Four of Australia’s brightest young researchers have been named recipients of the 2022 Paul Bourke Awards for Early Career Research by the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia.

Academy President Professor Richard Holden congratulated the winners—and all nominees—for their dedication to making a difference through their research.

‘The Academy is committed to supporting the next generation of social scientists and highlighting the contributions they make. These awards recognise the most outstanding Australian early career researchers in their fields,’ Professor Holden said.

‘The social sciences impact almost every aspect of society. It’s exciting to see the innovation and creative solutions these researchers are making to overcome some of the biggest challenges facing our world.

‘From understanding climate change adaptation to developing novel treatments for eating disorders, exploring how the Uluru Statement from the Heart can be implemented in Australia and discovering how mixed emotions affect our decision-making, these award winners demonstrate leadership and brilliance.

‘I congratulate the winners and thank them for their contributions to the social sciences.’


The 2022 recipients are:

  • Dr Harry Hobbs, (Law) from the University of Technology Sydney, whose work examines how Indigenous sovereignty can be better recognised by and accommodated in national and international legal systems.
  • Dr Felix Septianto, (Marketing) from The University of Queensland, whose work primarily investigates the influence of feelings and emotions on consumer decision-making across different domains including ethical, prosocial and sustainable behaviours.
  • Dr Gemma Sharp, (Health Sciences), from Monash University, whose work investigates the factors leading to body image and related mental health concerns (particularly eating disorders) and novel therapeutic interventions using digital technologies to address these concerns.
  • Dr Sophie Webber, (Geography), from The University of Sydney, whose work focuses on the political economies of climate change and international development assistance, principally in South-East Asia and the Pacific region.

The four award recipients will give public talks on their research in Social Sciences Week 2023 (4-10 September).

A short video featuring the impact of each winner’s research is available to share or embed from the Academy’s YouTube channel.

For more information on the Paul Bourke Awards and past recipients visit

History of the Paul Bourke Awards

The Paul Bourke Awards for Early Career Research are named in honour of the Academy’s past president Paul Francis Bourke (1938–1999) who was a product of the History school at the University of Melbourne and went on to become one of the first Australian historians to obtain American style doctoral training.

Whilst at Flinders University, he served as Professor of American Studies and also as Pro-Vice Chancellor. From Flinders University, he went on to become the Director of the RSSS at ANU and also served as the President of ASSA (1993-1997). Amongst scholars, the contribution Paul Bourke made to the field of performance measurement is considered to be invaluable.

Four Paul Bourke Award recipients are selected each year by members of the Academy’s Panel Committees. The awards are presented to social science researchers who, at the time of nomination, do not yet hold an Associate Professor or Professorial appointment and who are normally within five years of receiving their doctorate (with allowances for career interruptions).

The Awards comprise a Citation and Medallion presented to each recipient. With the agreement of the recipients’ home universities, a jointly sponsored lecture by each recipient is also arranged for delivery during the following year.

The citations for each winner follow.

About the 2022 Paul Bourke Award recipients:

Dr Harry Hobbs, University of Technology Sydney

Harry Hobbs is an experienced constitutional and human rights lawyer working at the forefront of academic research and legal and political debate on Treaty. Harry has an extensive publication record of unusual depth and significance. His five books and 41 articles published in leading international and domestic journals have already been cited 240 times.

Harry’s scholarship is also making a practical difference to Australia. His research is being used by government, Indigenous and other groups, helping to shape conversations and Treaty processes across the country.

Dr Felix Septianto, The University Queensland

Felix Septianto is a consumer behaviour scholar who studies the influence of feelings and emotions on judgement and decision-making. Notably, his works have provided new insights on the emotional underpinnings of charitable giving, sustainable branding, and corporate social responsibility.

He is highly prolific relative to career stage, having published 86 peer-reviewed journal articles and received five best paper awards. His research contribution has been recognised with multiple research awards, including an ARC DECRA fellowship and the ANZMAC Emerging Marketing Researcher of the Year Award.

Dr Gemma Sharp, Monash University

Dr Sharp is an early career researcher who is known for pioneering research in body image and digital mental health interventions. She has published more than 50 research outputs in high-quality journals and amassed more than $3 million in research funding. Her research excellence has been recognised with 48 awards including the US-based Association for Psychological Science Rising Star Award.

She has also been invited on 35 occasions, as a guest speaker, to present at prestigious national/international conferences. Her exemplary track record positions her as an emerging leader.

Dr Sophie Webber, University of Sydney
Sophie Webber is an economic geographer studying adaptation and urban resilience in climate change hotspots. Her interdisciplinary and impactful research demonstrates that market-based climate programs multiply vulnerabilities.

The significance of her research is demonstrated by disciplinary and philanthropic awards; speaking invitations; interdisciplinary and international collaborations; and editorial positions. Sophie’s research is marked by innovative translational methods: she has advised organisations about climate services, collaborated with artists, and produced radio shows.