UQ researchers honoured with leading fellowships
22 May 2007
A scientist who helped discover the gene that determines sex in mammals is one of three University of Queensland researchers who have received one of the highest academic accolades in Australia.
Professor Peter Koopman, from UQ's Institute for Molecular Bioscience, has been named as an Australian Research Council Federation Fellow today at a ceremony at Parliament House in Canberra. UQ garnered three Federation Fellows out of the 20 announced.
Two current UQ Federation Fellows, Professor Gerard Milburn and Professor John Quiggin, have won second Federation Fellowships in recognition of their exceptional research in the fields of quantum physics (Milburn) and economic risk modelling (Quiggin).
Federation Fellows are considered to be world-leaders in their chosen fields of research and the program is aimed at attracting some of the world's best research talent as well as offering opportunities for top Australian researchers to continue their work here.
Professor Koopman said his research was looking to develop and use new and vastly more efficient ways of identifying which of our 30,000 genes are important for embryonic development.
“What we are trying to do is reveal their specific function and identify control mechanisms that can go awry to cause birth defects,” Professor Koopman said.
Professor Koopman's research will suggest new ways to diagnose and deal with these conditions, and will be applicable to: stem cell technologies; tissue regeneration; cancer biology; conservation; pest management; and livestock breeding.
Professor Koopman is world-renowned in the field of developmental biology, and was part of the team that discovered the gene that determines sex in mammals, which has been called one of the most important biological discoveries of the 20th Century.
Professor Milburn, Deputy Director of the ARC Centre for Quantum Computer Technology at UQ, is researching quantum nanoscience to develop design principles, based on quantum theory, for new nano-scale devices, particularly quantum electromechanical systems (QEMS) with applications to electronics, nano-optics, metrology and biology.
“This project will deliver a new Australian capability in the core nanotechnology of quantum electromechanical systems,” Professor Milburn said.
“QEMS enable new sensors with ultimate sensitivity with applications in photonics, metrology and bio molecular imaging.”
Professor Quiggin, from UQ's Schools of Economics and Political Science & International Relations, is analysing options for adaptation to climate change in Australia, and in particular, the role and management of uncertainty, with a focus on the Great Barrier Reef and the Murray-Darling Basin.
“The potential economic costs of climate change to vital national assets such as the Murray-Darling Basin and the Great Barrier Reef, amount to billions of dollars per year, and ecological costs are even more significant,” Professor Quiggin said.
“Uncertainty about the rate at which climate change will take place and about effects in different regions is central to the problem. This project will explore adaptive management strategies that promote resilience in the face of uncertainty.”
UQ Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), Professor David Siddle, said the University's reputation as one of Australia's leading research institutions had been further enhanced by the latest Federation Fellowship announcement.
"Professor Koopman is a worthy candidate who joins our current 16 Federation Fellows in an unparalleled convergence of world-leading researchers at The University of Queensland," Professor Siddle said.
“The fact that we have been successful with three Federation Fellows, two of whom have achieved the double honour of receiving a Fellowship a second time, reflects positively not only on the calibre of our applicants, but also on the environment at UQ in which they will work.
“I congratulate Peter, Gerard and John on their success that propels them into an elite group of Australian researchers.”
Media inquiries: Andrew Dunne at UQ Communications (3365 2802 or 0433 364 181). Photos of the UQ recipients are available by contacting UQ Photpgraphics (3365 2753).