University of Melbourne awards Marles and Woodward Medals to four researchers

Recipients of the Marles and Woodward Awards
Marles and Woodward Medals recipients, clockwise from top left: Professor Felicity Baker, Associate Professor Brett Manley, Associate Professor David McInnis, Dr Jennifer Juno.

The prestigious University of Melbourne awards, the Marles and Woodward Medals, have been awarded to four outstanding researchers from the humanities, social sciences and medical disciplines.

The Marles Medal is awarded each year by a committee of senior University of Melbourne academics to University of Melbourne academic staff in recognition of the significant impact and demonstrable contribution their original research has made in the preceding ten years.

The Marles Medal was established in 2020 and is named in honour of Ms Fay Marles AM, an alumna and first female Chancellor of the University of Melbourne. Ms Marles was also the first Victorian Commissioner for Equal Opportunity and a trailblazer in social welfare and public service.

The Woodward Medal, established by former University Chancellor Sir Edward Woodward and Lady Woodward, is awarded each year for research published within the preceding five years that has made a significant contribution to knowledge in a field of science and technology, or humanities and social sciences.

The Marles Medals for 2023 are awarded to:

Professor Felicity Baker, for the Marles HASS award, from the Faculty of Fine Arts and Music (FFAM) for her research that found that music interventions (especially choir singing) had significant clinically meaningful short-term and long-term effects on depression, neuropsychiatric symptoms, and quality of life of people living with dementia in residential aged care. Her research highlights the benefits of the arts for the wellbeing of Australians and is having an impact nationally and internationally including influencing policy at the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Associate Professor Brett Manley, for the Marles STEMM  award, from the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences (MDHS), for his research focused on avoiding potentially harmful mechanical ventilation in preterm infants with breathing problems by using simpler "non-invasive" techniques (without an endotracheal tube or mechanical ventilator) to support babies' breathing. His research on neonatal intubation has been translated into medical practice that saves infant lives in five countries.

The Woodward Medals for 2023 are awarded to:

Dr Jennifer Juno, for the Woodward STEM award, from the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences (MDHS), for her research program that seeks to understand the mechanisms by which T cells help drive long lasting protective immune responses to vaccination. Her research focused particularly on the role of CD4 T follicular helper cells and their ability to promote high quality antibody responses against globally important viral pathogens such as influenza, SARS-CoV-2, and HIV. Her timely collection and novel analysis of large-scale blood samples provided rapid insight into vaccine efficacy during a critical period of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Associate Professor David McInnis, for the Woodward HASS award, from the Faculty of Arts for his ground-breaking work in new ways of seeing Shakespeare and early modern drama. By analysing the fragmentary evidence of William Shakespeare’s lost plays he helps us to see the surviving body of early modern drama in new ways. He examined a range of works which would have been familiar to London theatre audiences in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries but which, for a variety of reasons, have not survived. Associate Professor McInnes firmly challenges the conventional notion that the plays of this period which are no longer extant must have been inferior to those still accessible. He demonstrates how an awareness of the breadth of what was available to Shakespeare’s audiences refreshes our understanding of Shakespeare’s own works.