Western Sydney University researchers recognised for outstanding contribution to science

The recipients of this prestigious honour are Distinguished Professor Brajesh Singh and Distinguished Professor and Georgina Sweet Australian Laureate Fellow Belinda Medlyn both from the Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment.

Two of Western Sydney University’s outstanding researchers have been elected Fellows of the Australian Academy of Science (opens in a new window) in recognition of their exceptional contributions to their fields.

The recipients of this prestigious honour are Distinguished Professor Brajesh Singh and Distinguished Professor and Georgina Sweet Australian Laureate Fellow Belinda Medlyn both from the Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment.

Professor Medlyn said it is a wonderful honour to be recognised for her research into predicting how climate change will affect terrestrial vegetation, particularly as she joins an increasing rank of female Fellows.

“The major goal of my research is to help prevent the worst impacts of climate change on native vegetation, by identifying species and regions that are most vulnerable, and I hope to contribute to the Academy’s authoritative voice on climate impacts,” said Professor Medlyn.

“In my experience, female scientists still need to overcome considerable unconscious bias to have their work accepted. Increasing recognition of women scientists at the highest levels, such as election to the Academy, will help to relegate this bias to the past.”

Professor Medlyn has developed innovative mathematical models to describe how plants respond to rising CO2 concentrations, warming temperatures, drought, and heatwaves.

“These models allow us to scale up from individual experiments to understand and predict how vegetation is changing across Australia and globally.”

Similarly, Professor Singh said he felt both honoured and humbled by the announcement recognising his research contributions into how the loss of soil biodiversity can reduce the functioning of ecosystems.

“I am a soil functional ecologist. My research focuses on identifying the linkage between soil biodiversity and ecosystem functions, and how this is impacted by human activities, as well as demonstrating the central role of soil microbes in predicting, mitigating, and adapting to climate change,” said Professor Singh.

“I look forward to promoting science-based policies, equity and equality, and hopefully inspire a new generation of soil and ecosystem scientists.”

Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Vice President (Research, Enterprise and International) Professor Deborah Sweeney commended both of the University’s recipients.

“It is an honour to be recognised for such significant achievement which celebrates the dedication of both of these stellar researchers to delivering outstanding research and impactful solutions to environmental challenges,” said Professor Sweeney.

Professor Singh and Professor Medlyn are joined by 18 other outstanding researchers from across all fields of Australian science.

President of the Australian Academy of Science Professor Chennupati Jagadish AC congratulated the new Fellows on their contributions to science.

“Fellows of the Australian Academy of Science are among the nation’s most distinguished scientists, elected by their peers for ground-breaking research and contributions that have had clear impact,” said Professor Jagadish.

“There is no greater professional honour than being recognised by your own peers and the leaders within your own field of research for your achievements.”

To view the full list of the 2023 Australian Academy of Science Fellows, visit the website here (opens in a new window).

ENDS

25 May 2023

Lauren Austin, Senior Media Officer

Photo credit: Sally Tsoutas

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