Bubbles, the world’s most important reaction and more… this year’s Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science winners

Bulletins, Science stakeholder bulletins

Tonight in the Great Hall of Parliament House, six of Australia’s best scientists and science teachers will receive the 2015 Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science.

They are:

  • Feeding the world, and asking where the wind went: Graham Farquhar (Australian National University)—Prime Minister’s Prize for Science.
  • How trillions of bubbles earned billions for Australia: Graeme Jameson (University of Newcastle)—Prime Minister’s Prize for Innovation.
  • Making polymers with light: Cyrille Boyer (University of New South Wales)—Malcolm McIntosh Prize for Physical Scientist of the Year.
  • Where are the plants and animals we want to conserve, and the invaders we want to control?: Jane Elith (University of Melbourne)—Frank Fenner Prize for Life Scientist of the Year.
  • Bringing students to science and space: Ken Silburn (Casula High School)—Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Secondary Schools.
  • Improved primary science teaching at no extra cost: Rebecca Johnson (Windaroo State School)— Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Primary Schools.

We’ll tweet photos and comments from the dinner this evening from @inspiringaus and @scienceinpublic.

2015 Prime Minister’s Prize winners with Chief Scientist Professor Ian Chubb (far left). L-R Ken Silburn, Rebecca Johnson, Cyrille Boyer, Jane Elith, Graham Farqhuar and Graeme Jameson

Brief citations below. For full citations, photos and videos go to www.scienceinpublic.com.au
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Bubbles, the world’s most important reaction and more…this year’s Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science winners

Tonight Prime Minister Turnbull presents his first Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science, at the prize dinner in the Great Hall of Parliament House.

Here are the winners:

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.
Distinguished Professor Graham Farquhar from the Australian National University received the $250 000 Prime Minister’s Prize for Science.
Graeme Jameson_headshotGraeme Jameson’s technologies use trillions of bubbles to add nearly $100 billion 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. 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.
Laureate Professor Graeme Jameson from the University of Newcastle received the $250 000 Prime Minister’s Prize for Innovation.

Jane Elith_headshotJane Elith is one of the most influential environmental scientists in the world, though she rarely ventures into the field.

She develops and assesses species distribution models, which are used by governments, land and catchment managers, and conservationists around the world—in short, for applying the lessons of ecology.

In Australia for example her models can help farmers restore damaged soils, map the spread of cane toads, and compare the implications of development options in the Tiwi Islands for threatened plants and animals that have largely disappeared from the mainland.

Dr Jane Elith from the University of Melbourne received the $50 000 Frank Fenner Prize for Life Scientist of the Year.

Cyrille Boyer_headshotCyrille Boyer uses light to make new and complex polymers.

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.

Associate Professor Cyrille Boyer from the University of NSW received the $50 000 Malcolm McIntosh Prize for Physical Scientist of the Year.

Kenneth Silburn_headshotKen Siburn has transformed science teaching at Casula High School in Sydney’s south-western suburbs. Two-thirds of Year 11 and 12 students choose science subjects thanks to his work.
Ken has transformed the way his students engage with science, through extension programs, interactive and hands-on activities, and a great deal of encouragement.

In the classroom, Ken focuses on what his students are most interested in or fascinated by, and makes it a big part of his science teaching curriculum. A highlight is the use of space science as a core element of the classes.

Dr Ken Silburn from Casula High School received the $50 000 Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Secondary Schools.

Rebecca Johnson_headshotFifteen years ago Rebecca Johnson, from Windaroo State School, initiated a new method for teaching science more effectively in primary schools without costing the government anything extra.

With a fully resourced science room Rebecca, with her teaching partner, teach science to every student at Windaroo State School. Because of this designated space and the importance that has been assigned to this subject area, the children are able to experience a depth of science learning usually reserved for high school.

Almost a hectare of the school grounds have been turned into teaching gardens which, under Rebecca’s guidance, the students created and built. Here they work with real-life examples of what they are learning about in the classroom and they sell the harvest to staff.

Mrs Rebecca Johnson from Windaroo State School received the $50 000 Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Primary Schools.

National Science Week 2016 – grants close Friday

  • Are you planning to put on an event for National Science Week 13–21 August 2016?
  • Would you like support funding from the Australian government?

In 2015 a record-breaking stargazing, bioluminescent bacteria, robots, science at the footy, and a large croc dissection, were just the start. With over 1,700 events, 1.3 million people participating and 220,000 galaxies classified across the nation, National Science Week 2015 was a spectacular success.

So how can we beat that next year?

You’ve got until this Friday 23 October to apply for a share of $500,000 in National Science Week grants. So now is the time to decide what you’d like to do in 2016.

Grants for projects contributing to National Science Week in 2016 are available for between $2,000 and $25,000.

Apply via the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science website.

The competition for grants is fierce, so do read the Science Week team’s tips for grant applications.

Clunies Ross Awards close 30 October

ATSE are looking for individuals or teams who have made an identifiably significant contribution to the advancement of industry and/or the community through the application of science and technology for the economic, social and environmental benefit of Australia.

This year there’s a new format with three awards categories recognising innovation; entrepreneurship and the commercialisation of knowledge.

Nominations closing Friday 30 October 2015.

More at: www.atse.org.au/atse/about/clunies-ross-award/nominations/content/about/clunies-ross-award-nominations.aspx

New $10,000 Early-Career Fellowship – Club Melbourne

$10,000 funding and networking opportunities to for future research leaders

The Fellowship is an opportunity for an Early Career researcher to join in the Club Melbourne Ambassador Program for 1 year.

During the year they will get to network with, and present their work to over 100 eminent Victorians from diverse disciplines of medicine, science and environment, technology, engineering, business and education.

The Club Melbourne Ambassador Program is run by the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre. The main aim of the program is to bring together thought and research leaders to bring international conferences to Melbourne.

Apply via your research office by 31 March 2016.

More at: http://clubmelbourne.com.au/fellowship

Melbourne Knowledge Week – 19 to 25 October

Back to the future, urban connectedness, speeddate a leader, the human library and more

Melbourne Knowledge Week is a festival exploring the latest ideas and innovations in Melbourne’s science, technology, business and learning industries.This City of Melbourne initiative runs from 19 – 25 October 2015, showcasing a broad range of innovative projects, institutions and ideas.

With more than 50 events at 35 venues across the city there is plenty to choose from. Visit the website for more events.

Science in Public – planning, mentoring, communicating

Contact me to find out more about our services to train, mentor, plan and deliver media and communication strategies for science.  We offer:

Communication plans, mentoring and training
We can review your stakeholders, messages and tools and help you and your communication team refine your plans. We offer this service for individual announcements or for a whole program or institute.

Media releases, launches, and campaigns
We can help you develop an outreach program, from a simple media release through to a launch, a summit, a conference, or a film.

Publications and copy-writing
From a tweet to a newsletter; from a brochure to a Nature supplement, we can write compelling and accurate science-driven copy which captures the essence of your story and purpose.