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.

Nominations for the 2018 Prizes open on 21 February and close on 26 March.

For eligibility, selection criteria, and nomination guidelines, visit: www.business.gov.au/scienceprizes

Click here  to read about the 2017 recipients, who were announced at a black-tie dinner in October in the Great Hall of Parliament House, Canberra.

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

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

Read the Minister’s media release.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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’.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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)

 

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 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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