Glendalough researcher named Early Career Scientist of the Year

Early Career Scientist of the Year Melissa O’Donnell.
Early Career Scientist of the Year Melissa O’Donnell.

A GLENDALOUGH woman has won a Premier’s Science Award for her work on child abuse and neglect.

Telethon Kids Institute researcher Melissa O’Donnell was named this year’s Early Career Scientist of the Year.

She is one of few researchers in Australia that extensively used linked government data to investigate factors that increase vulnerability to child maltreatment.

Institute director Jonathan Carapetis said Dr O’Donnell’s research resulted in changes to policy and practice, and contributed to the international monitoring of child abuse and neglect.

“Among her other achievements, Dr O’Donnell was the first to report the rise in substance use during pregnancy and resulting increase in neonatal withdrawal syndrome,” he said.

“She also identified disability groups at heightened risk of child maltreatment, and her work has been cited by national and international bodies devoted to investigating and preventing child maltreatment.

“Her visionary use of data is bringing new understanding to these difficult and sensitive areas.”

The institute’s senior research fellow Stephen Zubrick was a finalist for Scientist of the Year.