Tall Poppy Syndrome Alive and Well at UniSA

Good things come in threes at UniSA – at least as far as its high-achieving scientists go.

Three dynamic early career researchers at the University of South Australia have taken out prestigious Young Tall Poppy Science Awards announced this morning at Adelaide’s Ayers House.

Health scientist Dr Alison Coates, bionic ear researcher Dr Mark McDonnell and pharmacist Dr Michael Sorich join a trio of other Tall Poppies and UniSA colleagues - Dr Beverly Mϋhlhäusler, Dr Emma Parkinson-Lawrence and 2007 South Australian Young Tall Poppy of the Year, Dr Craig Williams – who were recognised last year as Australia’s outstanding young scientists.

A senior member in UniSA’s Nutritional Physiology Research CentreDr Alison Coates has an impressive track record in research into the benefits of nutritional supplements such as omega 3 fatty acids and functional foods on cardiovascular and metabolic function.

“I have always had a strong passion to better my understanding of the changes that occur in the regulation of the cardiovascular system during the development of obesity,” Dr Coates said.

Dr Mark McDonnell is currently based at UniSA’s Institute for Telecommunications Research (ITR) as an Australian Research Council Postdoctoral Fellow where he is applying mathematics and engineering principles to develop technology that will improve the performance of cochlear implants.

“Although bionic ear patients are able to comprehend speech very well, they have difficulty enjoying music. It’s exciting and rewarding that my work may help in one day bringing the joys of music to these patients,” Dr McDonnell said.

A key researcher in the Sansom Research Institute at UniSA, Dr Michael Sorich’s research aims to improve the use of medicines in the wider community by developing and promoting the use of information contained in a person’s genes to guide medicine use.

“Using this so-called ‘personalised medicine’, it is hoped that people with medical conditions will be treated more effectively and with fewer problems,” Dr Sorich said.

UniSA Deputy Vice Chancellor, Research & Innovation, Professor Caroline McMillen, said Drs Coates, McDonnell and Sorich were all excellent ambassadors for science and scientific research.

“All three are not only enthusiastic and highly-accomplished researchers, they are also passionate advocates for science and outstanding communicators,” Prof McMillen said.

“And they join the illustrious roll call of Young Tall Poppy scientists at UniSA that includes Director of the Sansom Institute, Professor Ross McKinnon and Director of the ITR, Professor Alex Grant.”

Vice Chancellor Professor Peter Høj said the solution-focused research of UniSA’s latest Tall Young Poppies epitomises the real-world approach that informs much of UniSA’s research.

“The University congratulates Alison, Mark and Michael and celebrates this great honour with them,” he said.