Category Archives: Awards

Tall Poppy Award

I’ve received a Tall Poppy Science Award from the Queensland Chief Scientist, Dr Geoff Garrett, and the Queensland Science Minister, Leeanne Enoch.

The Tall Poppy Campaign was created in 1998 by the Australian Institute of Policy and Science to recognise and celebrate Australian intellectual and scientific excellence and to encourage younger Australians to follow in the footsteps of our outstanding achievers. It has made significant achievements towards building a more publicly engaged scientific leadership in Australia.

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Fellowship award at the AAA Benefit Dinner

I was awarded The 2013 University of Queensland Fellowship at the American Australian Association Benefit Dinner. The dinner recognises prominent individuals who have made significant contributions to business, economic, social and cultural relationships between the United States and Australia.

Proceeds from the dinner go towards building the Association’s Education Fund. To date, more than 190 Fellows have received awards totalling over US$4 million to pursue studies in critical fields from medical research to sustainability at top institutions such as MIT, Harvard and Princeton.

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Research Excellence Award

I have received the 2013 Postgraduate Student Research Excellence Award from the UQ Psychology Head of School, Virginia Slaughter. As a result, I was invited to speak to my colleagues about my research, which was great fun.

“The prize is awarded for outstanding published research as indicated by the quality and potential impact of the research itself, as well as the relative standing of the journals within the field in which it appears.”

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UQ Postdoctoral Fellowship

I have been awarded a three-year Postdoctoral Research Fellowship from The University of QueenslandThe scheme aims to attract outstanding recent doctoral graduates to the University in areas of institutional research priority and includes $20,000 research support.

Please join me in congratulating Matt Thompson who has been awarded a UQ Postdoctoral Research Fellowship commencing in 2014.  As we are all aware, these awards are extremely competitive and Matt’s success is an indicator of the very high quality of his research – Professor Virginia Slaughter, Head of School.

Harvard Fellowship from AAA

I have received The 2013 University of Queensland Fellowship from the American Australian Association, worth $40,000 (press release – Emerging Australian stars receive top prizes).  I’ll spend some time at Harvard working with Jeremy Wolfe, who is Professor of Ophthalmology and Radiology at Harvard Medical School and Senior Lecturer in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT. I will receive the award at Black Tie ceremony at the Cipriani Wall Street in New York City.

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Photographs on Display at the US Embassy

US Ambassador Bleich has selected two of my photographs for display at the US Embassy in Canberra. The competition, “America Through Australian Eyes” received more than 180 submissions from across Australia and my photographs below, “The Great Dividing Range” and “Bushfire Glow,” were two of the eight selected.

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“The Great Dividing Range,” Central Park, New York, NY, f/8, 1/400 sec
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“Bushfire Glow,” San Francisco, CA, f/6.3, 6 sec

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Fulbright in New Orleans

Thanks to the US Department of State, I was flown to New Orleans with dozens of Fulbright Scholars from around the world to discuss Global challenges, local solutions: Climate change and environmental sustainability. We were featured in the local rag, The Times Picayune, whilst volunteering at The Green Project repurposing landfill to help rebuild houses post-Katrina. My group also took the award for Best Environmental Solution and Presentation!

Matthew B Thompson - Fulbright Enrichment New Orleans

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Second in Best Illusion of the Year Contest!

We’ve taken out second place in the Best Illusion of the Year Contest, 2012! Like many interesting scientific discoveries, this one was an accident. Sean Murphy, an undergraduate student, was working alone in the lab on a set of faces for one of his experiments. He aligned a set of faces at the eyes and started to skim through them. After a few seconds, he noticed that some of the faces began to appear highly deformed and grotesque. He looked at the especially ugly faces individually, but each of them appeared normal or even attractive. We called it the “Flashed Face Distortion Effect” and wanted to share it with the world, so we put it on YouTube. Click for more.

The effect seems to depend on processing each face in light of the others. By aligning the faces at the eyes and presenting them quickly, it becomes much easier to compare them, so the differences between the faces are more extreme. If someone has a large jaw, it looks almost ogre-like. If they have an especially large forehead, then it looks particularly bulbous. We’re conducting several experiments right now to figure out exactly what’s causing this effect, so watch this space!

Featured in Nature and New Scientist. Click for more.

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