2018 Eureka Prizes Finalists
Forty-seven entries have been shortlisted for 16 Australian Museum Eureka Prizes in 2018. Read more about the 2018 finalists below.
Research & Innovation
- NSW Office of Environment and Heritage Eureka Prize for Environmental Research
- UNSW Eureka Prize for Excellence in Interdisciplinary Scientific Research
- Australian Infectious Diseases Research Centre Eureka Prize for Infectious Diseases Research
- Johnson & Johnson Eureka Prize for Innovation in Medical Research
- ANSTO Eureka Prize for Innovative Use of Technology
- Macquarie University Eureka Prize for Outstanding Early Career Researcher
- Defence Science and Technology Eureka Prize for Outstanding Science in Safeguarding Australia
- University of Technology Sydney Eureka Prize for Excellence in Data Science
- UNSW Eureka Prize for Scientific Research
- 3M Eureka Prize for Emerging Leader in Science
- CSIRO Eureka Prize for Leadership in Innovation and Science
- University of Technology Sydney Eureka Prize for Outstanding Mentor of Young Researchers
- Department of Industry, Innovation and Science Eureka Prize for Innovation in Citizen Science
- Celestino Eureka Prize for Promoting Understanding of Science
- Department of Industry, Innovation and Science Eureka Prize for Science Journalism
- University of Sydney Sleek Geeks Science Eureka Prize - Primary
- University of Sydney Sleek Geeks Science Eureka Prize - Secondary
- University of Sydney Sleek Geeks Science - Highly Commended
RESEARCH & INNOVATION
NSW Office of Environment and Heritage Eureka Prize for Environmental Research
- Burramys Genetic Rescue Team, University of Melbourne; La Trobe University; Mount Buller Mount Stirling Resort Management; and UNSW
Just 10 years after it was discovered, the Mountain Pygmy Possum population of Mount Buller was facing imminent extinction. Through a program of cross breeding isolated populations of the threatened species, the Burramys Genetic Rescue Team was able to boost genetic variation, translating to population growth, healthy breeding and improved survival rates.
- Difficult Bird Research Group, Australian National University
Some of Australia’s rarest birds could soon be back from the brink of extinction, thanks to the pioneering conservation efforts of the Difficult Bird Research Group. The team has devised a series of strategies for rescuing the populations of three endangered Tasmanian bird species, which they were able to rapidly implement following a successful crowdfunding campaign.
- RE100, Australian National University
Professor Andrew Blakers, Dr Matthew Stocks and Bin Lu have challenged the barriers to renewable energy in Australia. The team discovered 22,000 sites that are suitable for cost-effective pumped hydro energy storage, raising the profile of opportunities for pumped hydro investment within the clean energy industry.
UNSW Eureka Prize for Excellence in Interdisciplinary Scientific Research
- The Biopen Team, ARC Centre of Excellence for Electromaterials Science, University of Wollongong; University of Melbourne; Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre; and St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne
A multidisciplinary team of scientists, engineers and clinicians has produced the ‘Biopen’, a handheld 3D printer that can be used in surgery to repair damaged cartilage. The technology was developed with a view to preventing osteoarthritis, a debilitating and painful condition that affects over 1 million Australians.
- eReefs Project Team, Great Barrier Reef Foundation; Australian Institute of Marine Science; CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere; Bureau of Meteorology; and Department of Environment and Science
The eReefs Project Team has produced a world-first integrated system transforming the way reef managers assess, communicate and report on the Great Barrier Reef ecosystem. Spanning the entire reef, from catchments to ocean, eReefs combines comprehensive data collection, enhanced monitoring and modelling, and innovative visualisation platforms.
- Optical Physics in Neuroscience, University of Queensland
The Optical Physics in Neuroscience team has devised cutting-edge methods for studying how our brains work to detect gravity and motion. Using optical trapping and novel microscopes, they successfully imaged the functioning brain circuits that process gravity and motion, and combine this information with other senses.
Australian Infectious Diseases Research Centre Eureka Prize for Infectious Diseases Research
- ACT Now for Tuberculosis Control, UNSW and University of Sydney
Tuberculosis is the leading infectious disease killer in the world, yet one third of cases are not diagnosed. Using innovative screening techniques in robustly-designed clinical trials, the Act Now for Tuberculosis Control Team has made major breakthroughs that promise to transform global efforts to eliminate the disease.
- CF Air, Metro North Hospital and Health Service; The Prince Charles Hospital; QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute; Children’s Health Queensland; University of Queensland; Griffith University; Gold Coast Health; and Queensland University of Technology
The CF Air team has uncovered the process by which the deadly pathogens causing airway infections are transmitted between cystic fibrosis (CF) patients. Their research has attracted considerable attention from the CF community, impacting clinical practice and policy and ultimately reducing infection rates amongst CF patient groups.
Johnson & Johnson Eureka Prize for Innovation in Medical Research
- NEXGEVA, University of Queensland Diamantina Institute
Flexible cancer vaccines are a long-sought treatment strategy in cancer immunotherapy. NEXGEVA has developed a vaccine delivery technology that enables treatment to be tailored precisely for different cancers. The versatility and efficacy of their platform provides important building blocks for tailoring vaccines to individual patients, improving personalised cancer immunotherapy.
- T1D Research Team, University of Queensland
Type 1 diabetes affects more than 120,000 Australians and usually occurs in childhood. The T1D Research Team has uncovered a genetic pattern that indicates type-1 diabetes risk amongst infants, bringing a simple screening test one step closer. Their discovery could help clinicians to focus monitoring of children with the highest risk, transforming management of the condition.
- Professor Tony Weiss AM, University of Sydney
Professor Tony Weiss has developed an adhesive surgical glue that quickly seals wounds without the need for common staples. The technology, made from natural elastic protein, has the potential to revolutionise treatment at emergency sites and was recently sold to an international pharmaceutical company.
ANSTO Eureka Prize for Innovative Use of Technology
- Professor Wendy Erber, Dr Kathryn Fuller and Henry Hui, University of Western Australia
The groundbreaking invention by Professor Wendy Erber, Dr Kathy Fuller and Henry Hui can detect abnormal chromosomes inside leukaemia cells. This fast, accurate and sensitive automated method can detect just one leukaemia cell in 10,000 normal cells, a major advance that will lead to personalised treatments and better patient care.
- Professor Justin Gooding, Dr Parisa Khiabani and Dr Alexander Soeriyadi, UNSW
Professor Justin Gooding, Dr Parisa Khiabani and Dr Alexander Soeriyadi have created a simple and affordable, paper-based sensor that indicates to the wearer when to seek shade or apply more sunscreen. Created with existing materials and manufacturing technologies, the sensor has the potential to deliver long-term benefits to public health.
- Megasonics for Enhanced Edible Oil Recovery, CSIRO
With his global team of collaborators, Dr Pablo Juliano is set to revolutionise the process by which edible oils are extracted from oil bearing fruits and seeds. Using high-frequency sound waves, the team’s unique megasonic vessels extract oils with higher efficiency and less waste than current processes. Large Australian oil processors are now collaborating with the team to further develop industrial opportunities for this technology.
Macquarie University Eureka Prize for Outstanding Early Career Researcher
- Dr Caitlin Byrt, University of Adelaide
Rising salinity and more frequent droughts are challenging our agricultural ecosystems and posing a significant threat to Australia's future food security. Dr Caitlin Byrt’s research has identified sodium transport genes, which are now being used globally to produce salt tolerant crops that are better adapted to changing environments.
- Dr Justin Chalker, Flinders University
Mercury pollution threatens the environment and human health across the globe, with thousands of tonnes emitted each year. By converting industrial by-products into polymers, Dr Justin Chalker has developed a novel and cost-effective solution for remediation of harmful mercury substances.
- Dr Mohsen Rahmani, Australian National University
Dr Mohsen Rahmani has developed a new class of nanoscale surfaces that have transformed the capabilities of today’s miniaturised consumer devices. His research has a wide range of applications including night-vision technology, adjustable lenses and ultra-sensitive biochemical detectors, and several organisations are interested in commercialising his work.
Defence Science and Technology Eureka Prize for Outstanding Science in Safeguarding Australia
- Causality, Australian National University; and Defence Science and Technology Group
Pinpointing the source of radio signals faster and more accurately during defence operations can save lives. The Causality team has developed and patented a technology that exploits the space-time geometry of the light cone to greatly improve the precision and time taken to locate radio signals. Potential applications include locating explosives, securing communications and navigating in a GPS-denied environment.
- Centre for Forensic Science, University of Technology Sydney and Western Sydney University
Forensic traces can provide intelligence agencies and first responders with critical clues on security threats. The Centre for Forensic Science is developing a suite of next-generation forensic capabilities, including techniques to identify invisible fingerprints and detect traces of hazardous materials.
- The Sapphire Clock Team, The Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing, University of Adelaide; and Cryoclock Pty Ltd
By combining two decades of pioneering research with cutting-edge engineering, the Sapphire Clock Team’s technology offers the potential for a step change in the performance of the Jindalee Over-The-Horizon Radar Network, a vital Australian defence asset. The Sapphire Clock offers a thousandfold improvement in timing precision, helping Australian defence agencies identify threats to the nation.
University of Technology Sydney Eureka Prize for Excellence in Data Science
- Professor Jie Lu, University of Technology Sydney
The first to integrate transfer learning and fuzzy logic as a means for enhancing data-driven decision intelligence, Professor Jie Lu has transformed the way organisations use data to make predictions and improve decisions in complex situations. Her methods inform organisations in dynamic environments and are already being used by Australian industry to facilitate improved business outcomes.
- Smart Infrastructure Team, CSIRO’s Data61
Assessing the condition of water pipes is an expensive and disruptive process and water utilities operators typically inspect just one percent of network assets every year. The Smart Infrastructure Team has developed an analytical tool that makes intelligent predictions about failures, helping prioritise the selection of pipes for maintenance, reduce costs and minimise disruption to water supplies.
- Professor Sally Dunwoodie, Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute
Professor Sally Dunwoodie and her multidisciplinary team have discovered the potential of vitamin B3 to treat a molecular deficiency causing miscarriages and multiple types of birth defects. Their finding could prevent developmental defects through a common dietary supplement, which may transform the way pregnant women are cared for around the world.
- The Invisible Catalyst Team, Australian National University and Curtin University
Developing efficient ways to catalyse reactions has been an important quest for scientific research. The Invisible Catalyst Team, Professor Michelle Coote, Dr Simone Ciampi and Dr Nadim Darwish, has shown that electric fields can be used to manipulate chemical reactions. This breakthrough may enable greener and safer methods for fabricating materials, from drugs to plastics.
- Dr Jason Brouwer, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research
Dr Jason Brouwer is a structural biologist committed to making science and scientific institutions more accessible and accountable to all Australians. He has made contributions to gender equality and reconciliation initiatives, and endeavours to progress the social landscape within science and beyond.
- Dr Brett Hallam, UNSW
Dr Brett Hallam has established himself as a national and international leader in the field of crystalline silicon photovoltaics. He supervises and mentors a growing, world-class research team, and the effects of his innovation and commitment are felt on a global scale in the solar energy sector.
- Associate Professor Elizabeth New, University of Sydney
Regarded as one of Australia’s brightest young inorganic chemists, Dr Elizabeth New's leadership extends beyond her research to encompass teaching, outreach and mentoring. Committed to developing the next generation of scientists, she has built a strong network of collaborators and works tirelessly to improve research culture and environments.
- Professor Michelle Haber AM, Children's Cancer Institute and UNSW
Professor Michelle Haber is a global authority in childhood cancer research, setting the agenda for this field in Australia. She is the driving force behind Zero Childhood Cancer, a world-leading initiative that unites researchers and clinicians from every child cancer research and clinical care facility nationwide.
- Professor Thomas Maschmeyer, University of Sydney
Professor Thomas Maschmeyer is a world leader in the chemistry of catalysis. He aims to generate and translate new knowledge into commercial solutions as part of his vision for a more sustainable world. His discoveries allow widespread use of renewables and recyclables in the chemical, material and energy spaces, and are the foundation of four companies.
- Professor Andrew Pitman, ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes, UNSW
Over the past 15 years, Professor Andrew Pitman has demonstrated visionary leadership in the field of climate science. By bringing together and maintaining a consortium of leading universities and institutions, he has transformed the scale and impact of Australian climate science research.
- Professor Nalini Joshi AO, University of Sydney
Professor Nalini Joshi has been instrumental in training and mentoring dozens of individual researchers and countless others through the broader mechanisms that she has established. A strong advocate for gender equality, her influential actions have transformed the research landscape and supported young female scientists across Australia.
- Professor Barry Pogson, Australian National University
Professor Barry Pogson's vision is to create a nexus of researchers, industry leaders and policy makers that collectively shape agriculture for the benefit of global food security. Using a dynamic and sustainable multi-tiered mentoring approach, he has a profound impact on the personal development, career prospects and learning experiences of students at all tertiary levels.
- Professor Neil Saintilan, Macquarie University
Professor Neil Saintilan is a committed mentor for young scientists at the boundary of scientific research and government policy. As both an academic and government science leader, his mentoring helps young researchers solve pressing environmental issues by building a more effective interface between science, policy and management.
- Dr Brad Norman and Samantha Reynolds, ECOCEAN Inc.
The ECOCEAN Whale Shark Research, Education and Conservation Project enables citizen scientists to collect identification data on whale sharks, helping researchers better understand the movements and ecology of this endangered species. The project also delivers education outreach activities to engage school students and the community in marine conservation.
By combining the forces of gaming mechanics and information economics with a unique online reward system, QuestaGame motivates users to engage with biodiversity. With over 1 million sightings and identifications, by participants in over 40 countries, this outdoor gaming app has quickly become the largest provider of expert-verified biodiversity image data in Australia.
- Zika Mozzie Seeker, Metro South Health
Zika Mozzie Seeker is one of Australia’s first health-based citizen science projects. Using collection kits, members of the public set up backyard mosquito egg traps, collect the eggs and submit them for DNA analysis. The project has efficiently expanded Zika mosquito monitoring in urban areas in South East Queensland.
- Associate Professor Alan Duffy, Swinburne University of Technology and The Royal Institution of Australia
Associate Professor Alan Duffy is a regular and recognisable personality in the Australian media, promoting science to all Australians. Through a combination of mainstream and social media channels, he has demonstrated that astrophysics can stand alongside sport or business as a news segment, making science a part of everyday life.
- Dr Kate Grarock, Woodlands and Wetlands Trust
An enthusiastic and talented communicator, Dr Kate Grarock works tirelessly to engage the Australian community in conservation science. Through her storytelling, media engagement and the development of innovative education and citizen science programs, she has successfully raised awareness and appreciation of conservation research.
- Associate Professor Darren Saunders, UNSW
A gifted and intuitive communicator, Associate Professor Darren Saunders gives medical research a clear, authoritative voice across a diverse range of media. He makes evidence-based science accessible to the general public, with particular emphasis on platforms through which vulnerable audiences are seeking health advice.
- Jo Chandler, University of Melbourne Centre for Advancing Journalism
Thirty years after the world launched a campaign to wipe out polio, the virus clings on in some of the most dangerous corners of the planet. Extremist groups are preventing the polio vaccine from reaching children, creating a possible lifeline for the disease to rise again. In Amid Fear and Guns, Polio Finds a Refuge, Jo Chandler investigates from the frontline of Northern Nigeria.
Commissioned and published by Undark.org, 16 October 2017
- Adam Geiger, SeaLight Pictures Pty Ltd
Headlines tout the impending disaster facing the Great Barrier Reef due to climate change. Can We Save the Reef? puts biologist Professor Emma Johnston at the centre of the science, and explores the issues and stakes involved in our urgent quest to find the right solutions.
Broadcast on ABC TV’s Catalyst, 3 October 2017
- Liam Mannix, The Age
Despite decades and billions of dollars in research, we have not developed a single drug to cure, prevent or slow Alzheimer's disease. In What if we have got it wrong on Alzheimer's? Liam Mannix explores the scientific and human reasons contributing to unsuccessful Alzheimer’s disease research in Australia.
Published in The Age, 23 March 2018
- Ellie Cole and Tsambika Galanos, Presbyterian Ladies' College, Sydney, NSW
In their film Dust Detectives, Ellie and Tsambika set out on a mission to understand the 'Tyndall effect', which explains why small dust particles are only visible in sunlight. They demonstrate how this unseen dust can end up in our lungs and, through experimentation, reveal that some chores generate more dust than others.
- Amelia Lai and Caitlyn Walker, Presbyterian Ladies' College, Sydney, NSW
It is estimated that bees pollinate one third of the food we consume each day, making them an integral part of our environment. In Bee Aware and Care, Caitlyn and Amelia explain the major causes of bee population decline and share some practical strategies for saving these important insects.
- Eliza Dalziel and Claire Galvin, St Monica's College, QLD
Making A Splash examines the important role that sea cucumbers play in protecting our coral reefs. Eliza and Claire assess the potential role of the species in raising calcium carbonate levels in these fragile ecosystems, which helps to rebuild reefs, increase nutrient recycling and counteract the harmful effects of climate change.
- Abby Hambleton and Owen Kelly, Warrandyte High School, VIC
Abby and Owen were stunned when they heard astronomer Carl Sagan claim that there are more stars in the universe than grains of sand on Earth’s beaches. In their film Stars Beat Sand, the students put this claim to the test and are so amazed by the results, they decide to sing about it.
- Ella Woods and Emily Woods, St Margaret’s Anglican Girls School, QLD
It's estimated that two out of three people in the world are not able to consume dairy products without experiencing gut discomfort and gas. In Gas Busters, Emily and Ella explain the science behind lactose intolerance, explore its evolution and present a simple solution that allows everyone to enjoy cow's milk.
- Mighty Muscles Stella Koulos and Christina Panos, Presbyterian Ladies' College Sydney, NSW
- Paper, Scissors, Rocket! Nicholas Galvin, St Gerard Majella School QLD
- Beetles and bugs: A taxonomy adventure Griffin Chong, St Peters Lutheran College Indooroopilly QLD
- All creatures great and small Eve Rose Blanchard, Santa Sabina College NSW
- Life On Earth Nethukee Jayasekera, Sturt Public School NSW
- How radiation can transform our DNA Joaquin Artola, St Patrick's Primary School NSW
- Cracking the Brain Freeze Mystery Charlie Carroll, Brayden Eyles; Lachlan Ginger, Oxford Park Grammar School NSW
- Accidents Happen Bacteria v's Penicillin Ashutosh Vaitha, Canterbury College QLD
- Camouflage - only natural? Hayden Ingle and Logan Ingle, South Sydney High School NSW
- The Placebo Effect Naomi Zwart; Milli McMenamin; Preethi Thennarasu; Vidiya Kudikyala; Rachael Stone, Saint Monica's Catholic College QLD
- Domesticated Fruit! Scotia Emmett; Bianca Fourie, Green Point Christian College
- Mitochondria in Different Environments Emily Gasparini; Jasmine Duan, Carlingford High School NSW
- The Secret Language of Plants Himalaya Joshi, Balwyn High School VIC
- Artificial Neural Networks Leonid Shchurov, Kirrawee High School NSW
- What are microgravity drop towers? Zachary Mabus, Woodcroft College SA
UNSW Eureka Prize for Scientific Research
3M Eureka Prize for Emerging Leader in Science
CSIRO Eureka Prize for Leadership in Innovation and Science
University of Technology Sydney Eureka Prize for Outstanding Mentor of Young Researchers
Department of Industry, Innovation and Science Eureka Prize for Innovation in Citizen Science
Celestino Eureka Prize for Promoting Understanding of Science
Department of Industry, Innovation and Science Eureka Prize for Science Journalism
University of Sydney Sleek Geeks Science Eureka Prize - Primary
University of Sydney Sleek Geeks Science Eureka Prize - Secondary
Sleek Geeks Science Highly Commended - Primary School Category
Sleek Geeks Science Highly Commended - Secondary School Category
Finalists' statements are based on information provided by the entrants.
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