Celebrating women in science
The Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute (IHMRI) hosted the fourth annual Lunch with Dame Bridget Ogilvie on Friday 28 February at The Grange in Kembla Grange.
This annual event celebrates the work of a diverse range of women health and medical researchers at the University of Wollongong (UOW) and the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District (ISLHD).
The day is in honour of IHMRI patron Dame Bridget Ogilvie AC, a world renowned scientist with a passion for the promotion and public understanding of science.
In the past, Dame Ogilvie has gone on record as being disappointed by the “misrepresentation of science”, with the public at times making up their mind about scientific issues based on what the media report, rather than what scientists say.
IHMRI CEO and Executive Director Distinguished Professor David J Adams says IHMRI is committed to reaching gender equity in the workplace by promoting professional confidence and success in female researchers.
“This annual lunch is just one of the many ways that IHMRI demonstrates career support for female academics and clinicians. At IHMRI we recognise there can be career barriers faced by women in science so the Dame Bridget Ogilvie awards were established in 2017 to address this.”
“This year we had 11 researchers submit 15 award applications which is great to see so many women taking advantage of this opportunity,” he added.
Research/Clinical Excellence Award
Dr Kara Vine-Perrow from UOW’s School of Chemistry and Molecular Bioscience won the Dame Bridget Ogilvie Award for Research and Clinical excellence.
The award recognises the excellence of a female researcher who has demonstrated high impact in their respective field.
Dr Vine-Perrow is a mid-career researcher with an international reputation for research excellence in the field of Drug Delivery, Cancer Biology and more recently Neurobiology.
The quality and impact of her research is also reflected by the growing invitations to present at national and international conferences and appear on grant review panels.
“I am strongly committed to the promotion and understanding of science to a general audience. I recently presented at the UOW Alumni Knowledge series which showcases UOW thought leaders to the broader community,” said Dr Vine-Perrow.
Dr Natalie Matosin from UOW’s School of Chemistry and Molecular Bioscience won the Dame Bridget Ogilvie Citation Award, which recognises research excellence in outstanding publications by an early-mid career researcher.
The award is given to the researcher with the best citation record over a five year period.
Despite maternity leave and parenting responsibilities in 2019, Dr Matosin still authored 34 publications in leading journals since 2015 and 575 citations.
“The reason these awards are so important is because they acknowledge challenges faced by women that traditional funding agencies don’t. For example, I had to cease lab-based work during my pregnancy because I would have been exposed to chemicals linked to birth defects,” said Dr Matosin.
Dr Matosin is an NHMRC C.J. Martin Research Fellow and last year’s winner of a Dame Bridget Ogilvie career development scholarship.
The money was used to support her research program into mental health risks and impacts in climate change.
Dr Matosin is striving to understand how stress increases the risk of mental illness by studying the brains of people that had experienced trauma or lived with a mental disorder.
Career Advancement Awards
Dr Yee Lian Chew from UOW’s School of Chemistry and Molecular Bioscience was awarded one of two Career Advancement awards.
The awards provide funding to support researchers at any stage of their career to assist financially with an opportunity to enhance their profile and opportunities for collaboration.
Dr Chew received NHMRC funding last year for her investigations into chronic pain management and treatments. She was also a recipient of Rebecca L Cooper Medical Research Foundation funding in January 2020.
“One of the key goals of my research is to establish cutting-edge methodology that will provide answers to complex neuroscience problems, such as elucidating the biological basis of learning and memory,” said Dr Chew.
“I hope to use this funding to visit the laboratory of Dr John Lin, a senior lecturer at the University of Tasmania to collaborate on tests of his newly-developed optogenetic tools in nematodes using behavioural paradigms to be established in my lab,” she added.
Associate Research Fellow Dr Diane Ly from UOW’s School of Chemistry and Molecular Bioscience also received a Career Advancement award.
Dr Ly is currently working on a project “Investigating the role of human clusterin bound to Staphylococus aureus”.
“This funding will enable an opportunity for me to establish an independent collaboration with Dr Jai Tree at the University of New South Wales. Dr Tree is a global leading expert in bacterial gene regulation, and has extensive experience working with the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus (S.aurerus),” said Dr Ly.
“We are currently not funded for this project so this award will allow me the opportunity to learn microbiology and genetic manipulation skills working with S.aurerus. Data generated from this partnership will be used for a publication in a high impact journal between the research groups of Sanderson-Smith, Wilson and Tree.”
“I have a strong passion for women in STEM and would like to be able to continue engaging and educating the public about the research at IHMRI and inspiring young scientists,” she added.