Dr Makrina Totsika and Professor Michael Milford
Dr Makrina Totsika and Professor Michael Milford

Awarding research

The maturity of QUT’s research is seeing our health and robotics researchers receiving accolades from the nation’s chief scientists.

Our Tall Poppies

Raymond Chan
Professor Raymond Chan

QUT microbiologist Dr Makrina Totsika is joint Queensland Young Tall Poppy Scientist of the Year.

Childhood sleep researcher Dr Sally Staton and cancer nurse specialist Associate Professor Raymond Chan were honoured as finalists.

Dr Totsika is at the forefront of research to develop new therapies to beat multi-drug resistant bacteria.

“My work aims to understand how superbugs cause disease and design new drugs against them,” she said.

“Through a unique approach of disarming rather than killing superbugs, we are now developing a new class of drugs that can treat antibiotic-resistant infections.”

Dr Totsika aims to develop novel anti-adhesion therapeutics that can block bacterial adherence and be used to treat infections.

Sally Stanton
Dr Sally Stanton

With the support of two ongoing National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) project grants and collaboration with leading experts in Australia and the US, Dr Totsika’s research is expected to lead to next-generation antimicrobials that will be tailored to each patient’s infection.

Cancer care researcher Associate Professor Raymond Chan has dedicated his career to improving the outcomes of people diagnosed with cancer.

“The focus of my research is on nurse-led research that aims to improve patient outcomes during and after they complete their cancer treatment,” Professor Chan said.

“Nurses practise in a bio-psycho-social model to care for and achieve the best outcomes for our patients so we are best placed to develop the science in all these three aspects.”

Professor Chan is the current President of Cancer Nurses Society of Australia, the peak professional body that represents over 1200 cancer nurses in Australia.

The impact of Dr Sally Staton’s research on children of mandated daytime sleep and the lack of proper practices in childcare centres has been immediate and extensive.

She found day-sleep reduces the duration of night-sleep in pre-school children, even when children no longer went to childcare and that practices in childcare did not align with evidence from sleep science nor with legislation of the National Quality Framework.

Her findings have resulted in a professional development package for the early education and care sector.

Our Eureka moments

QUT roboticists were finalists in this year’s prestigious Eureka Prizes.

COTSbot
The COTSbot team: Drs Feras Dayoub and Matthew Dunbabin, Professor Peter Corke.

The finalists were all members of the Australian Centre for Robotic Vision with Associate Professor Michael Milford a finalist for the Eureka Prize for Outstanding Early Career Researcher while the crown-of-thorns starfish robot (COTSbot) team of Drs Matt Dunbabin and Feras Dayoub, and centre director Professor Peter Corke were finalists for Environmental Science prize.

Professor Michael Milford was named a finalist for his work in robotic vision navigation systems for robotics of all types, and for his work where he blends the two fields of neuroscience and robotics.

He says his passion is to understand intelligence.

“I think the things that robots do, like navigation, and helping us out with tasks, are a great way to leapfrog to really understanding what intelligence is, and how we can replicate it.”

The COTSbot robot is designed to help target a very real threat to the Great Barrier Reef – the crown-of-thorns starfish, or COTS.

Dr Matt Dunbabin designed the robot to be a first responder system to beef up the existing program that uses divers to hunt for COTS while Dr Feras Dayoub, trained the COTSbot to pick out the pest from other sea life. In other words it can think for itself using a visual recognition system made possible by algorithms to identify COTS in the visually challenging environment of the Great Barrier Reef.