Science awards celebrate academic, student and staff success

Two University of Adelaide scientists have been awarded early career research excellence awards - for their respective work analysing ancient DNA from the sea floor, and discovering new technologies to lead change in Australia’s pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries.

The recent Faculty of Sciences’ awards showcase celebrated research, teaching, leadership, professional staff and student success, including academic promotions. The recording of the award ceremony is available online for staff and postgraduate students.


Research awards

Science awards 2020 Linda Armbrecht

Dr Linda Armbrecht with Professor Laura Parry

Making waves in the new field of marine ancient DNA research, Dr Linda Armbrecht who was awarded The Edith Dornwell Medal for Early Career Research Excellence.

Dr Armbrecht analyses ancient DNA from the seafloor to improve our understanding of marine organisms, and track complex species-level and ecosystem-wide changes over tens of thousands of years. This knowledge can be directly applied to predicting future changes and management of marine ecosystems, fisheries, and keystone species.

Dr Armbrecht – a recent Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) recipient - is from the School of Biological Sciences and is a member of Australian Centre for Ancient DNA (ACAD).

Science awards 2020 Christopher Newton

Dr Christopher Newton with Professor Laura Parry

Emerging chemistry researcher Dr Christopher Newton from the School of Physical Sciences was awarded The Daniel Walker Medal for Early Career Research Excellence.

Dr Newton’s research aims to fundamentally change the way organic chemists think about synthesising complex molecules. Dr Newton’s research plays a central and enduring role in the development and expansion of Australia’s pharmaceutical and biotech industries, through the discovery of new enabling technologies, and through training the next generation of Australian organic chemists.

Oyster reef restoration pioneer Dr Dominic McAfee was also recognised in the Daniel Walker category with an Order of Merit.

Dr McAfee’s environmental restoration research is breaking new ground on how reef restoration projects are managed here in South Australia, with potential to change environmental conservation more generally.

Leading the charge of creating novel malaria vaccines is Mid-Career Research Excellence Award winner Dr Danny Wilson.

Half of the world’s population is at risk of infection with mosquito-borne malaria parasites of the genus Plasmodium. Resistance has developed to our most effective anti-malarial drugs, resulting in poorer treatment outcomes for clinical cases of this deadly parasite.

Dr Wilson and his colleagues in the School of Biological Sciences – also part of the Research Centre for Infectious Diseases - are developing new drug treatment approaches to cure malaria disease; and are characterising the protein targets of drugs and vaccines in order to develop better therapeutics to reduce the disease burden.

Theoretical nuclear and particle physicist Associate Professor Ross Young was awarded an Order of Merit in the 2020 Mid-Career Research category.

Associate Professor Young was recognised for a strong contribution to physics research of which have a global impact - including leading roles in recent significant developments in understanding the low-energy structure of quantum chromodynamics (QCD) and related precision tests of the Standard Model.

Professor Heike Ebendorff-Heidepriem’s research has pushed the limits of glass science and technology, disrupting existing knowledge and creating new paradigms and tools for designing and fabricating novel photonic glasses and structures.

These solutions have been applied by many researchers - both at the University of Adelaide and around the world - to investigate new physical, chemical and mathematical concepts and develop new light sources and sensors.

Recognising sustained excellence in leadership and development of others and a contribution to building an enduring legacy, Prof Ebendorff-Heidepriem received the Faculty of Sciences’ Research Leadership Award for 2020.

Forging key partnerships across government and the mining and environment sectors, has earned Dr Michelle Guzik the 2020 Partnership Development Award. Dr Guzik, an evolutionary geneticist in the School of Biological Sciences, is leading the application of environmental DNA (eDNA) for the rapid and cost effective detection of a rare subterranean fauna species of conservation significance.

Scientists leading the COVID-19 Detector Dog Project were also recognised for establishing mutually-beneficial research partnerships with organisations outside of academia. An Order of Merit was awarded to Dr Anne-Lise Chaber, Dr Susan Hazel and Associate Professor Charles Caraguel of the School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences.


Teaching excellence awards

Veterinary scientist Dr Wayne Boardman and geologist Associate Professor Stijn Glorie received Executive Dean of Sciences Awards for Excellence in Teaching.

Dr Boardman was recognised for his excellence and innovation in creating a learning environment that also supports social and cultural development of students in veterinary biosecurity, veterinary wildlife conservation, biodiversity and ecosystem health.

A/Prof Glorie was awarded for his flexible and innovative approach to delivering and designing industry-relevant experiences for geology students. Dr Glorie uses discovery-based and experiential learning with an emphasis on the development of career-readiness. 

Integral to the success of the University of Adelaide’s winemaking program is Scholarly Teaching Fellow Jill Bauer.

Jill received the Excellence in Teaching Award for early career teaching for her dedication to student experience through the delivery of winemaking classes to students remotely; virtual reality experiences; and connecting current students to alumni and industry through a series called ‘Vintage Conversations’.

The First Year Biology Teaching Team won the Executive Dean’s Commendation for Excellence in Teaching for their agility in embracing modern pedagogies to provide comprehensive and rewarding online experiences for students.

Student awards

The best PhD thesis produced in the Faculty of Sciences in 2020 was by veterinary preventive medicine, epidemiology and public health researcher Dr Skye Badger.

Dr Badger received The Harold Woolhouse Prize for the thesis entitled, ‘Quality of Evidence used for the Management of Antimicrobial Resistance in Australian Animals’.

Leading research into the conservation and management coastal vegetated environments, Dr Nicole Foster was awarded the K.P Barley Prize for Outstanding Academic Achievement in a postgraduate degree in Agriculture or Natural Resource Sciences.

Dr Foster’s research applies novel technologies to examine environmental DNA buried in the sediment cores of coastal habitats to reconstruct how plant communities have changed through time; and to inform future management of these natural resources.


Professional staff awards

The North Terrace campus teaching support services team was recognised for its exceptional performance by a professional team in the Faculty of Sciences

The team of technicians support undergraduate teaching across the biology, chemistry, earth science and physics courses and in 2020, continued to provide a high standard of services amid the challenges of adapting between face-to-face and online teaching.

Professional staff (individual) award winner Goran Boren has been the technical lead on Australia’s flagship geophysical data collection program in 3D geoelectric imaging, led by the University of Adelaide, for the past 13 years.

As a Technical Officer in the Department of Earth Sciences, School of Physical Sciences, Goran has demonstrated a high degree of expert knowledge and experience in the deployment of complex, field-based instrumentation.


2020 award recipients

Award Recipient

The Edith Dornwell Medal for Early Career Research Excellence

Award details

The Daniel Walker Medal for Early Career Research Excellence

Award details

Mid-Career Research Excellence Award

Recognising research excellence, leadership and team building, and broader contributions and impact by a mid-career researcher, relative to opportunity.

Research Leadership Award

Recognising sustained excellence in leadership and development of others, a contribution to building an enduring legacy, and a record of ground-breaking research.

Partnership Development Award

Recognition of efforts by researcher(s) in establishing mutually-beneficial research partnerships with organisations outside of academia for longer-term advancement of knowledge and societal impact.

Excellence in Teaching Award

Excellence in Teaching Award – for more than five years’ experience

Excellence in Teaching Award

Excellence in Teaching Award - for less than five years’ experience:

Executive Dean’s Commendation for Excellence in Teaching

Excellence in Teaching Award

First Year Biology Teaching Team:

The Harold Woolhouse Prize

Prize details

  • Dr Skye Badger - Animal and Veterinary Sciences

The K.P Barley Prize

Prize details

The Professional Staff Award – Team

Recognises exceptional performance by a professional team in the Faculty of Sciences.

Teaching Support Services Team - North Terrace:

The Professional Staff Award – Individual

Recognises exceptional performance by an individual professional staff member in the Faculty of Sciences.

Tagged in Faculty of Sciences, School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences, School of Agriculture Food and Wine, School of Physical Sciences, School of Biological Sciences, Waite Research Institute, Research, Awards, Australian Centre for Ancient DNA, Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing - IPAS