Professor Alan Cooper is SA Scientist of the Year

Friday, 12 August 2016

Alan Cooper The University of Adelaide’s Professor Alan Cooper is 2016 South Australian Scientist of the Year ─ and members of the University of Adelaide community won another three awards for excellence in science.

Announced this afternoon as part of the South Australian Government’s Science Excellence Awards, the SA Scientist of the Year is the most prestigious science award in South Australia. Winners have demonstrated excellence in their field of science, and made an outstanding contribution in leadership that inspires others to become involved in science.

The University of Adelaide won a total of four awards out of the five categories. The University this year had 12 finalists out of a total 16, with all the finalists in three of the five categories.

"This is an outstanding result for the University of Adelaide and cements our position as the leading research university in South Australia," says University of Adelaide Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Warren Bebbington.

"Warm congratulations to Alan, and all the other winners. Research of this calibre requires determination and dedication as well as talent. These awards are well-deserved and the University is incredibly proud of their achievements."

The Science Excellence Awards are the most prestigious of their kind in the state, and aim to showcase the critical importance of science and research to the development of industry and our society.

The 2016 South Australian Scientist of the Year, Professor Alan Cooper, is founder and Director of the Australian Centre for Ancient DNA at the University of Adelaide, an internationally leading research centre studying issues ranging from Aboriginal genetic heritage to the impacts of environmental change and the evolution of human diseases.

He has led many large international multi-disciplinary studies and created major new research areas, including detailing the first genome of an extinct species and reconstructing the genomic history of Europe. An ARC Laureate Fellow, Professor Cooper’s work regularly features in the highest profile journals and global media. By creating detailed pictures of climate change, human history, and disease his work is critical to Australia’s future.

Other Science Excellence Awards winners are:

Dr Phiala Shanahan (School of Physical Sciences): PhD Research Excellence and Early Career STEM Professional

Dr Shanahan is a theoretical particle physicist who studies the structure of particles like the proton and neutron. She completed her PhD in theoretical nuclear and particle physics at the University of Adelaide in 2015, receiving the Alumni Postgraduate University Medal. She is now a postdoctoral research associate at the Center for Theoretical Physics, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston.

Dr Lyndsey Collins-Praino (School of Medicine): Early Career STEM Educator of the Year - Tertiary Teaching

In addition to research focusing on understanding the brain basis of cognitive decline in neurodegenerative diseases, Dr Collins-Praino has a strong commitment to teaching. She coordinates multiple neuroscience courses, is Year 1 co-convenor for the medicine program, and Neuroscience Co-Convenor for the Bachelor of Health Sciences. In 2015 she was recognised with the Executive Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching.

Dr Michelle Wirthensohn (School of Agriculture, Food and Wine): Excellence in Research Collaboration

Dr Wirthensohn is the Program Leader of the Australian Almond Breeding Program which is funded through Horticulture Innovation Australia. She is a member of the Almond Board of Australia’s Plant Improvement Committee and lectures in plant breeding at the Waite campus. Her areas of research interest include varietal improvement, biochemistry of almond kernel flavour, genetic mapping of important agronomic traits of almond, and water use efficiency of almonds.


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