Combatting light poverty; light helping fight disease; light winning a Nobel Prize; and two $50,000 prizes for stem cells

Bulletins, Media bulletins

This Sunday – The Light Revolution

Talent available from today to speak on:

  • Nobel-prize winning blue LEDS
  • Light poverty: cost-effective solar devices for the 1.2 billion who don’t have electricity
  • Printing plastic solar cells
  • Looking inside the human body using $2 microscopes, synchrotrons, and x-ray light a billion times brighter than the Sun.

Scientists available for interview – contact Megan on 0432 550 809.

Then on Monday – meet the winners of a national stem cell prize at breakfast in Melbourne.

  • Brisbane’s Christine Wells created an online stem cell encyclopaedia
  • Perth’s Ryan Lister is teaching stem cells to forget the past.

Both will receive a $50,000 Metcalf Prize from the National Stem Cell Foundation of Australia.

Both recipients will be available for interviews at an awards breakfast on Monday morning. If you would like to attend, contact Ellie on or 0404 809 789.

Also, I’m finding out the latest about MERS with the international science journalists community at the World Conference of Science Journalists in Seoul. Turns out that as long as we stay away from hospitals our risk is very low. Tomorrow, I visit the Fukushima nuclear plant (

Kind regards,


The Light Revolution

Public forum 5pm Sunday 14 June, Deakin Edge Theatre, Federation Square

The Light Revolution is transforming the world. LEDs are making lighting more efficient, illuminating our homes and cities, and empowering refugees.

Solar cells are getting smarter and smaller. And light is helping scientists to see the secrets of life in spectacular detail through highly advanced microscopes.

This event celebrates the International Year of Light and is part of Federation Square’s The Light in Winter festival.

Available talent:

LEDs are changing the world
Scott Watkins, Kyung-In Synthetic Corporation (KISCO)
The science that made blue LEDs possible won a Nobel Prize in 2014 and now it’s transforming the world.

Combatting light poverty
Shane Thatcher, Illumination
Over 1.2 billion people in the world don’t have access to electricity and must burn toxic and dangerous kerosene to light their homes. Cost-effective solar devices are helping to bring safe, reliable, free lighting to developing countries.

Seeing the light with plastics
Andrew Holmes, President, Australian Academy of Science
Andrew is working on printable, flexible, plastic solar cells about the size of an A4 sheet of paper. He’s making plastic do other clever things too – including emitting light and even conducting electricity.

Lighting up life – the new microscopy
James Whisstock, ARC Centre of Excellence for Advanced Molecular Imaging
The inner secrets of how we fight disease are being revealed by elegant $2 microscopes, synchrotrons, and x-ray light a billion times brighter than the Sun.

For interviews contact:
Megan Girdler on 0432 550 809 /
Sarah Brooker on 0413 332 489 /

Stem cell researchers to be awarded $50,000 each

Monday 15 June at 7.45am, Melbourne CBD

Winners available for interview and photos at the event
If you would like to attend, contact Ellie on 0404 809 789 or

Teaching stem cells to forget; stem cell encyclopedia leads to new discoveries – two $50,000 prizes to be awarded on Monday

Prizes presented by Professor David de Kretser AC

Scientist profiles and photos available at

Metcalf Prize-winning researchers Christine Wells and Ryan Lister (Photo credit: AIBN at UQ and Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research)

Metcalf Prize-winning researchers Christine Wells and Ryan Lister (Photo credit: AIBN at UQ and Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research)

On Monday, Professor Ryan Lister of the University of Western Australia and Associate Professor Christine Wells of the University of Queensland will each receive $50,000 Metcalf Prizes from the National Stem Cell Foundation of Australia in recognition of their leadership in stem cell research. Professor David de Kretser AC will present the prizes to Ryan and Christine at an event in Melbourne.

Ryan Lister has discovered how adult stem cells retain a memory of what they once were. He believes he can make them forget their past lives, as for example skin cells, so their history doesn’t limit their new potential to become brain, heart, liver, blood and other cells.

An online encyclopedia created by Christine Wells has led to the discovery of a new kind of stem cell. And that’s just the beginning. Christine’s small Brisbane team has created a resource that the global stem cell research community is using to rapidly share knowledge and fast track stem cell discoveries.

“We’re excited by the knowledge that supporting Christine Wells’ work will also support the research of the wider stem cell community and that Ryan Lister’s research will help towards a goal of providing safe and reliable stem cell therapies,” says Dr Graeme Blackman, OAM, the Chairman of the Foundation.

“Once again, we’ve been stunned by the quality of the applications. Christine and Ryan stood out from a remarkable field of young research leaders.”

The awards are named for the late Professor Donald Metcalf, AC, who died in December 2014. Over his 50-year career, Don helped transform cancer treatment and transplantation medicine, and paved the way for potential stem cell therapy in the treatment of many other conditions.

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.

Feel free to pass these stories along to colleagues. And between bulletins, you can follow me on Twitter (@scienceinpublic) for more science news and story tips.
Kind regards,

Niall Byrne

Creative Director
Science in Public

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