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Researcher recognised by Australian Academy of Science


Zuleika Henderson
8 December 2010
Dr Kirsten Benkendorff has been awarded a national award from the Australian Academy of Science for her research in the area of marine biology and ecology.

The researcher and lecturer in Southern Cross University’s School of Environmental Science and Management was this week announced as the winner of the prestigious annual Dorothy Hill award, which recognises excellence in research in marine sciences by female researchers under 40 years.

Dr Benkendorff has spent more than a decade researching the bioresource value of molluscs such as snails, oysters and octopus. Her internationally recognised research has made significant contributions towards knowledge on how marine molluscs can be used as indicators for environmental health and to predict the effects of climate change.

Some of her most recent research has included investigating the development of marine molluscs for human medicine and has resulted in the identification of a promising anticancer agent which is currently undergoing preclinical trials.

Dr Benkendorff said it was a great privilege to be chosen for the award, which was set up by the Australian Academy of Science to honour the contributions of Professor Dorothy Hill to Australian science and her work in opening up tertiary science education to women.

“Many people outside of the science world haven’t heard of Dorothy Hill, but in fact she is such a massive inspiration for everyone in marine science, and in particular for female marine scientists,” said Dr Benkendorff.

“She had a fantastic career and made some great achievements at a time when it wasn’t easy for women to get ahead in science.

“So from a personal perspective it’s a great privilege, and the fact that the award is recognised by the Australian Academy of Science makes it an even greater honour.

“I’m looking forward to presenting some of my research to the Academy at the award ceremony in May.”

Dr Benkendorff will be presented with her award at a ceremony at the Australian Academy of Science’s Shine Dome in Canberra as part of a three-day celebration of Australian science from 4-6 May.

Australian Academy of Science President Professor Suzanne Cory said the Academy warmly congratulated Dr Benkendorff on her award.

"Each year, it is the Academy’s privilege to recognise excellence in diverse fields of science.

“Several of the awards celebrate career-long contributions by some of Australia’s most distinguished researchers, others draw attention to remarkable discoveries made by younger investigators.”

Photo: Dr Kirsten Benkendorff has won an award for her research into marine sciences (high resolution image available on request)