Georgina Sweet Awards recipients announced

Three leading female researchers have been recognised for their contributions to quantitative biomedical science.

The recipients of the Georgina Sweet Awards for Women in Quantitative Biomedical Science were announced at an awards ceremony on Monday 14 October. The event also included guest speakers Professor Sue Thomas, Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Research Council, as well as Professor Leann Tilley, lab head in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Georgina Sweet Laureate Fellow and founder of the awards.

Professor Thomas gave an inspiring talk on how being open to opportunities and embracing challenges is important for a rewarding and fulfilling career. She also shared her insights on what makes a good leader and emphasised the need for more diverse leadership in science and research.

“Diversity in leadership means there is a diverse way of doing things. We need to normalise diverse leadership,” she said.

Congratulations to the 2019 Georgina Sweet Award recipients:

Photo of Dr Kim-Anh Le Cao 

Dr Kim-Anh Lê Cao, University of Melbourne

Dr Kim-Anh Lê Cao, of the School of Mathematics and Statistics and member of the Centre for Stem Cell Systems, has a mathematical engineering background and graduated with a PhD in statistics from the Université de Toulouse, France. She currently drives her research program as a senior lecturer at the University of Melbourne.

Fascinated with numbers and how innovative statistics can influences the world, Dr Lê Cao develops model methods, software and tools to interpret big data and answer research questions efficiently. She is committed to statistical education to instil best analytical practice.

“I am honoured to receive the Georgina Sweet Award. This award represents an acknowledgement of my research vision: that we need adopt new ways of statistically analysing large biological datasets, and that we need to give back to the research community with easy-to-use tools and methods,” she says.

“I am excited to continue being an ambassador for women in science, and especially in my own discipline in computational statistics where women are largely underrepresented.”

Dr Lê Cao has secured two consecutive NHMRC fellowships and received the Australian Academy of Science’s Moran Medal in 2019 for her contributions to applied statistics. She was also selected for the international Homeward Bound leadership program for women in STEMM, which culminated in a trip to Antarctica.

Read more about Dr Lê Cao’s research here.

Photo of Dr Sarah Auburn 

Dr Sarah Auburn, Menzies School of Health Research

Dr Sarah Auburn is a molecular biologist, whose research passion is using genetic and genomic approaches to learn about the biology and epidemiology of pathogens and their hosts. She has established a network for P. vivax genomic epidemiology studies, which is producing a wealth of genetic and genomic data on parasites from across the globe.

Photo of Associate Professor Traude Beilharz 

Associate Professor Traude Beilharz, Monash University

Associate Professor Traude Beilharz is a group leader and ARC Future Fellow at Monash University. Inspired by the growth of genomic technologies, she established her laboratory in 2010, where her team study the RNA processes that bring the genome to life.

About the Georgina Sweet Awards

The Georgina Sweet Awards for Women in Quantitative Biomedical Science were established in 2016 by Professor Tilley as part of her Australian Research Council Laureate Fellowship program. The awards aim to promote gender equality within the sciences by celebrating and supporting female scientists who demonstrate excellence in the field.

Quantitative biomedical science is biological or biomedical research that employs a quantitative approach, particularly in areas such as computational biology, biophysics, bioinformatics, biochemistry, genomics, structural biology and cell biology.

The awards are named after Georgina Sweet OBE (1875–1946), who was the first woman to graduate with a Doctor of Science from the University of Melbourne and the first female acting professor in an Australian university.

Two new awards were established in 2016:

  • Georgina Sweet Award for Women in Quantitative Biomedical Science: Up to three awards of $25,000 each will be made each year to Australian female researchers who demonstrate excellence in the area of quantitative biomedical science.
  • Georgina Sweet Travel Support for a Female Keynote Speaker in Quantitative Biomedical Science: Up to five awards of $3,000 each are available each year to support the attendance of a female keynote speaker at an Australian conference.

Find out more about the awards and Professor Tilley’s gender equality strategies and resources here.