Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science

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Each year the Australian Government honours Australia’s best scientists, innovators, and science teachers through the Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science.

Prize recipients for 2017 were announced at a black-tie dinner on Wednesday 18 October 2017 in the Great Hall of Parliament House, Canberra.

Read all about the recipients at: science.gov.au/pmscienceprizes

You can follow the announcement at @inspiringaus and #PMPrize

For interviews contact Niall on niall@scienceinpublic.com.au or +61 417 131 977.

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

2017 Prime Minster’s Prizes for Science announced

The winners of the 2017 Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science are:

  • Jenny Graves (La Trobe University, Melbourne)—Prime Minister’s Prize for Science
  • Eric Reynolds (The University of Melbourne/Oral Health CRC)—Prime Minister’s Prize for Innovation
  • Jian Yang (The University of Queensland)—Frank Fenner Prize for Life Scientist of the Year
  • Dayong Jin (University of Technology Sydney)—Malcolm McIntosh Prize for Physical Scientist of the Year
  • Neil Bramsen (Mount Ousley Public School, Wollongong)—Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Primary Schools
  • Brett McKay (Kirrawee High School, Sydney)—Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Secondary Schools

Also available: photos and videos of the winners. And photos from the award presentation.  

Read the Minister’s media release.

The winners are available for interview from 7am (AEDT) on Thursday morning.

For interviews and further information contact:

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

Follow the announcement on  @inspiringaus and @scienceinpublic and #pmprize to follow the conversation.

From left to right: Eric Reynolds, Brett McKay, Dayong Jin, Minister Michaelia Cash, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Jenny Graves, Neil Bramsen and Jain Yang. Credit: Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science.

Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science – dinner photos

Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science – dinner photos

For hi-res versions please click on the photo and then right click to download the file.

2017 Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science recipients with the Minister and Prime Minister (L-R) Eric Reynolds, Brett McKay, Dayong Jin, Minister Michaelia Cash, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Jenny Graves, Neil Bramsen and Jain Yang. Credit: Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science

2017 Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science recipients with the Minister and Prime Minister (L-R) Eric Reynolds, Brett McKay, Dayong Jin, Minister Michaelia Cash, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Jenny Graves, Neil Bramsen and Jain Yang. Credit: Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science

Jenny Graves receives the Prime Minister’s Prize for Science from Minister Michealia Cash and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. Credit: Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science

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Minister’s Media Release: The 2017 Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science

18 October 2017

Joint media release with the Prime Minster, the Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP and Acting Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science and the Minister for Women, Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash

The Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science recognises the extraordinary contribution that Australia’s scientists and science teachers make to our nation.

These awards celebrate excellence and innovation and offer us an opportunity to bring the entire industry together to celebrate Australia’s world leading role.

For the first time Australia’s most prestigious award for science, the Prime Minister’s Prize for Science, was awarded to a woman, Professor Jenny Graves AO. Professor Graves has been recognised for her pioneering research into mammalian genome organisation and evolution which will enable us to better understand X and Y chromosomes, our immune system, and the human brain.

Professor Graves is a role model for all the young women we want to encourage to pursue education and careers in STEM.

Laureate Professor Eric Reynolds AO was awarded the Prime Minister’s Prize for Innovation for his work translating research on a protein in milk that strengthens and repairs teeth into new products that improve oral health. We congratulate all award winners on their hard work and dedication, and applaud the contribution they have made to innovation and industry in Australia.

The other Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science award winners announced this evening are:

  • Professor Jian Yang from The University of Queensland was awarded the $50,000 Frank Fenner Prize for Life Scientist of the Year for creating tools to unravel the complex heritability of height, intelligence, obesity and schizophrenia.
  • Professor Dayong Jin from the University of Technology Sydney was awarded the $50,000 Malcolm McIntosh Prize for Physical Scientist of the Year for creating new ways to visualise the processes of life and creating low cost portable technologies for disease detection.
  • Mr Brett McKay from Kirrawee High School in Sydney was awarded the $50,000 Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Secondary Schools for inspiring his students with physics and science.
  • Mr Neil Bramsen from Mount Ousley Public School in Wollongong was awarded the $50,000 Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Primary Schools for using science to enable learning across the curriculum.

Full citations, photos, videos and overlay are available online:www.science.gov.au/pmscienceprizes

Media contacts:
Prime Minister’s Press Office 02 6277 7744
Minister Cash’s office 02 6277 7320

2017 Prime Minister’s Prize for Science

What can kangaroos and platypus tell us about sex and humanity?

Jenny Graves (Credit: Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science/WildBear)

Distinguished Professor Jenny Graves AO FAA

Professor Jenny Graves AO has transformed our understanding of how humans and all vertebrate animals evolved and function. In the course of her work, she has kick-started genomic and epigenetic research in Australia, and predicted the disappearance of the male chromosome.

Australia’s pouched and egg-laying mammals are a fantastic source of genetic variation because they last shared a common ancestor with placental mammals so long ago. They are truly independent experiments in mammalian evolution.

Jenny Graves’ life’s work has used marsupials and monotremes, birds and lizards, to understand the complexity of the human genome and to reveal new human genes.

She has transformed our understanding of how sex chromosomes work and how they evolved, predicting the decline of the Y chromosome.

Her research has contributed to a deeper understanding of the immune system; prion diseases, blood proteins, and helped understand the tumour driving the Tasmanian devil to extinction.

In a collaboration between La Trobe University and The University of Canberra, she’s studying how bearded dragons change sex in response to temperature, a critical issue as the climate warms.

For her pioneering investigations of the genetics of sex, Professor Jenny Graves AO receives the $250,000 Prime Minister’s Prize for Science.

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2017 Prime Minister’s Prize for Innovation

How Australian dairy milk is saving the world’s teeth

Eric Reynolds (Credit: Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science/WildBear)

Laureate Professor Eric Reynolds AO FICD FTSE FRACDS

Thirty years ago, a young dental researcher discovered a protein in dairy milk that repairs and strengthens teeth. Today, that protein, sold as Recaldent, is used by millions of people every day as they chew gum and visit the dentist.

The inventor, Eric Reynolds, now leads the University of Melbourne’s dental school and travels the world, working with Australian and global businesses to create new products to further improve oral health.

Products using Recaldent have generated sales of over $2 billion to-date, and it has been estimated they’ve saved over $12 billion in dental treatment costs worldwide.

But he’s not finished on his mission to save the world’s teeth. His team have also developed a test and vaccine for severe gum disease which are now being commercialised by CSL and their partners.

“Oral diseases are the most prevalent diseases of humankind,” Eric says. One in four Australians have cavities and/or gum disease and the cost of treatment in Australia alone is over $8 billion.

For inventing and commercialising Recaldent, Professor Eric Reynolds receives the $250,000 Prime Minister’s Prize for Innovation.

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2017 Frank Fenner Prize for Life Scientist of the Year

Unravelling the complexity of height, intelligence, obesity and schizophrenia

Jian Yang (Credit: Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science/WildBear)

Professor Jian Yang

The publication of the human genome near fifteen years ago revealed that the human genome is complicated. Jian Yang has created pioneering new techniques to unravel that complexity and solve the ‘missing heritability paradox’.

His work will enable researchers to determine the genetic factors behind complex diseases, opening the way to new drugs and better genomic risk prediction.

Some aspects of the human genome are ‘simple’ – red hair, Huntington’s disease, and haemophilia for example are determined by changes on one or a few  genes. Most inherited traits are far more complex and current gene analysis tools can only track down a small fraction of the DNA variants responsible for many inherited conditions.

Jian Yang developed a new statistical method to analyse genomic variation and showed that genetic variation in obesity, cognitive ability, and schizophrenia are due to the contribution of a large number of genetic variants across the genome.

So, to understand the heritability of complex traits and diseases we will have to analyse the genomes of hundreds of thousands, even millions of people. Jian is now creating the tools to enable these large analyses. Thousands of geneticists around the world are already using his software.

Professor Jian Yang receives the $50,000 Frank Fenner Prize for Life Scientist of the Year for creating ways to understand inherited traits and the human genome.

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2017 Malcolm McIntosh Prize for Physical Scientist of the Year

Watching the processes of life

Dayong Jin (Credit: Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science/WildBear)

Professor Dayong Jin

We need new ways to detect the early stages of disease and cancer. Dayong Jin believes the key is for physicists, biologists, engineers and doctors to work together. And that’s what he’s doing with his team at the University of Technology, Sydney

He has created new kinds of microscopes that allow us to watch molecules at work inside living cells. Using quantum dots, lasers, nanocrystals and other technologies, these microscopes will allow us to watch the inner workings of our immune system, see how bacteria become resistant to antibiotics, and to find one cancer cell amongst millions of healthy cells. He’s working with Olympus to commercialise his inventions.

But his personal vision goes much further.

He believes that his technologies will enable portable, easy to use devices to detect the first signs of disease, evidence of drugs, or of toxins in food and the environment. With the support of the Australian Research Council he’s working to give Australian companies the opportunity to create these new devices.

For creating new technologies to image the processes of life, Professor Dayong Jin receives the $50,000 Malcolm McIntosh Prize for Physical Scientist of the Year.

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2017 Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Primary Schools

The outdoor classroom

Neil Bramsen (Credit: Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science/WildBear)

Mr Neil Bramsen

In the outdoor classroom at Mount Ousley Public School in Wollongong, primary students are watching and recording bird sightings. They’re down at the beach assessing the level of marine debris. They’re reading, or just thinking, in the butterfly garden.

“The outdoor classroom is probably my favourite place to be,” says Neil Bramsen, Mount Ousley’s assistant principal. And it extends far beyond the school. Students have talked with astronauts on the International Space Station and made global connections through Skype with schools in Africa and America.

Neil sees science as an enabler of learning across the curriculum. “It’s a way of hooking kids into learning. We want kids to enjoy school. It’s got to be a balance of fun and learning.”

Mr Neil Bramsen receives the Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Primary Schools for his innovative partnerships with scientists, the community and other schools to foster students’ enthusiasm, knowledge and skills in science.

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2017 Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Secondary Schools

Bringing science alive

Brett McKay (Credit: Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science/WildBear)

Mr Brett McKay

Kirrawee High School has a rich history in sport and music. Its alumni include six Olympic athletes and several leading musicians. Today, thanks to the work of Brett McKay over the past twenty years, Kirrawee has become a force in science education as well.

Brett McKay is Head Teacher Science, at Kirrawee. As a physics and science teacher he has overseen a four-fold increase in students taking physics. Many have gone on to careers in science around the world. He has inspired young women to consider science careers. A recent year 11 student recently said, “Thanks to Mr McKay… I found my love and passion for science and a highly possible career path for me.”

Importantly he’s brought science to life for students not considering science as a career. He recognises that we all need a grounding in science to make informed decisions in the modern world.

And he’s shared his knowledge of science teaching with his peers through the Science Teachers Association of NSW and with primary schools in his area. He is seen as an encouraging, resourceful, and engaging teacher who brings science alive for students.

Mr Brett McKay receives the Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Secondary Schools for his achievements in inspiring his students to love science and to use it in their daily lives.

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Photos: 2017 Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science

Photos

For hi-res versions please click on the photo and then right click to download the file.

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Videos: 2017 Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science

Final broadcast quality videos with and without music are now available for download via:

http://files.wildbear.tv/

Username: PMSCIENCE17

Password: PMSCIENCE17

Please note that both the username and password are case sensitive.

Once logged in you will be able to download either the final master videos or the master videos with no music.

YouTube links for embedding in websites and sharing via social media available below.  [click to continue…]

Make sure great Australian science, innovation and teaching is recognised

PMs letterhead bannerNominate for the Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science

Each year the Australian Government honours Australia’s best scientists, innovators, and science teachers through the Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science.

But we need your help to find the humble science heroes, promising early-career researchers, media-shy innovators, and modest teachers who deserve to have their work recognised on a national stage. [click to continue…]

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…]