30 September 2021

Darren Lau

Darren Lau receiving the Sir Eric Neal Award at the Merdeka Gala Dinner and Awards Presentation

The honour for South Australia’s most outstanding final year Malaysian student, the prestigious Sir Eric Neal Award, has been awarded to University of South Australia student Darren Lau.

Darren, who is currently studying a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Medical Science, was presented with the award, named after the former Governor of South Australia, at the recent Merdeka Awards. The ceremony, coordinated by the Australia-Malaysia Business Council - South Australia Chapter, saw 300 guests come together at the Adelaide Convention Centre, to celebrate the achievements of Malaysian students.

Darren’s strong academic successes stood out in a highly competitive field of students with a University of South Australia Medal for being in top 0.5% of graduates as well as being ranked first in his Honours degree. Although humbled to receive the award, Darren was grateful for the acknowledgement and inspired to give back to the city and state that has become his second home.

“I definitely did not expect to receive the award as all applicants were outstanding. It is such an honour to be recognised, and it only motivates me more to strive for excellence and contribute to the community,” Darren says.

Originally from Penang, Darren has been living and studying in Adelaide for a number of years, having also completed a Bachelor of Nutrition and Food Sciences and Bachelor of Biomedical Research (Honours) at the University of South Australia.

“When I was looking at options to further my studies overseas, Adelaide caught my attention. Attaining a world-class education in one of the most liveable cities in the world! I never regretted my decision to call South Australia my second home and I hope my work-life experience here can inspire other students,” he says.  

President of the Australia-Malaysia Business Council - South Australia Chapter, John Kweh, says that while applicants are assessed on their academic achievements, it is also their extracurricular activities and efforts in promoting the relationship between Malaysia and South Australia that are highly valued by the panel of independent judges.

“Our winners, through their achievements, demonstrate suitable personal qualities and attributes that will enable them to act as South Australian ambassadors,” Mr Kweh says.

It is exactly this type of community spirit that Darren has embraced during his studies and time in Adelaide. He has spent time volunteering for local organisations including a collaboration with SA Health and Taste Studios to assist in the development of healthy ready-to-eat meals for children to tackle childhood obesity in South Australia. He has continued to follow his passion for healthy outcomes for children through his current PhD studies where he is looking to identify new therapeutic targets in childhood brain cancers.

Darren has valued the opportunity to gain industry experience throughout his degrees while also participating in and benefitting from the University’s global collaborations.

“The University’s strength in science-related research and emphasis on hands-on experience has contributed significantly to my professional and personal development.”




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