Pioneering women scientists, black summer bushfire research, a 3D cellular printer and a science education program for remote indigenous students were among the winners of the Australian Museum’s Eureka Awards on Thursday night.
Described as the Oscars of Australian Science, the Eureka Awards are presented annually in the categories of scientific leadership, research and innovation, scientific engagement, and academic science.
Australian Antarctic Division Ecologist Dr Dana Bergstrom received the Eureka Prize for her leadership in innovation and science. Among other work, Bergstrom led a project called Aliens in Antarctica, involving 23 nations, to protect the continent from ecological damage from introduced species. This project gave rise to policies adopted under the Antarctic Treaty.
Bergstrom described the gong as a “huge honor” and said she was “quite pleased” that the three finalists in the category were women. “It’s really important to see that there are women leaders in science and that we are making an impact,” she said. “It’s hard to be what you can’t see.”
The Director and CEO of the Australian Museum, Kim McKay, described Bergstrom as an extraordinary winner for a career devoted to research on biodiversity and the impacts of climate change. “It is a very timely reward … given that we are on the eve of the Cop meeting in Glasgow, ”McKay said.
Of the 16 award categories, 10 of the winners were either women or women were part of the winning teams.
The NSW Bushfire Hub, a consortium of four research groups, won the New South Wales Eureka Environmental, Energy and Science Award for Applied Environmental Research.
Researchers conducted extensive research into the drivers and effects of the devastating black summer 2019-2020 bushfires, including ecology, health, and risks to life and property.
Center member Dr Mark Ooi of the University of New South Wales said the award “draws attention to some of the impacts that are occurring”.
“By working in collaboration with researchers from the hub and the DPIE, we were able to observe that in South-East Australia alone, for example, the footprint of the fire was around 7 million hectares. which is ridiculous. [in scale]. “
The collaboration resulted in 19 submissions to the NSW Bushfire Inquiry, leading to recommendations for future fire management.
Corey Tutt and MortalScience received the Eureka Prize from the Ministry of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources for the inclusion of STEM. The organization provides STEM resources and mentorship to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.
Tutt, a man from Kamilaroi, said he founded DeadlyScience to “help indigenous children get into science because … not everyone has a straight path.”
Tutt, who has a keen interest in animals and herpetology, had noticed while attending school counseling days that students were not getting information about STEM jobs. “It’s like we have consciously told these kids that science is not for them because of their heritage and their social background,” he said.
To date, DeadlyScience has distributed 20,000 books to students in remote communities and is now translating STEM resources into Indigenous languages.
A machine that prints 3D models of cancer cells layer by layer has received the ANSTO Eureka Award for innovative use of technology. The bioprinting system can quickly and inexpensively produce cells for screening for cancer drugs.
The award went to researchers from UNSW, the Australian Center for NanoMedicine, the Children’s Cancer Institute and Inventia Life Science.
This year’s awards were decided by an independent panel of 68 judges.