Three researchers win prestigious Tall Poppy Awards

Congratulations to Professor Yuming Guo for being a winner of one of the 2020 Tall Poppy Science Awards as well as the Tony McMichael Award from the International Society for Environmental Epidemiology.

Professor Yuming Guo from the Monash University School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine was recently recognised as a rising research star in The Australian newspaper and as an NHMRC Research Excellence Awardee.

Professor Guo has achieved over 150 peer-reviewed publications since joining Monash University in 2017, leading a collaborative research program of global climate change and health that brings together researchers worldwide in more than 40 countries.

His research employs massive datasets, including satellite-retrieved high-resolution exposures and multi-country health data – with the aim of improving the assessment of environmental health issues. He recently led a global study to quantify excess deaths related to heatwaves under climate change scenarios. “I hope that my studies can help decision makers in planning adaptation and mitigation strategies for climate change,” he said.

“To be a Young Tall Poppy Award winner is recognition that the research I am doing, with my team, is not only important but has – hopefully – long term impacts into how we deal with the effects of climate change on global health.”

Professor Guo has also been awarded the Tony McMichael Award by the International Society for Environmental Epidemiology. This award is created in the memory of Professor Tony McMichael who was the first PhD in Epidemiology from the Monash University School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine. "It is particularly pleasing to receive this award named in honour of a great public health researcher and Monash alumni," Professor Guo said.

Another MNHS recipient of a Tall Poppy Award is Dr Bei Bei, an NHMRC Health Professional Research Fellow at Turner Institute for Brain and Mental Health. She leads an independent research team in sleep and mental health with wide international collaborations. Dr Bei’s work in adolescent sleep is foundational to effective intervention in improving sleep of teenagers, and her work in new parents was included in textbooks and practice guidelines. Dr Bei Bei recently completed a large trial on digital sleep intervention for new mothers, highly scalable to nation-wide, showing benefits to sleep during pregnancy and at 2 years postpartum follow-up. She is leading an international consortium to conduct individual patient meta-analyses on insomnia treatment, and oversees the research program at Monash University Healthy Sleep Clinic . As a practicing Clinical Psychologist, she is passionate about promoting science-based sleep information to the community and helping people get a good night's sleep. Dr Bei Bei said that “winning the Tall Poppy Award is a great honor, and wouldn't be possible without support from my team and colleagues”.

“Increasingly sleep is being seen as a cornerstone to overall health and I am happy that this has been recognised.”

Dr Ayse Zengin has also received a Tall Poppy Science Award for her research into musculoskeletal diseases. As a Senior Research Fellow in the Bone and Muscle Research Group within the Monash School of Clinical Sciences, she is focussing on the issue in developing countries and underserved populations, where bone health is often overlooked until a life-changing fracture occurs. “By gaining a better understanding of bone health in different ethnic populations, we can devise targeted preventive strategies to help maintain better bones throughout life, thus decreasing the likelihood of fracture,” she said.

With numerous international collaborators in Germany, the UK and elsewhere in Australia, Dr Zengin has published 26 articles, seventeen as first author. In 2017 Dr Zengin received an Ian Potter Foundation Grant toward purchasing the latest high-resolution bone-imaging device (first in Australia). The following year she was awarded a prestigious fellowship from the Australian Academy of Science which allowed her to conduct musculoskeletal research across 3 leading Indian Institutes over 6 months. Last year, she secured funding from Osteoporosis Australia, and internationally from Amgen to fund Australia’s first Study of Indigenous Muscle and Bone Ageing, to identify why fracture and falls risk is higher in this population, and thereby contributing to closing the gap.

Dr Zengin said “the Tall Poppy Science Award is recognition of the importance of looking at diseases within different ethnic groups and in our Indigenous population, and that a "one size fits all" approach is not appropriate; these will prevent fractures along with improve screening, diagnosis and treatment of bone disease".

The prestigious annual Young Tall Poppy Science Awards aim to recognise the achievements of Australia’s outstanding young scientific researchers and communicators. The Faculty of Science at Monash University also celebrates two award recipients.

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