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New Forrest scholars probe mysteries big and very small

20 January 2021

The Forrest Research Foundation will inject world-class knowledge into the Western Australian research community,  with six new scholars to conduct their PhD research at the University of Western Australia (UWA), Curtin University and Edith Cowan University (ECU).

Professor Paul Johnson, Warden of the Forrest Research Foundation, welcomed the new scholars and the potential discoveries their studies could reveal.

“These brilliant minds span an area of focus from some of the biggest mysteries of the universe – identifying the number and whereabouts of black holes – to one of the smallest challenges in modern chemistry – identifying molecular structure from vanishingly small samples of materials.

“Forrest Research Foundation is building a global hub for discovery and innovation in Western Australia by supporting the very best early-career researchers who will extend the boundaries of knowledge. It is only with better ideas that we can build a better world”.

Former Donnybrook schoolboy, Tyrone O’Doherty will begin his PhD in the Curtin Institute of Radio Astronomy, using data from the Gaia space telescope to measure invisible black holes, the most mysterious objects in the universe.

At ECU, Nishu Tyagi will join the Centre for Exercise and Sports Science Research to develop and test new rehabilitation methods for persons with spinal cord injuries, using a new approach to neuromuscular electrical stimulation strength training.

Liyuwork Dana will join Curtin’s School of Public Health to develop tools to map the severity of food insecurity and food stress in WA, and its links to related housing, economic and social hardship.

Thalles Araujo will build on his prior experience in oceanography to join the UWA Oceans Institute where he will develop a warning system for coastal erosion using state-of-the-art computer modelling.

Matthew Heydenrych will be based in the School of Biological Sciences at UWA where he will develop a new method of using DNA biomarkers to identify the reproductive status of animals, a major advancement in the biomonitoring of wild species, which will increase the efficiency of farming and fisheries practices.

Wei-Ming (Sean) Li will extend his undergraduate research in Chemistry at UWA with a PhD that will combine mass spectrometry and quantum chemistry to determine the molecular structure of small molecular compounds from minute quantities.

The new scholars join a community of more than 50 PhD researchers and post-doctoral fellows supported by the Forrest Research Foundation. The Forrest Research Foundation was established in 2014 by Andrew and Nicola Forrest through the Minderoo Foundation.

Fiona David is the Chair of Research at Minderoo Foundation and thinks now more than ever it’s critical that early career research is prioritised.

“Although COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on Australia’s research sector, the truth is WA is one of the safest places in the world to study. Now more than ever, we need the best and brightest research minds asking the questions that will shape our future systems, industries and environment,” Ms David said.

2021 Forrest Scholars
2021 Forrest Scholars