The 2019 Australian Museum Eureka Prize Winners have been announced, recognising some of the best and brightest minds in Australian science.
This year, 17 prizes were awarded, including two new prizes – one for STEM Inclusion, and one for Long-Form Science Journalism. The STEM Inclusion Prize was awarded to the National Indigenous Science Education Program, which supports Indigenous secondary school students from lower socio-economic schools to deliver STEM workshops.
There’s even a category for the next generation of scientists to enter, with the University of Sydney Sleek Geeks Science Eureka Prize awarded to both a primary and secondary school entrant, for their short videos telling a scientific story or explaining a scientific concept. This year’s winning videos looked at whether dinosaurs could be brought back to life, and investigated the problem of microplastics – scroll down to watch both in full!
3D-printed bones and a ‘bionic spinal cord’
The 2019 Eureka Prizes also recognised some incredible innovations, including a world-first synthetic biomaterial that can be 3D printed to replace injured human bones, and a new technology that has been likened to “building a bionic spinal cord” and could restore mobility to people with paralysis.
Research into the carbon capture potential of coastal wetlands, a scientist’s work on how our immune system can help fight cancer, and technology that can detect explosive materials in less than a minute were also among the 17 prizes awarded.
“The work of scientists is what will change Australia’s future,” said Kim McKay, the Director and CEO of the Australian Museum.
“It plays a critical role in so many areas – business, conservation, medicine, engineering, safety, communications and more – it touches every part of our lives.”
Here are all of the 2019 Australian Museum Eureka Prize Winners:
Category: School Science
University of Sydney Sleek Geeks Science Eureka Prize – Primary School
Winner: Finn Thomas, St Mary’s Catholic Primary School, Concord NSW
Watch his winning video, Can We Bring Dinosaurs Back to Life?
University of Sydney Sleek Geeks Science Eureka Prize – Secondary School
Winner: Ellie Cole and Tsambika Galanos, Presbyterian Ladies’ College, Sydney NSW
Watch their winning video, Fish Fiasco
Category: Science engagement
Eureka Prize for Citizen Science
Department of Industry, Innovation and Science
Winner: Frog ID Team, Australian Museum
Frog ID is a national citizen science project aimed at understanding and conserving one of the most threatened groups of animals on the planet.
Eureka Prize for Long-Form Journalism
Winner: Michael Lucy
Michael was awarded this category for his article Ending the Age of Plastic published in Cosmos in September 2018.
Eureka Prize for Promoting the Understanding of Science
Winner: Associate Professor Darren Saunders
Darren is a cancer biologist at UNSW Sydney and a science communicator who often appears on TV, radio and in print talking all things science and medicine.
Eureka Prize for Science Journalism
Winner: Liam Mannix, The Age
Eureka Prize for STEM Inclusion
Department of Industry, Innovation and Science
Winner: National Indigenous Science Education Program, Macquarie University; Charles Sturt University; and Yaegl Country Aboriginal Elders
Established by requests from Aboriginal Elders, the National Indigenous Science Education Program (NISEP) supports Indigenous secondary students from lower socio-economic schools to deliver STEM workshops and activities at school, university and community events.
Category: Research & Innovation
Eureka Prize for Environmental Research
NSW Environment, Energy and Science (DPIE)
Winner: Blue Carbon Horizons Team, University of Wollongong, Macquarie University and ANSTO
The Blue Carbon Horizons Team has shown that the capacity of coastal wetlands to store carbon will substantially increase with sea level rise, providing a counter to global warming. Working alongside government, the team’s research is being used to protect and restore coastal ecosystems.
Eureka Prize for Excellence in Data Science
University of Technology Sydney
Winner: Professor Longbing Cao, UTS
Longbing has developed cutting-edge theories and systems to analyse real-life complex data. His work has enabled more efficient, active and tailored debt recovery and payment collection practices.
Eureka Prize for Excellence in Interdisciplinary Scientific Research
Winner: Endovascular Bionics Laboratory, University of Melbourne and Synchron Inc.
Synchron and the Endovascular Bionics Laboratory have developed a technology that can interpret brain signals and convert them to commands, with the potential to restore mobility to people with paralysis. The team has described the breakthrough as similar to “building a bionic spinal cord”.
Eureka Prize for Infectious Diseases Research
Australian Infectious Diseases Research Centre
Winner: Vivax Malaria Research Team, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research
The Vivax Malaria Research Team is focused on tackling the world’s most widespread malaria parasite, Plasmodium vivax. Through combined expertise in structural biology, immuno-epidemiology and mathematical modelling, they are working to develop new diagnostics and vaccine candidates to eliminate malaria.
Eureka Prize for Innovative Use of Technology
Winner: Professor Hala Zreiqat
Hala and her team have invented a 3D replacement for injured human bones!
Eureka Prize for Outstanding Early Career Researcher
Winner: Associate Professor Laura Mackay, University of Melbourne
Laura is a leader in the field of immunological memory – the capacity of our immune system to ‘remember’ and fight off infections. She has discovered a new population of immune cells that are critical for immune protection against infection and cancer.
Eureka Prize for Outstanding Science in Safeguarding Australia
Defence Science and Technology
Winner: Team GreyScan, University of Tasmania and Grey Innovation
Invented in Hobart, GreyScan technology can detect (in less than a minute) materials commonly used in homemade explosives. Their use in locations like airports and train stations could help make Australia and the world safer.
Eureka Prize for Scientific Research
Winners: Professor Mariapia Degli-Esposti, Professor Geoff Hill, Dr Chris Andoniou, Peter Fleming and Dr Paulo Martins, Monash University; Lions Eye Institute; and QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute
Cytomegalovirus infection is a frequent, life-threatening complication that significantly limits positive outcomes for bone marrow transplant patients. The researchers developed a new safe and effective strategy to reduce the impact of this infection.
Eureka Prize for Emerging Leader in Science
Winner: Associate Professor Melody Ding, University of Sydney
Melody is a public health epidemiologist and behavioural scientist at the intersection of environments, lifestyle behaviours and chronic disease prevention. She also mentors early career researchers from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.
Eureka Prize for Leadership in Innovation and Science
Professor Branka Vucetic, University of Sydney
Much of Branka’s work underpins the wireless tehnology we use today, including the development of algorithms for cellular WiFi and satellite communications. She’s now leading work that will enable large-scale industrial automation, self-driving cars and robotic surgery.
Eureka Prize for Outstanding Mentor of Young Researchers
University of Technology Sydney
Winner: Professor Barry Pogson, Australian National University
Barry has a vision to connect researchers, industry leaders and policy makers to shape agriculture for the benefit of global food security. His mentorship has had a profound impact on the personal development, career prospects and learning experiences of students.
Author: Gemma Chilton
Gemma has a degree in journalism from the University of Technology, Sydney and spent a semester studying environmental journalism in Denmark. She has been writing about science and engineering for over a decade.