Astronomer Wins Prestigious PM's Prize For Science
WED 31 OCTOBER 2012
Prime Minister, Minister for Science and Research
Five of Australia’s best and brightest scientists and science teachers have been recognised at Australia’s most prestigious science ceremony – the Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science – at Parliament House tonight.
The Prime Minister’s $300,000 major Prize for Science has been awarded to Australian National University Professor Ken Freeman for his exemplary work as an astronomer.
In 1970, Professor Freeman overturned our understanding of what makes up the Universe. He discovered that what we see of galaxies – stars, gas and dust – is only a small fraction of their mass and determined that the rest is dark matter.
Today he is exploring the archaeology of the Milky Way, mentoring the next generation of astronomers and helping to develop world-leading telescopes.
The $50,000 Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Primary Schools has been awarded to Mr Michael van der Ploeg from Table Cape Primary School in Wynyard. He is inspiring his students to continue to study science at secondary and tertiary levels by giving his students practical experiences – exploring beaches and fossil cliffs on Tasmania’s northwest coast and interacting with robots.
Mrs Anita Trenwith, a teacher at Adelaide’s Salisbury High School, received the $50,000 Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Secondary Schools. Mrs Trenwith recognises that every student deserves a science education and has created a unique hands-on program for special education students. The program includes a hands-on agriculture subject, where students plant and manage crops, drive tractors and look after livestock.
University of Western Australia Professor Eric May received the $50,000 Malcolm McIntosh Prize for Physical Scientist of the Year. This young engineer is making LNG, the cleanest fossil fuel, even cleaner through his analytical understanding of gas behaviour. His work will save billions of dollars in processing costs.
Dr Mark Shackleton from the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Melbourne received the Science Minister's Prize for Life Scientist of the Year, a prize of $50,000. During his PhD, Dr Shackleton demonstrated for the first time that an entire solid organ, a functioning breast, could be grown from a single cell – a stem cell. Now he is redefining our understanding of melanoma tumours and opening up new pathways for treatment.
The Prizes honour Australians who have made significant contributions to building a more prosperous and progressive society through scientific achievements and science education.
Past winners include Elizabeth Blackburn AC and Brian Schmidt, who went on to be awarded Nobel Prizes.
Presenting the Prizes tonight, the Prime Minister and Minister for Science and Research, Senator Chris Evans, congratulated the winners on their outstanding contributions to science.
High level science and research, in universities and in collaboration with industry, is essential for building an innovative and productive economy for the 21st century and keeping Australia at the forefront of global innovation.
The Government is investing record funding to support science and research to drive the new and innovative products, processes and services that will be in demand in the coming decades.
Support for research and development across Government science, research and innovation programs will be almost $9 billion this financial year, up 35 per cent on 2007.
We have committed $54 million to science education in schools and universities to set new benchmarks for raising the engagement, the curiosity and the participation of students.
When it comes to science, Australia has an impressive track record. Australian scientists will remain at the forefront of scientific discovery in the 21st century.
Australian research has yielded breakthroughs like the Gardasil cervical cancer vaccine, the Cochlear implant and Wi-Fi, and our scientists are continuing to collaborate on major international research projects like the Square Kilometre Array radio telescope.
Labor’s investment is cementing Australia as one of the scientific centres of the world.
More information, photos and video are available online: www.innovation.gov.au/scienceprizes