RMIT researcher wins prestigious APEC Science Prize

Associate Professor Madhu Bhaskaran has been recognised for her groundbreaking work with flexible electronics, taking home the region’s most coveted science prize.

Bhaskaran was awarded the APEC Science Prize for Innovation, Research and Education (ASPIRE) for her work with unbreakable and transparent electronic devices. Photo: Mark Dadswell, Sleeptite

Australia’s nominee for the APEC Science Prize for Innovation, Research and Education (ASPIRE), Bhaskaran was awarded the top honour at a ceremony in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea last night.

ASPIRE recognises young scientists within Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) who have demonstrated a commitment to excellence in innovation, research and education, with a prize valued at US$25,000.

Bhaskaran has been working with Melbourne-based research and advanced manufacturing company Sleeptite, as well international collaborators in the US, Japan and Singapore, to develop unbreakable and transparent oxide based electronic devices with a range of applications.

She said her research aligned closely with this year’s ASPIRE theme of “Smart Technologies for Healthy Societies”.

“This is an exciting and fast-developing field of research, which could have far reaching implications in healthcare and enable people to age well and age productively,” she said.

Bhaskaran’s devices could be developed to help in the fight against skin cancer, detect dangerous gases in mines, and create smart contact lenses that can analyse tears for biomarkers, creating real impact on the future of healthcare.

RMIT Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research and Innovation and Vice-President, Professor Calum Drummond, said Bhaskaran’s win reflected her dedication to innovation and creating real world impact.

“Madhu’s work is a wonderful example of RMIT’s commitment to supporting research that delivers tangible benefits to Australia and the world,” he said.

The prize comes on the back of a wave of recognition for Bhaskaran who was recently awarded the Batterham Medal, an early career award for a graduate engineer administered by the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering.

She was also named one of Australia’s top innovators by Engineers Australia in 2017 and was awarded the 2017 Eureka Prize for Outstanding Early Career Researcher.

Bhaskaran said it was fantastic to receive international recognition for her work and paid tribute to her team in the Functional Materials and Microsystems Research Group.

“It is certainly not a one-woman show. All credit goes to my team of hardworking and highly motivated researchers who share my vision of translating ground breaking research discoveries into devices which can be used to positively impact lives.”

The ASPIRE award ceremony took place at the 10th APEC Policy Partnership for Science, Technology and Innovation meeting.


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