Stretchable electronics wiz Madhu Bhaskaran wins Frederick White Medal

By Our Reporter
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RMIT University’s Professor Madhu Bhaskaran has been recognised by the Australian Academy of Science for her outstanding contribution to science, with a prestigious honorific award.

Bhaskaran was awarded the Frederick White Medal for early career researchers and is one 18 current and future science superstars to receive a 2020 honorific award.

As co-leader of the Functional Materials and Microsystems group at RMIT in Melbourne, Australia, her research works to transform how we imagine, use and interact with electronic devices.

Bhaskaran’s signature advance is in the field of stretchable electronics where she has developed techniques to stretch devices to an unprecedented level—allowing them to be worn on the skin.

Her research is a precursor to numerous practical devices, which can adapt seamlessly to the human body and deliver significant environmental benefit (portable hazardous gas detection) and community benefit (UV sensors or health management).

Bhaskaran’s team is currently working with industry partner Sleeptite to bring these sensors out of the laboratory into everyday life, integrating them into bedding products for aged care to non-invasively track the health and wellbeing of residents at night.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research and Innovation and Vice-President, Professor Calum Drummond, congratulated Professor Madhu Bhaskaran on her achievement.

“We are proud that Madhu is being recognised for her outstanding research that will make such a real and positive difference to our communities. She is a true leader in her field and a wonderful role model and inspiration for other young scientists and those wanting to pursue a career in research,” said Drummond.

Bhaskaran, who completed her Bachelor of Engineering at P.S.G. College of Technology, Coimbatore, said she was honoured to be among such a diverse group of honorific award recipients, demonstrating excellence in research.

“I am ecstatic to receive this prestigious medal—especially given the Frederick White Medal recognises the positive impact my research outcomes can have on society and people,” she said.

“As always, I credit the Functional Materials and Microsystems research group for their hard work and positive attitudes.”

President of the Australian Academy of Science, Professor John Shine, congratulated all the award winners for their inspiring research.

“Recognising outstanding scientific contributions is important, as award recipients are the STEM role models for the next generation,” Shine said. “These awards shine a spotlight on the leading and diverse applied and basic research happening throughout the country. The Academy continues to seek to increase the diversity of nominees for all our grants and awards and this is reflected in this year’s honorific awardees.”

The Australian Academy of Science award is the latest honour for Bhaskaran, who is also Node Director and Chief Investigator in the ARC Centre of Excellence for Transformative Meta-Optical Systems (TMOS) and on the Board of Directors of Women in STEMM Australia.

She has previously been awarded the APEC Science Prize for Innovation, Research and Education (“ASPIRE”), the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering’s Batterham Medal and the Australian Museum Macquarie University Eureka Prize for Outstanding Early Career Researcher.

“These are the things I keep in mind, that have guided my research career: ‘If you do not ask, the answer will always be no’ and ‘Always have a plan B, C, and D’.”


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