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Deakin researcher Dr Nisa Salim has been awarded a highly prestigious Gold Medal from the Australian Institute of Nuclear Science and Engineering (AINSE).
Dr Salim has achieved outstanding success since she arrived at Deakin on a scholarship from India in 2008. She gained an Early Career Researcher Award at the Smart Geelong Network Researcher of the Year awards in 2011, and can now add this prestigious national award to her list of achievements.
The AINSE Gold Medal is awarded for excellence in research, based on publications over the past five years, which acknowledge AINSE support.
Working within Deakin’s Institute for Frontier Materials, Dr Salim collaborated with the AINSE during her PhD research on two main projects: nano-patterning for selective separation applications; and developing block copolymer nano-carriers for potential drug delivery, which involved researching the morphology (shape) of nano-size polymers.
The research required using the highly sophisticated small angle X-ray scattering instrument, located at the Bragg Institute in Sydney, which is part of the commonwealth-funded Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO). The instrument was accessed through AINSE funding received by Dr Salim’s PhD supervisor Professor Qipeng Guo.
“The support, particularly from AINSE’s Managing Director, Dr Dennis Mather - who retired in 2012 - and collaborator/mentor at ANSTO, Dr Tracey Hanley was fantastic,” said Dr Salim.
“Their encouragement motivated me to apply for this medal - and helped me to believe that it was possible that I could win.”
AINSE was originally established in 1958, to provide a mechanism for access to the special facilities at the Bragg Institute (in Lucas Heights, NSW) for universities and other tertiary institutions - and to provide a focus for co-operation in the nuclear scientific and engineering fields.
AINSE has a specific mandate to arrange for the training of scientific researchers and the awarding of scientific research studentships regarding nuclear science and engineering.
After completing her PhD last year, Dr Salim now works as Associate Research Fellow with Carbon Nexus, where she has - predictably - taken off. After only three months, she has two projects well under way and is co-supervising two Masters students.
“Carbon fibre is like black gold,” she said. “The exact morphology of carbon fibre is still unknown. It is probably the most exciting area of research in my field.”
At Carbon Nexus, she is working with industry, exploring the structural properties and nanoscale characteristics of carbon fibre, and, with a team from Deakin and the University of Wollongong, is involved in another project creating nanostructured carbon fibre precursors.
“Deakin is like a second home,” she said. “I met my husband here (Dr Nishar Hameed) - and Peter Hodgson and Bronwyn Fox have been very supportive.”
Indeed, she is firmly established at Deakin and Geelong, with a two-year-old daughter helping to hone her expertise in another area - time management!