Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science 2014

Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science 2014

The winners of the 2014 Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science are:

Sam Berkovic and Ingrid Scheffer have changed the way the world thinks about epilepsy. They will 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. Read citation in full. [continue reading…]

The genetics of epilepsy: bringing hope to families: 2014 Prime Minister’s Prize for Science

Sam Berkovic and Ingrid Scheffer



Sam Berkovic and Ingrid Scheffer have changed the way the world thinks about epilepsy, the debilitating condition that affects about 50 million people.

Twenty years ago doctors tended to regard most forms of epilepsy as acquired rather than inherited. In other words, they believed epilepsy was mostly due to injury: the result of things like a crack on the head in a car accident, a bad fall in the playground, a tumour, or something having gone wrong in labour. Parents felt responsible, and the resulting guilt was enormous. [continue reading…]

Australian crystals set to take over industry: 2014 Malcolm McIntosh Prize for Physical Scientist of the Year

_Y4A7589Matthew Hill

Forty per cent of the energy consumed by industry is used to separate things—in natural gas production, mineral processing, food production, pollution control. The list is endless. Each offers an application for Matthew Hill’s crystals. He has demonstrated that the space inside metal–organic frameworks (MOFs)—the world’s most porous materials—can be used as an efficient and long-lasting filter. [continue reading…]

A taste of real-world science to take to the real world: 2014 Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Secondary Schools

Geoff McNamara (Photo credit: WildBear)Geoff McNamara

From the moment students step into ‘Mr Mac’s Lab’, they’re greeted by dinosaurs, skeletons, spacecraft and a model galaxy that hovers overhead. Their eyes can’t help but gravitate towards the huge solar system at the back of the room. No matter where they look, Geoff McNamara wants his students learn something about science—whether the students realise they’re learning or not. [continue reading…]

Combining play, science and language: 2014 Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Primary Schools

Brian Schiller (Photo credit: WildBear)Brian Schiller

At Seacliff Primary School in Adelaide’s south, Brian Schiller’s students are describing states of matter, mixing of materials, and products of chemical reactions—in Japanese.

It’s just one way that Brian is creatively using science to enhance student learning in a range of curriculum areas.

“Science can be a basis for teaching many different subjects, such as language, music, numeracy, reading and writing,” he says. “Students can play and create, and relate their learning to the world around them.

“When my students are given practical experiences and a chance to learn through being active, they are then motivated to plan their paths of enquiry, present their ideas and then write about their discoveries. A good primary science class develops maths skills, language, and problem-solving and critical-thinking skills. The children and their learning are the focus of the classroom, and they inspire each other to such a great extent.”

Brian nurtures this creativity through student-initiated investigations, where the students bring the questions and Brian guides them in setting up investigations to get the answers.

But it’s not just the answers that Brian wants his students to get. It’s the ability to use their imaginations to ask “what if…?” or “why does…?” and to be able to find their own way to an answer using ‘fair testing’ and experimental controls.

For his contributions to science teaching and for taking it in new creative directions, Mr Brian Schiller has been awarded the 2014 Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Primary Schools.

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