaders in their field, breaking new ground with their innovation and discoveries

They will spend the next year engaging with teachers, school students, parents and the broader community around Victoria and across Australia as part of the Tall Poppy Campaign run by the Australian Institute of Policy and Science.

The Young Tall Poppy Science Awards aim to recognise early career researchers who have achieved significant research outcomes and have demonstrated their passion to engage with the community in science.

We congratulate our Tall Poppies and their commitment to communicating science to the wider community. All our awardees recognise the importance of scientific research and the more important goal of ensuring society benefits from their shared knowledge,” said University of Melbourne Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) and Chair of the Young Tall Poppies Victorian Committee, Professor James McCluskey

Winners from the University of Melbourne:

Dr Alex Fornito: Psychiatry and Neuroscience. Dr Fornito’s research focus on how brains work, how they are affected by mental illness influenced by our genetic make-up.

Dr Kate Murphy: 
Basic and Clinic Physiology. 
Dr Murphy investigates the mechanisms causing cancer cachexia (a wasting and weakness of skeletal muscle) and identifies and tests the effectiveness of potential therapies to treat this condition.

Dr Colin Scholes: 
Climate Change Mitigation. 
Dr Scholes is developing efficient filtering membranes to separate carbon from industry gases such as coal-fired power stations.

Dr Georgina Such: 
Polymer and Materials Science
. Dr Such’s work investigates better ways to deliver chemotherapy drugs by designing a smart capsule that is specially designed to protect the body from the drug until it reaches the specific cancer site. The capsules are synthesised like a set of Russian dolls where each section meets a different biological challenge through the body.

Dr Ben Emery: The University of Melbourne Centre for Neuroscience Research and Florey Neuroscience Institutes Neuroscience
: Dr Emery’s research aims to understand what controls the development of oligodendrocytes in the brain and the communications between nerve cells and the oligodendrocytes that stimulate the adjacent nerve fibres.

This research may help in treatments that promote the repair of myelin in human diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis.

Dr James McCaw: 
Infectious Disease epidemiology. Dr McCaw uses mathematics and ideas from physics to build models that simulate the transmission of diseases like influenza through the community and to help develop new strategies for controlling transmissible diseases.

Dr Tu’uhevaha Kaitu’u-Lino: Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology
 University of Melbourne and Mercy Hospital for Women
Medical Research – Women’s Health. Winner of a major Tall Poppy Award. 
Tu’uhevaha’s research focused on developing new medical treatments that can prevent the escape of toxins from the placenta that cause preeclampsia. This year they discovered how a key toxin called ‘soluble endoglin’ is released from placenta.

Dr Paul Umina:  Zoology (Sustainable Agriculture)
 Winner of a major Tall Poppy Award Dr Umina’s research is enabling farmers to achieve a balance between profitability and environmental sustainability by developing new ways to combat insect pests and improve crop yields without harming the environment.