Sunshine Coast biologist is Queensland’s 2020 Tall Poppy winner

Minister for Environment and the Great Barrier Reef, Minister for Science and Minister for the Arts The Honourable Leeanne Enoch

An empirical biologist from the University of the Sunshine Coast (USC) has won the 2020 Queensland Young Tall Poppy Scientist of the Year Award.

Associate Professor Celine Frere received the prestigious honour during a special ceremony this evening in Brisbane, which recognised the achievements of outstanding young scientific researchers.

Minister for Environment and Minister for Science Leeanne Enoch congratulated Dr Frere for her valuable research in helping threatened and protected native animals impacted by environmental changes like urbanisation and climate change.

“Dr Frere’s widely recognised research included a focus on koalas, which are under increasing pressure from urban development, dog attacks, disease and bushfires,” Minister Enoch said.

“After the recent bushfires, Dr Frere’s work locating injured koalas received international attention and praise from celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks.

“Dr Frere’s tremendous work is to be commended and supports Queensland’s strongest koala protections introduced by the Palaszczuk Government to preserve vulnerable koala populations and their habitat in south east Queensland.”

Dr Frere’s extensive portfolio has attracted global awareness and has been cited across 85 countries via collaboration with 75 researchers from 31 universities and 18 research bodies, for work on baboons, sharks and rays, sperm whales, chimpanzees, forked fungus beetles and barbary macaques.

In addition to leading the University’s Global Change Ecology Research Group, Dr Frere also established the USC’s Detection Dogs for Conservation initiative that trains and uses sniffer dogs to assist research on endangered and protected species like koalas and quolls.

Minister Enoch said by supporting career pathways in STEM we are delivering on Queensland’s plan for economic recovery increasing scientific and research jobs and infrastructure.

“Scientists are improving health outcomes, maintaining the quality of the environment, and contributing to solving significant social issues,” Ms Enoch said.

“Science is critical to Queensland’s social wellbeing and creating positive job opportunities in the future.

“As we navigate the impacts of COVID-19, now more than ever, science is integral to the health and economic recovery of Australia.

Joining Dr Frere are another nine young scientists and researchers who were commended for their work and recognised as finalists at the Queensland Young Tall Poppy Science Awards.

These young scientists include:

· Dr April Reside, The University of Queensland

· Dr Michele Barnes, James Cook University

· Dr Peter Cowman, James Cook University

· Dr Fernando Guimarae, The University of Queensland

· Dr Susanna Cramb, Queensland University of Technology

· Associate Professor Sumaira Hasnain, Mater Research Institute

· Dr Andreas Kupz, James Cook University

· Dr Laura Bray, Queensland University of Technology

· Dr Johanna Nalau, Griffith University

AIPS created the Tall Poppy Campaign in 1998 to celebrate scientific excellence and achievement, to inspire young Australians to pursue careers in science, and to help raise the profile of science in the broader community.

AIPS Chair Professor Maria Kavallaris said a more scientifically engaged society was something every scientist should help contribute to.

“This is why Tall Poppy winners are so important,” Professor Kavallaris said.

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