Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Premier’s Science Awards: finalists announced

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Western Australian Premier and Science Minister Colin Barnett has announced the finalists in the 2014 Premier’s Science Awards.

Winners and the 2014 inductee into the Science Hall of Fame will be announced at a ceremony on Thursday, August 21, during National Science Week, Australia’s largest annual celebration of science.

Congratulations to all the finalists, and good luck. 

Scientist of the Year

Professor Colin MacLeod (WINTHROP)
Director Centre for the Advancement of Research on Emotion (CARE), School of Psychology, UWA

Professor MacLeod is a leader in the field of cognition and emotion. His research focuses on understanding the thought processes that underpin emotional vulnerability and resilience. He is one of the most highly cited researchers in Australia across all disciplines. He has won over 20 competitive research grants and founded the UWA Elizabeth Rutherford Memorial Centre for the Advancement of Research on Emotion that fosters and supports interdisciplinary collaborations to advance understanding of normal and abnormal emotion.

Professor David Sampson (CLAREMONT)
Director Centre for Microscopy, Characterisation and Analysis (CMCA), UWA

With over 20 years research experience in optics, photonics and microscopy, Professor Sampson understands the value of world-class equipment to scientific research and local industry. As Director of the CMCA, he oversees the WA nodes of the Australian Microscopy and Microanalysis Research Facility and the National Imaging Facility, supporting industry access to these WA facilities. Under his direction, the Nanoscale Characterisation State Government Centre of Excellence attracted $20million in research funding. Professor Sampson established the award-winning Optical+Biomedical Engineering Laboratory, which now has an international reputation for excellence in biomedical optics and biophotonics.

Professor Ian Small (WATTLE GROVE)
Chief Investigator ARC Centre of Excellence for Plant Energy Biology, UWA

Professor Small’s research focuses on understanding how plants capture, store and release energy. Investigating how genes are controlled, his discoveries have provided the basis for efficiencies in large food production with implications for agriculture and the environment. This year he was listed by Thomson-Reuters as one of the world’s most highly-cited authors, ranking in the top one per cent for his subject field. Since coming to Western Australia as a Premier ‘s Fellow in 2006, he has established the world leading Australian Research Council (ARC) Centre of Excellence of Plant Energy Biology and attracted over $57million ARC funding to the centre.

Professor Steven Tingay (LYNWOOD)
Director Curtin Institute of Radio Astronomy, Curtin University

Professor Tingay is an internationally renowned astrophysicist, who has played a central role in Australia’s bid to host the Square Kilometre Array. Since being awarded a Premier’s Fellowship in 2007, he has established world class research infrastructure including the $51million Murchison Widefield Array and the Curtin Institute of Radio Astronomy, one half of the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research. He continues to develop Western Australian based opportunities in the field of radio astronomy, engaging extensively with industry partners, students, the public, and the indigenous community.

*Read about Steven on SNWA

Woodside Early Career Scientist of the Year

Dr Prue Cormie (SCARBOROUGH)
Senior Research Fellow, ECU Health and Wellness Institute, ECU

Dr Cormie has established that targeted exercise improves the health and wellbeing for men undergoing treatment for prostate cancer. Translating her research into practice, she has developed and implemented numerous resources to support patients and accredited training programs for exercise physiologists. In 2012, she was awarded a Cancer Council WA Postdoctoral Fellowship. A passionate science communicator, she recently won the WA State Finals of FameLab, an international science communication competition.

*Read about Prue on SNWA

Dr Ryan Loxton (COMO)
Senior Lecturer in Industrial Optimisation, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Curtin University

Dr Loxton’s research focuses on developing new mathematical techniques to optimise industrial processes in areas including robotics, electronics and chemical engineering. He has published over 50 peer reviewed research papers and delivered key-note addresses at several international conferences. He promotes the importance of science and mathematics to students through the Curtin Mathematics Enrichment Program and in 2012 was awarded a WA Young Tall Poppy Science Award. He currently holds three prestigious grants from the Australian Research Council, including an Australian Postdoctoral Fellowship.

Associate Professor Paul Stanwix (DARLINGTON)
Assistant Director for Research, UWA Centre for Energy, ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award Fellow, UWA

Professor Stanwix’s research focuses on extremely precise measurement techniques with applications in fundamental and applied science. His contributions range from testing Einstein’s Theory of Special Relativity with world-record precision, to demonstrating alternative, low-cost methods for water monitoring. In 2008, he received the inaugural Australian National Measurement Institute Prize for contributions to measurement science and was recently awarded an Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Early Career Research Fellowship.


ExxonMobil Student Scientist of the Year

Mr Tobias Prosin (FREMANTLE)
PhD Candidate, ARENA and ASI fellow, Murdoch University

Mr Prosin is a concentrated solar thermal engineer who is pioneering the introduction of this new field of renewable energy technology in Australia. His research has resulted in several patent applications for 24-7 industrial scale solar power at costs lower than that of fossil fuels. He has won an innovation award from the European Foundation for Power Engineering, established international collaborations with the Institute for Solar Research at the German Aerospace Centre, presented at a number of international and national conferences and has numerous publications in the field of solar energy.

Mr Thomas Russell (KENSINGTON)
PhD Candidate, Curtin University

Mr Russell uses state-of-the-art telescopes to investigate how black holes extract energy from infalling matter: which plays a vital role in understanding black holes, how they evolve and how they influence the evolution of galaxies and the universe. He has published four peer-reviewed papers, including two as the lead author, and presented at a number of international conferences and institutions, including Harvard University. A passionate advocate for his research he is involved in mentoring indigenous students and junior PhD students.

Mr Mark Zammit (SORRENTO)
PhD Candidate, Curtin University

Mr Zammit’s research focuses on modelling the collisions of atoms and molecules for application in fusion technology, materials research, cancer detection and radiotherapy treatment; and he has developed the world’s most accurate model for describing some of these fundamental interactions of matter. He has published nine papers in high impact journals and presented at over 20 national and international conferences. As a passionate promoter of science, Zammit has provided career and education advice to hundreds of students and is involved in a range of voluntary science engagement activities.

*Read about Mark on SNWA

Chevron Science Engagement Initiative of the Year

Astrofest is a free annual event which engages the community with astronomy through a range of interactive activities. The event provides opportunities for stargazing and features engaging science shows as well as talks from local astronomers. Visitors can also learn more about the Square Kilometre Array. This is an initiative of the Astronomy WA Collective and co-ordinated by the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research with support from Scitech and the Astronomical Group of WA. Running since 2009, each year the event has attracted between 3,500 and 4,000 people. Events are also held by regional communities with support from the Perth Astrofest team.

Centre for Integrative Bee Research (CIBER) Science Engagement Initiative
CIBER’s Science Engagement Initiative aims to increase community awareness about honeybees. It showcases the links from bees to pollination, food and honey and the industries and people that depend on them. CIBER uses a variety of strategies to engage audiences, including an academy award nominated documentary, an annual public Honey Festival in the Swan Valley, a permanent honeybee exhibition at Scitech and a dedicated social media page encouraging users to follow ongoing activities.

Dinosaur Discovery
The Dinosaur Discovery exhibition features 21 moving, interacting, life size dinosaur models with some species rarely featured in exhibitions before. The exhibition presents scientific information with multimedia and hands on activities, including touch tables, fossils, dinosaur specimens, information panels and a dedicated Play-leontology zone. Developed by the Western Australian Museum, in association with other partners, the exhibition engages a broad range of audiences including early childhood, school students, teachers and other community groups.


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