Media Kit

Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science, Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science 2016
  • Reptile guru Rick Shine wants to release small cane toads to protect native snakes, lizards and quolls (Sydney)
  • Michael Aitkin is making stock markets fair and efficient; can he do the same for the health system? (Sydney)
  • Colin Hall’s plastic mirrors are the beginning of a new manufacturing technology, and jobs (Adelaide)
  • Kerrie Wilson is providing the evidence-base for good conservation decisions by putting a value on clean air, water, food, tourism and the other benefits that forests, rivers, oceans provide (Brisbane)
  • Richard Payne is re-engineering peptides from ticks, bacteria, and leeches to create new drugs for stroke, TB, and malaria (Sydney)
  • Suzy Urbaniak’s #therealclassroom in Perth’s Kent Street school is setting up students for jobs in mining, conservation, tourism and more
  • Gary Tilley is turning the next generation of primary teachers on to science at Seaforth school and Macquarie Uni in Sydney

Media opportunities

  • Meet the prize recipients at an embargoed media call in the Great Hall, Parliament House at 12:20 pm on 19 October
  • Prime Minister meets the prize recipients at 6:45 pm in the Marble Foyer, Parliament House
  • Award dinner commences at 7 pm. Prime Minister and Minister Hunt will present the prizes at the dinner in the Great Hall. Media platform and splitter available.

For further information, photos and interviews please contact: Niall Byrne (in Canberra) 0417 131 977 or or call the office on (03) 9398 1416

More on the Prize recipients:

Rick Shine is changing the way people think about cane toads: instead of trying to wipe them out, Rick says we can teach our peak predators, like snakes and lizards, how to avoid them. Using behavioural conditioning, Rick and his team from The University of Sydney have successfully protected native predators against the toad invasion in WA. For his work using evolutionary principles to address conservation challenges, Professor Rick Shine will be awarded the 2016 Prime Minister’s Prize for Science.

Michael Aitken developed a software program which has made global stock markets fairer and more efficient. Now he’s applying the same technology framework and markets know-how to improve health, mortgage and other markets. He says there are billions of dollars of potential savings in health expenditure in Australia alone, which can go hand in glove with significant improvements in consumers’ health. A powerful advocate of scientific and technological innovation, Professor Michael Aitken from Capital Markets Cooperative Research Centre, has been awarded the 2016 Prime Minister’s Prize for Innovation for creating and commercializing tools that are making markets fair and efficient.

Colin Hall has created a new manufacturing process that allows plastic to replace glass and metal, making aircraft, spacecraft and even whitegoods lighter and more efficient. His team’s first commercial success is a plastic car side-mirror. And it all started with spectacles. For his contribution to creating a new manufacturing technology, Dr. Colin Hall from the University of South Australia is receiving the inaugural 2016 Prize for New Innovators.

Richard Payne is re-engineering nature to fight for global health. He makes peptides and proteins. He sees an interesting peptide or protein in nature, such as in a blood sucking tick, then recreates and re-engineers the molecule to create powerful new drugs, including anti-clotting agents to treat stroke. His team at The University of Sydney is developing new drugs for the global health challenge including tuberculosis, malaria and antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections. For his revolutionary drug development technologies, Professor Richard Payne will be awarded the 2016 Malcolm McIntosh Prize for Physical Scientist of the Year.

Kerrie Wilson can put a value on clean air, water, food, tourism and the other benefits that forests, rivers, oceans and other ecosystems provide. With that, she can calculate the most effective way to protect and restore those ecosystems. For example, in Borneo she and her colleagues have shown how the three nations that share the island could retain half the land as forest, provide adequate habitat for the orangutan and Bornean elephant, and achieve an opportunity cost saving of over $50 billion. Around the world she is helping governments to make smart investments in conservation. For her work with the Australian Research Council Centre for Excellence for Environmental Decisions, Associate Professor Kerrie Wilson receives the 2016 Frank Fenner Prize for Life Scientist of the Year.

Suzy Urbaniak is a geoscientist who has turned classrooms into rooms full of young scientists, giving them the freedom to develop their own investigations and find their own solutions. For her contributions to science teaching and inspiring our next generation of scientists, Suzy Urbaniak receives the 2016 Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Secondary Schools. 

Gary Tilley is mentoring the next generation of maths and science teachers to improve the way these subjects are taught in primary schools. He says once students are switched onto science, their literacy, numeracy and investigative skills all improve. At Seaforth Public School in Sydney, he’s encouraged excitement and a love for science in his students who have painted almost every wall in their school with murals of dinosaurs and marine reptiles. For his contributions to science teaching and mentoring, Gary Tilley receives the 2016 Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Primary Schools.


Please use the official website link in reporting, namely It will be live from 5pm on Wednesday.  

  • Profiles: and supporting media releases.
  • Videos: in 1080p with and without music. The videos use just the voice of the winner with overlay of them and colleagues at work. Media are invited to use the videos as a source of overlay for their report. The videos will also be available for embedding via YouTube.
  • Photos: some photos of the winners at work are available. Photos of the ceremony will be made available immediately on Twitter via @scienceinpublic and later online.

Social media

Follow @inspiringaus @sciencegovau and @scienceinpublic for live tweeting on the day and use #pmprize to follow the conversation.


If you’re reporting on a single prize recipient or issuing a media release about a single prize recipient, please also mention the others briefly. For example:

The 2016 prize winners are:

  • Prime Minister’s Prize for Science: Rick Shine, The University of Sydney
  • Prime Minister’s Prize for Innovation: Michael Aitken, Capital Markets CRC
  • Prize for New Innovators: Colin Hall, University of South Australia
  • Malcolm McIntosh Prize for Physical Scientist of the Year: Richard Payne, The University of Sydney
  • Frank Fenner Prize for Life Scientist of the Year: Kerrie Wilson, University of Queensland
  • Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Secondary Schools: Suzy Urbaniak, Kent Street Senior High School, Perth
  • Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Primary Schools: Gary Tilley, Seaforth Public School, Sydney