Mental health researchers recognised with Tall Poppy Science Awards

October 14 / 147

Victorian Young Tall Poppy Science Award winners. Dr Andrew Zalesky is middle-back and Dr Allison Milner is far right.
Victorian Young Tall Poppy Science Award winners. Dr Andrew Zalesky is middle-back and Dr Allison Milner is far right.

Dr Andrew Zalensky and Dr Allison Milner have won 2014 Victorian Young Tall Poppy Science Awards for outstanding research and science communication at a ceremony at the Bio21 Institute on 20 October.

The awards, from the Australian Institute of Policy and Science (AIPS), acknowledge the achievements of Australia’s best young scientific researchers across all fields. Winners participate in education and community outreach programs run by the AIPS.

The winners both work in mental health research but approach the topic from completely different directions.

Dr Zalesky, from the Melbourne Neuropsychiatry Centre and Melbourne School of Engineering, develops computational methods and mathematical models to analyse large-scale human brain networks in health and disease and applies these approaches to better understand mental illnesses like schizophrenia. 

Dr Zalesky said his research was directed towards solving the mathematical and computational challenges to better understanding of mental illness, from the field of systems neuroscience.

“It is a privilege to collaborate with neuroscientists and psychiatrists from around the world who are using methods I have developed to better understand the causes of serious mental illness,” he said.

Dr Milner, a research fellow at the McCaughey VicHealth Centre for Community Wellbeing at the Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, studies suicide prevention and the relationship between suicide and workplaces. 

She said she was surprised and honoured to win a Tall Poppy, and was keen to be involved in the outreach program.

“As part of the Tall Poppy outreach program, I hope to provide education and advice about how to reduce the negative and increase the positive aspects of work, and to reduce overall stigma against suicide and help-seeking,” she said.

“I believe researchers have an obligation to engage with relevant stakeholders in the community in order to bridge the research to reality divide and help translate best evidence to practice.”

Dr Zalesky’s research is supported by the NHMRC and ARC and Dr Milner’s work is supported by VicHealth and the NHMRC.

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