2016 Eureka Prizes Finalists
Learn more about the 2016 finalists.
2016 Australian Museum Eureka Prizes finalists
Photographer: Australian Museum Eureka Prizes finalists © Australian Museum
Research & Innovation
- CSIRO Marine Debris Team
The CSIRO Marine Debris Team applied integrated research to identify the sources and distribution of marine debris at a national scale around Australia's coastline. By combining field data and laboratory analyses with oceanographic and ecological modelling, the team translated scientific information into effective policy and behavioural change, combining rigorous research with citizen science, outreach to government and media engagement.
- Mallee Fire and Biodiversity Team, La Trobe University
Together with government agencies, private landowners and conservation organisations, the Mallee Fire and Biodiversity Team has collected one of the world’s largest datasets on fire. Their research has transformed the understanding of how fire affects biota, produced innovative new tools and significantly contributed to change in fire policy.
- QUT Environmental Robotics, ARC Centre of Excellence for Robotic Vision, Queensland University of Technology
The QUT Environmental Robotics team has developed a revolutionary robotic system, COTSBot, to increase the efficiency of Crown-of-Thorns Starfish (COTS) control programs. Through innovations in robotic vision, machine learning, and robotic navigation, COTSBot provides a versatile tool aimed at empowering stakeholders undertaking COTS control programs for protection of the Great Barrier Reef.
- CSIRO National Outlook, CSIRO and Partners
The Australian National Outlook is a new CSIRO initiative, seeking an integrated understanding of the challenges and opportunities in achieving sustainable prosperity.
The first Outlook examines two aspects in depth, namely the ‘water-energy-food-nexus’, and the prospects for Australia’s materials and energy intensive industries.
- Professor Miles Davenport, Dr Deborah Cromer, Dr Mykola Pinkevych and, Dr David Khoury, Kirby Institute, UNSW; Professor Stephen Kent, Peter Doherty Institute, The University of Melbourne; and Dr Ashraful Haque, QIMR Berghofer Institute
The Infection Analytics Program Group integrates mathematicians, computer scientists and physicists, in close collaboration with experimental scientists and clinicians, to develop a novel understanding of the ‘mathematics of infection’. The team has used these insights to design and optimise treatment and vaccination for major infectious diseases.
- TEPO, CODES - ARC Centre of Excellence, University of Tasmania; Flinders University; Russian Academy of Science; and University of California
The Trace Elements in Past Oceans (TEPO) project is a multidisciplinary research collaboration utilising analytical chemistry, geology, palaeontology, evolutionary biology and toxicology. The project is contributing to a step change in understanding the connections between plate tectonics, past ocean chemistry and the evolution and extinction of life on Earth.
- FANTOM5, Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research; The University of Melbourne; University of Queensland; Translational Research Institute; Telethon Kids Institute; and RIKEN Japan
With 260 specialists from 20 countries, including 22 Australian researchers, the FANTOM5 project is mapping the sets of genes expressed in each of our cell types. The map is being used to interpret genetic diseases and engineer new cells for therapeutic use.
- Murchison Widefield Array, Curtin University; Swinburne University; Australian National University; University of Sydney; University of Western Australia; and The University of Melbourne
The Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) is a radio telescope built and operated by an international consortium of universities and research institutions from five countries. Designed to pursue the highest priority goals in cosmology, the MWA is a versatile instrument that has produced diverse science results since commencing operations three years ago.
- Associate Professor Chunnong Zhao and Associate Professor Li Ju, University of Western Australia
Associate Professors Chunnong Zhao and Li Ju led research that enabled the Advanced LIGO gravitational wave detectors to control laser power induced instabilities. This enabled the laser power to be increased enough that the detectors were able to reach sufficient sensitivity for the first detection of gravitational waves and the discovery of coalescing binary black holes.
- The Boddey, Sleebs and Cowman team, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research
Tackling the unmet need for new antimalarials, the Boddey, Sleebs and Cowman team has determined how malaria parasites cause disease, using a protein export pathway across the parasite’s lifecycle. Their discoveries in basic science and collaboration with industry are accelerating the development of a new antimalarial drug.
- The SHIFT Team, Murdoch Childrens Research Institute; The Kirby Institute; St Vincent’s Hospital; Menzies School of Health Research; and Fiji Ministry of Health
The SHIFT trial is a landmark study showing that mass drug administration with the oral drug ivermectin is highly effective in controlling scabies and related bacterial skin sores. SHIFT has transformed the global conversation on integrated programs for neglected tropical diseases.
- Professor Leann Tilley, Dr Nick Klonis, Associate Professor Julie Simpson and Associate Professor James McCaw, The University of Melbourne
Malaria kills nearly half a million children each year, and the emergence of resistance to the first-line antimalarial drug, artemisinin, is looming as a major global health crisis. Professor Leann Tilley and her team have made a number of key scientific discoveries leading to insights into how artemisinin resistance may be overcome.
- The AIM Analysis Collaboration, Flinders University
Dysphagia, or difficulty in swallowing, can occur for many reasons and in people of all ages. Utilising existing technology that measures swallowing function, the AIM Analysis Collaboration has developed software that objectively assesses swallowing at the bedside, within the context of age and illness. The AIMPlot software allows clinicians to rapidly implement patient management and improve clinical outcomes.
- Professor David Huang, Dr Peter Czabotar, Associate Professor Guillaume Lessene and Professor Andrew Roberts, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research
The work undertaken by Professor David Huang and his team has transformed a basic Australian research discovery into a new cancer therapy approved by the US Food and Drug Administration. Central to the achievement is the development of a novel class of targeted anticancer drug, the BH3 mimetic compounds.
- Dr Jamie Flynn, Antony Martin and Will Palmer, University of Newcastle
Dr Jamie Flynn, Antony Martin and Will Palmer have developed advances in plant-enzyme-assisted (PEA)-CLARITY tissue clearing technique, built a custom light sheet microscope and founded a new three-dimensional tissue clearing and light sheet microscopy facility. In the spirit of transparency, the team has released their innovation as open source, enabling free access to interested researchers.
- Professor Ewa Goldys, Macquarie University and ARC Centre of Excellence for Nanoscale BioPhotonics; and Dr Martin Gosnell, Quantitative Pty Ltd
The hyperspectral imaging technology, developed by Professor Ewa Goldys and Dr Martin Gosnell, enables the colour of cells and tissues to be used as a non-invasive medical diagnostic tool. This powerful approach is easily accessible and yields translational outcomes for patients and industry.
- Dr Bernhard Mitchell, Daniel Chung and Professor Thorsten Trupke, UNSW
Through the application of highly innovative ‘spectral’ photoluminescence imaging, a key limitation in silicon solar cell manufacturing can now be overcome. Dr Bernhard Mitchell, Daniel Chung and Professor Thorsten Trupke have been able to accurately measure contamination levels in silicon before it is made into solar cells - significantly lowering the cost of solar cell production.
- Dr Michael Bowen, University of Sydney
Dr Michael Bowen’s research focuses on discovering and developing novel treatments for serious brain disorders. His research has established oxytocin and novel molecules that target the brain’s oxytocin system as prime candidates to fill the void left by the lack of effective treatments for alcohol-use disorders and social disorders.
- Dr Eve McDonald-Madden, University of Queensland
The work of Dr Eve McDonald-Madden applies quantitative methods, from fields such as economics and artificial intelligence, to solving complex conservation problems. Her research is frequently published in leading interdisciplinary journals and has influenced the way major conservation organisations make decisions.
- Associate Professor Michael Milford, Queensland University of Technology
Associate Professor Michael Milford’s research bridges the divide between robotics and neuroscience. He has created new algorithms and technologies for robotics that are now being developed for a wider range of applications including mining, infrastructure monitoring, environmental analysis, space exploration and self-driving cars.
- Centre of Excellence in Autonomous Vessels (CEAV), Saab Australia Pty Ltd
Unmanned Surface Vessels (USVs) are used for dull, dirty and dangerous operations. Saab has developed a low cost, flexible and reliable USV Mission System integrated with a Combat Management System. Suitable for any hull, work is now focused on a Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat (RHIB) to facilitate technology adoption for naval operations.
- Photonic Radio Frequency@Sydney, University of Sydney
The research of Associate Professor Xiaoke Yi and Dr Linh Nguyen leverages breakthroughs in miniaturised photonic integrated circuit approaches, building a high sensitivity, ultra-wideband and tuneable radio frequency (RF) front-end system. The system solves technical challenges in defence platforms where size, weight and power are key issues.
- Thales Australia
Traditional light weight military vehicles are susceptible to battlefield damage from Improvised Explosive Devices and small arms fire. The innovative new Hawkei, developed by Thales, provides Australian soldiers with potentially life-saving protection against roadside bombs and other threats by combining several existing technologies to produce a novel design.
- Professor Gabrielle Belz, Dr Nicholas Huntington, Dr Sandra Nicholson, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research; and Professor Eric Vivier, Centre d’Immunologie Marseille-Luminy
Innate lymphoid cells (ILCs) are enriched at mucosal surfaces where they are essential to provide immune protection and maintain homeostasis. Professor Gabrielle Belz and her team have identified the transcriptional blueprint and key regulators necessary to target ILCs for immunotherapy and protection against infections.
- Associate Professor Cyrille Boyer, UNSW
Associate Professor Cyrille Boyer has made major contributions to the field of polymer science, with a body of work focussed on creating novel, specialised polymers utilising living polymerisation. Employing his expertise in polymer chemistry, Associate Professor Boyer has stimulated a paradigm shift in light-activated polymerisation.
- Kidney in a Dish, Murdoch Childrens Research Institute
Kidney disease affects one in 10 Australians, with kidney failure increasing at six percent per annum. Recognising the urgent need for new treatment options, Professor Melissa Little and Dr Minoru Takasato have recreated human kidney tissue from stem cells, opening the door to disease modelling, drug screening, and ultimately replacement organs.
- Dr Dane McCamey, UNSW
Dr Dane McCamey is widely regarded as an expert and future leader in the field of electron spin resonance. He works to develop research capacity at the institutional, national and international level, establishing experimental facilities for materials characterisation and developing the next generation of researchers.
- Dr Thomas Snelling, Telethon Kids Institute
Dr Thomas Snelling is driven to improve how serious childhood infections are treated and prevented. His leadership and research is informing national vaccination policy and changing the direction of vaccine programs, including those for rotavirus and whooping cough.
- Associate Professor Sharath Sriram, RMIT University
The work of Associate Professor Sharath Sriram harnesses the functionality of materials and objects at extremely small scales. His leadership transcends science, to include team mentorship, the establishment of a $30 million research facility and national science advocacy for early- and mid-career researchers.
- Professor Jonathan Carapetis, Telethon Kids Institute
Professor Jonathan Carapetis is an international leader in medical research and public health through his innovative and determined global efforts to eliminate rheumatic heart disease. This deadly and debilitating disease is most prevalent amongst the most disadvantaged countries, yet Australia still reports some of the highest rates in the world.
- Professor Stephen Simpson AC, Charles Perkins Centre, University of Sydney
As its inaugural Director, Professor Stephen Simpson AC has built the Charles Perkins Centre into a leading centre in metabolic science, preventative health and policy, bringing together a diverse, cross-disciplinary team to tackle the high level of obesity and metabolic disease.
- Professor Gordon Wallace, ARC Centre of Excellence for Electromaterials Science, University of Wollongong
Professor Gordon Wallace is an internationally renowned researcher in the field of electromaterials science and has cultivated a research vision in the area of ‘intelligent polymers’. Through his leadership and ability to inspire, his collaborative team has pioneered the use of nanotechnology and additive fabrication in renewable energy and medical science.
- Professor Patricia Davidson, University of Technology Sydney
Professor Patricia Davidson is highly regarded amongst her peers and mentees for her generous nature and strong commitment to the development of early- and mid-career researchers. She creates an inclusive and safe learning environment for researchers to develop as scholars, and has continued to mentor and work collaboratively with many of her students once they have established their own research careers.
- Professor Tom Davis, Monash University
Professor Tom Davis creates highly productive and open research environments, establishing research centres as incubators of talent. He strongly believes in ‘living’ mentoring by sharing workspace with his colleagues and has mentored more than 80 PhD students and postdoctoral researchers over a 25-year career.
- Professor Christopher Dickman, University of Sydney
Interacting with passionate and brilliant young researchers has stimulated and enriched Professor Christopher Dickman’s work. Over the past 30 years, he has supervised over 140 higher research degree students and 20 postdoctoral researchers who have gone on to successful careers in their own right.
- Fireballs in the Sky, Curtin University
Fireballs in the Sky is an innovative Australian citizen science program that connects the public with the research of the Desert Fireball Network. This research aims to understand the early workings of the solar system, and Fireballs in the Sky invites people around the world to learn about this science, contributing fireball sightings via a user-friendly app. To date, more than 23,000 people have downloaded the app world-wide and participated in planetary science.
- Ngukurr Wi stadi bla Kantri Research Team, Macquarie University and Yugul Mangi Rangers
Through cross-cultural citizen science research, the Ngukurr Wi stadi bla Kantri (We Study the Country) Research Team is equipping Aboriginal elders and youth with the knowledge and tools to better understand and manage South East Arnhem Land environments. Through the project, the team is re-discovering a large and remote area unknown to Western science and working towards maintaining endangered Aboriginal biocultural knowledge.
- Redmap Australia, University of Tasmania
Redmap Australia engages the public in co-production of knowledge on how the distribution of marine species may be impacted by climate change. A collaborative project, Redmap Australia generates thousands of conversations between individual scientists and citizen scientists around Australia.
Department of Industry, Innovation and Science Eureka Prize for Promoting Understanding of Australian Science Research
- Associate Professor Darren Curnoe, UNSW
An engaging science communicator, Associate Professor Darren Curnoe has reached millions of people through his films, on-line articles and opinion columns. His groundbreaking research in China became the focus of an award winning documentary and his work continues to attract global media coverage.
- Dr Alan Duffy, Swinburne University of Technology
Dr Alan Duffy is a leading expert on dark matter, which he investigates by creating baby universes on supercomputers. Through television, radio, print and online, Dr Alan Duffy aims for everyone in Australia to learn and be inspired by the abstract, distant and wonderfully strange discoveries of astrophysics.
- Dr Lisa Harvey-Smith, CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science
Dr Lisa Harvey-Smith is a black hole hunter and a dynamic communicator bringing astronomy and its real-world impacts to life. It is the strong engagement that Dr Harvey-Smith fosters with schools, institutions and her public audience, particularly girls and indigenous students, which sets her outreach apart.
- Jo Chandler, Wendy Carlisle, Linda McGinness and Tim Roxburgh
With the growing crisis of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis looming, there is nowhere more dangerous than our Asia Pacific neighbourhood. Ebola with wings: the TB crisis on our doorstop exposes the largely invisible disease emergency occurring in our region, exploring the scientific, medical, economic and political challenges it poses.
Broadcast on ABC’s RN 17 April 2016
- Wain Fimeri, Sonya Pemberton, Dr Derek Muller and Steve Westh
Uranium – Twisting the Dragon’s Tail is an Australian made series, an epic journey through nine countries and more than a century of stories, to discover the element that shaped the modern world. Join physicist Dr Derek Muller as he reveals the story of the most wondrous and terrifying rock on Earth.
Produced by Genepool Productions. Broadcast on SBS, 9, 16 and 23 August 2015
- Michael Slezak
For the past four years, Michael Slezak has been breaking, investigating and telling scientific stories on a global stage. Whether following the ins-and-outs of the Higgs boson discovery, or breaking news in the field of cancer and regenerative medicine, his work has contributed greatly to the fields of scientific journalism and communication.
Published in New Scientist, 11 July 2012, 12 and 26 June 2013, 30 December 2014 and The Guardian, 17 April 2016
- Rosanna Cartwright and Elli Rugg, Year 5, Santa Sabina College, NSW
Seeing Red tests the theory that wearing red might give a competitive edge. In the film, Rosanna and Elli explain how the eyes and brain work together to see colour and take to their local swimming pool with red-lensed goggles to test out their hypothesis.
- Hayden Ingle, Year 6, Banksmeadow Public School, NSW
Hayden was inspired to create his film after discovering a glaucus atlanticus on the beach, and wondering what it was and what it ate. In The Bluebottle and the Glaucus, Hayden uses some of his own underwater footage to share his love and experience of the ocean with the viewer.
- Tom Downie and Harry Bebbington, Year 11, Warrandyte High School, Vic
In No Place for Race, Tom and Harry explore how and where our ape-like ancestors developed into one species – Homo sapiens – through creation myths, fossils, dating methods, evolution and the migration of hominids. They also explain why the concept of race is irrelevant.
- Claire Galvin and Anna Hardy, Year 10, St Monica’s College Cairns, Qld
Owl Pellets: A Postal System to Scientists is an investigation of the Barn Owl’s adaptations, features and the formation of owl pellets. Claire and Anna explain how these owl pellets are used by scientists to gather data for conservation efforts, animal population studies and ecosystem monitoring.
- Meg Paterson, Year 9, The Scots School Albury, NSW
Taking inspiration from the old wives’ tale ‘You’ll catch your death of cold’, Meg’s film Sniffles, explains why we have created such a strong association with catching a cold, and being cold.
Highly Commended - Primary School Category
- Snap, Crack, Pop! Alyssa Buda and Chloe Walker, PLC Sydney, NSW
- Chomp! Understanding the Bite Force Griffin and Jasper Chong, St Peter's Lutheran College, Qld
- Does Colour Affect Heat Absorption Alexia Gulli, St Mark's Primary School Drummoyne, NSW
- Clean, Clean Chlorine Amelie Haigh and Caitlyn Walker, PLC Sydney, NSW
- Shrink Magic Sienna Haigh and Sophia Udechuku, PLC Sydney, NSW
- Mosquitos Don't Bite Hannah Schmidt, St Andrew's Catholic Primary School, Ferny Grove, Qld
- What Happens to 3D Printed Plastic Toby Trenwith, Virginia Primary School, SA
Highly Commended Secondary School Category
- Tasty Science Sam Biggs, Pittwater House, NSW
- A Billion Shades of Grey Maggie Grigg and Charlotte Thelander, Fairholme College Toowoomba, Qld
- Life in the Milky Way Sean Kelly and Sierra Danon, Glen Eira College, Vic
- Gyroscopes and Angular Momentum Joseph Moynihan, St Augustine's College, Qld
- Synaesthesia Mia Pope, Fintona Girls' School, Vic
- The Secret Life of Electrons Georgina Ryan, Betty Zhang and Belle Barnett, Methodist Ladies' College, Vic
- Memory Sarah Yeung, Katrina Leung and Seona Kim, Strathfield Girls High School, NSW
Finalists' statements are based on information provided by the entrants.
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Vanessa Gardos , Manager, Education