A dragon’s tail, black hole hunting and fireballs in the sky may sound like fantasy fiction but are amongst the real-world scientific topics explored by winners of this year’s 2016 Australian Museum Eureka Prizes.
The Australian Government’s sponsorship of five of the prizes, acknowledges the importance of promoting excellence in research and innovation, science leadership, and science communication and education.
I want to congratulate this year’s winners for their work helping to place Australian science on the global map and, in particular, for inspiring more young people to become the scientists, researchers and communicators of the future.
The winners play a valuable role in promoting science and its application to everyday challenges, and in deepening our understanding of the universe and our place in it.
Fireballs in the Sky, a citizen science programme from Curtin University, Western Australia, received the Eureka Prize for Innovation in Citizen Science.
The Fireballs in the Sky app allows the public to report fireball sightings to scientists from the Desert Fireball Network. The app helps scientists to retrieve and study meteorites to enhance understanding of the universe. The team also delivers educational activities on planetary science at schools and public events.
CSIRO research astronomer and black hole hunter, Dr Lisa Harvey-Smith, was awarded the Eureka Prize for Promoting Understanding of Australian Science Research. Dr Harvey-Smith promotes astronomy and its real-world impacts to life through outreach activities to schools, institutions and the public.
The Eureka Prize for Science Journalism was awarded to Genepool Productions for their documentary series, ‘Uranium – Twisting the Dragon’s Tail’, which explores this element and its uses throughout history.
The Commonwealth Science and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) sponsor the Leadership in Innovation and Science prize and the Innovative Use of Technology prize respectively.
Professor Gordon Wallace from the University of Wollongong received the CSIRO Eureka Prize for Leadership in Innovation and Science for his leadership in pioneering electromaterials science and ‘intelligent polymers’. His team’s work combines nanotechnology and additive manufacturing for applications in renewable energy and medical science. This includes developing an intelligent knee sleeve to help prevent anterior cruciate ligament damage, a serious injury for professional sports players.
The ANSTO Eureka Prize for Innovative Use of Technology went to Macquarie University Professor Ewa Goldys and research and development engineer Dr Martin Gosnell for innovative and powerful hyperspectral imaging technology that visualises the colour of cells and tissues to assist medical diagnoses. The technology allows the non-invasive and rapid detection of health conditions including neurodegeneration, cancer and diabetes.
The full list of Australian Museum Eureka Prize winners and more information is available at: www.australianmuseum.net.au/eureka