Scientists from The University of Western Australia have again made a strong showing in the list of finalists for the annual Western Australian Science Awards.
The awards, a State Government initiative, were established in 2002 to honour the outstanding achievements of WA's science and innovation community. The awards celebrate and showcase the State's science capability.
Two of the four finalists for 2013 Scientist of the Year are from UWA. They are Stephen Powles, a Winthrop Professor at the School of Plant Biology and director of the Australian Herbicide Resistance Initiative, who is widely acknowledged as the world's leading international authority in herbicide resistance in crops and weeks; and Winthrop Professor Mark Randolph, Professor of Civil Engineering at the Centre for Offshore Foundations and director of Advanced Geomechanics. Professor Randolph is a distinguished geotechnical engineer who has excelled both in academia and solving real world issues for industry.
Research Assistant Professor Hayley Christian and Research Associate Professor Shazzad Hossain are candidates for Early Career Scientist of the Year. Dr Christian, of the School of Population Health, Centre for the Built Environment and Health and the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, is an influential public health researcher and NHMRC/National Heart Foundation Early Career Fellow who focuses on developing strategies for increasing physical activity and wellbeing in adults and children through built environment interventions.
Associate Professor Hossain, an ARC Post-doctoral Fellow at UWA's Centre for Offshore Foundation Systems, is a geotechnical engineer who is pioneering a new field of research contributing to the mining industry, in the area of tailings rehabilitation.
UWA PhD candidates Tristan Clemons and Matthew Fraser are finalists in the category of ExxonMobil Student Scientist of the Year. Mr Clemons' research focuses on applying nanoparticle technology to treat heart disease, breast cancer, colon cancer and central nervous system injuries, while Mr Fraser's research focuses how seagrasses of the Shark Bay region may respond to future environmental changes.
Winthrop Professor David Pannell and Professor Myra Keep are nominated in the category of Science Ambassador of the Year. Professor Pannell, head of the School of Agricultural Resource Economics and Director of the Centre for Environmental Economics and Policy, is a prominent commentator on environmental policy in Australia who has dedicated his career to using economics to advance the impact of science in the wider community. Professor Keep, a professor of Structural Geology and Tectonics at the School of Earth and Environment, is nominated for her geological research, teaching and outreach activities in East Timor.
Also up for consideration, in the category of Chevron Science Engagement Initiative of the Year, is the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology's Education and Outreach program, which employs strategies to engage the community with plant science.
The 2013 finalists build on last year's success, when UWA's Professor Peter Quinn - founding director of the ICRAR - was named 2012 Scientist of the Year. Other UWA winners included Associate Professor Ajmal Mian, PhD student David Erceg-Hurn, and the Engineers without Borders High School Outreach Program. Internationally acclaimed plant conservation biologist Professor Stephen Hopper was inducted into the Science Hall of Fame.
Premier and Science Minister Colin Barnett, announcing the finalists, said the nominees demonstrated the diversity and richness of WA's science community.
"Finalists have been drawn from a wide range of fields including nanotechnology, astrophysics, herbicide resistance, seagrass research and oil and gas infrastructure as well as outreach work in East Timor and a range of important public health initiatives," Mr Barnett said.
The winners and the 2013 Science Hall of Fame inductee will be announced by the Premier at the awards presentation evening on November 21.
For the first time the WA Science Awards have been supported through corporate sponsorship, with Chevron, ExxonMobil and Woodside making generous contributions to the award prizes.
Further information is available at the Western Australian Science Awards.
Michael Sinclair-Jones (UWA Public Affairs) (+61 8) 6488 3229 / (+61 4) 00 700 783