Standing tall for science
Thursday, 23 August 2012
Three University of Adelaide researchers have won South Australian Tall Poppy Awards for science.
Dr Matthew Gilliham, Professor Dmitri Kavetski and Dr Kerry Wilkinson were among the winners announced last night at Government House. In total, eight of the State's best early career researchers were named Tall Poppies of Science for 2012.
The Tall Poppy campaign, established by the Australian Institute of Policy and Science (AIPS), promotes public awareness of Australia's intellectual achievements. These awards acknowledge outstanding work by early career researchers and the significance of their research to the broader community.
The Science and Information Economy Minister, the Hon. Tom Kenyon, said: "The Tall Poppy Award finalists represent the depth of talent we have in South Australia among our early career researchers, which is an inspiration to all those considering careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
"I commend all the Tall Poppy Award winners and finalists for their dedication and excellent work."
The winners from the University of Adelaide are:
Dr Matthew Gilliham - agricultural plant science (Waite Research Institute and School of Agriculture, Food and Wine)
Dr Gilliham investigates how wheat and grapevines might better tolerate soil salinity and how the nutritional quality of crop plants can be improved. In Australia, soil salinity affects approximately 30% of all agricultural soil and 69% of the wheat belt. These figures are expected to increase with climate change. His work into increasing salinity tolerance and crop yield will contribute to increased production in Australia and other countries with salty soil, and in doing so help combat food insecurity.
Professor Dmitri Kavetski - hydrological and environmental modelling (School of Civil, Environmental and Mining Engineering)
Professor Kavetski's research focuses on understanding and modelling the water cycle. Given the significance of water in human society, and in natural ecosystems, modelling the behaviour of catchments is an integral part of environmental science, engineering and management. Dmitri's work draws on advances in many fields of physical, mathematical and statistical sciences to build more accurate and reliable hydrological models for use in applications as broad as water resources planning, flood prediction and climate studies.
Dr Kerry Wilkinson - analytical chemistry and sensory science (Waite Research Institute and School of Agriculture, Food and Wine)
Dr Wilkinson works with the compounds that affect the aroma and flavour of grapes and wine. In 2009 after the Black Saturday bushfires in Victoria, local winemakers found that wine made from smoke-exposed grapes smelled and tasted like smoked bacon, cold campfires or Band-Aids. This cost the Victorian industry more than $300 million. Dr Wilkinson has identified the compounds responsible for this 'smoke taint' and developed methods for removing them, a valuable development for Australia's third biggest export industry.