Bright stars of Australian science recognised with Academy Awards

February 28, 2019
Twenty of Australia’s leading scientists and future superstars have received the Academy’s prestigious 2019 honorific awards.

Outstanding contributions to science have been recognised by the Australian Academy of Science today with 20 of Australia’s leading scientists and future superstars receiving prestigious 2019 honorific awards.

The scientists’ discoveries cross the breadth of research from how oceanic circulation impacts the climate, to the use of tools that advance the understanding of the chemistry within cells and how the body’s immune defences combat infectious disease. 

Distinguished Professor Chennupati Jagadish AC FAA from the Australian National University has been awarded one of the Academy’s top honours, the Thomas Ranken Lyle Medal. He helped develop semi-conductors used in LED lights. He also designed and developed some of the world’s smallest lasers. Born in India, Professor Jagadish grew up without electricity.

“I didn’t have much light as a child and studied in front of a kerosene lamp until Year 7. That’s why I’m interested in developing technologies that will benefit humanity,” Professor Jagadish said.

Protecting crops from disease is essential for our food sources. Mid-career researcher Professor Jaqueline Batley from The University of Western Australia is studying the DNA of plants to better understand genes that lead to greater crop resilience. Her research has helped increase crop yields for canola, broccoli, cabbage and wheat. A role model for women in STEM, Professor Batley is the recipient of the Nancy Millis Medal for Women in Science.

Early-career researcher Associate Professor Anna Giacomini from the University of Newcastle has pioneered research in rock mechanics and rockfall analysis in civil and mining engineering. Her research has resulted in the design of new low-energy rockfall barriers that are now used extensively along our major corridors in Australia. Associate Professor Giancomini is one of two recipients of the John Booker Medal.

President of the Australian Academy of Science, Professor John Shine, congratulated all the award winners for their inspiring research.

“These awards highlight just some of the important and distinguished research being led by Australian scientists, who seek to address some of society’s biggest challenges. Recognising and highlighting outstanding scientific contributions is important, as award recipients are the STEM role models for the next generation,” Professor Shine said.

The Academy’s 2019 honorific awards go to:

Career honorifics (for lifelong achievement)

  • David Craig Medal—Professor Peter Gill FAA, Australian National University
  • Hannan Medal—Professor Alan Welsh FAA, Australian National University
  • Jaeger Medal—Professor Dietmar Müller FAA, University of Sydney
  • Thomas Ranken Lyle Medal—Professor Chennupati Jagadish AC FAA, Australian National University
  • Matthew Flinders Medal and Lecture—Dr Richard Manchester FAA, CSIRO Australia Telescope National Facility (previously announced)

Mid-career honorifics (8–15 years post-PhD)

  • Jacques Miller Medal for experimental biomedicine—Professor Nicholas David Huntington, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research and Monash University
  • Nancy Millis Medal for Women in Science—Professor Jacqueline Batley, The University of Western Australia

Early-career honorifics (up to 10 years post-PhD)

  • Anton Hales Medal—Professor Isaac Santos, Southern Cross University
  • Christopher Heyde Medal—Professor Geordie Williamson FAA FRS, University of Sydney
  • Dorothy Hill Medal—Dr Laurie Menviel, UNSW Sydney
  • Fenner Medal—Dr Daniel Falster, UNSW Sydney
  • Gottschalk Medal—Associate Professor Laura Mackay, Doherty Institute
  • John Booker Medal 
    • Professor Changbin Yu, Australian National University and Westlake University (China)
    • Associate Professor Anna Giacomini, University of Newcastle
  • Le Fèvre Medal
    • Associate Professor Elizabeth New, University of Sydney
    • Dr Lars Goerigk, University of Melbourne
  • Moran Medal
    • Dr Kim-Anh Lê Cao, University of Melbourne
    • Associate Professor Stephen Leslie, University of Melbourne
  • Pawsey Medal—Professor Steven Flammia, University of Sydney
  • Ruth Stephens Gani Medal—Dr Justin Wong, Centenary Institute of Cancer Medicine and Cell Biology

The majority of the honorific awards will be presented at the Academy’s annual celebration of science, Science at the Shine Dome on 30 May 2019. Read more about the Academy’s 2019 honorific awardees.

Know an amazing Australian scientist? Nominate them for an award. Nominations and applications are now open for the 2020 Australian Academy of Science honorific awards, research conferences, research awards and travelling fellowships.

© 2021 Australian Academy of Science