State leaders in science announced

Oct 24 2017

Two HMRI-affiliated researchers from the University of Newcastle (UON) have been named recipients of the prestigious 2017 Premier’s Prizes for Science and Engineering, announced at a reception held at Sydney’s Government House.

The awards recognise excellence in science and engineering, and seek to reward outstanding researchers for cutting-edge work in these fields.

Spanning the fields of secure communications and biomedical technologies, Associate Professor Sarah Johnson was named the category winner for Excellence in Engineering and Information and Communications Technology, while Dr Susan Hua was named NSW Early Career Researcher of the Year.

Since obtaining her PhD in 2004, Associate Professor Johnson has helped develop algorithms to enable the secure transfer of communication between two parties, including new approaches for quantum key distribution technology.

Researching with the HMRI Brain and Mental Health research program, her work in biomedical engineering has focused on developing advanced technologies to enable physical rehabilitation within the home environment. She has been collaborating with leading neuroscientists over the past 18 months through her work with the Priority Research Centre for Bioinformatics, Biomarker Discovery and Information-Based Medicine

Creating solutions using mathematical algorithms across three different projects, A/Prof Johnson is aiming to improve current medical image processing, create a new imaging device and, ultimately, make steps towards a virtual reality system for medical research.

Dr Susan Hua is a registered pharmacist and has held a full-time teaching and research academic position at UON since 2010. In that time, Dr Hua has identified promising research avenues in therapeutics and drug delivery.

She independently established the Hunter region’s first translational nanopharmaceutics research program, which is developing targeted therapeutics to provide new treatment strategies for clinical disease management.

UON’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation), Professor Kevin Hall, said the awards recognise the high-caliber research being fostered at the University by some of the brightest minds in the state and country.

“Associate Professor Johnson and Dr Hua are driving global innovation and impact in their fields and we are extremely proud to see their achievements recognised through these prominent awards,” Professor Hall said.