The Biggest Night of the Year: the 2016 RSV Young Scientist Research Prizes

RSV judges weigh the merits of presentations in the Cudmore Library
RSV judges weigh the merits of presentations in the Cudmore Library

It’s always worth it! What a great night – after months of applications, assessments and preparation, the Royal Society of Victoria was delighted to once again welcome eight remarkable young women and men to present the fruits of their postgraduate research on the night of Thursday, 11 August. Over two hours, a panel of judges and a theatre packed with PhD supervisors, colleagues, friends and family heard from a diverse field of subjects across four prize categories; the physical sciences, earth sciences, biomedical sciences and biological (non-human) sciences.

“With 100 highly competitive entries this year, just being here tonight as a finalist is a

Eight highly engaging presentations on diverse subjects kept our audience and judging panellists on the ball

remarkable achievement,” said RSV President Bill Birch during the prize announcements, welcoming the entrants as new members of the Society and its long tradition of promoting the sciences in Victoria. Melbourne is one of Australia’s most research-intensive centres and the competition was truly of a high calibre, with eight excellent presentations delivered over the course of two intense hours.

After a challenging judging session, the results for each category were announced at a celebratory function in the Burke & Wills Room, as follow:

RSV Young Scientist Research Prize for the Biological (Non-Human) Sciences:

Yang Chen 3Category Winner:
Ms Yang Chen
, Monash University, School of Earth, Atmosphere & Environment
Modelling forest litter-bed fuel load using LiDAR
Supervisors: Nigel Tapper, Xuan Zhu, Marta Yebra, Sarah Harris


Rebecca HullCategory Runner Up:
Ms Rebecca Hull, University of Melbourne, School of Biosciences
Environmental stress that varies temporally has important consequences for individuals
Supervisor: Michael Keogh


RSV Young Scientist Research Prize for the Biomedical & Health Sciences:

Hai Ly 2Category Winner:
Mr Chi Hai Ly
, University of Melbourne, Department of Physiology
Metabolism regulates asymmetric division and commitment to the myogenic lineage in skeletal muscle stem cells
Supervisor: James Ryall


Kha Phan 2Category Runner Up:
Mr Thanh Kha Phan, La Trobe University, Department of Biochemistry & Genetics
PIP PIP Hooray: PIP2-targeted antimicrobial peptides as novel anticancer therapeutic agents
Supervisor: Mark Hulett


RSV Young Scientist Research Prize for the Physical Sciences:

Rebecca Leane 2Category Winner:
Ms Rebecca Leane, University of Melbourne, School of Physics
Searching for dark matter in the sky and at the Large Hadron Collider
Supervisor: Nicole Bell


Dene Murphy 3Category Runner-up:
Mr Dene Murphy, University of Melbourne, School of Physics
Colder than the depths of space: Charged particle beams near absolute zero
Supervisor: Robert Scholten


RSV Young Scientist Research Prize for the Earth Sciences:

Mathias EgglsederCategory Winner:
Mr Mathias Egglseder, Monash University, School of Earth, Atmosphere & Environment
Iron oxide nanocrystals: Tiny minerals building huge iron ore deposits
Supervisor: Sandy Cruden


Category Runner Up:Georgia Roberts
Ms Georgia Roberts
, La Trobe University, Department of Archaeology & History
The individual in the trees: Assessing human movement, resource use and adaptive strategies in Pleistocene Tasmania
Supervisor: Richard Cosgrove


Congratulations to all of our finalists, both prize winners and runners up, on your outstanding work. Presenting three or more years of complex research in ten short minutes is quite the challenge! Thanks to our hard working judging panel: A/Prof Gavin Smith, Prof Lynne Selwood, Mr Norman Kennedy, Dr Bill Birch, Dr Kevin Orrman-Rossiter and Prof David Walker.

Thanks in particular to the families of Neil Archbold and Edmund Gill for supporting the prizes, and the amazing fundraising work of Melbourne-based science fiction author Lee S Hawke through her Pozible campaign earlier this year – we are so grateful! Tonight we handed out $5000 in prize money to support excellence in Victoria’s early career scientists, and we couldn’t have done it without you.

YSRP Finalists