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South Australian Tall Poppy of the Year

Dr Kylie Dunning – Winner      

The Hospital Research Foundation Mid-Career Fellow and ARC Senior Research Associate, The University of Adelaide


One of the greatest challenges for IVF clinics is identifying which embryos are suitable for transfer back into the patient’s womb. The current gold-standard technologies include taking a small number of cells from the embryo (a biopsy), then sequencing the DNA to confirm that the embryo has the predicted number of chromosomes. As well as being invasive, this procedure is inaccurate.


Dr Dunning is developing new technologies that overcome the need for a cell biopsy, and instead, using light to take a non-invasive, “molecular photo”. This revolutionary procedure involves shining gentle doses of light upon an embryo and using the scattered light that comes back to reveal the intricacies of its biochemistry, providing insight into the health of the embryo.


Dr Dunning has undertaken various engagement activities including presentations to primary and secondary school students, hosting high school student visits to her laboratory and talks to Rotary clubs.


Dr Dunning was awarded her PhD in 2008 from the University of Adelaide. She is currently a Hospital Research Foundation Mid-Career Fellow at the University of Adelaide.

Associate Professor Maria Inacio

Adjunct Associate Professor and Director of Healthy Ageing Research Consortium SAHMRI, University of South Australia and SAHMRI


As our population ages, the need for services that help us live at home longer or transition to aged care homes (when needed) will grow. This demand needs to be met with good quality aged care services. Unfortunately, concerns about the services provided to Australians are so significant that they have resulted in a Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.


A/Prof Inacio and her team lead research into the causes for good or poor-quality care and build evidence and tools to reduce the chance of poor outcomes.  Their research uses integrated information from the aged care and health care sectors to inform improvements in this area.


A/Prof Inacio’s most meaningful science communication activities have been with policymakers and regulatory bodies. She has tried to inform and influence how safety and quality of care can and should be monitored.


A/Prof Inacio completed her PhD in 2013 at the University of California, San Diego (USA).

She is the Director of the Registry of Senior Australians at SAHMRI, Adjunct Associate Professor at UniSA, a The Hospital Research Foundation Mid-Career Fellow, and will be a NHMRC Emerging Leadership (2) Investigator, commencing in 2021.

Dr Ian Moffat

Senior Research Fellow, Flinders University


Humans and our ancestors have lived through many periods of dramatic climate change, which have unquestionably influenced our evolution.  Unfortunately, high quality climate records are often not available from archaeological sites making it difficult to directly measure the impacts of changing temperature, sea level and rainfall on how humans have evolved over time. 


Dr Moffat’s research is focused on examining the sediments in archaeological cave sites using exciting new techniques, such as sub-surface imaging and analyzing the chemistry of teeth, to try to better understand past climates. 


Dr Moffat has partnered with many community groups to map unmarked graves within historic and Indigenous cemeteries which has involved many presentations and he has run workshops for a number of Indigenous schools on using geophysical and geomatic methods in archaeology. He has written several articles for The Conversation and worked with Channel 7 and SAPOL on the 2018 investigation of the Castalloy Factory to attempt to locate the Beaumont children which attracted extensive national media.


Dr Moffat completed his PhD at the Australian National University in 2013.  He is currently a Senior Lecturer in Archaeological Science at Flinders University.

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