Congratulations to Menasha Thilakaratne for her 2021 Winnovation Award win

School of Computer Science researcher Menasha Thilakaratne was successful in winning the Maths and Data Award, sponsored by Fixe.

woman wearing black and smiling

Annual Winnovation Awards recognise South Australian women contributing to the state’s innovation economy by creating jobs, wealth, and solutions to address some of the world’s biggest problems and creating positive change. 

Menasha's work involves using AI to help unlock new innovations in medicine. She wants to create a future with better health and wellbeing outcomes.

Menasha says that accelerating innovations in Medicine is crucial and could have enormous benefits globally.

“To bring about advancement in Medicine, scientists need to explore new knowledge, creatively combining observations and existing published knowledge,” Menasha said.

This is no easy feat. It is estimated that literature repositories such as PubMed get updated with 2,000-4,000 research publications every day!

And while there has been an enormous growth of scientific literature over the years, the reading ability of humans has remained the same.

Menasha could see how this highlighted the importance of developing automated tools to support scientists.

The knowledge required for complex problems is not always accessible through mere customary methods of keyword and citation searching. Her research could help make innovations in medicine less cumbersome and time-consuming and ultimately save millions of lives.

For example, the WHO reports that a person is diagnosed with dementia every four seconds worldwide. Even small to modest advances in how we understand and treat dementia could have enormous benefits across the globe.

While Menasha thanks her friends, family, supervisors, and colleagues for this award (which she said she would not have achieved without them) the thanks flow two ways.

Her supervisor Dr Thushari Atapattu says that the award is a remarkable recognition of all the work Menasha did during her PhD.

"Her research on using cutting-edge AI and deep learning technologies to discover implicit new knowledge buried in the scientific literature and accelerating innovation in medical research is truly amazing. The impact she makes is enormous and inspiring," Thushari said.

There are numerous advancements being made across education, industry, defence, space, biotech, agriculture, advanced manufacturing by women. And we are proud that includes our own researchers here at University of Adelaide.

Menasha’s advice to other prospective women in STEM,

"Always be hungry for new knowledge and never give up on your passion."

Read more about Menasha’s work.

For more on Winnovation: Winnovation Awards | Women in Innovation SA

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