Science graduates headline finals of Young Achiever Awards

Three science graduates from the University of Adelaide have been shortlisted as finalists in South Australia’s 2021 Seven News Young Achiever Awards.

Finalists have been selected for all awards, which aim to encourage, acknowledge and reward the achievements and valuable contribution young individuals make in their local communities. 

University of Adelaide STEM Award honours the innovative and visionary achievements of young STEM learners and recognises the impact their contributions make to our world.

Finalists for this category include Kate Secombe and Dr Sarah Bernhardt who both studied a Bachelor of Science (Biomedical Science) at the University of Adelaide before pursuing further study and careers in cancer research. UniSA engineering and psychology graduate Dr Rebecca Marrone is the third finalist.

Meanwhile, Wildlife Conservation Biology graduate Tiahni Jade Adamson has been shortlisted as one of three finalists for the Department of Human Services Aboriginal Achievement Award.

Finalists will be presented and winners announced at an awards dinner on 21 May. Voting for the People’s Choice Award is underway on Facebook.


Finalists - University of Adelaide STEM Award

Dr Sarah Bernhardt 

Dr Sarah Bernhardt 26, of Clarence Gardens focuses on improving the treatment of young women with breast cancer. Sarah completed a Bachelor of Science (Biomedical Science) at the University of Adelaide and then First-Class Honours within the Cell Signalling Laboratory at the Centre for Cancer Biology.

She received a PhD scholarship to research why aggressive breast cancers become resistant to therapy.

Sarah then joined the Breast Biology and Cancer Unit at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, continuing to research on improving precision medicine. She recently accepted a postdoctoral research position at a breast cancer laboratory in the United States.


​​​​​​​Kate Secombe

Kate Secombe 28, of Norwood is in her final year of PhD in Medicine at the University of Adelaide. She completed her Bachelor of Science (Biomedical Science), receiving two Outstanding Academic Achievement awards.

Aiming to improve the quality of life of people with cancer, Kate is working on a method to predict who will develop gastrointestinal toxicity from their treatment using the individual’s unique microbiome. This could help reduce the side effects of cancer treatments.

Kate has completed a Postgraduate Research Internship at Bright Arena. She has published 11 peer-reviewed papers and won a Fellowship to do research at the U.S. National Institutes of Health.


Dr Rebecca Marrone

Dr Rebecca Marrone 28, of Evanston hopes to lessen the gender gap in STEM. Rebecca has a PhD from the School of Engineering at the University of South Australia and a first-class Honours Degree in Psychology.

She currently works as an academic for the Centre for Change and Complexity in Learning at UniSA. She runs the Epic Challenge Program, delivered on behalf of UniSA, NASA and The Epic Education Foundation. The Program presents un-answered space-based questions for students to solve.

Rebecca also volunteers for the Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute’s CHOOSEMATHS program, mentoring Year 10 girls. She holds a professional development training series for school teachers.


Finalist - Department of Human Services Aboriginal Achievement Award

Tiahni Jade Adamson

Tiahni Jade Adamson 25, of Glenelg is a proud Torres Strait Islander woman who works fulltime in the Marine Conservation and Compliance with Primary Industries and Regions SA (PIRSA). She is employed under the Aboriginal Compliance Support Officer Career Program and is working towards becoming a Fisheries Officer through a traineeship. Tiahni works with the local SA Aboriginal communities to facilitate cultural events such as Narrunga country and Reconciliation and NAIDOC events across SA.

A graduate of Bachelor of Science (Wildlife Conservation Biology), she hopes to marry her science-based education with traditional Indigenous knowledge and practices. Tiahni is currently studying a Master of Environmental Policy and Management.

Tagged in Student & Graduate Stories, Engagement and Industry, School of Biological Sciences