Dr Elizabeth New (2000)

Young Alumnae Award: Academic Achievement

Elizabeth (Liz) New (2000) is one of Australia’s brightest young inorganic chemists, nationally and internationally recognised for her research excellence, winning the Malcolm McIntosh Prize for Physical Scientist of the Year, one of the Prime Minister’s Science Prizes (2019) and the ChemComm Emerging Investigator Lectureship (2017), awarded annually to one researcher internationally. She is regularly invited to present at major international conferences and is recognised as a leading thinker in her field. Liz has worked to bring together researchers from different disciplines to discuss innovative ideas and lead new initiatives.

Liz and her team of 18 researchers study light-emitting molecules and their applications, including fluorescent tracking of molecules in the body to better understand health and disease. In furthering her research she pioneered the development of new molecular imaging tools to study the activity of anti-cancer drugs and to understand how oxidative stress is related to diseases associated with ageing.

She is an Associate Professor at the University of Sydney. After her studies at MLC School, Liz undertook her undergraduate and Masters studies at the University of Sydney before completing her PhD studies at the University of Durham (UK). She then worked for two years at the University of California, Berkeley, before returning to Sydney as a lecturer in the School of Chemistry in 2012.

She is passionate about university teaching and has also served on a number of national committees that aim to improve opportunities for future generations of scientists. Her awards for research and teaching include the 2018 Eureka 3M Emerging Leader in Science Prize, and the 2016 RACI Chemistry Educator of the Year Award.

Reflection

What would you say are your three proudest achievements?

I am most proud of my role in helping to shape the scientific leaders of tomorrow: it gives me great satisfaction to see my students, particularly those who carry out their research projects with me, develop their curiosity and independence, and go on to forge impactful careers of their own. In my research, I love seeing the fluorescent sensors that we make be used by our collaborators to make discoveries for their own research. And finally, I’m proud of the networks I’ve set up that promote development and support for scientists and academics.

How did an MLC School education play a role in your life?

Being an academic requires proficiency across many areas, including many forms of communication. The skills in writing and in oral presentations that I use every day are skills that I learnt and developed at MLC School. At MLC School we were also taught that we could make an impact in any area in which we chose to work, and I think that mindset (which is unfortunately rare) was important in my decision to pursue studies in science and a career in academia, rather than other careers commonly seen as more lucrative.