Young scientists earn top honours

Kim Jacobson

Dr Kim Jacobson receives a Victorian Young Tall Poppy Science Award

In recognition of their outstanding research achievements and leadership potential, three Monash researchers have won Victorian Young Tall Poppy Science Awards for 2016.

Run by the Australian Institute of Policy and Science (AIPS), the awards are held state-by-state and celebrate the best and brightest young achievers across science.

Dr Paul Lasky, School of Physics and Astronomy, Dr Kim Jacobson, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology; as well as Dr Maria Kaparakis-Liaskos, Monash Adjunct Research Fellow based at the Hudson Institute of Medical Research, have been awarded the prestigious prizes.

Dr Lasky’s research focuses on astrophysics and gravitational waves and he is a member of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration that announced the first detection of gravitational waves this year.

Dr Jacobson’s research centres on the body’s immune system function. Her work has identified the key molecules that allow antibody-producing plasma cells to move through the body and occupy survival niches, from which they can pump out antibodies that protect us from reinfection.

Dr Maria Liaskos’ research seeks to alleviate the enormous impact of bacterial infections by determining how bacteria causes disease in humans and how the immune system detects and defends against invasion.

Senior Vice-Provost and Vice-Provost (Research), Professor Pauline Nestor, congratulated the winners on their prestigious award.

“These fantastic awards recognise the very best young achievers in their field and demonstrate the breadth of research undertaken at Monash.

“We are delighted to celebrate the achievements of our highly talented science researchers who provide an excellent example of scientific leadership at Monash,” Professor Nestor said.

Dr Lasky’s role within LIGO includes predicting and searching for gravitational waves from super-dense stellar corpses known as neutron stars, as well as understanding the complex physics that governs these exotic objects.

Through these observations Dr Lasky is hoping to inform our understanding of the universe during its earliest phases.

“I’m honoured to be part of the Tall Poppy Awards, which celebrate both the role of excellence in science but also in communicating science to a wider audience, Dr Lasky said.

“It’s an exciting opportunity to communicate the world-changing research being undertaken into gravitational waves and its implications for our understanding of the origins of the universe.”

As part of the Young Tall Poppy campaign, award winners will spend a year sharing their knowledge with school students, teachers and the broader community through workshops, seminars and public lectures.

Young Tall Poppies are nominated by their peers and are early career researchers who have less than 10 years post-doctoral experience.