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IWC Research Fellow wins Queensland Young Tall Poppy Award

Dr Dani Barrington, Research Fellow of the International WaterCentre (IWC) and Monash University, and Honorary Fellow of The University of Queensland, has recently been awarded the Queensland Young Tall Poppy Award 2015.

Dr Barrington was recognsied for her work as humanitarian engineer who specialises in water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) research. The young researcher particularly investigates how appropriate technologies, community-led programs and public policy can improve health and well-being by increasing sustainable access to and use of adequate water resources, sanitation and hygiene facilities and services.

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 outstanding achievers. It has made significant achievements towards building a more publicly engaged scientific leadership in Australia. It also aims to foster an Australian culture which celebrates high achievers (‘tall poppies’) rather than ‘cutting them down’, and to inspire younger Australians about the possibilities of science.

“Throughout my school years I was physically and emotionally bullied for being a high achiever. Teachers constantly told me not to worry; other students were just suffering ‘Tall Poppy Syndrome’. I know that I am not alone in this experience, and that there are young people out there who end their lives over this cruel treatment- being a teenager is hard enough without being tripped in the hallway, having your hair cut off in math class, or being ridiculed constantly for being a ‘square’ (Yes, all of these happened to me)”, said Dr Barrington.

“A condition of receiving this award is that I take part in school outreach to get students more interested in science. On reflecting on my own experiences, I am hoping that I can extend my outreach beyond how much fun science is and also address this endemic issue of bullying through turning the 'Tall Poppy' stigma on its head."

Dr Barrington is always exploring new avenues for sharing her research with the general public, and regularly speaks to high school and university students about their career choices and what it is like to be a woman in engineering. She was recently named as a finalist in the ABC’s ‘Top 5 Under 40′ science communicators awards and has written for various outlets, including The Conversation, SBS, Cosmos Magazine’s blog, Engineers Without Borders and Water Engineering Australia.

Read Dani's full profile on the AIPS website, or listen to a radio interview with ABC 612 Brisbane. 

For more information on Dani's work associated with the IWC, visit the project page on Community Water and Sanitation in the Pacific: Fostering Sustainable WASH Marketplaces.


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