South Australian Tall Poppy of the Year
Dr Hannah Wardill - Winner
NHMRC CJ Martin Biomedical Research Fellow, The University of Adelaide
With an ever-growing number of people surviving cancer, we are starting to understand the long-term consequences of this disease and its harsh treatment. These consequences can be physical, psychosocial and financial.
Dr Hannah Wardill’s research aims to improve the quality of life of people living with or beyond cancer through personalised and proactive supportive care solutions that target common multiple problems in parallel. She is currently investigating the benefits of faecal transplants in people with blood cancer, and will soon begin a large clinical trial to evaluate medicinal cannabis in people with advanced cancer.
Dr Wardill has spoken at several public events, including Raising the Bar and the “Would I Lie to You” scientific myths gameshow event. She has also given keynote addresses at the opening of St Mary’s STEM Centre and at the 2020 SACE Merit Ceremony.
Dr Wardill completed her PhD in 2016 at the University of Adelaide and is currently NHMRC CJ Martin Biomedical Research Fellow and Lead of the Supportive Oncology Research Group - The University of Adelaide (affiliated with SAHMRI and University Medical Centre Groningen).
Dr Yee Lian Chew
Mary Overton Senior Research Fellow, Flinders University
Dr Yee Lian Chew seeks to uncover new treatments for chronic pain, a debilitating condition affecting 20 per cent of Australians. While opioids are the most common treatment for chronic pain, they are highly problematic due to addiction and reduced efficacy over long-term use, so there is an urgent need for new therapeutics.
An important property of pain-sensing brain cells is that they sensitise – i.e. their excitability can be increased – which is a key factor in the onset of long-lasting pain. Dr Chew’s work uses the brain of the nematode worm as an experimental system to identify the neurochemical signals that drive pain sensitisation, in order to discover new therapeutic targets against chronic pain.
Dr Chew has communicated her science through Soapbox Science Sydney 2019, Pint of Science (online, 2021) and the ABC Science Elevator Pitch 2020. She delivered a public lecture through the University of the 3rd Age to 100 retirees, and visited Roma Mitchell High School as a member of a panel on Women in STEM.
Dr Chew was awarded her PhD from the University of Sydney in 2015. She is currently the Mary Overton Senior Research Fellow (supported by Flinders Foundation) and NHMRC Fellow at Flinders University.
Dr Dominic McAfee
Postdoctoral researcher, The University of Adelaide
Oysters formed enormous reef networks over thousands of kilometres of Australia’s coastline 200 years ago, underpinning the health and wealth of our coastal seas, but today these reefs are all but extinct. Restoring the lost oyster reefs can help recover the declining productivity and resilience of our coastal ecosystems – but how do you restore a marine ecosystem that nobody knows even existed?
Dr Dominic McAfee is developing new techniques for accelerating the restoration of oyster habitats by boosting natural restoration processes. He aims to recruit baby oysters by creating positive interactions between oysters and kelp, and playing natural marine sounds that attract baby oysters.
Dr McAfee has presented at five public forums, reaching hundreds of coastal residents and resulting in increasing public support for the South Australian Government’s oyster restoration program. He has written three articles for The Conversation and has presented a TEDx Talk on “Restoring the reefs we never knew we lost”, leading to multiple radio interviews and presentations at schools.
Dr McAfee completed his PhD in 2018 at Macquarie University, Sydney. He is currently a postdoctoral researcher at The University of Adelaide.