Nature’s take on Australian science – Index released overnight

Science stakeholder bulletins

UQ on top, followed by Monash, but Melbourne more collaborative, and Curtin the fastest riser in today’s Nature Index.

The latest Nature Index published overnight in London reveals Australia’s contribution to high-quality scientific research.

The University of Queensland takes out the top spot in Australia (at 89 on the global university list) with the other members of the Group of Eight filling out the top eight positions in Australia.

Monash University is 93 globally, the Australian National University is at 100, and The University of Melbourne at 130. Australia has eleven universities in the top 500 institutions in the Index which tracks over 8,000 institutions worldwide.

CSIRO is the highest placed non-university body on the Index.

Australia is placed 12th globally just ahead of India and three places behind South Korea. The US leads the Index, followed by China, Germany, the UK and Japan.

Globally, Harvard University is the leading university followed by Stanford University, The University of Tokyo and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Also today…

You’ve got one more week to help the Australian government honour Australia’s best scientists, innovators, and science teachers by nominating them for one of the Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science. Nominations close 28 April.

More below, as well as reminders about a few other prizes.


Microsoft’s Station Q landed at the Sydney Nanoscience Hub at the University of Sydney.
Yesterday, Microsoft research leaders revealed that their global research program into quantum computing has a Sydney hub – Station Q Sydney.

It was one of a series of stories at the launch of the $150 million Australian Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology at The University of Sydney.

Some of the technologies being developed there will enable:

  • Light-powered chips for computers and smartphones.
  • Unhackable communication using individual photons of light – in March they demonstrated a way to reliably generate single photons.
  • Using nanosized diamonds to identify early-stage cancers in MRI scans.
  • Beyond lithium – powerful, safe, cheap batteries built into homes and offices using zinc bromine gel technology – a spin-out company is already commercialising the technology in Australia and Europe.
  • Catalysts that will crack oil more efficiently and that open the way to cheaper, cleaner biofuels – with three spin-out companies, a 10,000 tonne pilot plant and a 200,000+ tonne commercial plant planned.
  • Aluminium alloys strong enough for aircraft and cars.
  • Third generation steel that could take 100 kg off the weight of a steel car, reducing fuel use and carbon emissions – already being trialled by steelmakers.

Last week the Institute’s Director signed an $11 million battery development deal with UK company Armstrong which specialises in solar energy at utility-scale –

More on the Institute at

And I understand there will be more quantum news out of UNSW tomorrow.

Kind regards,

The best in science, innovation and teaching – nominate for the Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science by 28 April

You’ve got one more week to help the Australian government honour Australia’s best scientists, innovators, and science teachers by nominating them for one of the Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science.

This year, the contribution of science to our economy will be explicitly recognised with another new prize: the $50,000 Prize for New Innovators, recognising the commercialisation of early career scientific research.

The new prize joins the $250,000 Prime Minister’s Prize for Innovation, which was first awarded in 2015 to recognise excellence in Australian innovation and research commercialisation.

We’re looking for:

  • Heroes of Australian science who have made a significant contribution to the advancement of knowledge through science – people like Graham Farquhar, Ingrid Scheffer, and Ken Freeman.
  • Exceptional innovators from science and industry who have translated scientific knowledge into substantial commercial impact – like Graeme Jameson’s trillions of bubbles.
  • Early to mid-career scientists whose research is already making, and will continue to have, an impact on our lives – like Angela Moles, Cyrille Boyer, Carola Vinuesa, and Eric May.
  • Science teachers – primary and secondary – like Ken Silburn and Rebecca Johnson, who are inspiring the next generation with a love of science and exploration.

The awards will be presented by the Prime Minister and the Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, at a gala dinner in the Great Hall of Parliament House, Canberra.

The prizes are:

  • $250 000 Prime Minister’s Prize for Science
  • $250 000 Prime Minister’s Prize for Innovation
  • $50 000 Prize for New Innovators (new in 2016)
  • $50 000 Frank Fenner Prize for Life Scientist of the Year
  • $50 000 Malcolm McIntosh Prize for Physical Scientist of the Year
  • Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Primary Schools ($50 000 shared between the recipient and their school)
  • Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Secondary Schools ($50 000 shared between the recipient and their school).

They’ll also receive national recognition, and meet leaders in science, industry, education and government.

Nominations are now open and close at 5.00pm (Canberra time) on Thursday 28 April 2015.

It’s simple to nominate in the first (shortlisting) stage, with an online form which requires:

  • details of the nominator, nominee(s), two supporters
  • for the five science prizes: three external referees (two of whom must be based overseas)
  • an achievement summary of no more than 1000 words
  • a two page curriculum vitae
  • proof of Australian citizenship or permanent residency
  • for the early to mid career awards: evidence that their research career spans no more than 10 years (or full time equivalent) from completion of their highest degree.

If a nomination is shortlisted, further material will be required in the final stage.

For eligibility, selection criteria, nomination guidelines and more examples of past winners, visit:

If you have any questions regarding the prizes, please email:

Plus more prizes

Florey Medal for early-career researchers 

The $25,000 2016 CSL Young Florey Medal will be awarded to an Australian biomedical researcher for significant early career achievements in biomedical science and/or human health.

Nominations are now open and close 30 May.

More at:

Eureka Prizes open until May 6

The $160,000 Australian Museum Eureka Prizes recognise research, science communication and journalism, leadership and students.

This year there are two new prizes: innovation in medical research and innovation in citizen science.

Nominations close 6 May. More at:

Top 5 Under 40 science communicators 

Are you a young scientist with a flair and passion for communicating your research?

UNSW and ABC RN have teamed up again for Top 5 under 40, an exciting initiative to discover Australia’s next generation of science communicators and give them a voice.

Applications are now open for outstanding early-career researchers under 40 who are working in Australian universities and research organisations across science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medical research.

The Top 5 winners will undertake a two-week media residency in Sydney at Radio National.

Applications close Sunday 8 May.

Hear from the 2015 ‘Top 5’ on how the program changed their lives and careers. You can also watch their videos from the inaugural program on the RN website.

More at:

Celebrating the people who keep Aussie science moving

Where would Australian science be without our lab techs, field officers, support staff, tradies and machine operators?

As a part of National Science Week, the Australian Academy of Science are recognising these workers who keep Aussie science moving.

Along with RiAus they’ll be filming a video series showing a day-in-the-life of seven Australian science support staff.

Then during National Science Week in August, they’ll release the videos and announce the winner of the competition who will win a day with a leading scientist.

If you’re a passionate “science supporter” or want to nominate one from your organisation you can do so until 1 May at:

Academy of Science awards for science leaders

The Academy’s honorific awards are open to scientists of all levels of experience across physical and biological science. They’re also offering funds for research, conferences funding, and travel.

The closing date for the award nominations is 30 April and the closing date to apply for research, conference, and travel support is 15 June.

For details see:

Australia is number 12 in high quality global research in Nature Index

Group of Eight jostle for high-quality scientific research leadership in Australia

Australia is placed 12th globally for its contribution to high-quality scientific research papers, according to the Nature Index Tables released together today.

Australia is just ahead of India and three places behind South Korea. The US leads the index, followed by China, Germany, the UK and Japan.

The Nature Index Tables show the Nature Index calendar year outputs for the last four years. Between 2012 and 2015, China’s contribution to the Nature Index grew by an annual average of 12.8 per cent. Australia grew by an average 3.3 per cent per annum over the same period.

In Australia, the members of the Group of Eight fill the top eight positions, with The University of Queensland leading at 89 on the global university list. Monash University is 93 globally, the Australian National University is at 100, and The University of Melbourne at 130. Australia has eleven universities in the top 500 institutions in the index, which tracks over 8,000 institutions worldwide.

Globally, Harvard University is the leading university followed by Stanford University, The University of Tokyo and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The Nature Index is built on an institution’s contributions to about 60,000 high-quality papers each year and counts both the number of papers and the relative contribution of the authors.

The University of Melbourne researchers were listed as authors on 164 more papers than their Queensland peers, however The University of Queensland had greater ownership of their papers – fewer authors from other institutions – bringing them to the top of the index in terms of contribution to the articles. The good news for The University of Melbourne is that the index shows it is more collaborative than its rival.

The index indicates that Curtin University is the most collaborative of the Australian universities in the top 500 of the index as shown by its article count being much higher than the relative contribution from its authors. It was also the biggest Australian mover in the index, improving by a compound annual average of 22.2 per cent between 2012 and 2015.

CSIRO, the national science agency, is not included in the list of universities. Its weighted index contribution is 44.03, about half that of the top three Australian universities, placing it seventh amongst all Australian institutions in the index. Its contribution has been flat over the past four years.

“The Nature Index confirms that Australia still plays above its weight in global science but it also illustrates that the growth in investment in science in China is paying dividends with a rapid growth in high-quality science,” says David Swinbanks, the Founder of the Nature Index.

“The index also illustrates the continuing leadership of the Group of Eight universities in Australian research with little to choose between the top six,” he says.

Need to talk about your research but unsure how?

Join Science in Public for their one-day media and communication training workshop and get some help.

Conveying the complexity of your research, your life’s work, into a 30-second grab for the media can be hard. The solution is to shape the essence of your science into a story.

We will help you find the right words to explain your research in a way that works for the media, as well as for government, industry and other stakeholders.

Two experienced science communicators will work with you to find the story in your research. Over the years we’ve helped Monash launch the world’s first printed jet engine, revealed the loss of half the coral on the Great Barrier Reef, helped CERN announce the Higgs boson, and revealed the link between CSIRO’s Wi-Fi patent and Aussie astronomy.

Working journalists from television, print and radio will join us over the course of the day to explain what makes news for them. And you’ll get the chance to practice being interviewed in front of a camera and on tape.

The day’s insights and training will help you feel more comfortable in dealing with journalists when media opportunities arise.

Upcoming courses:

  • Sydney: Wednesday 4 May
  • Melbourne: Thursday 12 May and Tuesday 21 June
  • Adelaide: date TBC

Courses run 8.30am to 5pm. Cost is $800+GST and includes lunch, morning and afternoon tea, with lattes on demand.

We can also hold courses in other locations or on other dates. If you have at least four participants, we can probably find others in your area to make a course viable. If you can guarantee six participants, then we’re happy to confirm a course in your city/campus.

More at:

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.

Kind regards,

Niall Byrne

Creative Director
Science in Public

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