Monday, 25 May 2020

Three top science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) researchers from The University of Western Australia have been elected as 2020 Fellows of the Australian Academy of Science.  They make up the total number of scientists representing WA from 24 Australians elected as Fellows this year.

Fellows of the Australian Academy of Science are among the nation’s most distinguished scientists, elected by their peers for groundbreaking research and contributions that have had substantial impact to advance knowledge.

UWA’s Professor Robyn Owens, Professor Ryan Lister and Professor Harvey Millar have each made significant contributions in their disciplines.

Professor Owens, in addition to her research contributions, was until recently UWA’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) and well recognised for her leadership contributions. Professor Millar is Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology and a member of UWA’s School of Molecular Sciences. Professor Lister is a member of the same ARC Centre but also conducts genomics research on humans, including understanding cancer via a joint position with the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research.

Professor Owens’ research focuses on understanding how humans process images and how machines might work better for humans to assist where the human eye has visual limitations. Her work has broad application, and is used in areas such as helping understand how breastmilk is produced in lactating mothers and the development of complex systems such facial recognition systems and understanding complex human behaviour.

Professor Ryan Lister’s research focuses on the epigenome, the molecular code superimposed on the genome that plays important roles in controlling how the information stored in the DNA is used by cells. His work has increased understanding of the epigenome in plants, humans, stem cells, development, and the brain, and is driving advances that will provide benefits to agriculture, human health, and medicine.

Mitochondria – the powerhouses of cells – are the focus of Professor Harvey Millar’s research, which has improved understanding of respiration performed by mitochondria in plants. His findings have offered insight into how energy in plant cells is made, and ways that this can be used to drive plant growth and engineer crops of the future to benefit farmers and improve global nutrition.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Tim Colmer congratulated UWA’s newest Fellows and said their research was contributing to groundbreaking advancements in science.

“Our three new Fellows are recognised internationally as leaders in their fields and great innovators,” Professor Colmer said.

“Their inclusion as 2020 Academy Fellows demonstrates the strength of STEM at UWA – an area that will be increasingly important in the future.

“In a world that is facing many challenges, research that combines science, technology, engineering and mathematics is going to be even more critical for solving complex global problems.”

Media references

Jess Reid (UWA Media and PR Adviser) 08 6488 6876


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