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Posted by SASTA

on 01/11/2020

The Young Tall Poppy Science Awards are run by the Australian Institute of Policy and Science (AIPS) to honour up-and-coming scientists who combine world-class research with a passionate commitment to communicating science. The awards have been running since 1998 and there are now over 800 Tall Poppy alumni across Australia. 

Each month we will be giving you a chance to 'meet' a new Tall Poppy Scientist!

011220 Grace VincentDr Grace Vincent

When did you realise your passion for science?

Almost 10 years ago, I was responsible for performing health assessments on firefighters at the devasting Morwell Fire in Victoria. For 45 days, firefighters battled this huge blaze in hot, smoky conditions with very little sleep – they were exhausted. Since then, I have spearheaded world leading research into the management of firefighters’ sleep and fatigue. I am passionate about promoting my research findings but also the importance of science to the general public. From a young age I have strived for the next ‘Aha’ moment. Each Aha moment, each small discovery, adds one tiny piece of knowledge to the giant jigsaw puzzle that aims to understand life and humanity.

What are you working on at present?

On average, we spend 25 years of our life asleep. You would think with that much practice we would all be A-grade sleepers! Instead, we are in the midst of a sleep deprivation crisis. In today’s fast-paced, digitally-connected world, a good night’s sleep is more elusive than ever before. My research focuses on how to improve sleep in our communities. I particularly focus on workers that are the most sleep deprived, our doctors, nurses, paramedics and firefighters - many of whom are shiftworkers. Shiftworkers are twice as likely to make an error, get injured, or have an accident compared to those that work during the day. My research focuses on ways we can protect shiftworkers by reducing their levels of fatigue and improving their sleep, so that these workers can live healthy and safe lives while they are protecting yours.

How will your research impact society?

My aim is to promote the importance of sleep to the broader public. Modern media is flooded with information about diet and exercise, and sleep often takes the backseat. But sleep is the base on which a healthy mind and body are built, if that base is wobbly, almost all components of health and well-being suffer.

011120 Alice ClementsDr Alice Clement

When did you realise your passion for science?

I didn’t really use the “s-word” as something I was passionate about until late high school when a particularly inspiring teacher helped open my eyes to the huge possibilities and opportunities available through science. However in reality, I was always a kid who loved animals and the outdoors so I suppose it had always been there.

What are you working on at present?

I am an evolutionary biologist and palaeontologist, interested in early vertebrates. This means I study fish and tetrapods (the first terrestrial vertebrates), and in particular the changes that occurred in their bodies over deep geological time. This spectacular transition is arguably the greatest step in evolution, and occurred close to 400 million years ago, in a time Period known as the Devonian. My favourite thing to look at is how the brains of these animals changed as they moved from water to a whole new environment up on land which they eventually went on to successfully colonise.

How will your research impact society?

I am a strong believer that we need to understand the world around us, and appreciate our place on this planet. I don’t think this is fully achievable without understanding the evolutionary history that has led to the diverse array of life on earth today, and it is by understanding the past that we can better prepare for the future.

You can search for a Tall Poppy Scientist using keywords such as Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Earth Sciences, Space Science and more by simply typing your keywords into the search bar on the top righthand corner of the website.

If you find a Tall Poppy you’d like to connect with contact us at outreach@aips.net.au and tell us what you’d like to arrange with that Tall Poppy and we’ll see what we can organise. Please note that our Tall Poppy alumni are all full-time scientists and may not be available for all requests.