Innovators and leading thinkers recognised in Science Academy awards

November 23, 2015

Scientists who are leading the world on solar energy efficiency, helping to develop one-shot flu vaccines, and making portable biosensors to detect viruses are among the winners of the Australian Academy of Science’s annual honorific awards. 

Each year the Academy presents awards to recognise scientific excellence, to researchers in the early stage of their careers through to those who have made life-long achievements.

This year’s announcement includes 17 award winners across astronomy, nanoscience, mathematics, chemistry, physics, environmental science and human health.

Professor Martin Green, sometimes known as the “father of photovoltaics”, has won the prestigious Ian Wark Medal and Lecture for his world-record breaking work improving solar efficiency.

Dr Jane Elith and Associate Professor Cyrille Boyer, who recently won awards in the Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science, will be the recipients of this year’s Fenner and Le Févre prizes. 

The Academy President, Professor Andrew Holmes congratulated all the award winners for their work.

The awards will be formally presented at the Academy’s annual three day celebration of Australian science, Science at the Shine Dome, in Canberra in May 2016.

See the list of winners below

Career honorifics

Professor Jeffrey Reimers2016 David Craig Medal

Professor Jeffrey Reimers FAA University of Technology, Sydney 

Professor Jeffrey Reimers is a chemist who has pioneered the application of chemical quantum theories in biochemical and technological areas. His work helps to explain the solar-to-electrical energy conversion during photosynthesis and has also evaluated the role of chemical quantum effects in manifesting consciousness.

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2016 Haddon Forrester King Medal and Lecture

Professor Murray Hitzman Colorado School of Mines

Professor Murray Hitzman is a minerals scientist and geologist who has pioneered new understandings of the physics and chemistry of mineral formation. His research has an important impact upon mineral exploration around the world. 

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2016 Mawson Medal and Lecture

Professor Colin Vincent Murray-Wallace University of Wollongong

Professor Colin Murray-Wallace is a coastal scientist who uses shells to track environmental and sea level change. This work is particularly relevant today in understanding coastal evolution under a progressive sea level rise.

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Professor Martin Green2016 Ian Wark Medal and Lecture

Scientia Professor Martin Green AM FAA FRS FTSE UNSW

Known as the “Father of Photovoltaics”, Professor Martin Green is a world leader in the field. Several generations of his group’s technology have been successfully commercialised and he has helped develop some of the most efficient silicon solar cells in the world.

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Mid-career honorifics

2016 Gustav Nossal Medal for Global Health

Professor David Wilson Burnet Institute

Associate Professor David Wilson models infectious disease outbreaks, particularly HIV. His modelling informs our understanding of future risks, enables better decision-making and how best to target resources in a global health context.

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Professor Kedzierska2016 Jacques Miller Medal for experimental biomedicine

Associate Professor Katherine Kedzierska The Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, University of Melbourne

Associate Professor Katherine Kedzierska researches immune responses to virus outbreaks, including influenza, with a particular focus on how best to protect vulnerable and high-risk groups. Her cutting edge work could lead to the development of a one-shot flu jab for life. 

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2016 Nancy Millis Medal for Women in Science

Dr Elena Belousova ARC Centre of Excellence for Core to Crust Fluid Systems, Macquarie University

Dr Elena Belousova has achieved international renown for TerraneChron®, a method of analyzing trace elements in zircon and applying this technology to studying the evolution of the earth’s crust, with major significance for mineral exploration.

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Early career honorifics

Dr Falcaro2016 John Booker Medal

Dr Paolo Falcaro CSIRO Materials Science and Engineering

Dr Paolo Falcaro engineers nano-materials with highly specialised properties. Working at the molecular level, he has developed materials to decontaminate water and improve medicine delivery. He is also developing portable biosensors to detect viruses during outbreaks. 

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Dr Jane Elith2016 Fenner Medal

Dr Jane Elith University of Melbourne

Dr Jane Elith has rapidly become one of the world’s most influential researchers in applied ecology. She uses novel tools to understand species distribution in the wild, helping to better inform environmental managers and governments on invasive species, land-use and improving biodiversity.

Photo credit: Joe Armao/The Age

Read the full citation

AProf Geoff Faulkner2016 Ruth Stephens Gani Medal

Associate Professor Geoffrey John Faulkner Mater Research Institute University of Queensland

Associate Professor Geofrey Faulkner has analysed the genomes of individual brain cells, identifying genetic changes that may impact how neurons function. His pioneering work has implications both for our understanding of brain disorders and future treatments. 

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2016 Gottschalk Medal

Professor Ostoja Vucic University of Sydney

Professor Ostoja Vucic’s pioneering research has uncovered the processes that can trigger Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), a motor neurone disease. His research has led to new treatments and a new technique to diagnose ALS, resulting in earlier, more effective interventions. 

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Professor John Paterson2016 Anton Hales Medal

Professor John Paterson University of New England

Professor John Paterson is a world-leading researcher on the earliest animals in the fossil record, using exceptionally preserved Australian fossils to answer major questions relating to evolution, biogeography and palaeoecology. 

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Dr Luke Bennetts2016 Christopher Heyde Medal

Dr Luke Bennetts University of Adelaide

Dr Luke Bennetts is an applied mathematician who models how different kinds of waves interact with objects in their path. His work has improved understanding of how ocean waves interact with sea ice, with direct implications for understanding and forecasting Earth’s climate.

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Dr Andrea Taschetto2016 Dorothy Hill Award

Dr Andréa Taschetto UNSW 

Dr Andrea Taschetto is a leader in climate systems science. Her research has significantly advanced our understanding of the role of the Pacific and Indian Oceans in regional climate variability.

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Dr Illya Shadrivov2016 Pawsey Medal

Dr Ilya Shadrivov Australian National University

Dr Ilya Shadrivov is developing new metamaterials which have properties not usually found in nature, such as the ability to  selectively absorb some colours of light, or beam electromagnetic waves in specific directions. These have great implications for the next generation technologies. 

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Michael Ireland 2016 Frederick White Prize

Dr Michael James Ireland Australian National University

Dr Michael Ireland develops and applies the latest optical and infrared technologies to build innovative astronomical instruments to investigate the lifecycles of stars and planets.

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Cyrille Boyer2016 Le Févre Memorial Prize

Associate Professor Cyrille Boyer UNSW

Associate Professor Cyrille Boyer is an authority in the field of polymer science, developing innovative methods of polymerisation. His demonstration of how chlorophyll and light can control polymerisation of functional macromolecules has implications for the synthesis of macromolecules using bio-resources.

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