Outstanding young scientific mind recognised

Aug 17 2017

Emma Beckett

The significant work of a University of Newcastle (UON) researcher has been recognised at the prestigious 2017 NSW Young Tall Poppy awards, which aim to acknowledge the achievements of Australia’s outstanding young scientific researchers and communicators.

Dr Emma Beckett, a postdoctoral fellow in molecular nutrition at UON’s Ourimbah campus and a researcher with the Hunter Medical Research Institute, will be honoured tonight at a ceremony in Sydney for her vast contributions to the scientific field.

“I am absolutely thrilled to have been announced as a Young Tall Poppy and feel truly honoured to have been named amongst this year’s incredible list of recipients and previous winners,” Dr Beckett said.

A keen science communicator and recipient of an Early Career Fellowship from the National Health and Medical Research Council, Dr Beckett’s work focuses on gene-nutrient-environment interactions – how what we eat changes the way our genes are switched on and off, and how our genes change what we eat and how we respond to food.

“Studying these interactions is important, because our genes, nutrition and environments all contribute to our risk of diseases, but our nutritional recommendations are universal and ignore the fact that we are all unique.

“Everyone eats food, however nutrition is an area plagued by misinformation, misunderstanding, and marketing. As a nutrition scientist, I feel responsible for myth busting. It’s important not just to communicate facts, but to empower people to critically assess information.

As part of the Young Tall Poppy campaign, award winners will spend a year sharing their knowledge with school students, teachers and the broader community through workshops, seminars and public lectures.

“I sincerely hope my work helps move our community towards ‘personalised nutrition’ and away from the ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach. This will help more of us optimise our health throughout our lives,” she said.

Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research & Innovation), Professor Kevin Hall, said the award was well-deserved recognition of Dr Beckett’s impressive work within the field of health science.

“I applaud Dr Beckett’s vital research in the field of personalised healthcare, taking into consideration environmental factors at play, the unique nature of individual treatment and going against a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach.

“Her impressive record of community engagement is an imperative part of science communication and I look forward to her work translating into global outcomes,” he said.

*HMRI is a partnership between the University of Newcastle, Hunter New England Health and the community.