A leading UNSW researcher has been recognised in the 2020 NSW Young Tall Poppy Science Awards.

Associate Professor Jill Newby from UNSW Science and the Black Dog Institute has been named a NSW Tall Poppy for engaging with the community on mental health issues.

The Tall Poppy Science Awards, an initiative of the Australian Institute of Policy and Science (AIPS), acknowledge excellence in research and commitment to communicating science to a broad audience. The awards are held in each state to celebrate researchers across science, engineering and mathematics.

A/Prof. Newby is among 12 researchers in New South Wales who have been recognised and will receive their awards at a virtual event on 22 September.

“I am passionate about raising awareness of mental health, breaking down the stigma of asking for help and letting people know there are practical tools available to stay mentally healthy,” A/Prof. Newby said.

“Mental health is especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic, as we’re seeing increased mental health problems in the community. Now more than ever it is important to increase awareness about mental health and disseminate treatments that work to the people who need it.”

A/Prof. Newby’s research aims to improve the mental health of people with depression and anxiety and those at risk, through improving access to high quality treatment. Her research focuses on developing and testing new technology-delivered treatments for depression and anxiety in adults, delivered via the internet, smartphone apps and virtual reality.

By raising awareness of mental health in the community, A/Prof. Newby aims to encourage people to seek help and provide practical advice for managing fear, anxiety and depression during the COVID-19 pandemic.  She regularly writes for media outlets including The Conversation and The Sydney Morning Herald, appears on the ABC, The Project, Sky News and has spoken on a Sydney Swans podcast.

“My research aims to help people with anxiety and depression access treatments that work. Online programs and smartphone apps can help people learn the tools to cope with challenges they face, which is especially important now during this pandemic,” A/Prof. Newby said.

UNSW Dean of Science Professor Emma Johnston AO congratulated her colleague on the prestigious award. 

“A/Prof. Newby’s research and communication on the topic of mental health has helped reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness in Australia. A community that is more engaged in science is something every scientist should aspire to and the reason why Tall Poppy awards are so important,” Prof. Johnston said.  

The Tall Poppy Campaign was created in 1998 by the Australian Institute of Policy and Science (AIPS) to recognise and celebrate Australian intellectual and scientific excellence and to encourage younger Australians to follow in the footsteps of our outstanding achievers. It has made significant achievements towards building a more publicly engaged scientific leadership in Australia.