2015 Eureka Prize finalists: riding with hydrogen, disarming superbugs, don’t eat that toad and more

Bulletins, Media bulletins


Details about all the 2015 Australian Museum Eureka Prizes finalists are now online at: australianmuseum.net.au/eureka.

Here are some of the photos –  there are hi-res versions on our website: www.scienceinpublic.com.au/eureka/high-res-photography

Looking Without Seeing


croc low res

And you can find a full list of finalists at: www.scienceinpublic.com.au/eureka/2015-eureka-prizes-full-list-of-finalists

For media enquiries please contact Errol Hunt on errol@scienceinpublic.com.au or 0423 139 210.
Kind regards,


Riding with hydrogen, disarming superbugs, don’t eat that toad and more

Forty-nine entries have been selected as finalists for 16 Australian Museum Eureka Prizes worth a total of $160,000 in prize money.

The 2015 Eureka Prize finalists have invented:

  • Low-temperature, low-pressure hydrogen storage that can power a motorised bicycle over 120km on a single, small canister, producing only water as a by-product. (Sydney)
  • An energy storage system that efficiently stores solar power through the night hours, solving the mismatch between solar power generation and electricity demand. (Adelaide)
  • ‘Carpentry’-type techniques to switch off key molecular weapons of some new, antibiotic-resistant superbugs, transforming them into harmless bacteria. (Canberra and Melbourne)

They have discovered:

  • A bizarre dwarf galaxy that harbours a supermassive black hole more than a thousand times ‘too large’. (Sydney)
  • How to teach Northern Territory quolls not to eat toxic cane toads: feed them smaller, less-toxic toads that make the quoll sick, but aren’t fatal. (Sydney)
  • The secret to viewing processes within a patient’s living tissues: nanocrystals with precise, in-built timers that may allow real-time disease diagnosis and the ability to watch drugs interact with living cells in real time. (Sydney and Adelaide)

And they have:

  • Taught astronomy in remote WA schools to students of the Wajarri Yamatji, the traditional owners of the land on which the Murchison radio-astronomy observatory sits, and presented the first science event for the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. (Sydney)
  • Engaged wine growers, foresters and farmers from Cape York to Canberra in on-the-farm research to understand the effects of climate change on growth rates and crop quality. (Melbourne)
  • Combined microbiology, machine learning and a novel visualisation method—which was developed to map Napoleon’s military campaigns—to identify new activation mechanisms of the hormone insulin. (Sydney)

Details about all the 2015 Australian Museum Eureka Prizes finalists are now online at australianmuseum.net.au/eureka.

The Australian Museum Eureka Prizes are the country’s most comprehensive national science awards, honouring excellence in Research and Innovation, Leadership, Science Communication and Journalism, and School Science. They were first awarded in 1990. This year, new prizes recognise excellence in rural research and international collaboration.

The Australian Museum is proud to recognise the best of Australian science through the Eureka Prizes and this year’s finalists are extremely impressive,” Kim McKay AO, Director and CEO of the Australian Museum said.

Scientific research and the resulting discoveries and inventions are crucial to the future strength of our economy and our community,” she said.

The winners of the 16 prizes will be announced in the presence of over 600 science, government, industry and media leaders at the Eureka Prizes Award Dinner at Sydney Town Hall on 26 August 2015.

Supernovas, synapses and salt-water crocodiles

Ten stunning images from the Australian Museum New Scientist Eureka Prize for Science Photography – from WA, QLD, SA, ACT and NSW.

From the fading tendrils of a long-exploded star to the new connections between nerve cells in our brains: this year’s Australian Museum New Scientist Eureka Prize for Science Photography finalists give glimpses into life at every level.

The three finalists and seven highly commended images will be published today on the Australian Museum website, australianmuseum.net.au/eureka and are also available for publication in connection with stories on the Eureka Prizes.  Here are the finalists:

Thorny-Headed Worm, Aileen Elliot, Murdoch University, WA 

worm low resSeeing amazing life forms, such as this thorny-headed worm (phylum Acanthocephala), has the power to turn a mundane day in the lab into one of sheer brilliance. While dissecting a bland peritoneal cyst from an eel tailed catfish, Tandanus tropicanus, Aileen Elliot was surprised when out popped this incredible little worm. With this image, Aileen gets to share her modern day Darwinian moments of discovery with others and hopes to excite and inspire the next generation of budding parasitologists.

Soft Coral, Gary Cranitch, Queensland Museum, QLD

coral low resSoft corals are more diverse and widespread than hard corals, but much less is known about their overall contribution to coral reef biodiversity. About one-third of the world’s soft coral species are found on the Great Barrier Reef, with our limited knowledge of these species an indication of how much we still have to learn. Through his beautiful image, Gary Cranitch highlights this true ‘indicator’ species.

Saltwater Crocodile, Justin Gilligan, NSW

croc low resExploring the coral reefs of Kimbe Bay in Papua New Guinea is like being caught in a literal time warp, where the hours pass by like fleeting moments. For Justin Gilligan, this juvenile saltwater crocodile presented the perfect opportunity for a close encounter on a glistening natural stage. When taking this stunning image, Justin focused on the raised eyes and nostrils and the camouflaged skin – all adaptions this crocodile needs to live a life both above and below the water surface.

Harnessing people power to advance science

Thousands of people are volunteering their time on hundreds of projects across the nation, learning about science and helping to solve real world problems at the same time. That’s the finding of a report into citizen science launched by Australia’s Chief Scientist yesterday.

“We don’t all have to be scientists. But we do need to be comfortable living in a world that relies utterly on the things that scientists do,” said Chief Scientist Ian Chubb at Australia’s first citizen science conference.

You can read the full paper at: www.chiefscientist.gov.au/2015/07/occasional-paper-building-australia-through-citizen-science

And here’s the media release:

Australian science is benefitting from people power with a growing number of citizen scientists helping expand scientific knowledge and discovery.

A new paper from the Office of the Chief Scientist highlights the important role of people in the community collecting data to help solve real world problems.

Today in Australia more than 130,000 people, of all ages, are active in over 90 scientific projects.

“Science is awesome, and is crucially important to all our lives. There is no better way to learn about science than to practise it,” Australia’s Chief Scientist Professor Ian Chubb said.

“Citizen scientists in Australia have already helped to find distant galaxies, discovered new species and assisted with insights to fight diseases like HIV/AIDS and Alzheimer’s.

“People with curiosity and a passion for science are making a difference – often helped by the smartphone in their pocket.”

The paper, Building Australia through Citizen Science, highlights the role of new technologies, with smartphones, GPS and sensors expanding the opportunities for people to contribute.

Citizen science projects in Australia have already mobilized 10,000 people to collect 10 million records for a birds database and more than 9,600 people analysed 330,000 photos of marine habitats in a single week.

People from the community are also doing crucial work in monitoring dust activity using traps and air samplers. Over 500 people recorded 1,500 sightings in a koala count.

Those interested in learning more about science in the community, can visit www.scienceweek.net.au, the website of National Science Week.

Media contact:
Clinton Porteous on clinton.porteous@chiefscientist.gov.au or +61 410 029 407

More about Science in Public

We’re always happy to help put you in contact with scientists. Our work is funded by the science world – from the Prime Minister’s Science Prizes to Nature. We’re keen to suggest interesting people and stories – and not just those of our clients’.

If you’re looking for ideas or people for features we know hundreds of science prize winners past, present, and future and are always happy to chew the fat about the developing themes in Australian science.

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Niall Byrne

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