10 August 2011

International biocomms honour for RMIT academic

Associate Professor Gale Spring

Associate Professor Gale Spring (centre) receives the Louis Schmidt Award.

Revolver firing a bullet.

A photograph by Associate Professor Spring of a Smith and Wesson .38 revolver firing a bullet.

Ornate cowfish

An image of an ornate cowfish by Emile Askey, one of Associate Professor Spring’s scientific photography students at RMIT.

RMIT University’s Associate Professor Gale Spring has been selected for the Louis Schmidt Laureate, the highest honour bestowed by the world’s leading professional association for visual communicators in the life sciences.

A renowned scientific photographer, Associate Professor Spring was inducted as a Louis Schmidt Laureate by the BioCommunications Association (BCA) during a special ceremony at the BioImages Opening and Awards presentation in Phoenix, Arizona.

During the ceremony he was presented with a BCA medal, while last year’s Laureate, Andrew Davidhazy, passed on the Gold Medal Cane, a traditional symbol in medicine of high achievement and honor.

Named for BCA’s founder and second president, the Louis Schmidt Award is the top honour presented by the BCA. A committee of the nine most recent Schmidt Laureates makes the selection each year.

“Gale Spring has made significant contributions to our field on an international scale and has done so with style, grace, and a work ethic that can be admired by all,” BCA’s board of governors said.

Associate Professor Spring said he was honoured to have been chosen for the prestigious award.

“Receiving this kind of recognition from men and women whose work I’ve long admired is humbling,” he said.

“High-quality scientific photography is important not just for communicating science to the broader public but also for supporting a range of endeavours in research and education.

“The old adage remains true – one powerful image can communicate the value of a scientific development or the complex beauty of our natural world in a way that thousands of words could only begin to capture.”

Associate Professor Spring teaches the Biomedical and Forensic Photography course in the School of Applied Sciences, as well as leading an annual field trip to Lizard Island in the Great Barrier Reef where students investigate reef and rainforest ecology.

After starting his professional career in 1976 as director of photographic services in the Department of Pathology at The University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, Associate Professor Spring joined RMIT in 1988.

He was program leader of applied science photography at RMIT until 2008, before becoming Associate Dean, Teaching and Learning, in the School of Applied Sciences.

Associate Professor Spring’s commitment and dedication to biomedical imaging continued in Australia through the Australian Institute of Medical and Biological Illustration (AIMBI) and the Institute of Photographic Technology (IPT).

He has also played a crucial leadership role in promoting scientific photography through The Australian Photography Council (now the Photo Imaging Education Association) and remains instrumental in developing conferences to bring together the three organisations.

A Fellow of the BCA, Associate Professor regularly presents and publishes on scientific photography and is frequently engaged by legal counsel as an expert in forensic photography, giving evidence in a number of high-profile Australian court cases including the Peter Falconio and Jaidyn Leskie murder trials.

The BioCommunications Association is an international professional association of photographers, designers, illustrators, and videographers working in visual communications for the life sciences.

Founded in 1931, the BCA is the oldest organisation devoted to the development of visual communication material in the biological sciences.

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