Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science

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Meet the 2016 Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science recipients. Full profiles, photos and HD videos are available below.

The awards were announced at 5 pm Wednesday 19 October, and were formally awarded at a dinner with the Prime Minister and the Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science in the Great Hall of Parliament House.

Watch RiAus, Australia’s Science Channel’s highlights of the night.

To organise an interview with the winners, contact Niall on 0417 131 977, (03) 9398 1416 or niall@scienceinpublic.com.au.

Check out the tweets from @inspiringaus, @ScienceGovAu and @scienceinpublic, using the hashtag is #PMPrize.

In 2016, seven prizes were awarded recognising the contributions that our scientists, science teachers and innovators are making to Australia’s current and future scientific capabilities.

Media contacts:

Read more about the history of the Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science and all past recipients at the Australian Government’s Science website.

Winners in brief – 2016 Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science

The 2016 Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science recipients are:

From Sydney:

  • Defending Australia’s snakes and lizards: Prime Minister’s Prize for Science Professor Richard Shine (The University of Sydney)
  • Making stock markets fair and efficient: Prime Minister’s Prize for Innovation Professor Michael Aitken (Capital Markets CRC)
  • Re-engineering nature to fight for global health: Malcolm McIntosh Prize for Physical Scientist of the Year Professor Richard Payne (The University of Sydney)
  • Turning the next generation of primary teachers on to science: Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Primary Schools Mr Gary Tilley (Seaforth Public School).

From Adelaide:

  • Creating new manufacturing jobs by replacing glass and metal with plastic: Prize for New Innovators Dr Colin Hall (University of South Australia)

From Brisbane:

  • Conservation that works for government, ecosystems and people: Frank Fenner Prize for Life Scientist of the Year Associate Professor Kerrie Wilson (University of Queensland)

From Perth:

  • Turning students into scientists, setting them up for jobs in mining, conservation, tourism and more: Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Secondary Schools Ms Suzy Urbaniak (Kent Street Senior High School)

 

PM’s Prizes – Prime Minister Turnbull’s speech

Prime Minister Turnbull’s Speech – 2016 Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science

From: www.pm.gov.au/media/2016-10-19/speech-2016-prime-ministers-prizes-science-awards-presentation-dinner

It’s great to be here among friends; to celebrate the outstanding achievements in science, from teachers that have inspired a generation of young scientists, to world-class researchers that are pushing the very frontier of human knowledge.

You have all helped Australia become a leading science nation and my Government’s commitment to science, our investment in the skills of our children and grandchildren and in Australia’s critical research infrastructure will help to attract and retain some of the world’s great talent.

One of the most remarkable things about tonight’s event is the calibre of the audience; it’s wonderful to share this evening with some of Australia’s brightest minds. We’d be hard pressed to find a greater collection of scientists, academics and teachers – not just in Australia but anywhere in the world.

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PM’s Prizes – Minister Greg Hunt’s speech

Minister Hunt’s Speech – 2016 Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, fellow parliamentarians, members of the science and research communities, and to our teachers and our students.

It’s my great pleasure to join you tonight in recognising the achievements of the very best of Australian scientists, innovators and science educators.

I couldn’t agree more with the Prime Minister about the vital role of science in Australia and the Government’s unwavering commitment to science.

Great scientific research and learning is happening in Australia every day: in our universities, in our research institutions and in our schools.

But unlike some other activities, this work and the brains behind it do not often make front-page headlines.

Yet science matters because of the problems it solves and the quality of life it provides.

Science matters because of the crucial role it plays as a driver of our economy and a creator of wealth.

It is the fundamental source of the innovation that drives 60 per cent of our productivity.

And science matters because it enriches our lives with new discoveries and sources of wonder.

Our scientists should be given the recognition they deserve. That is why we are here tonight.  [click to continue…]

PM’s Prizes – press release from Prime Minister Turnbull

2016 Prime Minister’s Prizes reward innovation and science

19 October 2016 – www.pm.gov.au/media/2016-10-19/2016-prime-ministers-prizes-reward-innovation-and-science

Tonight we recognise some of Australia’s greatest scientists, innovators and teachers for outstanding achievements in their fields.

The $250,000 Prime Minister’s Prize for Science has been awarded to evolutionary biologist Professor Richard Shine of the University of Sydney in recognition of his work to ensure Northern Australia’s peak predators – snakes and lizards – are more likely to survive the cane-toad invasion.

Professor Shine has created traps for cane toads, taught quolls and goannas to avoid toads, and now plans to release small cane toads ahead of their potential arrival in new areas so predators survive their first meal of cane toad but have an aversion to eating them again. [click to continue…]

Defending Australia’s snakes and lizards

Richard Shine: Prime Minister’s Prize for Science

Rick Shine (Photo credit: Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science/WildBear)

Rick Shine (Photo credit: Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science/WildBear)

Northern Australia’s peak predators—snakes and lizards—are more likely to survive the cane-toad invasion thanks to the work of Professor Richard Shine.

Using behavioural conditioning, Rick and his team have successfully protected these native predators against toad invasion in WA.

He has created traps for cane toads, taught quolls and goannas that toads are ‘bad,’ and now plans to release small cane toads ahead of the invasion front, a counterintuitive ‘genetic backburn’ based on ‘old school’ ideas that his hero Charles Darwin would have recognised.

Following in the footsteps of Darwin, Rick loves lizards and snakes.

“Some people love model trains, some people love Picasso; for me, it’s snakes.”

For his work using evolutionary principles to address conservation challenges, Professor Richard Shine from The University of Sydney has been awarded the 2016 Prime Minister’s Prize for Science.  [click to continue…]

Fairness underpins efficiency: the profitable innovations saving Australia billions

Michael Aitken: Prime Minister’s Prize for Innovation

Michael Aitken (Photo credit: Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science/WildBear)

Michael Aitken (Photo credit: Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science/WildBear)

Global stock markets are fairer and more efficient thanks to the work of Professor Michael Aitken. Now he’s applying his information technology and markets know-how to improve health, mortgage, and other markets. He says there are billions of dollars of potential savings in health expenditure in Australia alone, that can go hand in glove with significant improvements in consumers’ health.

Michael and his team created a service that captures two million trades per second, enabling rapid analysis of markets.

Then he created the SMARTS system to detect fraud. Bought by Nasdaq Inc., it now watches over most of the world’s stock markets.

One of the companies he established to commercialise his innovations was sold for $100 million and the proceeds are supporting a new generation of researchers in the Capital Markets Cooperative Research Centre.

Now his team of IT researchers are taking on health and other markets with a spin-off company and large-scale R&D program that are identifying large-scale inefficiencies and fraud in Australia’s health markets.

A powerful advocate of scientific and technological innovation, Professor Michael Aitken from the Capital Markets Cooperative Research Centre has been awarded the 2016 Prime Minister’s Prize for Innovation for creating and commercialising tools that are making markets fair and efficient.  [click to continue…]

Creating new manufacturing jobs by replacing glass and metal with plastic

Colin Hall: Prize for New Innovators

Colin Hall (Photo credit: Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science/WildBear)

Colin Hall (Photo credit: Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science/WildBear)

Dr Colin Hall and his colleagues have created a new manufacturing process that will allow manufacturers to replace components made from traditional materials like glass, in cars, aircraft, spacecraft, and even whitegoods—making them lighter and more efficient.

Their first commercial success is a plastic car wing-mirror. The Ford Motor Company has already purchased more than 1.6 million mirror assemblies for use on their F-Series trucks. The mirrors are made in Adelaide by SMR Automotive and have earned $160 million in exports to date. Other manufacturers are assessing the technology. And it all started with spectacles.

Colin used his experience in the spectacle industry to solve a problem that was holding back the University of South Australia team’s development of their new technology. He developed the magic combination of five layers of materials that will bind to plastic to create a car mirror that performs as well as glass and metal, for a fraction of the weight.

For his contribution to creating a new manufacturing technology, Dr Colin Hall from the University of South Australia receives the inaugural Prize for New Innovators.  [click to continue…]

Re-engineering nature to fight for global health

Richard Payne: Malcolm McIntosh Prize for Physical Scientist of the Year

Richard Payne (Photo credit: Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science/WildBear)

Richard Payne (Photo credit: Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science/WildBear)

Richard Payne makes peptides and proteins. He sees an interesting peptide or protein in nature, say in a blood-sucking tick. Then he uses chemistry to recreate and re-engineer the molecule to create powerful new drugs, such as anti-clotting agents needed to treat stroke.

His team is developing new drugs for the global challenges in health including tuberculosis (TB), malaria, and antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections. They’re even developing synthetic cancer vaccines. His underlying technologies are being picked up by researchers and pharmaceutical companies around the world and are the subject of four patent applications.

For his revolutionary drug development technologies, Professor Richard Payne from The University of Sydney has been awarded the 2016 Malcolm McIntosh Prize for Physical Scientist of the Year.  [click to continue…]

Conservation that works for governments, ecosystems, and people

Kerrie Wilson: Frank Fenner Prize for Life Scientist of the Year

Kerrie Wilson (Photo credit: Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science/WildBear)

Kerrie Wilson (Photo credit: Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science/WildBear)

What is the value of the services that ecosystems provide—services such as clean air, water, food, and tourism? And what are the most effective ways to protect ecosystems? Where will governments get the best return on their investment in the environment? These questions are central to the work of Associate Professor Kerrie Wilson.

Kerrie can put a value on clean air, water, food, tourism, and the other benefits that forests, rivers, oceans and other ecosystems provide. And she can calculate the most effective way to protect and restore these ecosystems. Around the world she is helping governments to make smart investments in conservation.

For example, in Borneo she and her colleagues have shown how the three nations that share the island could retain half the land as forest, provide adequate habitat for the orangutan and Bornean elephant, and achieve an opportunity cost saving of over $50 billion.

In Chile, they are helping to plan national park extensions that will bring recreation and access to nature to many more Chileans, while also enhancing the conservation of native plants and animals.

On the Gold Coast, they are helping to ensure that a multi-million-dollar local government investment in rehabilitation of degraded farmland is spent wisely—in the areas where it will have the biggest impact for the natural ecosystem and local communities.

For optimising the global allocation of scarce conservation resources Associate Professor Kerrie Wilson receives the 2016 Frank Fenner Prize for Life Scientist of the Year.  [click to continue…]

Turning students into scientists

Suzy Urbaniak: Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Secondary Schools

Suzy Urbaniak (Photo credit: Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science/WildBear)

Suzy Urbaniak (Photo credit: Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science/WildBear)

Geoscientist Suzy Urbaniak combined her two loves—science and education—by becoming a science teacher 30 years after finishing high school. But she couldn’t believe it when she saw how little the teaching styles had changed over the years.

“I decided then that I wanted to make a difference. I wanted to turn the classroom into a room full of young scientists, rather than students learning from textbooks,” Suzy says.

Starting out as a geoscientist, Suzy found that while she knew all the theory from school and university, she didn’t have any hands-on experience and didn’t feel as though she knew what she was doing.

She realised there needed to be a stronger connection between the classroom and what was happening in the real world, out in the field, and took this philosophy into her teaching career at Kent Street Senior High School.

“The science in my classroom is all about inquiry and investigation, giving the students the freedom to develop their own investigations and find their own solutions. I don’t believe you can really teach science from worksheets and text books.”

For her contributions to science teaching, and inspiring our next generation of scientists, Suzy Urbaniak has been awarded the 2016 Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Secondary Schools.  [click to continue…]

Creating better science teachers

Gary Tilley: Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Primary Schools

Gary Tilley (Photo credit: Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science/WildBear)

Gary Tilley (Photo credit: Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science/WildBear)

Gary Tilley is mentoring the next generation of science and maths teachers to improve the way these subjects are taught in the classroom.

“In over 30 years of teaching, I’ve never seen a primary school student who isn’t curious and doesn’t want to be engaged in science. Once they’re switched onto science, it helps their literacy and numeracy skills, and their investigative skills. Science is the key to the whole thing,” Gary says.

Gary recognised a long time ago that the way science was taught in primary schools needed to change. So he has taken it upon himself to mentor the younger teachers at his school, and helps train science and maths student teachers at Macquarie University through their Opening Real Science program.

At Seaforth Public School, he and his students have painted almost every wall in their school with murals of dinosaurs and marine reptiles, and created models of stars and planets, to encourage excitement and a love for science. The school is now known by local parents as the ‘Seaforth Natural History Museum’.

“Communicating science, getting children inspired with science, engaging the community and scientists themselves with science to make it a better place for the kids—that’s my passion,” Gary says.

For his contributions to science teaching, and mentoring the next generation of science teachers, Gary Tilley has been awarded the 2016 Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Primary Schools.  [click to continue…]

Media Kit

  • Reptile guru Rick Shine wants to release small cane toads to protect native snakes, lizards and quolls (Sydney)
  • Michael Aitkin is making stock markets fair and efficient; can he do the same for the health system? (Sydney)
  • Colin Hall’s plastic mirrors are the beginning of a new manufacturing technology, and jobs (Adelaide)
  • Kerrie Wilson is providing the evidence-base for good conservation decisions by putting a value on clean air, water, food, tourism and the other benefits that forests, rivers, oceans provide (Brisbane)
  • Richard Payne is re-engineering peptides from ticks, bacteria, and leeches to create new drugs for stroke, TB, and malaria (Sydney)
  • Suzy Urbaniak’s #therealclassroom in Perth’s Kent Street school is setting up students for jobs in mining, conservation, tourism and more
  • Gary Tilley is turning the next generation of primary teachers on to science at Seaforth school and Macquarie Uni in Sydney

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2016 PM’s Science Prizes – video links

Links to YouTube versions which you can embed in websites, social media, etc. are now available below. 

MP4 versions with and without music are available here (login username: science, password: 2016)

Rick Shine – Prime Minister’s Prize for Science: YouTube video

Michael Aitken – Prime Minister’s Prize for Innovation: YouTube video

Colin Hall – Prize for New Innovators: YouTube video

Richard Payne – Malcolm McIntosh Prize for Life Scientist of the Year: YouTube video

Kerrie Wilson – Frank Fenner Prize for Life Scientist of the Year: YouTube video

Suzy Urbaniak – Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Secondary Schools: YouTube video

Gary Tilley – Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Primary Schools: YouTube video

2016 PM’s Science Prizes – high res photos

Click on image to access/download high res version 

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Media overview: 2015 Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science

Announced Wednesday 21 October 2015

This post includes: media call information, summary of recipients and links to the full profiles, photos and videos.

Prizes were announced at a press call: 12.30 pm Wednesday 21 October 2015, Great Hall, Parliament House, Canberra with the winners, and the Chief Scientist.

Dinner: from 7 pm 21 October, Great Hall Parliament House

The winners are available for interview until 6pm on Wednesday, then from 7am (AEDT) on Thursday morning.

The winners are:

  • Graham Farquhar (ANU, Canberra)—Prime Minister’s Prize for Science
  • Graeme Jameson (University of Newcastle)—Prime Minister’s Prize for Innovation
  • Cyrille Boyer (UNSW)—Malcolm McIntosh Prize for Physical Scientist of the Year
  • Jane Elith (University of Melbourne)—Frank Fenner Prize for Life Scientist of the Year
  • Ken Silburn (Casula High School)—Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Secondary Schools
  • Rebecca Johnson (Windaroo State School)—Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Primary Schools

For interviews and further information contact Niall Byrne, niall@scienceinpublic.com.au, 0417-131-977.

Please use the official website link in reporting: http://science.gov.au/pmscienceprizes

Follow @inspiringaus and @scienceinpublic for live tweeting and pictures and use #pmprize to follow the conversation.

Read on for more about the 2015 winners.

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Address to Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science Dinner

22 October 2015
Parliament House, Canberra
Prime Minister
E&OE

Address to Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science Dinner | Prime Minister of Australia

Well, thank you very much, Christopher, and can I say right at the outset, before I embark on the extravagant praise that is due to Ian Chubb, can I second the remarks that Christopher made about his predecessor in the industry and science portfolio, Ian Macfarlane.

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2015 Prime Minister’s Prize for Science – Graham Farquhar

Graham Farquhar (Photo credit: WildBear)

Graham Farquhar (Photo credit: Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science/WildBear)

Feeding the world, and asking where the wind went

Life on land depends on plants. Every plant balances opening its pores to let in carbon dioxide for photosynthesis; and closing its pores to retain water.

Graham Farquhar’s work has transformed our understanding of the world’s most important biological reaction: photosynthesis.

His models of plant biophysics have been used to understand cells, whole plants, whole forests, and to create new water-efficient wheat varieties. His latest project will determine which trees will grow faster in a high carbon dioxide world.

His work has also revealed a global climate mystery. Evaporation rates and wind speeds are slowing around the world, contrary to the predictions of most climate models. Life under climate change may be wetter than we expected. [click to continue…]