PREMIER and Science Minister Colin Barnett has announced the finalists in the 2016 Premier’s Science Awards.
The award categories recognise the best research from students, early career researchers and established scientists, and a fourth honours excellent science engagement programs.
“These finalists have all played a part in developing the State’s scientific capacity,” Mr Barnett said.
“Their achievements include influencing public health policy, making breakthroughs in conservation science, progressing our understanding of the earth’s history and improving the safety of the State’s bridges and other infrastructure.”
Award winners, together with the inductee to the Western Australian Science Hall of Fame, will be announced at an August 18 ceremony during National Science Week.
See below for a full list of nominees.
SCIENTIST OF THE YEAR
Professor Carol Bower (Shenton Park): Senior Principal Research Fellow, Telethon Kids Institute
Professor Bower is a public health researcher and physician who discovered a link between low dietary folate and the risk of neural tube defects (such as spina bifida), instigating the world’s first public health campaign to encourage folic acid supplement use before and during pregnancy.
Professor Kingsley Dixon (City Beach): Curtin Professor and Visiting Professor at Kings Park and Botanic Garden (Curtin University)
Professor Dixon’s efforts in conservation science, restoration ecology and plant science have been fundamental to conserving threatened species and transforming ecological restoration practice in Australia.
Professor Zheng-Xiang Li (South Perth): Co-Director (Australia) of the Australia-China Joint Research Centre for Tectonics and Earth Resources, WA School of Mines (Curtin University)
Professor Li is a geoscientist who has pushed the boundaries of knowledge about the evolution over the past 2,000 million years of Earth, making important contributions to the field of tectonics and geodynamics.
Professor David Sampson (Claremont): Director, Centre for Microscopy, Characterisation and Analysis and Head, Optical+Biomedical Engineering Laboratory (The University of Western Australia)
Professor Sampson is a world leader in multiple facets of imaging science and engineering.
WOODSIDE EARLY CAREER SCIENTIST OF THE YEAR
Dr Kaiming Bi (Leeming): Lecturer, ARC DECRA Fellow (Curtin University)
Dr Bi’s research interests lie in earthquake engineering and structural dynamics, and he is the first researcher who has systematically investigated the influence of local soil conditions on earthquake ground motion.
Dr Scott Draper (Beaconsfield): Senior Lecturer School of Civil, Environmental and Mining Engineering (The University of Western Australia)
Dr Draper is known internationally for his research in offshore fluid mechanics.
Dr James Fitzpatrick (Cottesloe): McCusker Clinical Research Fellow in Aboriginal Child Health, Telethon Kids Institute; Director, PATCHES Paediatrics
Dr Fitzpatrick is a researcher and paediatrician who has made a profound impact on understanding Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) and has pioneered new diagnosis and intervention strategies.
Dr Jun Li (Leeming): Senior Lecturer/ARC DECRA Fellow (Curtin University)
Dr Li is developing next-generation diagnostic technologies for monitoring the condition of civil infrastructure such as bridges, buildings and offshore structures.
EXXONMOBIL STUDENT SCIENTIST OF THE YEAR
Carl Blair (Cottesloe): PhD Candidate (The University of Western Australia)
Mr Blair’s research to control interactions between high intensity laser light and tiny sound waves in mirrors enabled the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) to build up sufficient power to enable the first direct detection of gravitational waves.
Christopher Brennan-Jones (Osborne Park): PhD Candidate, Ear Sciences Centre (The University of Western Australia)
Mr Brennan-Jones’ PhD research focused on improving efficiency and access to ear and hearing healthcare services in Western Australia.
Tim Rosenow (Subiaco): PhD Candidate (Telethon Kids Institute/The University of Western Australia)
Mr Rosenow is a PhD student at the Telethon Kids Institute, working in the field of paediatric respiratory medicine.
Melanie Walls (East Victoria Park): PhD candidate, School of Women’s and Infant’s Health (The University of Western Australia)
Ms Walls’ research focuses on in vitro maturation (IVM), an innovative fertility treatment that can be cheaper and more patient-friendly than IVF.
CHEVRON SCIENCE ENGAGEMENT INITIATIVE OF THE YEAR
Fireballs in the Sky (Curtin University)
The Desert Fireball Network aims to understand the early workings of the solar system by studying meteorites, fireballs and their pre-Earth orbits by capturing the paths of fireballs in the sky from multiple viewpoints.
iPREP WA (Edith Cowan University)
iPREP WA (Industry and PhD Research Engagement Program) involves interdisciplinary teams of PhD students from all five Western Australian universities, working on a six-week project for an industry partner.
Old Ways, New Ways – Aboriginal science outreach program (Edith Cowan University)
The Old Ways, New Ways program aims to improve the participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in science subjects, thereby increasing their employment prospects in science and technology.