Melbourne-based researcher Michaela Sheahan has been awarded the 2014 National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) International Women’s Day Scholarship.

Valued at $14,000, the scholarship was presented during the NAWIC’s International Women’s Day cocktail function in Sydney last night (6 March).

It provides funding for a research paper that challenges existing industry thinking and outlines practical recommendations to enhance the Australian property and construction industry.

Sheahan’s research, titled ‘Care, Connectivity, Collaboration: Urban design for interaction in hospital precincts – an international perspective’, intends to examine how leading hospital precincts in the world are designing connections within and between institutions to enable collaboration, innovation and activity.

“The judges agreed that the research has the potential to identify improvements in the way hospital precincts are designed and constructed in Australia,” says judge and Corporate Culture’s managing director, Richard Munao.

With qualifications in interior and urban design, Sheahan is a researcher in HASSELL’s Knowledge and Sustainability Unit in Melbourne, where she examines sector-specific themes for internal and external publication.

“I am very fortunate to be one of the few researchers working within a design firm in Australia,” says Sheahan, who is excited by the opportunity to extend her research skills.

“Research in design is largely confined to academia, so this scholarship provides me with an opportunity to demonstrate to a wide audience the value of research in practice and evidence-based design.”

In previous years, the NAWIC scholarship was open only to women in the NSW construction industry. However in 2013, design furniture, lighting and accessory company Corporate Culture committed to fund a national scholarship for three years from 2014.

This year’s judges include Richard Munao, NAWIC’s national vice president Gesa Ruge, Rana Abboud of Architectus, and Ruth Medd, executive chair of Women on Boards.