Sydney, 2 September 2021: The Australian Museum (AM) today announced the nine finalists selected in the Leadership category at Australia’s leading science awards, the 2021 Australian Museum Eureka Prizes.
This year’s AM Eureka Prizes see female scientists taking charge of the nominations in the Leadership category, making up seven of this year’s nine finalists. An empowering sign of equality for future generations of women in STEM, this figure is also indicative of increasing numbers of women working in the field – jumping from 24% in 2016 to 28% in 2020 (STEM Equity Monitor, 2021).
Nine finalists from across Australia are in the running for three AM Eureka Prizes in Leadership: AstraZeneca Eureka Prize Emerging Leader in Science; Eureka Prize for Leadership in Innovation Science; and University of Technology Sydney Eureka Prize for Outstanding Mentor of Young Researchers.
Highlights of finalists in the Leadership category include:
- Associate Professor Kristin Carson-Chahhoud, University of South Australia, who from nearly failing high school has journeyed to become a scientific leader with a commitment to lung health and innovative augmented reality technology;
- Dr Dana Bergstrom, Australian Antarctic Division, has championed evidence-based science in biodiversity, biosecurity and the impacts of climate change. She has led the exploration of ecosystem collapse from Australia’s tropics to Antarctica, delivering innovative options for modern conservation;
- Jane Tiller, Monash University, has shown incredible leadership in her field of genetic discrimination in life insurance by enacting powerful change through research and community engagement;
- Professor Maria Kavallaris AM, UNSW and Children’s Cancer Institute, a renowned authority in cancer biology research and therapeutics, she is a champion for childhood cancer and role model for young women in STEM;
- Associate Professor Brett Hallam, an established international leader in the solar energy industry, renowned for his expertise in crystalline silicon photovoltaics – the solar cells that make up solar panels;
- Dr Melina Georgousakis, Franklin Women, has demonstrated her impact on the careers of Australian researchers through mentorship and introducing a cross-organisational and facilitated Mentoring Program.
Known as the ‘Oscars’ of Australian science, the AM Eureka Prizes offer $160,000 in prize money, across a broad spectrum of research from environmental to innovative technologies, defence and mentoring.
The AM Eureka Prizes winners will be announced on Thursday 7 October at a live broadcast event. The event will be open to all audiences and free to stream online. Register to attend at australian.museum/eurekaprizes.
The 2021 Australian Museum Eureka Prize finalists in Leadership are:
AstraZeneca Eureka Prize for Emerging Leader in Science
- Associate Professor Kristin Carson-Chahhoud, University of South Australia
Driven by her commitment to lung health and vision for a smoke-free Australia, Associate Professor Kristin Carson-Chahhoud is using innovative augmented reality technology to disrupt health communication. Her mentorship, advocacy and research leadership has led to high-impact public health outcomes in both respiratory medicine and tobacco control and sustained benefits for the broader community.
- Associate Professor Brett Hallam, UNSW
Associate Professor Brett Hallam has established himself as an international leader in the field of photovoltaics. He supervises and mentors a growing, world-class research team to improve solar panel technologies, with the global solar energy sector experiencing the effects of his leadership and commitment.
- Jane Tiller, Monash University
While genetic testing can effectively identify future disease risks, genetic discrimination by life insurers deters many at-risk Australians from pursuing clinical testing and critical genomic research. Jane Tiller’s passionate pursuit for change has influenced meaningful and lasting policy decisions, shifting the direction of consumer protections against genetic discrimination in life insurance.
Eureka Prize for Leadership in Innovation and Science
- Dr Dana M. Bergstrom, Australian Antarctic Division and University of Wollongong
For decades, Dr Dana M. Bergstrom has championed evidence-based science in biodiversity, biosecurity and the impacts of climate change. Skilled at science translation and distilling complexity, she has led the exploration of ecosystem collapse from Australia’s tropics to Antarctica, delivering innovative options for modern conservation.
- Professor Maria Kavallaris AM, UNSW and Children’s Cancer Institute
Internationally renowned as an authority in cancer biology research and therapeutics, Professor Maria Kavallaris is a champion for childhood cancer. An innovator, advocate and powerful role model for young women in STEM, she has created an enduring legacy of excellence in both research and shaping the next generation of cancer research leaders.
- Professor Sharon Robinson, University of Wollongong
A global leader in Antarctic environmental science, Professor Sharon Robinson is renowned for her pioneering research into the impacts of climate change on Antarctic ecosystems. She is committed to informing better environmental protection through policy change and public engagement, and championing interdisciplinary research, gender equity and inclusivity to create a supportive environment for all to thrive.
University of Technology Sydney Eureka Prize for Outstanding Mentor of Young Researchers
- Professor Sara Dolnicar, University of Queensland
Witnessing the immense pressure young researchers face in today’s academia, Professor Sara Dolnicar has made it her mission to support them in becoming masters of their trade. Through a series of successful programs, she is equipping her mentees with the academic and life skills required to build successful careers as independent scientists and pioneers of change.
- Professor Karu Esselle, University of Technology Sydney
Professor Karu Esselle is passionate about nurturing young researchers, empowering them to think freely and critically, and supporting their integration into the wider scientific community. Driven by a desire to develop confident, skilled and workforce-ready graduates, he has implemented a range of programs and policies that facilitate their broader growth.
- Dr Melina Georgousakis, Franklin Women
Dr Melina Georgousakis is committed to developing the next generation of Australia’s researchers and ensuring that women are equally represented among them. Through the establishment of Franklin Women, she is providing the infrastructure for a sector-first mentoring program, delivering events and building a community to foster the establishment of new mentoring relationships.