[ASC-media] 2006 Eurekas announced

Niall Byrne niall at scienceinpublic.com.au
Wed Aug 23 01:51:24 CEST 2006

2006 Eureka Prizes announced

Over $200,000 was presented to 29 winners at the 17th annual Australian Museum Eureka Prizes dinner, compered by Anton Enus from SBS, Sandra Sully - Network 10, and Adam Spencer - 702 ABC Sydney  at Sydney's  Royal Hall of Industries on 22 August 2006.

The 2006 Prizes recognise extraordinary achievements and a commitment to excellence by scientists, teachers and journalists across Australia. Examples of the cutting-edge science being honoured includes landmark research into exercising the brain to limit dementia; using bacteria to clean up contaminated land; modelling the oceans' currents to extract information about climate change; determining how dirty the bottom of the harbour really is; and devoting one's life to knowing Australia's snakes. Business and thought leaders, teachers and budding scientists are also honoured.

"The Australian Museum Eureka Prizes are Australia's most comprehensive national science awards," said Frank Howarth, Director of the Australian Museum. "Now in their 17th year, the Eureka Prizes raise the profile of science in the community by acknowledging and rewarding outstanding achievements in research, leadership and innovation, education and science communication."

"The winners are contributing to Australia's future," says Brian Sherman AM, President of the Australian Museum Trust. "From biotechnology leaders, to student winners, they are all demonstrating their passion for and commitment to science." 

"The Eureka Prizes are made possible through a unique partnership between the federal and NSW Governments, major private sector organisations and educational institutions," says Brian. "In 2006 we are delighted to welcome the contribution of the ATSE Clunies Ross Foundation and the University of Technology Sydney to this partnership."

More than 900 leaders of government, science, industry, academia and the media were present at what is the largest single annual event in Australia celebrating and rewarding outstanding science and science communication. Among the guests were Australian of the Year and former Eureka Winner Professor Ian Frazer, 2005 Nobel Laureate Professor Barry Marshall, and Australian astronaut Andy Thomas.  

And the 2006 winners are:

Sorry seems to be the hardest word. What historical obligations do we inherit from our family, community or nation? Are we responsible for the sins of our parents? Should we say "sorry" for past treatment of indigenous people? Janna Thompson's research at the University of Melbourne provides an ethical basis to discuss these controversial issues and wins her the $10,000 Australian Catholic University Eureka Prize for Research in Ethics.

How dirty is the bottom of the Harbour? We know the condition of the water in our estuaries, bays and rivers. What about the mud at the bottom? Until now, there have not been consistent ways to measure these sediments. Research by a Sydney CSIRO team, led by Dr Graeme Batley, has given us the tools to provide the answer. And their reward is the $10,000 Land & Water Australia Eureka Prize for Water Research.

Aussie snakes fight back against invading toads. Rick Shine says that snakes are tougher and more caring than we think. And they are fighting back against the cane toad invasion. Rick, a researcher at the University of Sydney receives the $10,000 Botanic Gardens Trust Eureka Prize for Biodiversity Research for his achievements in understanding our unique cold blooded Australians.

Could a crossword a day keep dementia at bay? Michael Valenzuela's landmark research at the University of New South Wales suggests that mental exercises in the elderly might help prevent dementia. And it wins him the inaugural $10,000 NSW Office for Science and Medical Research Jamie Callachor Eureka Prize for Medical Research.

Oceans model proves the value of getting the drift. Matthew England and his colleagues at the University of New South Wales have created a computer model that can reliably predict ocean circulation. And it's already highlighting the role of ships in spreading invasive ocean pests like jellyfish. The team wins the $10,000 Sherman Eureka Prize for Environmental Research.

Animals and humans breathing easier. How toxic is the air we breathe? Traditionally, this question is answered by having animals breathe contaminated air. Now, a team led by Amanda Hayes at the University of New South Wales has found a better, more humane and cheaper way to test for toxicity, by using human lung cells growing on a membrane. Their work has won them the $10,000 Voiceless Eureka Prize for Research which Replaces the Use of Animals or Animal Products.

Spooky action guarantees unbreakable quantum code. Researchers at the University of Queensland and the Australian National University have created a new way of encrypting information using quantum physics. This achievement wins Christian Weedbrook, Thomas Symul, Andrew Lance, and Ping Koy Lam, the $10,000 University of New South Wales Eureka Prize for Scientific Research.

>From astrophysics to successful drug company. In 1988 Graeme Blackman listed the Institute of Drug Technology (IDT) on the Australian Stock Exchange. Today, IDT Australia employs over 200 people and exports active pharmaceutical ingredients to some of the world's biggest pharmaceutical companies. For his leadership in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries, Graeme Blackman receives the ATSE Clunies Ross Eureka Prize for Leadership in Business Innovation.

Harnessing bugs to clean up Australia. Mike Manefield is intent upon cleaning up Australia-with the help of hungry bacteria with an insatiable appetite for the hydrocarbons polluting this soil. Our pollution problem is their breakfast. Mike's pioneering research in bioremediation at the University of New South Wales, wins him the $10,000 British Council Eureka Prize for Leadership and Innovation in Environmental Science.

Scientist's leadership drives Qld biotech revolution. In less than 20 years John Mattick has helped transform biotechnology in Queensland, leading to the creation of a series of institutes, while also pursuing his own investigations into the role of so-called junk DNA and non-coding RNA. For his determination and vision John Mattick receives the $10,000 CSIRO Eureka Prize for Leadership in Science.

Power company teaches students to switch off.  The Home Energy Project is empowering nearly 50,000 school students and their families to save energy, money and the environment. The project wins Origin Energy the $10,000 NSW Department of Environment and Conservation Allen Strom Eureka Prize for Sustainability Education for bringing best practice sustainability education to over 160 schools.

Turtle bags and a second moon. Tomorrow's scientists win Eureka Prizes today

Year 12 student Rhianna Bull's plan to protect turtles has won her joint first place in the $11,000 Macquarie University Eureka Schools Prize for Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences.

Rhianna shares first place with Karina Hall, a Year 11 student from Emmanuel Anglican College, Ballina in northern New South Wales. Karina conducted an investigation and critical analysis into the possibility of the Earth having had a second moon during its early history.

Encourage curiosity, and learning will follow. There are more Year 12 students doing science at Niddrie Secondary College in Melbourne's western suburbs. Why? Because of the influence of a young science teacher who, just three years out of college and in her first school, brings a unique passion and skill to her work. For her achievement in inspiring and motivating pupils, Andy Flouris wins the $10,000 UTS-Holmes à Court Eureka Prize for Science Teaching.

Moles video wins Sleek Geeks. An entertaining look at skin moles has won its student filmmakers from the Conservatorium High School in Sydney, the University of Sydney Sleek Geeks Science Eureka Schools Prize. They asked hard-hitting questions and revealed startling facts about moles. 

Bringing the stars down to earth. Measuring the orbits of a million stars, and managing a multi-million dollar telescope isn't enough for Fred Watson, the Astronomer-in-Charge at the Anglo-Australian Observatory
Coonabarabran in rural New South Wales. For his outstanding success in using the medium of radio to inspire a wide public appreciation of astronomy and space science, Fred receives the $10,000 Australian Government Eureka Prize for Promoting Understanding of Science.

Whale Wars win prize. In July 2005 an ABC TV Four Corners team revealed new evidence of Japan's secret deals to resume commercial whaling.  Their story has won them the $10,000 Australian Government Peter Hunt Eureka Prize for Environmental Journalism. The prize is shared by Matthew Carney, Morag Ramsay and, receiving her second Eureka prize for environmental journalism, Anne Connolly.

Prison, oil and parrots. Jonica Newby and Chris Spurr created a set of three television stories for ABC TV's Catalyst, that highlighted the social impact of shifting scientific paradigms - from the teen brain, to the oil crisis, and the threat to survival of New Zealand's Kakapo.  The three stories win Jonica and Chris the $10,000 Australian Government Eureka Prize for Science Journalism.

The People's Choice is... Mark Shackleton and Francois Vaillant from Melbourne, who have discovered the stem cells that are the basis of breasts. Their work opens the way for new drugs and treatments for breast cancer, as well as the possibility of growing complex organs from stem cells.

Munga Munga imagery gives photographer a second Eureka. A stunning image of a ceremonial site in the Northern Territory that captures the uniquely indigenous quality of the Australian landscape has won Sydney photographer Barry Slade the $10,000 New Scientist Eureka Prize for Photographic Journalism in Science, Technology and the Environment.

Do some of us have cancers we don't need to know about? Is early cancer detection necessarily a good thing? These were some of the challenging questions posed by Associate Professor Alex Barratt's three part series for ABC Radio National's Health Report, Cancer Screening: Benefits and Harms. For her provocative series of three programs, she receives the $10,000 Pfizer Australia Eureka Prize for Health and Medical Research Journalism.

Releases on all twenty prizes are now available online at www.amonline.net.au/eureka. 

Further information: Sue Nelson, 02 9907 8241, 0403 343 275 or qtcom at optusnet.com.au.


Niall Byrne
Science in Public
Ph +61 3 5253 1391
niall at scienceinpublic.com
OR niallprivate at scienceinpublic.com
PO Box 199, Drysdale Vic Australia

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