For their cutting edge research on anxiety disorders in women and urbanisation of the marine environment, two UNSW scientists have been recognised with prestigious Young Tall Poppy Awards.

Dr Bronwyn Graham of the School of Psychology and Dr Katherine Dafforn of the School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences are among 13 bright young researchers from NSW – six from UNSW - who will receive their awards tonight at a ceremony at the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences in Sydney.

The Tall Poppy Awards are run by the Australian Institute of Policy and Science to honour up-and-coming scientists who combine world-class research with a passionate commitment to communicating science.

“These tall poppies are already showing great promise here in NSW,” said Institute General Manager Camille Thomson. “We are excited to see them becoming the guiding lights of science to future generations of enquiring minds.”

As part of the Young Tall Poppies campaign, award winners will spend a year sharing their knowledge with school students, teachers and the broader community through workshops, seminars and public lectures.

Dr Brownyn Graham:

Current treatments for anxiety have been developed from research focused mainly on men, despite the fact that women are twice as likely as men to be diagnosed with anxiety disorder, for reasons that are unclear.

Using arachnophobia – a fear of spiders – Dr Graham studies how changes in the levels of the female hormone estrogen affect women’s ability to control their fear.

Dr Katherine Dafforn:

Marine urbanisation is accelerating due to the expansion of coastal cities and efforts to protect assets from threats such as storm surges.

Dr Dafforn’s research combines ecological ideas with engineering designs to produce innovative strategies for reducing the impacts of coastal concrete jungles. Her research has highlighted important ecological consequences of this development including provision of habitat for invasive species.

UNSW winners:

For more information on all the UNSW winners see here


The Australian Institute of Policy and Science is an independent, not-for-profit organisation that works to promote excellence in research and innovation, to increase public engagement in science,  and to inform and influence policymaking.

Young tall poppies are nominated by their peers and are early career researchers who have less than ten years of post-doctoral experience. Selection is based on research achievement and leadership potential.
Dr Bronwyn Graham