2013 Macquarie University Eureka Prize for Outstanding Young Researcher

The right place to spend our conservation dollars.

Targeted spending provides more bang for the buck when it comes to protecting species, according to new guidelines developed by the University of Queensland’s Dr Kerrie Wilson.

For her original and influential research, Dr Wilson has won the 2013 Australian Museum Macquarie University Eureka Prize for Outstanding Young Researcher.

Previous approaches to tight conservation budgets have tried to simply spread the dollars as widely as possible, but Dr Wilson has shown that smart and transparent spending can have a greater impact.

These insights are helping to prioritise conservation efforts in Borneo in a way that balances competing land-use demands and the maintenance of forests to offset greenhouse gas emissions.

“Over the past five years Dr Wilson has revolutionised approaches to conservation spending,” Frank Howarth, Director of the Australian Museum said. “She’s combined her ecological background with theory and modelling to create new tools for conservation planning.”

Dr Wilson’s applied conservation ecology laboratory has more than a dozen members. They have applied her methods to tasks such as restoring habitat, and protecting biodiversity from the impacts of climate change.

The two other finalists for the prize are a nanotechnologist who’s sending medicines to their targets and an innovator in molecular treatments for tuberculosis, malaria and cancer.

Dr Angus Johnston of the University of Melbourne is creating nanoparticles that deliver drugs such as cancer-killing antibodies directly into cells, thus reducing side effects and increasing effectiveness.

Associate Professor Richard Payne of the University of Sydney is finding new molecules to fight major diseases. His discoveries include using an anti-obesity drug to create TB drug leads; that attacks tuberculosis, developing anti-malarials extracted from marine bacteria, and vaccine candidates for cancer.

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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