Senior Professor Sharon Robinson in the lab

UOW scientist wins Wollongong Australia Day 2021 Innovation Achievement Award

UOW scientist wins Wollongong Australia Day 2021 Innovation Achievement Award

Senior Professor Sharon Robinson honoured for achievements locally, nationally and internationally

World-renowned Antarctic environmental scientist Senior Professor Robinson has been named winner of Wollongong City Council’s Australia Day 2021 Innovation Achievement Award for her record of outstanding achievement locally, nationally and internationally.

She received the award at an event in Wollongong on Friday 22 January.

“It was great to be honoured on Friday. I was proud to be part of such a culturally diverse and accomplished group of nominees and awardees,” Professor Robinson said.

“The young citizen nominees were all amazing and it was great to see Indigenous mentor and fundraiser Corey Tutt [winner of the “Wollongong to the World 2021” award] recognised for his DeadlyScience program.”

Professor Robinson is Executive Director of UOW’s strategic interdisciplinary research initiative Global Challenges and leads the Sustaining Coastal and Marine Zones Challenge.

 In 2020, she initiated a Global Challenges priority call to address disaster response research in the Wollongong and Illawarra region following the catastrophic bushfires and the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The projects supported through this initiative involve partnerships with affected communities and services on the NSW South Coast to develop appropriate responses to disaster and crisis. They address diverse research areas from cultural burning, to building codes and evacuation centres and are aimed at building resilience at all ages, from Aboriginal youth to older persons affected by disaster

Professor Robinson is a global leader in Antarctic environmental science. She is internationally renowned for her pioneering research into the impacts of climate change on Antarctic ecosystems and her commitment to informing better environmental protection.

Her ground-breaking, interdisciplinary research using innovative non-destructive approaches provided the first demonstration of the negative impacts of climate change-induced drying on Antarctic terrestrial ecosystems.

As a member of the United Nations Environment Programme, Environmental Effects Assessment Panel she advises the UN on the impacts of ozone-depletion.

She is a strong advocate and role model for gender equity and diversity in polar science. Most importantly, she has changed the way we think about plants, what they tell us about past climate and how they react to climate change.

“It was wonderful to have the importance of science and climate change research recognised by the community at the Wollongong 2021 Australia Day Awards event,” she said.

“The award recognised the vital research we do on Antarctic climate change and biodiversity, but also the impact the Global Challenges Program has had over the last year working with our South Coast communities to build resilience and recovery after the triple whammy of bushfires, floods and COVID.

“I am proud to be leading and mentoring research teams at UOW that are conducting research that has such impact in our community locally as well as at a global scale.”