CDU lecturer ‘Young Tall Poppy’ in 2013

14-Aug-2013

Dr Sheryl Maher
Dr Sheryl Maher has been awarded the prestigious 2013 Young Tall Poppy for the Northern Territory

A Charles Darwin University lecturer has been recognised for her work in developing rapid tests for Dengue fever and related viruses, and for her continued dedication to raising the profile of science, particularly among young people.

Dr Sheryl Maher was awarded the prestigious 2013 Young Tall Poppy for the Northern Territory at a reception at Parliament House that marked the launch for Science Week in the Northern Territory.

In an attempt to “normalise” science and make it accessible to everyone, she has been involved in a number of outreach and mentoring programs for the past 12 years.

“I don’t think we need a world full of scientists – I think we need a world full of scientifically literate people,” Dr Maher said. “I realised early in my undergraduate studies not everyone ‘gets science’ so I enrolled to be a peer mentor and help other students understand why science is fantastic and wonderful.”

In an effort to minimise the time and cost involved in diagnosing Dengue fever, Yellow fever and related viruses, Dr Maher developed a rapid test as part of her PhD.

“This test provided an initial diagnosis (with sufficient information to guide treatment) within three hours,” she said. “Being able to rapidly identify what is wrong with someone enables effective control measures to be implemented.”

When she is not teaching at CDU, Dr Maher works with scientists at Berrimah Research Farm to identify viruses as part of the National Arbovirus Monitoring Program.

“In the Northern Territory we may not have a problem with Dengue, but we have many other viruses,” she said. “As we learn more about the viruses in the NT we will be better positioned to manage the associated risks to human and animal health.”

The Tall Poppy Campaign recognises and celebrates Australian intellectual and scientific excellence and encourages young Australians to follow in the footsteps of our outstanding achievers. It is conducted by the Australian Institute of Policy and Science.

The prize includes $1500, a plaque and a certificate.

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