Dr Kai Chan named 2017 ACT Scientist of the Year

14 August 2017

Dr Kai Chan from the ANU Research School of Biology has been named 2017 ACT Scientist of the Year by Chief Minister Andrew Barr MLA at a ceremony as part of National Science Week.

The ACT Scientist of the Year Award aims to inspire young people to consider a career in science and STEM more broadly.

Dr Chan's research looks at the effect of drought conditions on plants, and the ways by which some plants can sense drought stress.

He said it was an honour to be named as the ACT Scientist of the Year, following on from 2016 winner Dr Ceridwen Fraser from the ANU Fenner School of Environment and Society, and Dr Colin Jackson from the ANU Research School of Chemistry who won the award in 2015.

"I'm like many early career scientists, curious about the mysteries of life and passionate about what we do," Dr Chan said.

"A career in science is very challenging but it's also highly rewarding.

"An award like this is important for early career researchers because it celebrates our collective achievements. It helps us to pause and remind ourselves of the rewards of staying in science and working away." 

Dr Chan said a career in science gave him a lot of opportunities to grow both as a person and a scientist.

"My career has opened up my mind to so many things beyond science. I have also travelled to places I could only have dreamed of because of this path."

Vice-Chancellor Professor Brian Schmidt said it was wonderful to see Kai, who is both a graduate and now a researcher, receiving recognition for his work in plant biology.

"On behalf of the University I would like to congratulate Kai on the award," said Professor Schmidt.

"The work of Kai and his colleagues could have long-term benefits for crops such as barley, rice and wheat - all crucial to world food supplies," Professor Schmidt said.

Dr Chan is a postdoctoral fellow in the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology. He grew up in Malaysia and in 2007 moved to Canberra to study biotechnology at ANU. He completed his PhD in 2015.

In 2018 Dr Chan will take up a prestigious Marie Curie Postdoctoral Fellowship that will give him the opportunity to travel to Belgium and Finland to further promote the contribution Canberra scientists and innovators are making worldwide.

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