Two University of South Australia researchers have been named 2019 South Australian Tall Poppies of Science.
The Tall Poppy Awards, an initiative of the Australian Institute of Policy and Science (AIPS), recognises achievement in the sciences and helps to communicate the passion and purpose of Australia’s finest scientists.
Dr Marnie Winter, from UniSA’s Future Industries Institute, is using microfluidic technology to isolate fetal cells from maternal white blood cells to help diagnose genetic abnormalities early on in pregnancy, as well as common complications such as pre-eclampsia and stillbirth.
Using lab-on-a-chip technology, Dr Winter can isolate these extremely rare cells – “like looking for needles in a haystack” – which provide important information about the health of an unborn baby.
Dr Winter’s team is hoping to commercialise this technology and make it available to expectant mothers around the world.
“We hope that one day this technology will be routinely used in pregnancies as a first screening stage to flag abnormalities for further testing,” she says”
Dr Jia Tina Du is channelling her IT expertise towards meaningful real-world social issues to help vulnerable groups in society navigate the digital world and new technology.
The Senior Lecturer in UniSA’s School of Information Technology and Mathematics is working with Aboriginal communities, older people and migrants to help them access essential services online.
By integrating her expertise in IT with a passion for social justice and equality, Dr Du is gaining international recognition for her work.
In 2018 she won an Innovation Award and is a current ARC Research Fellow. She has also been a visiting researcher at the University of Oxford and Nanjing University.
Video presentations by the finalists in this year’s AIPS Tall Poppy campaign can be found on the SA Government Department for Industry and Skills YouTube channel on 9 August.