Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science

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The 2015 Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science winners were awarded in the Great Hall of Parliament House on Wednesday 21 October.

Information on the winners, including profiles, photos and videos, is available here.

To arrange an interview contact Niall Byrne on (03) 9398 1416, 0417 131 977 or niall@scienceinpublic.com.au

Six prizes were awarded recognising the contributions that our scientists and science teachers are making to Australia’s current and future scientific capabilities.

This year the contribution of science to the economy was explicitly recognised with a new prize – The Prime Minister’s Prize for Innovation.

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

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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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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L-R: Graham Farquhar, Ken Silburn, Chief Scientist Ian Chubb, Rebecca Johnson, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Minister Christopher Pyne, Jane Elith, Graeme Jameson, Cyrille Boyer (Photo credit: Prime Minister's Prizes for Science)

L-R: Graham Farquhar, Ken Silburn, Chief Scientist Ian Chubb, Rebecca Johnson, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Minister Christopher Pyne, Jane Elith, Graeme Jameson, Cyrille Boyer (Photo credit: Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science)

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RIAus has made this video freely available for news media to use, with the proviso that it is made freely available to the public, and not placed behind paywalls.

Watch below or download here.

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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. Read the full article →

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How trillions of bubbles earned billions of dollars for Australia

Graeme Jameson_headshot

Graeme Jameson (Photo credit: Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science/WildBear)

Graeme Jameson’s technologies use trillions of bubbles to add billions of dollars to the value of Australia’s mineral and energy industries.

He created the Jameson Cell in the 1980s to concentrate base metals such as copper, lead, and zinc.

And it’s all done with bubbles. Graeme took flotation, a century old technology developed in Broken Hill, and transformed it. A turbulent cloud of minute bubbles are pushed through a slurry of ground-up ore where they pick up mineral particles and carry them to the surface.

The technology found many more applications, most profitably in the Australian coal industry, where the Jameson Cell has retrieved fine export coal particles worth more than $36 billion.

Now, Graeme Jameson is working on a newer version of his technology. The Novacell can concentrate larger ore particles, and save up to 15 per cent of the total energy expended in extraction and processing in mining—reducing greenhouse gas emissions as well. Read the full article →

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Making polymers with light

Cyrille Boyer_headshot

Cyrille Boyer (Photo credit: Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science/WildBear)

Cyrille Boyer uses light to make new and complex polymers.

It’s the latest in a series of techniques that have enabled him to create materials which are being applied in areas as widespread as non-stick coatings, anti-fouling technology, precision drug delivery, medical diagnosis and imaging.

His ideas are built on the revolutionary RAFT techniques for which David Solomon and Ezio Rizzardo received the 2011 Prime Minister’s Prize for Science. His latest technology uses light and chlorophyll to catalyse the creation of polymers using up to ten building blocks.

He’s using it to create nanoparticles that can carry drugs into the human body to break down bacterial biofilms associated with implants, cystic fibrosis, and sticky ear.

His patented technologies will herald a new era of smart polymers and eventually he believes he will be able to reconstruct complex polymers such as proteins and even DNA. Read the full article →

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