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.

Ryan Lister has mapped how our genes are turned on and off, revealing why a leaf cell is different to a root cell or a stem cell differs from a skin cell. He will receive the $50 000 Frank Fenner Prize for Life Scientist of the Year. Professor Lister’s work at the University of Western Australia has the potential to transform agriculture, regenerative medicine and our understanding of the workings of the brain. Read citation in full.

Matthew Hill has created crystals that are set to transform industry. His metal–organic frameworks—the world’s most porous materials—can be used as efficient and long-lasting filters to clean up natural gas, water, pollution and can safely store hydrogen, carbon dioxide and other gases. Dr Hill from CSIRO will receive the $50 000 Malcolm McIntosh Prize for Physical Scientist of the Year. Read citation in full.

Geoff McNamara has created a hot-house of science learning for all his students at Melrose High School in Canberra. Mr McNamara will receive the $50 000 Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Secondary Schools. From dinosaurs to galaxies, weather stations to genetics, his classes explore the impact of science in daily life. For higher-achieving science students he connects students with practicing scientists and real-world science investigations. Read citation in full.

Brian Schiller has integrated play, science and languages at Seacliff Primary School in Adelaide. Mr Schiller will receive the $50 000 Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Primary Schools. He nurtures creativity in the classroom through student-initiated investigations, where the students bring the questions and Brian guides them in setting up investigations to get the answers. Then they communicate their work in conversation, writing, pictures, and even in Japanese. Read citation in full.