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Dr Megan Lim from Burnet’s Centre for Population Health has been awarded the prestigious 2015 Gust-McKenzie Medal for her research into young people’s health and the role of new communications technologies in public health.
The Gust-McKenzie Medal is presented to an outstanding mid-career Burnet staff member in recognition of excellence in research and/or public health.
Dr Lim has conducted extensive research into how technologies including mobile phones, smartphone apps and social networking sites can be used for health promotion, as well as how these media can expose young people to health risks.
Her recent research interests include cyber bullying, sexting among young Australians, smartphone apps for alcohol health promotion, and SCOPE, a project to encourage young people to discuss with their peers issues relating to technology, sex and the relationships we form online.
“New technologies can be great for sexual health promotion,” Dr Lim told the Burnet Annual General Meeting in her presentation speech.
“But they also provide new risks that we need to be aware of, especially as a lot of these things are brand new and we don’t know how they’re going to affect people, and if they do, what we can do about it.”
“What I hope to do with the rest of my career is work on improving ways to develop and evaluate social media health promotion, get a really good understanding how pornography and sexting influence young people’s mental health and behaviour, and how to address these issues.
“My overall aim is to hope that all young people receive appropriate education and a supportive environment.”
Burnet Institute Director and CEO Professor Brendan Crabb described Dr Lim as a “standout” among three excellent candidates.
“This mid-career stage is when most people actually do their best work,” Professor Crabb said.
“Most Nobel Prize-winners look pretty old, but they tend to be recognised many years later for work they did under the age of 35.
“It’s no different here at this Institute.”
Dr Lim said she was excited and honoured to receive the Gust-McKenzie Medal and the recognition that goes with it.
Decided by Burnet’s Directors and Centre Heads, the medal is named in honour of the founding directors of the Burnet and Austin Research Institutes, Professor Ian Gust AO and Emeritus Professor Ian McKenzie AM.
Dr Lim said after completing her honours degree at Monash University, she joined Burnet expecting to stay for just a few months before leaving to complete a PhD in microbiology.
More than a decade later, Dr Lim is still at Burnet, having established herself as a pioneer in a new and exciting field of research.