Academy award to top RMIT researcher

RMIT’s Professor Madhu Bhaskaran has been recognised by the Australian Academy of Science for her outstanding contribution to science, with a prestigious honorific award.

Bhaskaran was awarded the Frederick White Medal for early career researchers and is one 18 current and future science superstars to receive a 2020 honorific award.

As co-leader of the Functional Materials and Microsystems group at RMIT, her research works to transform how we imagine, use and interact with electronic devices.

Bhaskaran’s signature advance is in the field of stretchable electronics where she has developed techniques to stretch devices to an unprecedented level – allowing them to be worn on the skin.

Her research is a precursor to numerous practical devices, which can adapt seamlessly to the human body and deliver significant environmental benefit (portable hazardous gas detection) and community benefit (UV sensors or health management).

Bhaskaran’s team is currently working with industry partner Sleeptite to bring these sensors out of the laboratory into everyday life, integrating them into bedding products for aged care to non-invasively track the health and wellbeing of residents at night.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research and Innovation and Vice-President, Professor Calum Drummond, congratulated Professor Madhu Bhaskaran on her achievement.

“We are proud that Madhu is being recognised for her outstanding research that will make such a real and positive difference to our communities.

“She is a true leader in her field and a wonderful role model and inspiration for other young scientists and those wanting to pursue a career in research.”

Bhaskaran said she was honoured to be among such a diverse group of honorific award recipients, demonstrating excellence in research.

“I am ecstatic to receive this prestigious medal – especially given the Frederick White Medal recognises the positive impact my research outcomes can have on society and people,” she said.

“As always, I credit the Functional Materials and Microsystems research group for their hard work and positive attitudes.”

President of the Australian Academy of Science, Professor John Shine, congratulated all the award winners for their inspiring research.

“Recognising outstanding scientific contributions is important, as award recipients are the STEM role models for the next generation,” Shine said.

“These awards shine a spotlight on the leading and diverse applied and basic research happening throughout the country.

“The Academy continues to seek to increase the diversity of nominees for all our grants and awards and this is reflected in this year’s honorific awardees.”

Star of STEM

The Australian Academy of Science award is the latest honour for Bhaskaran, who is also Node Director and Chief Investigator in the ARC Centre of Excellence for Transformative Meta-Optical Systems (TMOS) and on the Board of Directors of Women in STEMM Australia.

She has previously been awarded the APEC Science Prize for Innovation, Research and Education (“ASPIRE”), the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering’s Batterham Medal and the Australian Museum Macquarie University Eureka Prize for Outstanding Early Career Researcher.

Bhaskaran is a true RMIT success story – completing a Master of Engineering at RMIT before going onto a PhD in the School of Engineering and then embarking on a stellar research career.

Her words of advice to a young person considering studying STEM or pursuing doctoral research?

“Go for it – STEM studies will give you the skill set for any future jobs and with perseverance and resilience, you can reach great heights.”

And the best advice Bhaskaran has received?

“These are the things I keep in mind, that have guided my research career: ‘If you do not ask, the answer will always be no’ and ‘Always have a plan B, C, and D’.”

About the author/s

Mary Gray

In 2013, Mary Gray graduated with a PhD in the field of human genetics from the University of Otago, New Zealand. That same year Mary moved to Canberra, Australia to become the Manager of the Dementia Australia Research Foundation. From there, Mary moved to The Australian National University (ANU) i ... more

Madhu Bhaskaran

Professor Madhu Bhaskaran FTSE is a multi-award winning electronics engineer and innovator – she has won medals from leading Australian Academies. She co-leads the Functional Materials and Microsystems Research Group at RMIT University which she established in 2010. She is also Chief Investiga ... more