Murdoch scientist recognised as Tall Poppy

October 31, 2016

Dr Garth Maker

Dr Garth Maker with Professor Steve Chapman, Vice Chancellor of Edith Cowan University, at the Tall Poppy awards

Murdoch University researcher Dr Garth Maker has been recognised as one of WA’s best young scientists.

The biochemistry lecturer and researcher was named as one of seven recipients of the prestigious Young Tall Poppy Science Awards in a ceremony at Edith Cowan University on Monday.

Dr Maker was nominated by his peers and selection was based on research achievement and leadership potential.

He was one of a group of scientists who found a number of alarming, undeclared ingredients in traditional Chinese medicines recently.

According to their findings, 92 per cent of the herbal treatments analysed had some form of contamination or substitution, including undeclared pharmaceutical agents such as warfarin.

Dr Maker has been active in speaking about his research in the media and the community, and is regularly involved in the student engagement and recruitment activities of Murdoch University.

He said: “Science communication is hugely important for early-career researchers. Being compelled to explain why your work is important and how it will translate to everyday life makes you focus on what you are doing, and why you are doing it.

“Talking about our work on herbal medicines has really made me think about what we can achieve from this work, and has led us to change some of the questions that we ask, to maximise the potential benefit for consumers and patients.”

Dr Maker added it was important to communicate good science to the community.

“In an area such as herbal medicine research, there is a lot of poor quality information readily available on the internet,” he said.

“One of our key goals is to raise public awareness of the issues surrounding herbal medicine safety, and to help consumers ask the right questions about these products.

“We can use our data to join the push for greater regulation of these products by government agencies.”

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.

AIPS general manager Camille Thomson said the awards, which are held state-by-state, celebrate the country’s best and brightest young achievers across the sciences.

“Many Young Tall Poppies go on to achieve even greater things and become inspiring leaders in their field,” she said.

“They also become role models by working with the education and community sectors to encourage greater engagement in science.”

Professor David Hampson, Dean of the School of Veterinary and Life Sciences at Murdoch, said that the award was richly deserved by Dr Maker.

“Garth is an enterprising, energetic and insightful member of our staff, and it is gratifying to see him get recognition for his achievements,” said Professor Hampson. “He is a great asset to our School and to Murdoch University.”

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