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ARC researchers recognised at the 2023 ATSE Awards

ARC researchers recognised at the 2023 ATSE Awards

The Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE) held their annual Awards Gala recently. 

The ARC is proud to acknowledge that of the seven award winners, two have received ARC funding for their research. 

Congratulations, Dr Conrad Wasko, current ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher (DECRA) who was awarded the Batterham Medal for Engineering Excellence. The Medal is an early career award for a graduate engineer who has achieved substantial peer/industry recognition for their work in the past five years. 

Dr Wasko works at the University of Melbourne and focuses on understanding the effects of climate change on extreme rainfall events and flooding. 

Dr Wasko’s DECRA project focuses on a practical technique for design flood estimation that will accommodate key changes to flood behaviour that are expected in the future. This includes consideration of changes in extreme rainfall intensities, catchment wetness, and patterns of storm behaviour. 

Congratulations also to Professor Ronald Quinn AM FTSE, who along with Mr John Watson, Nyikina Mangala Community took home the Traditional Knowledge Innovation Award. This Award acknowledges and recognizes individuals or teams that collaborate and successfully apply Traditional Knowledge through modern innovation. It celebrates STEM research and development done by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples or communities, which incorporates or builds on Traditional Knowledge. 

The Award citation reads:  

Partners in traditional pain treatment 

In 1986, John Darraga Watson’s finger was bitten off by a crocodile. A Nyikina Mangala man from the Jarlmadangah Burru Aboriginal Community of the Kimberley, John turned to the bark of the Mudjala mangrove tree seeking pain relief. He chewed on a strip of bark and applied it as a dressing to his wound.  

When Professor Ronald Quinn from Griffith University heard of John’s ordeal, and his use of the Mudjala bark, he was intrigued. An enduring partnership eventuated between the Nyikina Mangala people and Griffith University under the leadership of John and Ronald, seeking to identify what active compounds could be present in the bark. 

Combining thousands of years of Traditional Knowledge with western science has revealed a novel, natural remedy for the treatment of severe pain. The bark contains two classes of compound: one is effective for inflammatory pain and the other mitigates sciatic nerve injury. The resulting product – a possible topical gel – will be based on the complex mixtures present within the bark paste. John and Ronald hope that this gel could be supplied to athletes at the 2032 Brisbane Olympics. 

Professor Quinn has a long history of excellent research and receiving ARC funding. In 2022 he was part of a team that received Discovery Indigenous funding, which directly relates to the prize won last night.  

The Discovery Indigenous project aims to explore how Australian regulatory systems can better support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Traditional Knowledge holders to commercialise their traditional medicines. Focusing on the mudjala plant and working with the Kimberley’s Nyikina people to support their aspirations for commercial development of the mudjala plant as a traditional medicinal product.  

The ARC wishes Dr Wasko, Professor Quinn and Mr Watson all the very best for their research endeavours. 

To see a full list of the winners, click here

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