Excellence and impact at the 2023 Torrens University Research Awards

2023 Torrens University Research Awards

The annual Torrens University Australia Research Awards ceremony celebrated remarkable research community accomplishments and marked a 10-year milestone since the university opened in 2014.

Since 2019, the university has proudly hosted the annual Torrens University Research Awards, recognising excellence, impact, and the synergy between research, teaching, and practice, as well as an alignment and commitment to the university’s Be Good philosophy as a Certified B Corporation.

Reflecting on the journey, Professor Kerry London, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research was thrilled to honour the achievements of the university’s researchers, supervisors, and Higher Degree by Research (HDR) candidates who have contributed significantly to our growth, momentum, and maturity in research.

“Their collective significant contributions have propelled our growth and momentum and shaped our maturity in research, inspiring us all,” said Professor London.

Torrens University and Media Design School staff and students awarded

Joined by Professor Alwyn Louw, Vice-Chancellor and Dan Cockerell, Co-CEO Torrens Global Education, Professor London, awarded prizes in the following categories to Torrens University Australia and Media Design School staff and students:

  • Research Excellence: Dr Elsa Dent
  • Research Impact: Dr Moana Nepia
  • Research-Teaching-Practice Nexus: Catherine Smith, Commendation: Robert Tuckwell
  • Early Career Research Excellence: Dr Ranpreet Kaur, Commendation: Dr Cindy Lee
  • Research Supervision Excellence: Associate Professor Justin Pierce
  • Higher Degree by Research Excellence: Samantha Batchelor, Commendation: Dr Iveta Kohutova

“These exceptional individuals' accomplishments are a testament to their dedication and hard work, and I, alongside Vice-Chancellor Professor Alwyn Louw, are proud to acknowledge their contributions,” said Professor London.

“It is a privilege to enjoy the success of our research development initiative and the successes of our researchers,” said Professor Louw.

The 2023 Research Excellence Award

The Research Excellence Award was awarded to Dr Elsa Dent for making significant contributions to knowledge and outcomes in research in the field of gerontology. The award recognises Dr Dent for achieving the highest level of excellence in her research activity for the preceding three years, her outstanding and important work has significantly contributed to advancing knowledge and research outcomes.

Dr Dent has a NHMRC Fellowship and has published four author papers in the esteemed journal, The Lancet, including a paper on malnutrition in older adults. Furthermore, completing eight clinical practice guidelines used by medical professionals to guide decision making processes in patient care. Dr Dent’s work extends to collaborative projects with the World Health Organization looking at nutritional policies, integrated care policies for older adults in primary care, and is also writing the new World Report on Osteoporosis.

The 2023 Research Impact Award

The Research Impact Award was awarded to Dr Moana Nepia for generating research impact through applying Māori knowledge, values and practices to co-lead project design, collaboration, partnership, and engagement strategies.

Dr Nepia has been a significant asset to Media Design School and was a significant lead with Dr Sarah Elsie Baker on the first grant won by the school for Digitaonga: exploring new methods of repatriation using blockchain technology. The team was awarded a $213,000 research grant from the NZ Ministry for Culture and Heritage Te Urungi: Innovating Aotearoa Fund to finance the first stage of the project which will work with three iwi/museum partners.

“This collaborative recognition of collaborative research really gets to the heart of what I've tried to achieve at Media Design School with the three major projects that I've been involved with, altogether the work is all related although it's been diverse,” said Dr Nepia. “I really am indebted to all the people who worked towards this award, this, these projects and I feel this award honours that collaborative nature. Thank you very much to everyone involved.”

The 2023 Research-Teaching Practice Nexus

Research-Teaching Practice Nexus recognises an academic who has advanced and integrated research-informed teaching and/or practice-based approaches to benefit student learning at the University. Catherine Smith received the award for her contributions to research-informed teaching and learning initiatives in complementary health clinical education, and Robert Tuckwell received a commendation for contributions to research-informed teaching and learning initiatives in architectural composition development.

Catherine’s research focused on a novel telehealth clinic developed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The first of two projects focused on the student and educator learning and teaching experience in a home-based telehealth clinic, the second evaluated the evolution of the clinic infrastructure and the teaching and learning perceptions of the academics and students involved.

“Research is a collaborative effort, and so special thanks goes to our excellent research team,” said Catherine. “This is very important work for our sector and we're so happy that this work has been recognised.”

The 2023 Early Career Research Excellence Award

The Early Career Research Excellence Award recognises an early career academic who has achieved the highest level of excellence in their research activity for the preceding three years and fosters the talent of outstanding researchers at the beginning of their research careers. Media Design School’s Dr Ranpreet Kaur received the award for making significant contributions to knowledge and outcomes in novel software models for health problems. Dr. Cindy Lee received a commendation for making contributions to knowledge and outcomes regarding the conceptualization of tourist experiences.

Dr Kaur’s research focused on creating a solution to a skin cancer diagnosis problem by developing novel AI models to detect it at early stages so that timely treatment can be provided. Many countries across the world face a high number of cancer cases each year, so this research has significant importance. Dr Kaur published five papers in Q1 and Q2 journals, three research book chapters published by Springers and approximately more than 20 papers in international conferences and is also actively reviewing research papers for some referred journals.

“My current focus is to extend the scope of this research project by embedding the software system into mobile apps so that people can conveniently use it for initial assessment of skin cancer at home,” explained Dr Kaur. “I'm currently working on identifying different types of cancers with the team of pathologists from New Zealand and USA.”

The 2023 Research Supervision Excellence Award

Research Supervision Excellence Award represents the university’s corner stone of research endeavour which is highly dependent on the quality of research supervision provided. The award was received by Associate Professor Justin Piercefor excellence in producing quality experiences and outcomes for research students.

“Supervision is an absolute privilege,” said Associate Professor Pierce.

To round out the accolades, special recognition for Higher Degree by Research Excellence Award recognised an outstanding HDR candidate who has accomplished significantly during their candidature. Samantha Batchelor won for making significant contributions to knowledge and outcomes in research on breast cancer candidacy, and Dr Iveta Kohutova received a commendation for making significant contributions to knowledge and outcomes in research in restorative justice.

“Breast cancer candidacy explores women's perspectives about breast cancer risks, how they apply to themselves and we're looking at that through a social class lens to understand how we can better inform breast cancer prevention practises,” said Samantha.

The future is looking bright

Now in their fifth year, the Research Awards have provided an annual pause to reflect on an impressive momentum achieved in such a short history. Each year the ceremony showcases experts in various fields and benchmarks maturity for the university’s research.

“We're demonstrating the breadth and depth of our expertise through both our increased research output, and the growing level of recognition our researchers are receiving locally and particularly globally.” said Professor Louw.

Congratulations to all the nominees and award winners.

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