Prizes that will change your career, science accolades for teddy bears, and pop-sci comes to town

Bulletins, Science stakeholder bulletins

This award is the single best thing that has happened in my career – if you are eligible, I strongly encourage you to apply.” Angela Moles, winner of the 2013 Frank Fenner Prize for Life Scientist of the Year.

It’s the final week of nominations for the Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science including the two early/mid-career prizes. Each is worth $50,000, but they contribute much more than cash to the careers of the winners.

Angela says, “I have gone from being a relatively anonymous person both on campus and within Australian science to being very widely known. It is hard to quantify the benefits of this sort of exposure, but I can tell you that there is a certain peace of mind associated with knowing that your head of school, dean, and even people in the Australian Research Council and Australian Academy of Sciences know who you are, what you do, and are pleased with what you are doing.

Read more from Angela, as well as details on nominating for the Prime Minister’s Prizes below.

Other prizes open now include:

  • Research Australia’s $80,000 Prize for Research Excellence and Research Awards closing 1 July
  • $50,000 Western Australian Premier’s Science Award and prizes for leaders, early-career, students, and science engagement closing 13 June
  • The Victoria Prize for Science & Innovation with two $50,000 prizes for leaders closing 5 June
  • The Victoria Fellowships with twelve $18,000 early-career travel grants closing 5 June
  • Prizes and medals from the Australian Institute of Physics for leaders in science, industry, education and service closing 31 May
  • Twelve chemistry awards in academia, education, distinction and young chemists from RACI closing 30 June.

More details on all of these below.

The winner of FameLab Australia has been announced. Dr Michael Smout from James Cook University took out the first FameLab Australia national final in WA last week with his tales of parasitic worms. He’ll head to the Cheltenham Science Festival in the UK next week. You’ll hear more about all the winners’ stories in the press in the coming weeks.

And soon we’ll also find out who has been awarded this year’s L’Oréal Fellowships, Metcalf Prizes for stem cell research, and Eureka Prizes.

Plus there is an enviable list of international pop-science speakers coming to our shores over the coming months. From ‘Organs on Chips’, to life in space, the fundamental of physics, and the science behind Doctor Who and the Mythbusters. More on these below.

Finally our 2014 Stories of Australian Science is out in print and online, or let us know if you want a hard copy.

In this bulletin:

One more week to nominate our heroes of science and science teaching for a Prime Minister’s Prize

First Dog on the Moon drew him, The Project talked maths with him, and he posed for pictures all over Parliament House. 

But what did last year’s winner of the Prime Minister’s Prize for Science think about his 15 minutes of fame?

“I hope that [it] might inspire some young people to stick with maths and take up statistics. What was especially gratifying was the response from colleagues, summarised in this extract from an email: There seems to be a general glow of happiness in the math/stat community… for the general recognition of stats/math in the sciences. I conclude that my media exposure was well worth it.”

Again this year, five leaders in science and education will share in $500,000 worth of grants, which will be presented at a dinner in the Great Hall of Parliament House, Canberra. They’ll receive national recognition, and meet leaders in science, industry, education and government.

Help us to identify Australia’s best scientists and teachers – we’re looking for:

  • A hero of Australian science who perhaps hasn’t been recognised for their contribution to the nation
  • Early to mid-career scientists with outstanding research results who are shaping up to become leaders in their field
  • Science teachers – at primary and secondary level – who are making an outstanding contribution to science education through the impact of their inspirational teaching.

Nominations are now open, and close at 5pm AEST on Thursday 29 May

For more information and to nominate:

And you can read Terry’s full account of his experience on his blog.

Angela Moles on receiving a Prime Minister’s Prize

“Receiving the Frank Fenner Prize for Life Scientist of the Year was an amazing experience, a huge honour, and it has had an enormous impact on my career.

“Perhaps most importantly from my perspective, it was this award that clinched the success of my application for promotion to professor.

“My promotion, the prize itself, and the amazing media coverage associated with the award have dramatically raised my profile both within the university, and in broader scientific circles.

“I have had an unprecedented year of being invited to make presentations (including to the NSW science teachers’ association, the Linnean Society of NSW, and the National Youth Science Forum, as well as invitations to give seminars at universities both in Australia and overseas), and being invited to be a judge for prizes and events (including FameLab Australia and the L’Oreal For Women in Science Fellowships).

“I was also invited to a university research retreat, to help shape the UNSW research strategy for the coming years. I also got to meet some really amazing people during the award ceremony. That is, I have had a huge number of opportunities to promote Australian science and to contribute to scientific community, and I have gone from being a relatively anonymous person both on campus and within Australian science to being very widely known.

“It is hard to quantify the benefits of this sort of exposure, but I can tell you that there is a certain peace of mind associated with knowing that your head of school, dean, and even people in the Australian Research Council and Australian Academy of Sciences know who you are, what you do, and are pleased with what you are doing.

“In short, winning this award is the single best thing that has happened in my career – if you are eligible, I strongly encourage you to apply!”

Parasitic worm spit – heals wounds, causes cancer, wins FameLab Australia

 Dr Michael Smout from James Cook University took out the first FameLab Australia national final in WA last week with his tales of parasitic worms.

Using a child-sized teddy bear, an oversized worm, and a velvet liver Michael demonstrated the multiple talents of liver fluke spit.

These worms might cause cancer, but they also clean up after themselves. The ‘worm spit’ secretes molecules which cause excessive cell growth leading to cancer. But during their research Michael and his colleagues also found that the spit promotes wound healing, which they speculate the worm uses to close up the wounds it opens.

You’ll hear more about Michael’s work and other finalists’ stories in the coming weeks.

And then in June, Michael and his bear will represent Australia at the International FameLab competition held at the Times Cheltenham Science Festival in the UK.

He’ll be needing some extra luggage allowance to take his props with him.

FameLab Australia is a joint initiative of the British Council and Science in Public, building on Fresh Science. It’s a competition aimed at developing the next crop of science media voices, spokespeople, and role models for Australian Science.

Read more about FameLab at:

Science prizes around the country…

We are well and truly in prizes season and the states also have applications open for their science prizes. Here are some you might like to apply for:

Research Australia Awards and $80,000 grant for medical research

Research Australia awards the best in health and medical research discoveries, advocacy, philanthropy and lifetime achievement.

The big prize is the GSK Award for Research Excellence – an $80,000 grant to boost the career of a researcher with outstanding achievements in medical research, with a focus on human health and Australian research.  The following science awards will also be presented:

  • Griffith University Discovery Award – for an early career researcher with a discovery
  • NSW Government Health Services Research Award – for a research leader making an outstanding contribution to the health sciences
  • The Peter Wills Medal – for an individual building Australia’s reputation in health and medical research.

Nominations are now open and close at 5pm (AEST) on 1 July

Find a full list of awards and nomination details on the Research Australia website

$50,000 Western Australian Premier’s Science Award

WA’s Scientist of the Year is a $50,000 prize for a world class scientist who, over the past 10 years, has demonstrated excellence in a field of science, scientific research or technological advancement.

It’s just one of the Premier’s Science Awards which recognise and celebrate the achievements of Western Australian scientists in all fields of science, including natural, medical, applied and technological science, engineering and mathematics. There are also prizes for:

  • Early Career Scientist of the Year
  • Student Scientist of the Year
  • Science Engagement Initiative of the Year.

Applications are now open and close 5pm (WST) on 13 June

More details at:

The Victoria Prize for Science & Innovation and The Victoria Fellowships

Two $50,000 Victoria Prizes will be awarded in the life science and physical sciences – for a scientific discovery or technological innovation, or a series of such achievements that significantly advances knowledge.

Read more about the Victoria Prize at:

Twelve Victoria Fellows will each receive a travel grant of up to $18,000 to undertake a short-term overseas study mission to assist in developing a commercial idea; undertaking specialist training; or career development not available in Australia.

Read more about the Fellowships at:

Nominations for both awards are now open until 2pm (AEST) on 5 June

Australian Institute of Physics medals & awards

The Australian Institute of Physics will present its prizes at the 2014 Congress in Canberra in December, along with the Bragg Gold Medal for the most outstanding physics PhD thesis. The awards include:

  • Harrie Massey Medal – for contributions to physics by an Australian anywhere in the world
  • Alan Walsh Medal – for contributions by a practising physicist to Australian industry
  • Walter Boas Medal – awarded by the Victorian Branch for contributions to physics research
  • Education Medal – for contribution to Australian university physics education
  • Outstanding Service to Physics – for exceptional contribution by an individual who gives great amounts of time and effort to furthering physics as a discipline.

To apply email Olivia Samardzic, applications close 31 May

Further information on all prizes can be found on the AIP website where you can also register to attend the Congress.

Royal Australian Chemical Institute Awards

The Royal Australian Chemical Institute has awards for their members in the fields of Academia, Education, Distinction and Young Chemists. The national awards recognise and promote the contributions and achievements of Australia’s chemists.

The awards open for application in 2014 include:

  • Leighton Memorial Award – RACI’s most prestigious medal and is awarded in recognition of eminent services to chemistry in Australia in the broadest sense, including research, technology and service to the RACI, public service and national leadership
  • H.G. Smith Memorial Award – recognises contribution to the development of some branch of chemical science
  • Rennie Memorial Award – for excellence in research in Chemical Science.
  • Cornforth Award – to give recognition of outstanding achievement in chemistry and to promote chemical communication.

Nominations (and applications) close 5pm (AEST) on 30 June 

For a full list of awards and information about applying click through the links at: 

Big science tours

In the coming weeks and months a huge range of pop-scientists are visiting our shores, bringing science to the masses.  For science talks you can bring your mum (or your kids) to check out:

Graeme Clark Oration: organs on chips

The 2014 Graeme Clark Oration will be delivered by Donald Ingber –  a founder of the emerging field of biologically inspired engineering.

His most recent innovation is a technology for building tiny, complex, three-dimensional models of living human organs, or “Organs on Chips”, that mimic complicated human functions as a way to replace traditional animal-based methods for testing of drugs and establishment of human disease models.

Details at:

The Science of Doctor Who

Rob Lloyd and his crew explore the mysteries of Doctor Who in an interactive audience experience. Featuring plenty of original scenes from the iconic BBC television series, we investigate time travel and teleportation, ask if regeneration is possible, and explain how the TARDIS can be bigger on the inside.

Adelaide and Melbourne shows still to come!

Details at:

Mythbusters: behind the myths

A fantastical evening of on-stage experiments, audience participation, rocking video and behind-the-scenes stories. With this show, for the first time, fans join Jamie and Adam on stage and assist in their mind-blowing and mind-twisting approach to science.

Details at:

Michio Kaku: the fundamentals of physics, for the first time in Australia

Michio Kaku continues Albert Einstein’s legacy and dream to unite the four fundamental forces of nature into one ‘unified field theory’, a theory that seeks to summarise all fundamental laws of the universe in one simple equation.

It’s string theory like you have never heard it before… accessible and understandable.

Details at:

Brian Cox: making sense of the cosmos

Brian Cox is back this October taking audiences on a dazzling journey through space and time, delving into ‘high science’ and freewheeling on the edges of the known cosmos.

Details at:

Chris Hadfield: from zero (gravity) to hero

All singing, all tweeting astronaut Chris Hadfield is coming to Australia in November. Through his 21 years as an astronaut and three spaceflights, Colonel Hadfield has become a worldwide sensation, harnessing the power of social media to make outer space accessible to millions and infusing a sense of wonder into our collective consciousness not felt since humans first walked on the moon.

Details at:

From big ecology to quantum computing: 2014 Stories of Australian Science

Australian ideas are transforming lives around the world: the bionic ear, cervical cancer vaccines, gum that repairs teeth, the astronomical ideas that make Wi-Fi fast and reliable and many more.

In this collection of stories you’ll hear about the next generation of ideas and discoveries that will change the world: from big ecology to quantum computing; from vast water reserves to tracking typhoid; from growing new limbs to watching serial killer cells.

Stories of Australian Science 2014 highlights the best Australian science discoveries, prize-winners and top achievers from 2013.

We’ve included winners of many of Australia’s science prizes, people whose discoveries and inventions are transforming mining, medicine, maths and more.

We also include the best young researchers from Fresh Science. These young achievers will be ones to watch in coming years.

You can download a copy of the pdf here or view them online.

If you’d like copies of the magazine, please get in touch.

Feel free to share the stories with your own audiences. Everything is cleared for reproduction and you can search through hundreds of yarns from our past collections.

Science in Public – planning, mentoring, communicating

Communication audits, mentoring and training:

We can review your stakeholders, messages and tools and help you and your communication team refine your plans for 2014. 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.