Celebrating Torrens University’s impactful researchers of 2022

Torrens University’s 2022 researchers

In an online awards ceremony last week, Torrens University Australia paused to honour the growth, momentum, and maturity of its research, which has made an incredible impact in the university’s short history.

The annual 2022 Torrens University Research Awards cast a spotlight on research excellence, impact, and the nexus between research, teaching and practice by recognising researchers awarded across six categories.

Hosted by Pro Vice-Chancellor Research, Professor Kerry London, the awards acknowledge the impressive accomplishments of individual researchers, supervisors and HDR candidates, as well as the Research and Innovation Office as a whole, who together all contribute to the university’s scholarly community.

Vice-Chancellor, Professor Alwyn Louw expressed his pride in the accomplishments of Torrens University’s researchers over recent years, and highlighted how the pursuit of new knowledge is critical for the university of the future.

“We need to be very focused and clear about why we think research is so important, we must make sure that we continue to demonstrate the value,” said Professor Louw.

Professor Louw acknowledged that through bold steps over recent years, our research activities, outputs – publications and grants – has just exploded and continues to grow and has sent shockwaves across the organisation.

“The foundation is there, the foundation is solid, and the recognition demonstrates the quality of that foundation,” said Professor Louw.

Along with the award winners, Professor London recognised and saluted all Torrens University researchers as important contributors to the university’s reputation.

Torrens University 2022 Research Award winners

Professor Catheryn Khoo

Professor Catheryn Khoo won the Research Excellence Award for her research activity during the preceding three years. She made significant contributions to knowledge and outcomes in research on tourist behaviour with a specific focus on the role gender plays in tourism.

“Catheryn brings a special kind of excellence to our university with her international profile,” said Professor London. “In recognition of her unique expertise, she has received prestigious invitations from high profile organisations such as the United Nations World Tourism Organisation, and the World Women Tourism Organisation where she acts as a special advisor.”

Professor Khoo thanked her colleagues who fanned her ideas, clients who implemented solutions from her research, various organisations who provided the resources for her to thrive, and the university’s leaders for allowing her to be wildly alive to create relevant and impactful research.

“I also want to take this moment to remind myself and those who are watching not to measure our worth by this award, but by our failures, and our courage to take risks, and our heart aches, the sacrifices we make and our dedication to our research and the people we want to help,” said Professor Khoo. “I dedicate this award to all the marginalised voices in tourism, and academia.”

Dr Alasdair MacDonald

The Research Teaching Practice Nexus Award was awarded to Dr Alasdair MacDonald for his contributions to research informed teaching and learning initiatives. The Award recognises an individual academic who has advanced and integrated research informed teaching and practice-based approaches to benefit students at Torrens University.

“Alasdair's contributions delighted the judging panel. It was so refreshing to see someone bring research, teaching and practice together in such a creative, innovative and exemplary manner,” said Professor London.

Alasdair acknowledged his colleagues for the space to be creative in his approach to the student experience.

Dr Hailay Gesesew

Dr Hailay Gesesew was awarded the Research Impact Award, an award recognising successfully developed collaborative research with external stakeholders and research end-users. Dr Gesesew has generated positive research impact through collaborative research in global and humanitarian health across many areas including HIV, breast cancer, and COVID-19.

Dr Gesesew said his research game absolutely changed following his National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) investigator grant, a clinical theory on improving HIV care, and he acknowledged his colleagues for their ongoing support and leadership.

The Early Career Research Excellence Award recognised two researchers for 2022 for their research activity over the recent three years as they commenced their research careers.

Dr Belinda Lunnay

The win was awarded to Dr Belinda Lunnay for making significant contributions to knowledge and outcomes in sociological and public health research on alcohol consumption and breast cancer prevention.

Dr Lunnay’s recent accomplishments are numerous, including a nomination for a postdoctoral research position on an Australian Research Council funded project to further investigate midlife women's alcohol consumption and their perceptions of risk and trust in health messages that links alcohol with breast cancer.

“A specific focus is women's social class, aligning with Torrens Be Good mission. We are designing ways to support all women to reduce alcohol and enable flourishing regardless of social class,” said Dr Lunnay. “We submitted an NHMRC investigator grant just this week to explore this very issue.”

Dr Nelsensius Fauk

Commendation went to Dr Nelsensius Fauk for his contributions to knowledge and outcomes on the socio-cultural, moral and religious values, norms and practices that contribute to HIV transmission, as well as the impact and influence access to HIV care services for people living with HIV. He currently has a five-year NHMRC investigator grant application submitted, and further HIV focused research is ongoing.

Associate Professor Ali Ahsan

Associate Professor Ali Ahsan’s excellence in producing quality experiences and outcomes for research students resulted in winning the Research Supervision Excellence Award. The award acknowledged his quality of research supervision.

Kristen Foley and Dr Scott Skipworth

The Higher Degree by Research Excellence Award was awarded to joint winners this year, Kristen Foley and Dr Scott Skipworth, both outstanding HDR candidates who exhibited significant accomplishment during their candidatures.

Kristen Foley’s research aims to improve the lives and flourishing of marginalised and disadvantaged groups by responding to the social determinants of health. Specifically, she is looking at the social and commercial determinants of drinking alcohol and alcohol practices for Australian women in midlife.

“Because our lives are shaped by a range of broad and amorphous structural and environmental factors it's important as researchers, although intimidating, to engage with this noise and this complexity, and to develop appropriate methodologies that help us to understand how the health behaviours, or what might be termed unhealthy practices, are recognised within their contextuality of everyday life and how that works for people,” said Kristen, in her acceptance speech.

Dr Scott Skipworth was awarded for his contributions to knowledge and research outcomes through his PhD ‘The Internet of Things (IoT) Disseminating Human Embodiment in Architectural Theory and Practice.’ Dr Skipworth now looks forward to continuing research into the Internet of Things and the associated technology of artificial intelligence, as well as building information modelling and smart cities.

The 2022 Panel Members included Torrens University Australia research leaders, Pro Vice-Chancellor Research Professor Kerry London, Professor John Burgess, Professor Scott Richardson, Professor Margee Hume, Professor Craig McLachlan, and Professor Seyedali Mirjalili.

Torrens University Australia Research website officially launched

During the ceremony the university also celebrated the emergence of its newly upgraded research website.

The new research website is a testament to the university's commitment to cutting edge research.

“We are building a robust research culture, which emphasises collaboration, innovation and excellence, and recognises that research is about generating new knowledge and creating value for society,” said Professor London.

It also provides a valuable resource for researchers, industry partners, and the wider community to engage with the university's research activities and to stay up-to-date with the latest developments in the field.

“We always believe we have more to do, and we are never complacent. Our future looks bright, and the website is celebration of this,” said Professor London.

Research at Torrens University will continue to make a significant contribution to the future of research in Australia and beyond.

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