2013 Australian Government Eureka Prize for Promoting Understanding of Australian Science Research

Sex, genes and understanding science.

Sex, obesity and the evolution of the human placenta are just three of the many topics tackled by one of Australia’s most prolific science writers, Professor Rob Brooks.

Rob Brooks, Professor of Evolution at the University of New South Wales, has won the 2013 Australian Museum Australian Government Eureka Prize for Promoting Understanding of Australian Science Research.

In the past two years he has published an award-winning book, written 16 articles and 44 columns for The Conversation, been heavily involved in a 30-minute television program, given 44 print, 50 radio and five TV interviews, and presented a host of public lectures on the science behind the evolution of sex, reproduction and human behaviour in general.

“Rob Brooks follows in the footsteps of Stephen J Gould with his stories of the ‘consquences’ of evolution,” the Director of the Australian Museum, Frank Howarth said.

“He helps people join the scientific conversation by communicating complex ideas without dumbing them down,” Frank said.

“It is an enormous privilege to spend my working life teaching, learning and discovering new things. It is an even greater privilege to work in a field where we do things not because they are commercially lucrative, or because they will save the world, but rather because they are interesting,” Rob says.

The two other finalists for the prize are a scientist who has revolutionised the study of nutrition worldwide, and a three-time former finalist who is turning the understanding of genetics and health into an art form.

Professor Steve Simpson from the University of Sydney has published a landmark book, The Nature of Nutrition: A Unifying Framework from Animal Adaptation to Human Obesity, which has turned into an international best seller. He has also presented and narrated the ABC documentary series Great Southern Land, which looked at how Australian society copes with a challenging continent.

Meanwhile, Professor Philip Batterham of the University of Melbourne has been building on 30 years of public engagement: developing the theme of The Art and Science of Wellbeing to The University of Melbourne’s Festival of Ideas 2013; creating a science experience for indigenous students and much more. His past works include bringing the International Congress of Genetics to Australia and creating a national celebration for Darwin’s 200th birthday.
The Australian Museum Eureka Prizes reward excellence in the fields of research and innovation, leadership and commercialisation, science journalism and communication, and school science. This year the 17 sponsored prizes include awards for agriculture, defence, infectious diseases and innovative use of technology.

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Kea Lambert , Project Officer, Eureka Prizes
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