He’s a young ‘Tall Poppy’ in science


He was one of nine young Victorian researchers to receive the award run by the Australian Institute of Policy and Science (AIPS).

Congratulating him on his achievement, La Trobe Dean of Science, Technology and Engineering, Professor Brian McGaw, said the award recognises Dr Kvansakul’s outstanding research work and his passion for communicating the significance of science to the wider community.

Dr Kvansakul has already published eleven internationally recognised scientific papers. He also plays a key role in La Trobe outreach activities in secondary schools where he works on science projects with year nine pupils and teachers.

A graduate of Imperial College, London, Dr Kvansakul specialises in the science of protein interactions using X-ray crystallography and the Australian Synchrotron for his experiments. He explains that cells are normally programmed to commit suicide if they are infected.

‘They “take one for the team” to prevent spread of the infection,’ he says. ‘I’m studying how some viruses can block this process and stop their new home from self-destructing. This “hijacking” of cells not only allows the virus to breed in safety, but can also help cells to become cancerous.’

Dr Kvansakul came to Melbourne in 2004 to work on viral cell death inhibition at the Walter & Eliza Hall Institute. He moved to La Trobe early this year after receiving an NHMRC Career Development Fellowship and project grant.

AIPS Executive Director, Elektra Spathopoulos, said Tall Poppy winners ‘represent the brightest researchers investigating the important issues that benefit all Australians and the world.

‘With increased public debate on science issues and policy, and still decreasing enrolments in senior high school science and maths, the need to inspire young people about science and educating the wider community has never been more important.’