2019 Australian Museum Eureka Prizes winners announced

Friday, 30 August, 2019

2019 Australian Museum Eureka Prizes winners announced

The winners of the 2019 Australian Museum Eureka Prizes were announced last tonight at the Sydney Town Hall.

Described as Australia’s leading science awards, the prizes saw trophies and $170,000 in prize money presented across four categories:

  • Research & Innovation
  • Leadership
  • Science Engagement
  • School Science

Among the 17 prizes are two new prizes: the Eureka Prize for STEM inclusion, presented by the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, and the Eureka Prize for Long-Form Science Journalism, presented by the Finkel Foundation.

The full list of winners can be found below.

Research & Innovation

NSW Environment, Energy and Science (DPIE) Eureka Prize for Environmental Research

Blue Carbon Horizons Team — University of Wollongong, Macquarie University and ANSTO

Coastal wetlands are efficient natural systems in the trapping of carbon dioxide. 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.

University of Technology Sydney Eureka Prize for Excellence in Data Science

Professor Longbing Cao — University of Technology Sydney

Data scientist Professor Longbing Cao has developed cutting-edge theories and systems to analyse real-life complex data for smarter business transformation. His work has enabled more efficient, active and tailored debt recovery and payment collection practices.

UNSW Eureka Prize for Excellence in Interdisciplinary Scientific Research

Endovascular Bionics Laboratory — University of Melbourne and Synchron

Synchron and the Endovascular Bionics Laboratory have developed a technology with the potential to restore mobility to people with paralysis. The team have developed technology which can interpret brain signals and convert them to commands. The innovation enables control of external equipment via a Stentrode, which uses blood vessels as a pathway to the brain avoiding risky open brain surgery.

Australian Infectious Diseases Research Centre Eureka Prize for Infectious Diseases Research

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.

ANSTO Eureka Prize for Innovative Use of Technology

Professor Hala Zreiqat — University of Sydney

Professor Hala Zreiqat and her team have developed what is believed to be the world’s first synthetic biomaterials capable of healing large bone defects, even in load-bearing positions like the spine or lower limbs. Using mathematical modelling techniques and customised 3D-printing technology, they have also developed the capabilities to print these strong, bioactive and bioresorbable biomaterials in any size or shape.

Macquarie University Eureka Prize for Outstanding Early Career Researcher

Associate Professor Laura Mackay — University of Melbourne

Widely regarded as a leader in the field of immunological memory, Associate Professor Laura Mackay has discovered that a novel population of immune cells, called tissue-resident T cells, are critical for immune protection against infection and cancer.

Defence, Science and Technology Eureka Prize for Outstanding Science in Safeguarding Australia

Team GreyScan — University of Tasmania and Grey Innovation

GreyScan is said to be the world’s first trace detection device that can identify inorganic explosives in under a minute. Its use in mass transit locations like airports and train stations could help make Australia and the world safer.

UNSW Eureka Prize for Scientific Research

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 and life-threatening complication that significantly limits positive outcomes for bone marrow transplant patients. Professor Mariapia Degli-Esposti and her team have developed a novel, non-toxic and effective strategy to reduce the impact of this infection by preventing viral reactivation.


3M Eureka Prize for Emerging Leader in Science

Associate Professor Melody Ding — University of Sydney

Associate Professor Melody Ding has devoted her career to generating policy-relevant research outcomes in the area of chronic disease prevention, identifying risk factors such as physical inactivity that are key to tackling public health challenges. In addition to skilfully leading multidisciplinary projects and teams, Assoc Prof Ding has mentored early-career researchers from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and even guides yoga classes for fellow workmates.

CSIRO Eureka Prize for Leadership in Innovation and Science

Professor Branka Vucetic — University of Sydney

Professor Branka Vucetic has made seminal contributions to the fields of coding and wireless communications, with her development of algorithms for cellular Wi-Fi and satellite communication providing fast connectivity for millions of people. Now she’s leading work which will enable large-scale industrial automation, self-driving cars and robotic surgery.

University of Technology Sydney Eureka Prize for Outstanding Mentor of Young Researchers

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.

Science Engagement

Department of Industry, Innovation and Science Eureka Prize for Innovation in Citizen Science

FrogID Team — Australian Museum

FrogID is a national citizen science project in which participants use a free smartphone app to record and submit information on calling frogs. In less than two years, FrogID has built an unparalleled database of Australian frogs and transformed the scientific community’s understanding of the distributions, breeding seasons and habitats of frogs.

Finkel Foundation Eureka Prize for Long-Form Science Journalism

Michael Lucy

‘Ending the Age of Plastic’ (published in Cosmos, 18 September 2018) traces the origin of the world’s growing plastic pollution crisis. Through interviews with oceanographers, entrepreneurs, bioengineers, economists and citizens, Michael Lucy explores the potential scientific, technological and social solutions to stop the growing juggernaut of plastic pollution.

Celestino Eureka Prize for Promoting Understanding of Science

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 cancer-related health advice.

Australian Museum Eureka Prize for Science Journalism

Liam Mannix — The Age

Over the past year Liam Mannix has researched and written a series of hard-hitting articles challenging the science behind nerve-pain drugs, ergonomics and diet pills. His articles have delivered real-world results and demonstrated the important role journalists can play in holding the scientific community to account.

Department of Industry, Innovation and Science Eureka Prize for STEM Inclusion

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 socioeconomic schools to deliver STEM workshops and activities at school, university and community events. Participation in NISEP elevates students into leadership roles and has resulted in increased academic achievements in STEM and beyond.

School Science

University of Sydney Sleek Geeks Science Eureka Prize — Primary School

Finn Thomas — St Mary’s Catholic Primary School, Concord, NSW

Inspired by the book Jurassic Park, Finn ponders what life would be like today if a dinosaur species were to be resurrected. In his film ‘Can We Bring Dinosaurs Back to Life?’, Finn explores the science and biotechnology critical to this notion and explains the challenges scientists would face.

University of Sydney Sleek Geeks Science Eureka Prize — Secondary School

Ellie Cole and Tsambika Galanos — Presbyterian Ladies’ College, Sydney, NSW

What do cosmetics, clothing and toothpaste have in common? In the film ‘Fish Fiasco’, Ellie and Tsambika investigate how microplastics might end up in the ocean. They interview scientific experts, visit a wastewater treatment plant and even study fish stomach contents to uncover how society’s use of plastic impacts the environment.

2019 Australian Museum Research Institute Medal

In addition to celebrating the winners of the Eureka Prizes, the 2019 Australian Museum Research Institute Medal was awarded to Senior Fellow Mark McGrouther. The AMRI Medal is presented to an individual staff member, senior fellow or team from the Australian Museum Research Institute for outstanding science and communication of their research outcomes.

McGrouther was recognised for his outstanding work managing, developing and improving the museum’s Ichthyology Collection, said to be the largest of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere, over the last 30 years. In 2016 McGrouther launched the Australasian Fishes project, enabling citizen scientists to upload, identify and comment on observations of Australian and New Zealand fishes.

The winners were congratulated by the Australian Museum’s Director and CEO, Kim McKay AO, who said the prizes acknowledge “people who are often not publicly recognised but whose work has an impact on all of us every day”.

Top image: The Blue Carbon Horizons Team won the NSW Environment, Energy and Science (DPIE) Eureka Prize for Environmental Research.

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