2019 Victorian Young Tall Poppy of the Year and Young Tall Poppy Awards

Young Tall Poppy

On Thursday 10 October, 11 young researchers from Victoria were recognised with prestigious Young Tall Poppy Science Awards.

Dr Lauren Ayton and Dr Michelle Hall received awards, with Dr Ayton being named the 2019 Victorian Young Tall Poppy of the Year.

The Young Tall Poppy Science Awards are run by the Australian Institute of Policy and Science (AIPS) to honour up-and-coming scientists who combine world-class research with a passionate commitment to communicating science. The Victorian Young Tall Poppy of the Year Award is AIPS' premiere award, recognising Victoria’s most outstanding young scientist. The awards are held on a state-by-state basis to celebrate researchers across science, engineering and mathematics.

AIPS Chair Professor Maria Kavallaris OAM said: “A more scientifically engaged society is something every scientist should aspire to and the reason that Tall Poppy winners are so important.”

Learn more about the University of Melbourne Young Tall Poppies below.

Dr Lauren Ayton

Dr Lauren Ayton 
(Winner of the Victorian Tall Poppy of the Year)

Research field: Optometry and Ophthalmology
Dr Ayton researches methods for detection and prevention of eye diseases.

While some vision problems can be corrected with glasses or surgery, there are many conditions which still lead to irreversible vision loss. Dr Ayton’s research focuses on early disease biomarkers in retinal disease and vision restoration.

Her current work aims to develop new vision restoration measures using gene therapy and stem cells. Lauren’s public outreach includes co-hosting weekly radio show Einstein A Go-Go on 3RRR, co-hosting Conversation Hour on ABC radio, and extensive public lectures and media interviews. Dr Ayton received her PhD from the University of Melbourne in 2009, and is currently a Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Optometry and Vision Sciences.

Dr Michelle Hall

Dr Michelle Hall (Tall Poppy Award)

Research Field: Osteoarthritis
Dr Hall researches exercise as a treatment for osteoarthritis, and aims to reduce the pain associated with the disease.

Osteoarthritis is a disease that affects the whole joint, not just the cartilage. Exercise is recommended for all people with osteoarthritis, however we currently do not know what types of exercise are most effective, or how much exercise people should be doing.

Dr Hall’s research aims to understand how exercise provides pain relief for osteoarthritis. By understanding how exercise reduces osteoarthritis-related pain, health care professionals such as physiotherapists will be able to provide exercise prescriptions that result in greater pain relief.

Dr Hall’s public outreach includes promoting science to high school students as a BrainSTEM mentor, radio and magazines interviews, and establishing a Patient & Public Involvement group. Dr Hall completed her PhD at the University of Melbourne in 2015 and is currently a Research Fellow in the Department of Physiotherapy.