Eureka! Winners of Australia’s leading science awards announced

Eureka Prize 2019 NISEP STEM Inclusion
The Eureka Prize for STEM Inclusion was awarded to the National Indigenous Science Education Program. Pictured is NISEP student leader Isaachar Fraser demonstrating the wonders of dry ice to junior students at Casino High School. Image: Supplied by NISEP © Macquarie University, Charles Sturt University and Yaegl Country Aboriginal Elders

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 microplasticsscroll down to watch both in full!

Eureka Prize 2019
Ellie Cole and Tsambika Galanos from Presbyterian Ladies’ College (PLC) in Sydney won the 2019 University of Sydney Sleek Geeks Science Eureka Prize (Secondary School) for their short video investigating microplastics. Image: Supplied PLC

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.”

Inspired much? Take our quiz to find out which area of science you should study

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

Finkel Foundation

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

Celestino

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

Australian Museum

Winner: Liam Mannix, The Age

Over the past year Liam has researched and written a series of hard-hitting articles challenging the science behind nerve-pain drugs, ergonomics and diet pills.

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

UNSW

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

ANSTO

Winner: Professor Hala Zreiqat

Hala and her team have invented a 3D replacement for injured human bones!

Eureka Prize for Outstanding Early Career Researcher

Macquarie University

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

UNSW

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.

Category: Leadership 

Eureka Prize for Emerging Leader in Science

3M

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

CSIRO

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.

Gemma Chilton

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.

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