From gravitational waves to swift parrots: ANU staff recognised at media awards

9 December 2016

From the discovery of gravitational waves, through to the launch of the Australian National Dictionary, academics, staff members and student groups were recognised for their media and outreach efforts at an awards event on Wednesday night.

The Media and Outreach awards are designed to recognise academics and teams who, on top of their regular work, research and study commitments, choose to engage with the media on various issues.

The awards also recognise staff and students who have worked to strengthen the university's reputation through outreach activities.

Of those groups, the ANUSA team were awarded the FaceTwitTube Award for Best Use of Social Media for their work behind launching the ANUOK app, the official safety app for students and staff at ANU.

The app allows users to keep up-to-date with info on current safety issues and tips to stay safe on campus.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) Marnie Hughes-Warrington presented the awards to the winners.

"I don't underestimate for some of you how nervous you get when you go and you have to comment on the radio," she said.

"I'm sure some of you are not nervous at all, you're just fantastic. But regardless, it makes a huge impact. It's not only noted by people of the professions of communications, but also by school teachers, principals, students and families across Australia, who get to hear that name ANU over and over again and they associate it with high-quality commentary on a whole range of things.

"Don't ever underestimate the impact of that on young people in steering their aspirations, showing them new career opportunities and showing them that they can really engage with an area of study - whether you're in the humanities, right across to the sciences."

Award recipients:

Quirkiest/Most Unusual Story Award

Dr Aditya Chopra, Professor Charley Lineweaver - for their research into new life on other planets, and their theory that life died out due to extreme heating or cooling on fledgling planets.

FaceTwitTube Award for Best use of social media

ANU Students' Association - for their work in the development of the ANUOK safety app, which allows users to keep up-to-date with safety information on campus.

Emerging Media Talent Award

Katja Theodorakis - for her work on the October ANUpoll which looked at Australian attitudes toward National Security.

Award for Improving the Quality of Public Debate

Dr Ryan Goss, Dr Jill Sheppard and Dr Andrew Hughes - during the 2016 Federal Election, the three provided analysis, commentary and insights in their weekly 'Off the Hill' videos which were seen by tens of thousands of people.

Impact Award for Reach and Influence

Professor David McClelland and Professor Susan Scott - part of a global scientific collaboration which proved the existence of gravitational waves for the first time, 100 years after their existence was predicted by Albert Einstein's General Theory of Relativity.

Dr Amanda Laugesen - for the launch of the 2nd edition of the Australian National Dictionary.

Both these stories reached an audience of more than 10 million people.

Best use of video and photography

Associate Professor Antonio Tricoli and William Wong - for the development of new spray-on material with a remarkable ability to repel water.

Outreach Award for Contribution to the community

The Australian National Centre for the Public Awareness of Science - for bringing actor Alan Alda to ANU to help promote science communication.

Professor Rory Medcalf - for taking the National Security College on the road for a series of successful seminars.

24/7 award for most impressive media performance

Dr Evan Kidd - for his efforts in doing more than 24 hours' worth of interviews culminating in an appearance on the 7.30 report with Leigh Sales.

Dr Annmarie Elijah - for her media performance during the UK vote to leave the EU.

Op-Ed writer of the year

Professor Hugh White - Hugh's piece, China's Strategy has paid off was published on 23 August 2016 in the New York Times.

Public Policy Award

Professor Robert Heinsohn, Dr Dejan Stojanovic - for raising awareness of the declining numbers of the swift parrot.

Professor Peter Drysdale - for delivering the the landmark Australia-China Joint Economic Report.

Vice-Chancellor's Award for Advancing the Reputation of the University through media

Professor Don Rothwell - continues to provide informative and timely expert commentary on issues that span the international law space, including asylum seekers, the South China Sea, whaling and more.

Dr Nerilie Abram - has regularly provided expert advice and commentary on climate change, in particular her landmark research into anthropogenic climate change.

Professor Peter Collignon - he is one of the country's best medical experts providing commentary on a range of topics from how to avoid the common cold through to the over prescription of antibiotics and the impact of our society.

Professor Kaarin Anstey - Professor Anstey's area of research interest involves looking at the older population across a range of areas primarily around health and wellbeing.

Dr John Blaxland - for his ongoing contribution to international affairs and security matters and the final book in the history of ASIO series. 

Professor Emily Banks - led critical research into the risk of heart attack and stroke to find almost 1 million Australians were not taking the best mix of medication.