A multiple sclerosis (MS) genetics researcher and a climate change scientist from the University of Tasmania have been honoured with Tasmanian Tall Poppy Science Awards for 2023.
The annual awards, created by the Australian Institute of Policy and Science (AIPS), recognise and celebrate the achievements of Australian scientists. The awards honour up-and-coming scientists who combine world-class research with an enthusiastic commitment to communicating science.
Dr Chloe Lucas has been named Tall Poppy of the Year, a prestigious title within the scientific community.
Dr Lucas is a Lecturer and Research Fellow in the School of Geography, Planning, and Spatial Sciences at the University of Tasmania’s College of Science and Engineering, and an affiliate of the Centre for Marine Socioecology.
“I'm thrilled that the importance of climate change communication, and my work in this space, is being recognised with this award,” Dr Lucas said.
Dr Lucas leads Curious Climate Schools, an innovative project that asks students what they want to know about climate change and matches them with experts to answer their questions.
“Over the last two years our project has answered almost 500 questions from 50 classes around Tasmania, and we are hoping to answer even more this year,” she said.
“My research has also had a tangible impact on communication about bushfire in greater Hobart. It has led to a partnership of four local governments to trial a new model of bushfire preparedness communication through the ‘Sparking Conversations, Igniting Action’ project.”
“I’m extremely proud to be named a Tall Poppy, particularly as it recognises the significant impact my research can have on the community.
“MS is a devastating neurological disease that usually begins in young adults. It can greatly limit their ability to have an independent life and impacts their family. There is no cure for MS and the treatments we have are life-long and often come with their own major side effects.
“My research aims to understand the factors that cause MS and lead to its progression. We can use the information to help us understand the biological changes that cause MS and develop new, better treatments,” Dr Zhou said.
Dr Zhou has shared details of his research at various public events including ‘Adults-Only Science Night’ at Questacon and the Menzies MS Research Flagship’s annual ‘Research with Connections’ event for the MS community.
“Community engagement is crucial for promoting understanding and engagement in science,” he said.
The prestigious awards, now in their 25th year, will be presented at a ceremony in September.