In the lead up to the announcement of the 2016 Australian Museum Eureka Prizes finalists on Friday 29 July, we reflect on the experience and achievements of the winner of the 2015 3M Eureka Prize for Emerging Leader in Science, Dr Phillip Urquijo, leader of the international Belle II project.

Winner of the 2015 3M Eureka Prize for Emerging Leader in Science Dr Phillip Urquijo
Winner of the 2015 3M Eureka Prize for Emerging Leader in Science Dr Phillip Urquijo Image: Daniel O'Doherty
© Australian Museum

Eureka Prizes: Tell us a bit about your Eureka Prizes experience.
Dr Phillip Urquijo: The prizes are a celebration of science in Australia, and to be on the same platform with some of the greatest researchers in the country is quite inspiring. The prizes are highly recognised in academia, and it was a pleasure to be part of it. I also greatly enjoyed the experience and the format of the prizes. I never expected to get all the way through, although my colleagues were always very supportive.

Eureka Prizes: How did it feel when your team was announced the winner?
Dr Phillip Urquijo: The announcement at the event (and not before) was a huge thrill, but just being there as one of the three shortlisted nominees was already quite an honour. I was surrounded by colleagues from Melbourne, and my mum, and it was an experience that we shared. My international colleagues from the Belle II collaboration were also proud, and I think it has inspired some of them to pursue prizes in their countries.

Eureka Prizes: What has been the most surprising thing about being a Eureka Prize winner?
Dr Phillip Urquijo: I’ve been surprised with how well my research was received (even though I am confident it is an important endeavour), and how highly regarded the prizes are across scientific disciplines. I was surprised how much of an impact it has made in building a connection between my research and the public. Outreach is a key part of our field.

Eureka Prizes: How has the win impacted on your work?
Dr Phillip Urquijo: The prize helped for me to gain recognition in physics departments throughout Australia, as well as locally at the University of Melbourne. I moved to Melbourne 2 years ago for an academic position, and this has helped substantially to build the research profile of my group. It also helped to elevate my current experiment, Belle II, to the fore in the public domain in Australia. My international colleagues were very proud that our experiment had found such a high level of public recognition in Australia.

Eureka Prizes: And finally…where do you keep your trophy?
Dr Phillip Urquijo: It sits in view on the shelf in my office.

See more on Dr Urquijo and his prize winning research here.

The finalists for the 2016 Australian Museum Eureka Prizes will be announced on Friday 29 July.