Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science 2004

2004 Prime Minister’s Prize for Science

Graeme Clark

Graeme Clark believes all children should have the opportunity to hear their own parents’ voices.

That idea has driven him to provide hearing to more than 55,000 deaf people in more than 120 countries through his invention of a multi-channel cochlear ear implant. What is possible now is the culmination of more than 35 years of effort that began when he turned to research from a comfortable life in private medical practice by undertaking a PhD.

Along the way he has overcome fierce medical criticism from colleagues and a series of technical, financial and ethical hurdles. And he isn’t finished yet. At 69 years of age he is planning a new technological assault on deafness, and is developing radical plans to apply the concepts behind the bionic ear to repair spinal cords and other neural injuries.

Professor Graeme Clark AC receives the 2004 Prime Minister’s Prize for Science for the discoveries which led to the first routinely used, successful and safe electro-neural interface with the central nervous system. His bionic ear enables deaf people to participate in a world of sound. [continue reading…]

2004 Science Minister’s Prize for Life Scientist of the Year

Jamie RossjohnJamie Rossjohn

Proteins are the molecular machines of all life. Their shape is the key to understanding how they function, or malfunction. We can use this knowledge to understand the natural world, and to guide the development of tests, vaccines and drugs to fight disease.

Jamie Rossjohn is one of Australia’s leaders in structural biology and X-ray crystallography, a burgeoning field of science built around understanding the shape and function of proteins and other biological molecules. [continue reading…]

Bandwidth Leads to Democracy: 2004 Malcolm McIntosh Prize for Physical Scientist of the Year

Ben EggletonBen Eggleton

Just as the transistor and microelectronics transformed communications and human society in the 20th century, “light” transistors and microphotonics will revolutionise the way we communicate in the 21st century.

Many of the changes that lie ahead in communications technology are due in part to the work of a young Sydney optical physicist Ben Eggleton, a Federation Fellow and leader of CUDOS, the Centre for Ultrahigh bandwidth Devices for Optical Systems. [continue reading…]

From Star Wars Lasers to Science Teaching: 2004 Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Secondary Schools

Mark ButlerMark Butler

Mark Butler realised he had a passion for teaching while researching high power lasers and lecturing at Macquarie University. But he didn’t want to preach to the converted, such as physics undergraduates. So, he turned his back on the possibility of working at Bell Laboratories on ultraviolet lasers and instead pursued a career in secondary school science teaching.

It was the right choice. After 18 years, his passion for teaching hasn’t waned. And while the physics community may have lost a fine researcher, today many of Mark’s students are studying physics at university, and others have gone on to greater things in research institutes around the world.

The success of his students is costing Mark. Each year he pays $250 to every student who achieves more than 95% in his Year 12 chemistry and physics classes. Mark proposes to use the grant associated with the Prize to continue to reward his high-achieving students! [continue reading…]

2004 Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Primary Schools

Alwyn PowellAlwyn Powell

Primary science should give each student the opportunity to discover for themselves the wonders of the natural world. That’s the principle that drives Alywn Powell in his role as a Year One teacher at Darling Heights State School in Toowoomba, Queensland.

Alwyn receives the 2004 Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Primary Schools for his leadership in advancing science education in his school and throughout the wider Toowoomba and Darling Downs areas. At the core of Alwyn’s teaching is a hands-on approach that gives the students time to learn for themselves. “There’s a danger in cramming more and more facts into a crowded curriculum,” he says. “Especially if students don’t have time to learn for themselves.” [continue reading…]