Ben Andrews is a leading international researcher in differential geometry and related partial differential equations and is particularly famous for his work in geometric evolutions. Recently resolving one of the most celebrated open problems in mathematics, the fundamental gap conjecture for the eigenvalues of the Laplacian, and his 1999 resolution of Firey’s conjecture on the shape of rolling stone are among his many achievements. Benjamin’s research successes have been recognised by many awards, including a prestigious invited lecture in the geometry section of the International Congress of Mathematicians in 2002.
Matthew Brown has made important contributions to the field of common human disease gene-mapping, where he played a significant role in the development of genomewide association studies, a genetic study design which has revolutionised gene-mapping. Matthew is also a leading researcher internationally in musculoskeletal disease genetics, and is a principal investigator in international consortia studying the diseases ankylosing spondylitis, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis. Matthew has also made significant discoveries in genetics of rare human diseases, mapping genes responsible for monogenic forms of arthritis, ectopic bone development, and skeletal dysplasias.
David Craik is a biological chemist who has made important discoveries in the field of structural biology, particularly in the structural elucidation of peptide toxins and proteins having novel topologies. He discovered the cyclotide family of circular knotted proteins and, more generally, has pioneered the field of circular proteins. Circular proteins are characterised by their exceptional stability and professor Craik’s studies have led to their application in drug design and agriculture. His development of an orally active peptide for the treatment of pain is a paradigm-shifting example that has the potential to broadly expand applications of peptides as drugs.
David Day is an acknowledged international leader of research into plant mitochondrial respiration and symbiotic nitrogen fixation. His mitochondrial research, which includes groundbreaking work on the regulation of the alternative oxidase, has provided a model for the integration of carbon metabolism, mitochondrial electron transport and respiratory gene expression in plants. His research on symbiotic membranes in legumes has defined metabolite exchange between nitrogen-fixing bacteria and their plant host. His research is characterised by the integration of physiology, biochemistry and molecular biology that has placed these discoveries in an organism and environment context.
Yuri Estrin is one of the world leaders in Materials Science who has advanced physically based materials modelling in an outstanding way. The models associated with his name have become classic and are broadly used for calculating mechanical behaviour of materials. Yuri’s path breaking work in model-driven development of structural nanomaterials and geometry-inspired design of novel materials has also brought him international acclaim. For his contribution to science, Yuri has received numerous international awards, including an Alexander von Humboldt Award (Germany), an honorary doctorate from the Russian Academy of Sciences and a World-Class University professorship from Korea.
John Evans is internationally renowned for elucidating the nitrogen economy of photosynthesis. John has shown how photosynthetic adaptations of species to environmental conditions become quantitatively manifest in the allocation of nitrogen to biochemical processes. He has applied these relationships to photosynthetic processes across scales as diverse as chloroplasts, individual leaves and plant canopies. John’s pivotal work on CO2 diffusion within leaves forms a basis for process-based models of plant productivity in relation to global change, and the intellectual framework for molecular research aimed at raising crop yields by engineering photosynthesis.
Bryan Gaensler has made fundamental contributions to our understanding of the Universe through his outstanding research on high-energy astrophysics, cosmic magnetic fields and the structure of our Galaxy. His pioneering studies have delivered a unique view on the brightest explosion in history, provided the standard framework for relativistic outflows from neutron stars, revealed the distribution of magnetic fields throughout the Universe, and revised our estimates of the thickness of the Milky Way.
A leading Australian mathematical analyst, Andrew Hassell specialises in the spectral theory of partial differential equations and harmonic analysis of manifolds. Andrew has made significant contributions to mathematics in the areas of quantum ergodicity and quantum chaos, analysis on asymptotically conic spaces, time-dependent Schrodinger equations and Strichartz estimates, scattering theory, spectral invariants and numerical analysis. He has aroused considerable international interest by exhibiting examples of planar domains on which the billiard flow is quantum ergodic without being quantum unique ergodic.
During his PhD and early career, Ove Hoegh-Guldberg discovered the molecular mechanism behind coral bleaching. Ove has pioneered our understanding of endosymbiosis between invertebrates such as reef-building corals and dinoflagellates (Symbiodinium), particularly the flow of energy and carbon and its breakdown during ecosystem-level mass-coral bleaching events. Ove’s discoveries have directly influenced global policy through their integration of the thermal physiology of corals with projections of future sea temperatures, and he was one of the first to demonstrate the extreme sensitivity of ecosystems to increases in anthropogenic CO2, emphasising the need for a 2°/450 ppm 'guardrail' in climate policy.
Ian Jackson’s research has been on the physical properties of earth materials and their application in understanding the Earth’s interior structure and behaviour. He has developed innovative laboratory studies of seismic properties, with special application to olivine-rich rocks of the Earth’s upper mantle. These studies have explored factors that are responsible for seimologically-observed variation in earthquake wave propagation such as frequency, temperature, grain size and partial melting. In parallel, he has contributed to the refinement of theoretical models for thermoelastic and mechanical behaviour in order to provide a robust basis for using the experimental data in elucidating structure and processes in the Earth’s deep interior.
Sharad Kumar has made path breaking contributions to two areas of fundamental biology: the understanding of programmed cell death, and the regulation of protein homoeostasis. He discovered one of the first mammalian caspases; a novel family of ubiquitin ligases; and a ubiquitin-like protein (Nedd8) involved in a novel protein-modification system now termed Neddylation. Sharad’s group discovered and characterised a large part of the Drosophila cell death machinery and defined a novel cell death program during development.
A world leading scientist in materials science and chemical engineering, Max Lu has made many significant and sustained contributions including the new method for synthesis of highly reactive single crystal TiO2, insights into the surface chemistry and modifications of nanoporous materials, molecular engineering of membranes and efficient photocatalyst for clean energy and water. Max has also demonstrated practical applications of nanomaterials in hydrogen energy and environmental processes with over twenty international patents.
Boris Martinac is a leading membrane biophysicist world-wide: internationally known for his pioneering studies of ion channels in microbes, particularly the discovery, cloning and structural and functional characterization of mechanosensitive ion channels in bacteria. His discovery of bacterial mechanosensitive channels and elucidation of the basic physical principles of mechanosensitive channel gating by bilayer deformation forces has made major impact in the fields of mechanosensory transduction and ion channels. Boris’ recent work expanded into studies of the role mechanosensitive ion channels may play in neuronal and cardiac diseases.
James Paton has made major scientific contributions to the field of pathogenesis and prevention of bacterial infectious diseases, particularly to the human pathogens Streptococcus pneumoniae and Shiga toxigenic Escherichia Coli. James’ work has established the important role of certain pneumococcal virulence proteins in pathogenesis, and demonstrated their potential as vaccine antigens for prevention of pneumococcal disease, regardless of capsular serotype. Other achievements include characterisation of genes encoding pneumococcal capsule biosynthesis, development of toxin-binding probiotics for prevention of enteric infections, and characterisation of a novel family of bacterial AB5 cytotoxins.
A world leader in the use of physiological traits in the breeding of crop plants, Richard Richards developed an approach that integrates physiological understanding of what determines grain yield in drought-prone environments with the understanding of the molecular and genetic bases of influential physiological traits, and is now being used widely internationally. Richard’s method has enabled a much more effective, targeted use of bioinformatics in breeding crops for such environments, and has resulted in the release of several radically new varieties of wheat.
Mike Sandiford has made important contributions to metamorphic geology, tectonics, earthquake geology, geomorphology and geothermics with a special focus on the young tectonic activity in the Indo-Australian tectonic plate. His work on the thermal structure of the Australian crust has led to the current upsurge of interest in geothermal energy exploration in South Australia.
Australian physicists, led by Geoffrey Taylor, made important contributions to the recent discovery of the Higgs Boson. Right from the initial idea, Geoffrey has played a major role in the design and construction of the advanced detectors for the proposed Large Hadron Collider at CERN. The inner tracking component at the heart of the ATLAS detector, designed and built in Melbourne under Taylor's direction is one of the many independent scientific and technical advances which led to the successful outcome at CERN. Taylor's work on ATLAS is just a part of his distinguished career in Experimental Particle Physics going back several decades.
Brian Walker is an ecologist at the forefront of the inter-disciplinary area of resilience in complex adaptive systems. Brian’s major contributions have been his pioneering studies of the functional significance of biodiviersity, understanding of the dynamics of ecosystems that exhibit alternate stable states, and novel insights into the resilience of linked social-ecological systems. Brain has an outstanding record of scholarship and international and national science leadership across multiple disciplines.
Andrew White has pioneered world-leading experiments in quantum computation and quantum optics. His research on the first unambiguous demonstration of a quantum-logic gate operation set the standard for all competing quantum logic gates. Following this major achievement he published the first experimental realisation of the three qubit "Toffoli" gate and the first experimental demonstration of a quantum chemistry algorithm, and first three-excited state energies of molecular hydrogen. Underpinning these achievements he is also well known for his contributions to modern quantum phenomenon such as quantum discord, quantum state and process tomography and optical vortices.
Bryan Williams is internationally recognized for his work on innate immunity and mechanisms of interferon action. His discoveries include 2’-5’ oligoadenylate activated endoribonuclease, cloning and characterization of protein kinase R, first description of induced gene expression profiles in mammalian cells, and most recently the critical role played by promyleocytic zinc finger protein in innate immunity. Bryan has also determined the mechanisms by which cells detect siRNAs and activate an innate immune response. This world-leading work is not only important for understanding defensive responses to viral infections but also has important implications for the use of siRNA in research and therapy.
© 2017 Australian Academy of Science