Health technologies of the future lead the way in UTS research achievement

Winners of the UTS Vice-Chancellor’s Awards for Research Excellence, announced this week. Photo: Paul Santelmann

Winners of the UTS Vice-Chancellor’s Awards for Research Excellence, announced this week. Photo: Paul Santelmann

In summary: 
  • Professor Hung Nguyen, co-director of the Centre for Health Technologies at UTS, received the 2016 Chancellor’s Medal for Exceptional Research
  • Professor Jennifer Burn, director of Anti-Slavery Australia, was recognised for her significant contribution to human rights reform

A wheelchair controlled by thought and a non-invasive monitoring device for diabetics are two standout entries in Professor Hung Nguyen’s long list of achievements in medical technologies.

To that, now add winner of the 2016 UTS Chancellor’s Medal for Exceptional Research.

Professor Nguyen received the premier honour this week at a dinner to mark the seventh annual UTS Vice-Chancellor's Awards for Research Excellence.

Professor Nguyen says non-invasive technologies are the future for medical devices, and could provide mobility and independence for millions of people with severe disabilities.

“My colleague’s wife had type 2 diabetes. I also knew someone who had motor neurone disease and their experiences impacted me very deeply. I believed that with my knowledge and skills, I could help people with similar disabilities,” he says.

Professor Nguyen has been involved with research in biomedical engineering, artificial intelligence, neurosciences and advanced control for more than 20 years and has developed biomedical devices and systems for diabetes, disability, cardiovascular diseases and breast cancer. He is co-director of the Centre for Health Technologies at UTS and Professor of Electrical Engineering.

The awards celebrate the breadth and depth of UTS research, with this year’s winners spanning the areas of health technologies, human rights reform, microbial ecology, marine biotoxins, critical water infrastructure and empowering the next generation of mathematicians and statisticians.

Professor Glenn Wightwick, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), hosting the awards, noted they were presented in a week that saw UTS ranked 8th in the world for universities aged under 50.

“UTS has a bold vision to be a world-leading university of technology and it's clear that our focus, hard work and investment to enhance research excellence is paying off,” Professor Wightwick said.

“Tonight’s awards reflect our research talent right across UTS, from our early career researchers through to those recognised as research leaders in their disciplines. Regardless of the outcomes, all our finalists can be very proud of being nominated and making it through a very rigorous judging process.”

The Director of Anti-Slavery Australia, Professor Jennifer Burn, was awarded the Deputy Vice-Chancellor’s (Research) Medal for Research Impact in recognition of the significant role she has played in legal, policy and human rights reform in Australia.

In accepting her award, Professor Burn said, “UTS is the only university that has made a whole-hearted commitment to abolishing slavery.”

She also acknowledged the all-female finalists for the award as “a team of wonder women”.

Keynote speaker Dr Cathy Foley. Photo: Paul Santelmann Keynote speaker Dr Cathy Foley. Photo: Paul Santelmann

Dr Cathy Foley, Deputy and Science Director of CSIRO Manufacturing, delivered the keynote address and spoke about her experience as a woman in research and the resilience needed to succeed.

“Once you get that feeling 'I can do something that makes a difference', you want to keep feeling it,” said Dr Foley.

She said researchers really do change the world but have only a few big breaks in a lifetime. They needed to build on them and “keep going”.

“When you need direction, remember your values. As researchers we need to say ‘we’re not nerds’.”

The winners in each category were:

Chancellor’s Medal for Exceptional Research

  • Professor Hung Nguyen, Centre for Health Technologies

Deputy Vice-Chancellor’s (Research) Medal for Research Impact

  • Professor Jennifer Burn, Anti-Slavery Australia, Faculty of Law

Early Career Research Excellence (joint winners)

  • Dr Jean Baptiste-Raina, Climate Change Cluster, Faculty of Science
  • Dr Laurie Berg, Faculty of Law

Research Support

  • Yvonne Cheng, Lisa Merry, Emaly Black, Faculty of Science research office

Researcher Development (including supervision)

  • Associate Professor Yakov Zinder and Professor Alex Novikov, School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences, Faculty of Science

Research Excellence through Collaboration (joint winners)

  • Associate Professor Shauna Murray, Climate Change Cluster, Faculty of Science;
  • Associate Professor Jaime Valls Miro, Professor Gamini Dissanayake, Associate Professor Sarath Kodagoda, Dr Alen Alempijevic, Dr Teresa Vidal Calleja, Dr Lei Shi, Centre for Autonomous Systems, Faculty of Engineering and IT (joint winners)

View full details of the awards and videos of finalists speaking about their research on the UTS Research website.

Technology and Design