Dr Yaqoot Fatima, a Research Fellow and Life Course Centre Associate Investigator at the Institute for Social Science Research (ISSR) at The University of Queensland, has been honoured with a 2021 Queensland Young Tall Poppy Science Award.
The annual Queensland Young Tall Poppy Science Awards are hosted by the Australian Institute of Policy and Science (AIPS) in partnership with the Office of the Queensland Chief Scientist. The awards celebrate young researchers who demonstrate scientific excellence combined with a passion for science communication.
An epidemiologist and sleep scientist, Dr Fatima was among 12 Queensland scientists honoured at the 2021 awards ceremony in Brisbane on 21 July, where she delivered a one-minute pitch on her research and communication activities. Her research is focussed on improving sleep health and empowering people to practice better sleep habits in rural, remote, and Indigenous populations.
Dr Fatima said there had been a significant increase in the prevalence of poor sleep over the years. “Unfortunately, many sleep problems remain undiagnosed and untreated due to the lack of awareness and appropriate services, resulting in a range of physical and mental health problems,” she said. “Through sleep health improvement, we can bring positive changes in community health, wellbeing, and productivity and significantly reduce the future burden of chronic conditions and mental health issues.”
Despite the established success of sleep health programs in reducing the risk and severity of mental health issues, evidence-based interventions to improve the sleep health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are non-existent. Mainstream programs do not align with the needs and expectations of Indigenous peoples and therefore have limited uptake and effectiveness.
Dr Fatima’s research includes leading the co-design and delivery of a sleep health program for Indigenous adolescents and facilitating Indigenous youth workers’ training and upskilling to work as a sleep coach in the community. She is also establishing a sleep clinic in remote Queensland led by nurses and Aboriginal health workers, which will be the prototype for rolling out similar services in rural and remote Australia.
Dr Fatima was one of three 2021 Queensland Young Tall Poppy Science Award winners from The University of Queensland, who will all participate in activities to promote science among school students, teachers and the broader community.
Find out more on the 2021 Queensland Young Tall Poppy Science Awards here: https://www.chiefscientist.qld.gov.au/science-comms/programs-events/science-celebration