The breadth of scientific research talent within The University of Western Australia has been confirmed with the announcement of Professor David Blair as Western Australian Scientist of the Year, Dr Kristen Nowak as Western Australian Young Scientist of the Year and Professor Paul McMenamin winning the Excellence in Science Teaching Award.
Premier Alan Carpenter last night announced the winners of the Premier’s Science Awards, which recognise outstanding achievements in Western Australian science.
UWA Deputy Vice-Chancellor Doug McEachern said Professor Blair and his team from the UWA School of Physics were part of the Australian Consortium for Gravitational Astronomy, involved in the worldwide search to identify gravitational waves.
Gravitational waves, sometimes described as “the sounds of the universe”, are a space phenomenon that has challenged physicists and they have remained undiscovered since Einstein first predicted them in 1916.
“Research into gravity waves continues to attract funding from a variety of sources and I congratulate Professor Blair for his outstanding achievement in this cutting-edge area of scientific research,” Professor McEachern said.
He said Professor Blair had been instrumental in developing the gravitational wave observatory facility near Gingin and The Gravity Discovery Centre.
Professor Blair last year secured a $900,000 Discovery grant, as part of the Australian Research Council’s $17 million commitment to UWA, allowing him to carry out a five-year investigation into the control of instabilities in advanced gravitational wave detectors.
Dr Nowak, a research fellow from UWA’s Centre for Medical Research and the Western Australian Institute for Medical Research, has made world-first discoveries into the genetics of rare muscle disorders.
Associate Dean in the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences, Professor McMenamin teaches in UWA’s School of Anatomy and Human Biology, where he uses innovative methods such as body painting and model building to teach clinically important aspects of human anatomy.
Professor McEachern said the State Government was to be commended for increasing its commitment to the recognition of exceptional science within Western Australia.