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Humble Professor takes out top research award

October 22, 2021

Bond University Vice Chancellor and President, Professor Tim Brailsford, presents the Vice Chancellor's Research Excellence Award to Professor Helen O'Neill.

Bond University has awarded its top research prize to the Director of the Clem Jones Centre for Regenerative Medicine.

Professor Helen O’Neill said she was “humbled” after receiving the Vice Chancellor’s Research Excellence Award at a ceremony held as part of the university’s annual research week.

“Research is a struggling endeavour, so to be recognised is special.”

Professor O’Neill is an internationally-recognised expert in the field of stem cell biology and has been Director of the Clem Jones Centre since 2016.

She said she was thrilled to see the growth in research at Bond.

“When I first came to Bond six or seven years ago there were not so many researchers, but there’s clearly been a change.

“It’s very valuable for a university to have research credentials. All the private universities in America, all the public universities in Australia, they measure each other on their research outcomes.

“It’s still early days for Bond but we’re going in the right direction.”

Professor O’Neill has also focussed on mentoring and career-building for early to mid-career researchers and students.

“I guess I recognised in myself that I was a determined person, an independent thinker, I knew that early on,” she said.

“When I met students who wanted to do research like that, I could see a bit of my thinking or my way in them, so I tried to help them… to foster this independent thinking.

“It never frightened me that I had students who were smarter than me. They’re all different and creative in their own way. I really love working with the students who have ideas and the energy to fulfil those ideas.

“I’ve had some great students in my time. I think of those people and what they did as something really important that happened to me, because I was there for it.”

Professor O’Neill said coming to Bond at a later stage in her career had proved to be a rewarding move.

“The people are very helpful, there’s just a climate here that makes me enjoy my day a whole lot more.

“It’s been wonderful, the atmosphere and the people and the good feelings that go on here are great, it just makes it feel really worthwhile.”

Professor Craig Langston was named winner of the Vice Chancellor’s Research Supervision Award.

Professor Langston is the principal supervisor for a full complement of current higher degree research students, and has a strong record of on-time completions.

He has an international reputation in construction and facilities management, and testimonials from his students describe him as someone who offers a supportive and inspiring environment where they are challenged to produce the best work they can.

The Vice Chancellor’s Early Career Research Excellence Award was won by Dr Loai Albarqouni, a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Institute for Evidence-Based Healthcare.

Dr Albarqouni completed his PhD in 2019 but already has more than 60 peer-reviewed publications to his name, the majority as first or senior author.

Most recently, Dr Albarqouni was awarded a prestigious National Health and Medical Research Council Investigator Grant, receiving $650,740 to research ways to increase the use of evidence-based effective non-drug treatments in primary health care.