Researchers awarded tenure-track positions under new fellowship

19 June 2018
An initiative of the 2016-20 Strategic Plan, the Robinson Fellowships aim to support and retain current University of Sydney staff - our best early-career academics - by creating a pathway towards continuing teaching and research positions at the University.

The fellowships are named after Sir Robert Robinson, who joined the University in 1912 as a young academic and went on to win a Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

The structured, four-year program includes salary, up to $150,000 each year for research costs, and mentoring support. At least 50 percent of the Fellowships will be awarded to women over the life of the scheme, delivering on the University's commitment to gender equity.

“We know how difficult it can be for young researchers to find continuing academic positions, no matter how good they are,” said Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Duncan Ivison. “These Fellowships are aimed at providing our high performing early career researchers a pathway to a secure future at our University.”

The fellowships are named after Nobel Prize winner Sir Robert Robinson, who joined the University in 1912 as a 26-year-old organic chemistry academic before returning home to England in 1915. He made significant contributions to work that led to the successful production of certain antimalarial drugs and, in 1947, Sir Robert was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

“These Fellowships are part of a wider program of work we are retain and develop outstanding talent at the University of Sydney," said Dr Andrew Black, Director of Research Development and Collaboration in the Research Portfolio.

"We're consolidating and expanding mentoring support available to researchers, as well as building a complete training program for academics at every stage of their careers, including how to build and lead teams, how to approach and work with industry, government and the community, or how to conduct a high-quality clinical trial.”

The recipients in the first round are:

Faculty of Engineering and Information Technologies / School of Aerospace, Mechatronic and Mechanical Engineering

Dr An’s research is focused on the characterisation of the mechanical properties of metallic materials, as there is an increasingly urgent requirement for advanced metallic materials with superior mechanical properties to address economic, energy and environmental challenges.

Dr An was recently awarded a Dean’s award for research excellence, which recognised his important contributions to research in materials engineering. The Robinson Fellowship will afford Dr An greater capacity to address national and international economic, environmental and social challenges.

Faculty of Science / School of Physics / Institute of Photonics and Optical Science / The University of Sydney Nano Institute

Dr Blanco-Redondo’s research spans the disciplines of nanotechnology, photonics, and quantum technology. She has received an ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) and has been awarded a Harry Messel Fellowship.

Having now received the Robinson Fellowship, Dr Blanco-Redondo’s vision is to establish research groups which will be instrumental in solving important societal problems, including reducing the CO2 footprint of data centres, enabling effective and affordable medical diagnosis devices, and advancing towards quantum computing.

Faculty of Science / School of Life and Environmental Sciences

Dr Grueber’s research uses evolutionary theory to conserve biodiversity, improve food production, and avoid the consequences of obesity. Her research reveals the impact of our actions on the genetic makeup of animal populations, to identify both opportunities for improvement, and the red flags we seem to ignore.

Dr Grueber’s work is relevant not only to the 2,199 threatened species for which the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) recommends captive breeding, but also the global food market. Throughout the course of the Robinson Fellowship, Dr Grueber will do experimental work using poultry as a model system for conservation and evolutionary genetics problems.

Faculty of Medicine and Health / Medical Sciences / Physiology

Dr Andrew Hoy joined the School of Medical Sciences in 2012 as an NHMRC ECR Fellow. His research focuses on type 2 diabetes, obesity and associated complications including fatty liver disease, and cancers which are heavily influenced by obesity. Along with his research focus, Dr Hoy is actively involved in undergraduate teaching at the University, including coordination of the School’s TSP offerings, supervising a number of postgraduate students, and serving on a range of University committees.

The Robinson Fellowship will allow Dr Hoy and his research team to perform innovative experiments so as to publish research accessible to both researchers and clinicians involved in the treatment and prevention of lifestyle-related diseases.

Sydney School of Architecture, Design and Planning

Dr Jennifer Kent is an urban planner whose research focuses on the links between planning, human health and transport. Since joining the University in 2015, Dr Kent has brought urban planning expertise to teams in the Charles Perkins Centre, the Centre for Translational Data Science, the Schools of Public Health and Law, and the Institute for Transport and Logistic Studies (ITLS). Dr Kent is particularly interested in the health impacts of private car use and lifestyle diseases, specifically those related to a lack of physical activity like heart disease and diabetes, and those related to over-scheduling and stress, such as anxiety and mood disorders.

The Robinson Fellowship will allow her to apply this research to a series of planning practices of urgent concern in Australian cities.

Faculty of Medicine and Health / NHMRC Clinical Trials Centre, Sydney Medical School

Dr Morton aims to develop innovative ways to evaluate the costs and benefits of new and existing technologies in cancer and cardiovascular disease. The Robinson Fellowship will enable Dr Morton to expand her current program of research in four ways: developing a proactive framework for modelling the costs and benefits of new cancer and cardiovascular technologies; embedding patient-important outcomes into the design of new clinical trials; advancing economic evaluation methods to accommodate a broader inclusion of societal costs and benefits not currently considered by health jurisdictions (for example, costs to the environment); and building capacity in health economic evaluation with investigators doing researching on other high-cost, high-impact cancers.

Faculty of Medicine and Health / Sydney School of Public Health (SSPH)

Dr Raynes-Greenow holds an NHMRC Career Development Fellowship and has been very successful with NHMRC grants, including a $2.4m randomised controlled trial project grant.  A research-focused fellow, Camille has been an important contributor to the School of Public Health’s teaching programs. Dr Raynes-Greenow’s goal is to reduce the global burden of perinatal morbidity and mortality, particularly in, but not restricted to, developing countries.

The Robinson fellowship will enable Dr Raynes-Greenow to expand her teaching, leadership and expertise, as well as creating more links in our region via multidisciplinary teams.

Faculty of Medicine and Health / Central Clinical School

Dr James Shine is providing a fresh perspective on what is a huge unsolved problem in clinical neuroscience – the biological basis of the onset and progression of dementia. Dr Shine aims to develop targeted interventions and novel therapeutics to help solve the looming dementia crisis by creating a better understanding of the biological basis of cognition and attention.

With the Robinson Fellowship, Dr Shine’s long-term strategy is to develop a world-leading cognitive neuroimaging laboratory at the University.

Sydney School of Public Health / Sydney Medical School / Charles Perkins Centre

Dr Allison Tong's academic vision is to drive transformative improvements in outcomes that are of high priority to people with chronic disease, globally. Having been awarded a DECRA in 2015 and a NHMRC Career Development Fellowship in 2016-2017, Dr Tong has engaged with over 3500 patients and health professionals from more than 100 countries, and leads an international multidisciplinary team of 26 PhD students, postdoctoral fellows, and clinicians.

The Robinson Fellowship will accelerate Dr Tong's capacity to provide students with unique access to innovative and dynamic learning and research opportunities in patient-centred care and outcomes. It will also further the School of Public Health's engagement at Westmead - a key priority of the University.

Faculty of Science / School of Mathematics and Statistics / Charles Perkins Centre

Dr Pengyi Yang uses an interdisciplinary approach to research, with a background encompassing bioinformatics, data science, and computational and systems biology. Dr Yang’s research contribution is twofold, the first being the development of novel computational methods stimulated by the pursuit of a deep understanding in biological systems and diseases. The second is the advancement of knowledge in cellular systems and disease models through innovative application of computational models.

The Robinson Fellowship will allow Dr Yang’s research to provide a comprehensive suite of bioinformatics tools with far-reaching impact in complex disease prediction, modelling, and treatment.

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