Researchers at IPRI celebrated National Science Week last week, with a number of events held at the Institute including the Bill Wheeler Symposium and Open Day.
Held each year, National Science Week is a celebration of science and technology around Australia, featuring more than 1000 events, including those delivered by universities, schools, research institutions, libraries, museums and science centres.
Bill Wheeler Symposium and Award
IPRI contributed to the celebrations again this year, first by hosting the 2022 Bill Wheeler Symposium and Award last Tuesday evening.
The annual event, dating back to 2009, honours the late Bill Wheeler, who took a keen interest in new bionics research at the University of Wollongong (UOW), and was an instigator in organising a fundraiser for bionics research. Bill’s passion for science continues to live on with the award, given to the student who best communicates the social impact of their research and how the prize will benefit their work.
This year’s award, supported by the Kiama Rotary Club and a generous donation from Lotus Accountants, was received by IPRI and UOW PhD candidate Mitchell St Clair-Glover, who is working with stem cells using 3D bioprinting to model organotypic skin tissues. Kiama Rotary Club president Carol Jagger and Bill’s daughter Kylie Parker were at the event to present the award to Mitchell.
"Receiving the Bill Wheeler Award is hugely motivating for my work. Support from the community goes a long way to driving my passion for research, because it shows that people care about what we’re doing," said Mitchell.
"The award will allow me to pursue collaborative efforts with our colleagues across Australia. It’s exciting to know that we’ll be able to share our expertise across borders, and share our work within the scientific community."
The event also featured a keynote talk by special guest and reconstructive surgeon at the Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, Prof Jonathan Clark, inspiring the audience and speaking on his work and the importance of the many aspects that underpin it.
The 2021 Bill Wheeler Award winner, Jeremy Dinoro, was another presenter apart of the evening’s program, on hand to give an update on how his work has progressed since the accomplishment as well as his plans for the future after completing his PhD.
"The Bill Wheeler Symposium means different things to our family members and over time has changed for each of us as this legacy grows based on the prior year’s winners achievements," said Kylie.
"It's lovely that Dad’s name is associated with such incredibly talented young scientists who will change our world for the better. Dad always loved to learn and was always curious hence his passion for visiting the lab. We are proud to support this annual award."
IPRI Open Day
Following the Symposium on Wednesday, the IPRI labs and facilities were open to the public all day, with members of the community visiting the UOW Innovation Campus and the Translational Research Initiative for Cellular Engineering and Printing (TRICEP) to see all the research and work up close that happens on a day-to-day basis.
Tours were hosted by current next-generation IPRI PhD students, taking the attendees through the labs to various stations along the way with researchers on hand to talk about their areas of interest and their impactful work.
Science students from Keira High School added to the list of tours on Thursday for a visit of their own to see the facilities at IPRI and TRICEP.
“Science Week is all about highlighting the importance of science to the community and the importance of the community to science – we did that and together and we celebrated,” said IPRI Director Prof Gordon Wallace.
Find more information on National Science Week here.