Winner: Professor Maree Teesson, Centre of Research Excellence in Mental Health and Substance Use, University of New South Wales
Fighting substance abuse
Thousands of young Australians suffer substance abuse and mental health issues on their own—afraid to reach out for help, or even admit the problem.
Professor Maree Teesson’s team at the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre connect those young Australians with the information they seek and the help they need.
Maree’s team is noteworthy for the huge variety of disciplines involved. For her achievements in building such a diverse team and fostering their talents, Maree has been awarded the University of Technology, Sydney Eureka Prize for Outstanding Mentor of Young Researchers.
“Maree has built, and continues to develop, a remarkable team.” Australian Museum Director and CEO Kim McKay said. “She has a gift for guiding, nurturing and mentoring young researchers—even, seemingly, taking more pride in their achievements than in her own impressive accomplishments.”
Achievements of her team include reaching more than 20,000 Australian high-school students with online programs that focus on preventing alcohol and drug related harm.
Maree’s vision is to build the world’s best, dedicated research program for the prevention and treatment of co-existing mental and substance-use disorders. Her passion for mentoring and developing the careers of younger researchers is central to this vision.
Some of Maree’s achievements:
- She has brought together more than 70 multi-disciplinary researchers from seven Australian and overseas universities to create the NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence in Mental Health and Substance Use, which she directs
- Two of her first PhD students have recently been made associate professors
- She shares the science credits with her junior researchers—most of her 240 published works are co-authored with junior researchers and students, often with them as first author
- Maree currently mentors eight PhD students, five postdoc researchers and numerous junior researchers.
The Australian Museum Eureka Prizes are the country’s most comprehensive national science awards. The Eureka Prizes have been rewarding science since 1990—celebrating 25 years in 2014.
The other finalists were:
- Associate Professor Lynn Corcoran of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research who is a superb mentor of graduate students inside the Institute and beyond, and reaches out to high schools to inspire the next generation of great scientists.
- Professor Bob Williamson of the University of Melbourne, who has worked to bring together the next generation of researchers with current leaders in politics and policy.
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