World’s smartest aquarium, protecting the world’s beer, and the Eureka Prize finalists

Bulletins, Media bulletins

Something for everyone today:

In Queensland, the world’s smartest research aquarium has just opened. It will help us fight the crown-of-thorns starfish.

AIM_SeaSim_smallInnovation Minister Kim Carr has just launched SeaSim, a $35 million research aquarium that can get closer to replicating the conditions of the open ocean, a reef lagoon, or flooding rivers, that any other facility in the world.

“It’s awesome,” says marine researcher Mike Hall from the Australian Institute of Marine Science.

“When we started planning SeaSim we visited over 40 marine aquariums around the world to identify key attributes of the perfect research facility. What we’ve built takes the best in the world and adds new technologies and an incredible level of automation and control.”

crown-of-thorns-small “Fighting the crown-of-thorns starfish is one of the highest priorities for SeaSim. We need to understand why starfish populations periodically boom, leading to massive reef destruction,” says John Gunn, AIMS CEO.

More information, including factsheets, print-quality images and broadcast quality videos, is available at

Media contacts:

  • Sarah Brooker, Science in Public on, 0413 332 489, (03) 9398 1416

The biggest celebration of the best of Australian science: Eureka prize finalists announced tomorrow at 9:00am.

Across Australia, the 52 finalists for the Australian Museum Eureka Prizes are crossing their fingers.

Chosen from more than 1,000 entries, they’re competing for a share of $170,000 in 17 prize categories, from research to commercialisation, journalism to education.

Finalists from every state in Australia will be announced tomorrow, Friday 2 August – and they’ll find out if they’ve won at the awards ceremony on Wednesday 4 September.

Details of the 2013 Australian Museum Eureka Prize finalists will be online tomorrow morning from 9:00am at

Also revealed tomorrow: ten stunning science images

First-Documentation-of-a-Humpback-Whale-Mating-Jason-Edwards-smallThe Australian Museum – New Scientist Eureka Prize for Science is awarded for a single photograph that most effectively communicates an aspect of science.

The photographs are startling images that capture the essence of scientific discovery, illustrating the workings of nature or showing things never seen before – such as this image of humpback whales which won last year’s prize.

High res photos from the ten finalists will be available for publication from tomorrow morning, Friday 2 August.

Media contacts:

Using genes to counter rust

An international study led by a Queensland scientist has found a way to better safeguard an important food crop — and the world’s beer supply.

Embargo and press call at a barley farm: 10:00am, Monday 5 August

Lee-Hickey-smallThe study, led by University of Queensland geneticist Dr Lee Hickey, identified a gene that protects barley against leaf rust – a disease that each year could destroy almost a third of the national crop.

In Australia, barley is used primarily for beer and stockfeed. The situation is much more significant in North Africa and Southwest Asia, where barley is a critical human food, and rust commonly attacks vulnerable plants.

Lee’s findings, which were published in the journal Theoretical and Applied Genetics, could provide an important boost to global barley production. He has declined to patent the DNA marker, preferring the information to be freely available.

Contact AJ Epstein for more information and interviews:, 0433 339 141, (03) 9398 1416

Sydney scientists have figured out how ‘junk DNA’ can control cell development

Strictly embargoed until 2am Friday morning AEST

Researchers from the Centenary Institute have a significant paper in the journal Cell tomorrow morning.

A release is available on embargo at

Contact: Tamzin Byrne for the password and to line up interviews:, 0432 974 400, (03) 9398 1416