Winner of the 2017 ANSTO Australian Synchrotron Stephen Wilkins Medal

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Dr Leonie van‘t Hag has been awarded the 2017 ANSTO, Australian Synchrotron Stephen Wilkins Medal for her PhD thesis.

The Stephen Wilkins Medal is awarded annually to a PhD student at an Australian or New Zealand University who is judged to have completed the most outstanding thesis of the past two years.

The award recognises Dr van‘t Hag's research to improve the method to crystallise proteins and peptides in order to study their structure, using a technique called crystallography. 

“Leonie’s insights into crystallisation processes could significantly help the development of treatments for a variety of illnesses,” said Australian Synchrotron director, Professor Andrew Peele.

Most solid material in the world is made of crystalline structures. Crystals are made up of rows and rows of atoms or molecules stacked up like boxes in a warehouse, in different arrangements.

Professor Peele said Dr van’t Hag, who while working at the University of Melbourne, CSIRO and RMIT University, was a prolific user of ANSTO facilities at the Australian Centre for Neurtron Scattering, the National Deuteration Facility and the Australian Synchrotron, was thoroughly deserving of her medal.

“The application of this technique can lead more success in solving the 3D structures of proteins, which are important for rational drug design for a wide range of diseases,” said Professor Peele.

“I congratulate Dr van’t Hag for her work in this field and on behalf of the Wilkins family and ANSTO. A contribution of $3000 will also be awarded to support her further career development.”

Dr Mike James, who is the Head of Science at The Australian Synchrotron, congratulated Dr van‘t Hag.

“Steve Wilkins was a friend and mentor to many young researchers, so it’s fitting the ANSTO, Australian Synchrotron annual thesis medal be named in his honour,” said Dr James.

“Leonie is certainly a very worthy recipient, and we are very excited to see where she will go with her career, and what benefits and impacts the application of her research will bring.”

The award is named in honour of Steve Wilkins, a widely-respected and internationally-renowned X-ray scientist, who made pioneering contributions in many areas of X-ray science and optics. 

To be eligible, work is required to be undertaken at and acknowledge, the Australian Synchrotron, or work undertaken at international synchrotron facilities and funded by various ANSTO access programs.