Winning Australian science; plus getting your voice heard in Canberra, and beyond

Bulletins, Science stakeholder bulletins

Last night in the Great Hall of Parliament House, six of Australia’s best scientists and science teachers received the 2014 Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science.

The recipients of this year’s prizes are:

  • Sam Berkovic and Ingrid Scheffer, Prime Minister’s Prize for Science – The genetics of epilepsy: bringing hope to families
  • Matthew Hill, Malcolm McIntosh Prize for Physical Scientist of the Year – Australian crystals set to take over industry
  • Ryan Lister, Frank Fenner Prize for Life Scientist of the Year – Regulating genes to treat illness, grow food, and understand the brain
  • Geoff McNamara, Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Secondary Schools – A taste of real-world science to take to the real world
  • Brian Schiller, Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Primary Schools – Combining play, science and language

You can read more on the the Prime Minister’s Prize recipients below.

At the Ceremony, the Prime Minister also announced a new prize ­- the Prime Minister’s Prize for the Commercial Application of Science – which will be awarded for the first time in 2015.

The new prize will award substantial technological innovations in science that have had great benefits for humanity, highlighting the importance of science in transforming the Australian economy.

More details of the prize criteria will be made available in the call for nominations early next year.

In the meantime, you don’t have to win a Prime Minister’s Prize to be heard in Canberra.

Both the Australian Academy of Science and Science and Technology Australia are looking for people to join them, and help them put the ‘science’ into science policy.

The Academy is looking for members to join its Early and Mid-Career Researcher Forum, and Science & Technology Australia is looking for Executive Board members.  More below.

And, in the lead-up to their 25th anniversary – the Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) program is under review.  It’s an opportune time to have your say on how the program has contributed to Australian science over the years, as well as its future, especially in the context of the government’s recently announced Industry Growth Centres. More below.

And finally, just a heads up that we’ll be pulling together our annual magazine-style collection of science achievements, Stories of Australian Science, again this year.

We are now taking bookings for the 2015 stories, it’s your opportunity to showcase your science alongside some of Australia’s best. More details below.

Kind regards,


In this bulletin:

2014 Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science awarded last night

Last night the 2014 Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science were presented by the Prime Minister and the Minister for Industry, at the prize dinner in the Great Hall of Parliament House.

2014 Prime Minister's Prize for Science recipients (Credit: PMs Prizes)

Here are the winners:

Sam Berkovic and Ingrid Scheffer have changed the way the world thinks about epilepsy. They receive the $300 000 Prime Minister’s Prize for Science. Their discoveries of the links between epilepsy and genes have opened the way to better targeted research, diagnosis, management and treatment for many forms of epilepsy. Laureate Professor Sam Berkovic AC and Professor Ingrid Scheffer AO are associated with the University of Melbourne, the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, and Austin Health.

Matthew Hill has created crystals that are set to transform industry. His metal-organic frameworks-the world’s most porous materials-can be used as efficient and long-lasting filters to clean up natural gas, water, pollution and can safely store hydrogen, carbon dioxide and other gases. Dr Hill from CSIRO receives the $50 000 Malcolm McIntosh Prize for Physical Scientist of the Year.

Ryan Lister has mapped how our genes are turned on and off, revealing why a leaf cell is different to a root cell or a stem cell differs from a skin cell. He receives the $50 000 Frank Fenner Prize for Life Scientist of the Year. Professor Lister’s work at the University of Western Australia has the potential to transform agriculture, regenerative medicine and our understanding of the workings of the brain.

Geoff McNamara has created a hot-house of science learning for all his students at Melrose High School in Canberra. Mr McNamara receives the $50 000 Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Secondary Schools. From dinosaurs to galaxies, weather stations to genetics, his classes explore the impact of science in daily life. For higher-achieving science students he connects students with practicing scientists and real-world science investigations.

Brian Schiller has integrated play, science and languages at Seacliff Primary School in Adelaide. Mr Schiller receives the $50 000 Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Primary Schools. He nurtures creativity in the classroom through student-initiated investigations, where the students bring the questions and Brian guides them in setting up investigations to get the answers. Then they communicate their work in conversation, writing, pictures, and even in Japanese.

Read more about the winners here.

Have your voice heard in Canberra – join our peak science bodies

Australian Academy of Science Early and Mid-Career Researcher Forum

  • Are you an early to mid-career researcher with a passion for advocacy?
  • How do you think we could do things better for our young scientists?
  • Do you have ideas on how funding, training and job security could be improved for you and your colleagues?
  • Want to be the voice of early and mid-career researchers around Australia?

Researchers up to 15 years post PhD are invited to join the Australian Academy of Science’s Early and Mid-Career Researcher Forum.

Last years’ members tweeted, ran think tanks and professional development sessions, coordinated Senate submissions, participated in Wiki-bombs, wrote newsletters, put out press releases and spoke on the radio.

If this sounds like your idea of fun, apply now. Expressions of Interest are now open, and close on 3 November 2014.

Here’s a bit more about the forum: and who’ll you’ll be joining on it

Science & Technology Australia Executive Committee

And just a reminder that Science & Technology Australia is taking nominations for four positions on their Executive Committee:

  • President-elect (one-year term, then two-year term as President)
  • Secretary (two-year term)
  • Chair of the Policy Committee (two-year term)
  • Early-career researcher (one-year term)

It’s your chance to support over 68, 000 Australian scientists and their work, represent them to government, industry and the community.

More at

Your say on the future of the Cooperative Research Centre Program

In the lead-up to their 25th anniversary – the Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) program is under review.

Over the past 25 years the program has:

  • Developed materials to allow continuous wear soft contact lenses which have grown to comprise up to half the US market (CRC for Eye Research and Technology)
  • Created SmartCap technology which monitors driver or machine operator fatigue (CRC Mining)
  • Increased the efficiency of using water/irrigation to grow cotton by more than 50 per cent (Cotton CRC)
  • Developed software to detect fraud which has been adopted by many of the world’s stock exchanges (Capital Markets CRC)
  • Invented an electrical cable which hardens to protect itself during fires, manufactured by Olex Cables (CRC for Polymers)
  • Developed the slope stability radar, a device that monitors the stability of rock walls in open-cut mines, now marketed all over the world by a spin-off company (CRC for Sensor Signal and Information Processing)

But what about the future?

  • What has the program contributed most to in your field?
  • Is the CRC program the best way to link science and industry?
  • How will it fit in with the recently announced Industry Growth Centres?
  • What can it deliver in your field?

For more information on the review, and to have your say go to

Stories of Australia Science 2015 – tell us yours

We are gathering stories for our next showcase of Australian science – Stories of Australian Science 2015. We celebrate the best of Australian science in this publication, which is available in printed copy and online.

You can see last year’s stories at:

Each story is roughly 250 words long, and is accompanied by an image. We write the stories for you: all you need to do is tell us what you’d like to include in the publication, and give us the scientist’s contact details.

We’ll only publish text that you (and/or your scientist) have approved, and we’ll either use an image you supply (with appropriate credit) or an appropriate stock photo. Each story includes the scientist’s or representative’s contact details to enable interested people to follow up with your organisation.

You can view stories online, or download the pdf. You can search the storybooks by state, organisation or field of science, and we can also feed stories to your website.

If you’re interested in participating in Stories of Australian Science 2015, drop me an email or give me a call.

Final media training dates for 2014 – Melbourne and Adelaide

Conveying the complexity of your research into a 30-second grab for the media can be hard, and sometimes daunting.

The solution is to shape the essence of your science into a story. Our media training courses for scientists and communication staff will help you develop and target your news stories for specific audiences and media.

In this one-day course, you’ll meet three working journalists from print, TV and radio who will give you practice in being interviewed and teach you about life in the newsroom.

  • Adelaide: Friday 14 November
  • Melbourne: Tuesday 2 December

We can also hold courses in other locations or on other dates if there’s sufficient demand, and we welcome expressions of interest for possible future courses. If you have at least four participants, we can probably find others in your area to make a course viable.

More details about the course can be found online at

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. 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.


Kind regards,



Niall Byrne

Creative Director

Science in Public

82 Hudsons Road, Spotswood VIC 3015

PO Box 2076 Spotswood VIC 3015

03 9398 1416, 0417 131 977

Full contact details at