Aus Academy of Science announces 2021 honorific awardees
Outstanding contributions to science have been recognised this week by the Australian Academy of Science, with 24 current and future stars of science receiving prestigious 2021 honorific awards.
Emeritus Professor Cheryl Praeger receives the inaugural Ruby Payne-Scott Medal and Lecture, one of the Academy’s most prestigious awards. Prof Praeger’s work on problems of symmetry has led a revolution in mathematics, and the algorithms she developed are used in technology around the world. She also has a long track record of mentoring and inspiring others, supporting women, advocating for mathematics in schools and promoting mathematics in emerging economies.
Professor Andrew Holmes is the recipient of the Academy’s other premier award, the 2021 Matthew Flinders Medal and Lecture. Prof Holmes is recognised for his contributions to materials science and biology, including plastics that emit light when sandwiched between electrodes connected to a power source — technology that forms the basis of flexible OLED televisions and plastic solar cells.
In the career awards, Professor John Endler and Professor Susanne von Caemmerer have both been awarded the inaugural Suzanne Cory Medal. Prof Endler is an evolutionary biologist who has pioneered the field of sensory ecology, which explores how an animal’s environment helps determine how its specific senses and signals evolve. Prof von Caemmerer’s research, meanwhile, is aimed at improving photosynthesis in crops to increase their yields and adapt to climate change.
Another highlight is the 2021 Dorothy Hill Medal, which was awarded to early-career researcher Dr Sarah Perkins-Kirkpatrick for her expertise on heatwaves — their causes, impacts and how they are changing as the earth warms. She led a global study that found heatwaves have been increasing in frequency since 1950.
Other 2021 awardees were recognised for breakthroughs including revealing the physics of sea-level change, leading the discovery of gravitational waves and harnessing the immune system to fight cancer. Academy President Professor John Shine said such research is at the forefront of science, not only in Australia but around the world.
“While many of these researchers are having direct impacts on our technology and everyday lives, others are pushing the boundaries of basic research — both of which are vital to the advancement of science,” he said.
“The Academy is proud to honour such a diverse range of researchers this year, reflecting the people driving Australian science.”
The awards will be formally presented in online ceremonies over the course of the year.
To view the full list of 2021 awardees, click here.
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