Scientists and inventors among NSW Australian of the Year finalists

Friday, 10 November, 2017

Scientists and inventors among NSW Australian of the Year finalists

The nominees for the 2018 NSW Australian of the Year Awards have been announced, with several scientists and inventors reaching the finals of both the Australian and Young Australian of the Year categories.

Professor Peter Macdonald AM (top right) — cardiologist, medical pioneer and Conjoint Professor of Medicine at UNSW — was nominated as NSW Australian of the Year thanks to a life dedicated to helping the 3.7 million Australians with heart disease. In work described as the most important global advance in heart transplantation since the early 1980s, Professor Macdonald and his team discovered how to successfully transplant a ‘dead’ heart that had stopped beating using preservation fluid developed in a lab and a machine that allows the heart to beat outside the body.

Professor Michelle Simmons, also at UNSW, was nominated for pioneering research that could lead to a quantum leap in computing. In 2012, Michelle and her team created the world’s first transistor made from a single atom, along with the world’s thinnest wire. Currently the director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Quantum Computation and Communication Technology (CQC2T), Michelle aims to build a quantum computer able to solve problems in minutes that would otherwise take thousands of years.

Young scientists are also doing NSW proud, with 17-year-old Macinley Butson making history this year when she became the first Australian to win the top prize in medicine at the INTEL International Science and Engineering Fair. Macinley’s winning idea, Smart Armour, is a shield that can be used by breast cancer patients to protect their non-treated breast while undergoing radiotherapy treatment. Macinley has also received science awards for other ideas, such as a system that simultaneously collects solar power and filters water, a spoon that accurately measures and delivers oral medicine to children and a device that deters garden snails without the use of poison.

Finally, school student Ben Wang was nominated for his work conceptualising, developing, manufacturing, marketing and shipping two inventions, with others in the pipeline. Ben’s first invention, Perf+, is a wireless electronic prototyping board that simplifies the prototyping process for electronic engineers, lowering the barrier from ideas to implementation. His second invention, RemoteBoot, is a power-saving device that allows people to remotely access their computer’s files and programs while it is powered off, saving energy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

National Australia Day Council CEO Jenny Barbour acknowledged the immense contributions made by all the nominees for the 2018 NSW Australian of the Year Awards.

“The NSW Award nominees are an extraordinary diverse group of people, yet all are giving in their own way,” she said. “Their stories remind us we all have the power to help others, to bring about real change, to improve lives, to create and bring joy.”

The NSW Australian of the Year, Senior Australian of the Year, Young Australian of the Year and Local Hero Award recipients will be announced at the Museum of Contemporary Art on 13 November. They will then join other state and territory recipients at the Australian of the Year Awards, to be held in Canberra on 25 January 2018.

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