South Australian Tall Poppies – Dr Kerry Wilkinson and Dr Matt Gilliham

 

Congratulations to Drs Kerry Wilkinson and Matt Gilliham on being named 2012 South Australian Young Tall Poppies at a reception in Government House on 22 August. They were among eight young South Australian scientists to receive awards this year.

The Tall Poppy campaign was established in 1998 by the Australian Institute of Policy and Science to promote public awareness of Australia’s intellectual achievements. These prestigious awards uniquely acknowledge the recipients’ research achievements alongside their capacity and commitment to communicate science and its significance to the broader community.

Dr Matt Gilliham’s research focuses on how wheat and grapevines might better tolerate salinity and how the nutritional quality of crop plants can be improved. Matt’s work into increasing salinity tolerance and crop yield will contribute to increased production in Australia and other countries with salty soil, and in doing so help combat food insecurity. This year Matt has also been awarded the Viticulture & Oenology 2012 Science and Innovation Award for Young People in Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry sponsored by the Grape and Wine Research and Development Corporation and was recently awarded a fellowship by the GO8 Australia-China Young Researchers Exchange Program. Matt is a Senior Research Fellow within the ARC Centre of Excellence for Plant Energy Biology at the Waite Campus. You can follow Matt on Twitter (@IonPlants) for updates on his work.

Dr Kerry Wilkinson’s research interests concern the compounds present in grapes and wine which affect aroma and flavour. This includes efforts to better understand the effect of bushfire smoke on grape and wine quality. In 2009 after the Black Saturday bushfires in Victoria, local winemakers found that some wines made from smoke-exposed grapes smelled and tasted like smoked bacon, cold campfires and Band-Aids. The estimated cost to the Victorian wine industry due to ‘smoke taint’ is more than $300 million. Kerry’s research has identified compounds responsible for ‘smoke taint’ and methods for removing them, a valuable development for Australia’s third biggest export industry. Kerry is a Senior Lecturer in Oenology at the Waite Campus.

Both Matt and Kerry are participants in the Waite Research Institute’s Research Leadership Development Program.

Matt received his award and congratulations from His Excellency Rear Admiral Kevin Scarce at the reception at Government House. Kerry is currently attending a conference in Philadelphia and Prof Eileen Scott accepted the award on her behalf.

We wish them well in the coming year as they continue their outreach to schools and the broader community as part of the Tall Poppy Campaign to promote and encourage an interest and engagement in science.

 

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