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The Australian Museum (AM) has announced the 45 finalists selected for Australia’s leading science awards, the 2017 Australian Museum Eureka Prizes.
Finalists from almost every state and territory across Australia are in the running for 15 AM Eureka Prizes across four categories: Research and Innovation, Leadership, Science Engagement and School Science.
The AM Eureka Prizes are the nation’s premier science awards, celebrating achievement across a broad spectrum of science, from environmental to innovative technologies, citizen science, leadership and mentoring.
Learn about the 2017 AM Eureka Prizes finalists.
Research & Innovation
NSW Office of Environment and Heritage Eureka Prize for Environmental Research
Along with climate change, poor water quality from catchment runoﬀ is a major threat to the Great Barrier Reef. The Catchment Sediment Budget Research Team has transformed how sediment sources are identified and targeted, resulting in a significant shift in government policy and practice.
Sydney Institute of Marine Science; UNSW; NSW Department of Primary Industries; and Southern Cross University
Operation Crayweed Team’s research has demonstrated the environmental and ecological benefits of restoring Sydney's coastal crayweed forests. By working with the public they have put this important marine restoration project into action, enhancing coastal biodiversity.
CSIRO and the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre
After collecting the first ocean measurements ever taken near East Antarctica's Totten Glacier, the Southern Ocean Team found that unexpectedly warm waters are driving rapid ice-shelf melt. Their research has revealed that the East Antarctic Ice Sheet will make a larger contribution to sea level rise than previously thought.
University of Technology Sydney Eureka Prize for Excellence in Data Science
University of Technology Sydney
The first to integrate machine transfer learning and 'fuzzy logic' as an avenue to enhance data-driven decision intelligence, Professor Jie Lu has transformed how organisations use data to make decisions and predictions in complex and uncertain situations.
University of Sydney
Professor Dacheng Tao’s research on multi-view learning and fast algorithms has had an undeniable impact on society and industry. His contributions to the fields of data science and artificial intelligence have improved visual sensing systems for driverless cars, opened the eyes of robots and enabled deep learning on mobiles.
By bringing together two seemingly disparate approaches to machine learning, Professor Geoffrey Webb has helped forge new avenues of data science research. His work, which has included supporting research into male suicide and a range of diseases, has had signiﬁcant social and economic impact.
UNSW Eureka Prize for Excellence in Interdisciplinary Scientific Research
The University of Adelaide and South Australian Museum
Working in partnership with Aboriginal families and communities, this project uses historical hair samples to reconstruct the map of Indigenous Australia prior to European arrival. The Aboriginal Heritage Project is reconstructing the vast history of people in Australia, and making a valuable contribution to the Reconciliation process.
ARC Centre of Excellence for Electromaterials Science, University of Wollongong; St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne; and University of Melbourne
A multidisciplinary team of scientists, engineers and clinicians has produced the ‘Biopen’, a handheld 3D printer that can be used in surgery to repair damaged cartilage. Developed with a view to preventing osteoarthritis, this technology will have a significant impact on those suffering from the debilitating and painful condition.
CSIRO and Partners
This project uses world-leading integrated scenario modelling to explore the challenges and opportunities in achieving sustainable prosperity. The first Outlook examines two aspects in depth; the ‘water-energy-food-nexus’ and the prospects for Australia’s materials and energy intensive industries.
Australian Infectious Diseases Research Centre Eureka Prize for Infectious Diseases Research
QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute
The research of Professor Scott Bell has produced novel data on the prevalence of infection in cystic fibrosis (CF) and potential acquisition pathways, advancing our understanding of both the causes and clinical impact of emerging infections in CF patients. His work has attracted considerable attention from the CF community, impacting both practice and policy at a national and international level.
Murdoch Childrens Research Institute; the Kirby Institute; St Vincent's Hospital Sydney; and Menzies School of Health Research
Through two landmark trials the Scabies Research Team has shown that mass drug administration with the oral drug ivermectin is highly effective in controlling scabies and related bacterial skin sores. These results have transformed the global conversation on integrated programs for neglected tropical diseases.
Team MacIntyre’s body of research on the clinical efficacy of medical masks and respirators to protect against infectious diseases is the largest in the world. Their work has challenged entrenched paradigms of infection control, and driven change during major epidemics such as Ebola.
Johnson & Johnson Eureka Prize for Innovation in Medical Research
The George Institute for Global Health and Ellen Medical Devices
Millions of people around the world die of kidney failure each year because they can’t afford treatment. By miniaturising existing technology, the Affordable Dialysis System has the potential to provide treatment at a cost that is less than five percent of existing systems, making life-saving dialysis available to many more people around the world.
CSIRO; Clinical Genomics Pty Ltd; and Flinders University
The Colvera Team has developed a clinically validated blood test that sensitively and accurately detects cancer DNA in the blood plasma of colorectal cancer patients. This presents a new opportunity for oncologists to improve treatment regimens through earlier disease detection that may in turn lead to increased patient survival.
Macquarie University; St Vincent's Hospital Sydney; Menzies Institute for Medical Research; University of Tasmania; and UNSW
A team of researchers led by Professor Gilles Guillemin has developed a simple blood test that allows clinicians to rapidly and accurately determine which of the three types of multiple sclerosis a patient has. This world-first discovery enables faster personalised treatment, which has the potential to slow the disease and limit damage to the brain and spinal cord.
ANSTO Eureka Prize for Innovative Use of Technology
In its development from wood to coal to oil to electricity, energy has been a driver of human evolution. Hydrogen is often thought of as a fuel only for the future, but by providing a readily accessible means for the adoption of hydrogen, Associate Professor François Aguey-Zinsou has completely changed our perspective on this technology.
University of Melbourne
The FREO2 Siphon concentrator produces, stores and delivers medical-grade oxygen to critically ill newborn babies without needing a secure source of electricity. This innovative technology has the potential to substantially reduce infant mortality rates arising from hypoxic illnesses in low-resource settings, such as Papua New Guinea, East Timor and sub-Saharan Africa.
Professor Justin Gooding, Dr Parisa Khiabani and Dr Alexander Soeriyadi have created a simple and affordable sensor that indicates to the wearer when they should seek shelter from the sun or apply more sunscreen. By combining off-the-shelf components with existing technologies their invention has the potential to be widely adopted, maximising the benefit to society.
Macquarie University Eureka Prize for Outstanding Early Career Researcher
University of Technology Sydney
The work of Professor Igor Aharonovich focuses on defects in semiconductors that emit single photons, the building blocks of quantum science. His original contributions in this field have major implications for communication and the development of new generation quantum technologies.
Associate Professor Madhu Bhaskaran is working towards a future where wearable electronic devices are unbreakable. By combining inherently brittle multi-functional oxides with rubber-like membranes, her work moves us closer to affordable and biocompatible electronic devices being an integral part of life and healthcare.
University of Sydney
Dr Pengyi Yang’s innovative machine learning algorithms and data integration approaches have decoded vast amounts of biological data. Working at the interface between statistics, computer science and biology, his work has significant implications for the diagnosis and treatment of complex diseases.
Defence Science and Technology Eureka Prize for Outstanding Science in Safeguarding Australia
The diamond-based technology invented by Associate Professor Richard Mildren is capable of radically increasing the power and spectral range of lasers. Australian and United States defence agencies are investing in this technology to increase their power capability, and a UK company has licensed commercial applications in quantum science and biomedicine.
The Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing, University of Adelaide; and Cryoclock Pty Ltd
By combining two decades of pioneering research with cutting-edge engineering, the Sapphire Clock Team’s technology offers the potential for a step change in the performance of the Jindalee Over-The-Horizon Radar Network, a vital Australian defence asset. The Sapphire Clock offers a thousandfold improvement in timing precision, helping Australian defence agencies identify threats to the nation.
UNSW Eureka Prize for Scientific Research
Swinburne University of Technology
The original work of Professor Elena Ivanova and Professor Saulius Juodkazis shows that mimicking the nanomorphology of insect wings is an effective method of preventing bacterial colonisation. Their unique approach of providing a physical, rather than chemical means of killing bacteria, could have a huge impact on public health worldwide.
Over the past four years the Boyer Laboratory has made breakthrough contributions to the field of polymer science. Using the chlorophyll available in plants, they have developed a polymerisation technique to convert light and energy into a chemical process.
Professor Katharina Gaus is at the forefront of deciphering T cell signalling, a critical part of the human immune system. Her research combines super-resolution ﬂuorescence microscopes and novel analysis routines to reveal the decision-making process of T cells.
3M Eureka Prize for Emerging Leader in Science
University of Sydney
Regarded as one of Australia’s brightest young inorganic chemists, Dr Elizabeth New's leadership extends beyond her research to encompass teaching, outreach and mentoring. Committed to developing the next generation of scientists, she has built a strong network of collaborators and works tirelessly to improve research culture and environments.
Telethon Kids Institute
Professor Andrew Whitehouse is passionate about helping children with autism reach their full potential. Through a combination of scientific research, policy development, science communication, and service delivery, he has established himself as a national and international leader on autism.
CSIRO Eureka Prize for Leadership in Innovation and Science
Children's Cancer Institute and UNSW
Professor Michelle Haber is a global authority in childhood cancer research, setting the agenda for this field in Australia. She is the driving force behind Zero Childhood Cancer, a world-leading initiative from the Children’s Cancer Institute and Sydney Children’s Hospital, uniting researchers and clinicians from every child cancer research and clinical care facility nationwide.
ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science, UNSW
Over the past 15 years, Professor Andrew Pitman has demonstrated visionary leadership in the field of climate science. By bringing together and maintaining a consortium of leading universities and institutions, he has transformed the scale and impact of Australian climate science research.
University of Sydney
Professor Salah Sukkarieh’s leadership successfully translates cutting-edge robotics and intelligent systems research into real-world applications. Working across aviation, agriculture, mining, aerospace and logistics, his work places Australian innovations in autonomous systems on the global map.
University of Technology Sydney Eureka Prize for Outstanding Mentor of Young Researchers
Professor Tom Davis creates open and highly productive research environments that are incubators of talent. He believes in ‘living mentoring’ by sharing workspaces with students and colleagues; and last year established a unique nationwide mentoring program.
Through a program of individualised mentorship, Professor Justin Gooding has trained and developed an all-new breed of research leader in bionanotechnology and nanomedicine. He has focused on developing innovative, entrepreneurial and passionate researchers who become talented mentors in their own right.
Professor Damon Honnery is an exceptional mentor of young researchers, prioritising their success above his own professional advancement. He has provided guidance on teaching, research and career development to a large cohort of young academics, including three Fulbright fellows.
Department of Industry, Innovation and Science Eureka Prize for Innovation in Citizen Science
This project enables citizen scientists to collect identification data on whale sharks, helping researchers better understand the movements and ecology of this endangered species. The ECOCEAN Whale Shark Research, Education and Conservation Project also delivers education outreach activities to engage school students and the community in marine conservation.
Macquarie University; Yugul Mangi Rangers; and Ngukurr School
This project empowers remote living Aboriginal people to protect their environment and maintain endangered cultural knowledge. The work of the Ngukurr Wi stadi bla Kantri (We Study the Country) Research Team has led to the discovery of a new species, found new populations of threatened species, and produced the community's first ever university Bachelor degree students.
University of Tasmania
Range Extension Database and Mapping, or Redmap, invites community members to spot and log marine species uncommon to their local area. Thousands of sightings have been recorded, providing researchers with early indications of how marine species are responding to climate change.
Department of Industry, Innovation and Science Eureka Prize for Science Journalism
A compelling two-part documentary series, Becoming Superhuman follows the story of a biomedical engineer and a teenage boy with cerebral palsy, who reveal what's possible when cutting edge-technology is fused with biology. Together, they present a future where we all might have a chance at developing superpowers.
A The Feds Production. Broadcast on ABC TV’s Catalyst, 24 and 31 May 2016.
In a television first, The Truth About Racism reveals extraordinary new science behind racism. Five people undergo a battery of scientiﬁc tests in this unique social experiment to help them realise, explore and transform their own prejudice.
Broadcast on SBS TV, 1 March 2017
Covering science policy, breakthrough research, education and emerging themes; Marcus Strom's reporting has put science on the front page. His work has reached a mass audience, helping explain and popularise science through engaging writing and original subject choices.
Published in the Sydney Morning Herald, 21 September and 30 November 2016, and 12 February and 18 March 2017.
University of Sydney Sleek Geeks Science Eureka Prize - Primary
Oxford Falls Grammar School, NSW
Responsible for the death of over 750,000 people each year, the mosquito is often regarded as 'the greatest killer on earth'. In A Portrait of a Serial Killer, Charlie, Brayden and Lachlan investigate this claim, discovering that mosquitos are simply carriers for diseases, therefore merely an accessory to the 'crime.'
Presbyterian Ladies' College, Sydney, NSW
Icy Cold But Toasty Warm is an entertaining investigation into the behavioural and physical adaptations of the Antarctic region's Emperor Penguins. Using a series of models, diagrams, experiments and even song, Amelia and Caitlyn illustrate how the species stays warm in the coldest weather conditions on Earth.
University of Sydney Sleek Geeks Science Eureka Prize - Secondary
St Monica's College, QLD
In their film Manure You Know, Eliza, Claire, Georgia and Anna explain the importance of dung beetles in our ecosystem. They investigate why the introduction of dung beetles has positively influenced farms on the Atherton Tablelands in Far North Queensland, and demonstrate how the belt transect method can be used to monitor dung beetle populations.
Westminster School, SA
In One Small Step for a Cat, Josh explores the science behind the 'cat righting reflex': that is, why a falling cat almost always lands on its feet. He also looks at how the phenomenon of the falling cat has helped NASA prepare their astronauts for the zero gravity of outer space.
The Scots School Albury, NSW
The science behind dreaming has long been a mystery but new technologies have enabled scientists to investigate what happens in the brain while we sleep. In her film Dream On, Meg explores what really goes on when we dream throughout the night.
University of Sydney Sleek Geeks Science - Highly Commended
Sleek Geeks Science Highly Commended - Primary School
- Cuts Like a Saw Alyssa B. and Chloe W., Presbyterian Ladies' College Sydney, NSW
- TTX: Poison, Venom, Cure Jasper C. and Griffin C., St Peter's Lutheran College, QLD
- How to Score the Best Rugby Rocket Goal? Ava D., Scarborough Public School, NSW
- Can Solar Save Us? Sienna H. and Seanna S., Presbyterian Ladies' College Sydney, NSW
- What's the Matter with Dark Matter? Hugo P., Maribyrnong Primary, ACT
- How can we make Pineapple Jelly? Toby T., Virginia Primary School, SA
Sleek Geeks Science Highly Commended - Secondary School
- Drive to Survive Harry B. and Tom D., Warrandyte High, VIC
- How a Cell Works Magnus B. and Ella D., St Leonard's College, VIC
- Eating Water Hunter C., Canterbury College, QLD
- The Fairweather Electric Field Andrew D., Homeschooled, WA
- Dye-ing for Love; or, How Chameleons Change Their Colours Taliesin G. and Aneirin G., St Leonard's College, VIC
- Science Myths Debunked: Why Are Veins Blue? Ella H., Kahlia R. and Amelia W., Asquith Girls High School, NSW
- The Canary that Croaks Hayden I. and Logan I., South Sydney High School, NSW
- Cloning a Mammoth Luke P., Canberra High School, ACT