Next generation of top researchers to represent Australia on global stage

February 28, 2018
PhD student Jessica Kretzmann at her laboratory bench
PhD student Jessica Kretzmann from the University of Western Australia

Eight rising stars of Australian science have been selected by the Australian Academy of Science and the Council for the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings to attend a highly prestigious annual gathering of Nobel Laureates and promising young scientists from around the world.

The Australian delegation will join 592 other scientists, all under the age of 35, to present their medical research to Nobel Laureates and their colleagues, exchange ideas and share experiences with other young researchers.

The PhD students and postdoctoral researchers selected to attend the 68th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting in Lindau, Germany, from 24-29 June 2018, are:  

  • Lee Ashton—Postdoctoral researcher, University of Newcastle—who is researching participation-based lifestyle interventions to improve the health of young men  
  • Ryan Farr—Postdoctoral Fellow, CSIRO Geelong—who is identifying and characterising biomarkers of viral encephalitis, like the Rabies virus, to enable early treatment
  • Jessica Kretzmann—PhD student, University of Western Australia—who is working on developing a safe and efficient method to deliver gene therapies to treat breast cancer
  • Hayley McNamara—PhD student, Australian National University—who is researching how immune cells respond to parasites, so that improved vaccines can be developed to combat malaria
  • Gregory Quaife-Ryan—PhD student, University of Queensland—who is focusing on the role of a group of genes, known as long non-coding RNAs, in cardiac regeneration
  • Elena Schneider—Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Melbourne—who is researching treatment options for cystic fibrosis and multi-drug resistance
  • Amy Shepherd—PhD student, Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health—who is researching Alzheimer’s Disease, utilising specialised rodent touchscreens to look at specific cognitive deficits
  • Yuan Zhou—Postdoctoral researcher, University of Tasmania—who is identifying genetic variants and environmental factors that influence the development of multiple sclerosis.

According to the Council for the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings, this year’s meeting will set two records: 43 Nobel Laureates will take part, the most ever at a medicine meeting, while 84 countries are sending their best young scientists to the meeting. Fifty percent of the young scientists attending this year are women.

Academy President Professor Andrew Holmes said the Lindau meetings are globally recognised for providing inspirational role models to young researchers.

“These meetings give young researchers the opportunity to interact with their scientific heroes, exchange ideas, gain exposure to areas in their chosen disciplines and establish new contacts and networks with their peers,” Professor Holmes said.

PhD student Andrew White from the University of Queensland attended the 67th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting. He was impressed by the message from several Laureates about the importance of basic research.

“They all mentioned that when they first made their discoveries their papers were not accepted by the scientific community for some time, and were sometimes even ridiculed by other scientists because their discovery were against the norm. In order to make their ground-breaking discoveries they needed to focus on research areas that people perceive as impossible or too difficult to do,” Mr White said.

The group will also take part in a post-meeting study tour, led by renowned Australian scientist and Academy Fellow, Professor Jennifer Martin.

Successful candidates receive a grant towards the cost of airfares, participation in the meeting and the study tour, made possible thanks to the generous support of the Science and Industry Endowment Fund (SIEF). 

Learn more about the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting

© 2018 Australian Academy of Science