Australia's 2014 Top Awards For Science Include A $2 Smartphone Microscope And A Vaccine For A Deadly Virus

Bolt out of the blue, Peter Enright, Coolum Beach, Queensland. highly commended submission of the 2014 Australian Museum New Scientist Eureka Prize for Science Photography.

The 2014 Australian Museum Eureka Prizes winners, the nation’s top awards for achievement in science, have been announced.

The awards went to people for their inventions, such as floaties for helicopters for when they come down in water and a $2 device which turns a smartphone into a microscope, and for breakthroughs including boosting yields for grain farmers by more than 50% without using extra water.

Some were honoured for their work explaining science, including a Sydney sixth grade boy who investigated sound waves and a year 12 Brisbane student who made a video, Phantom Limbs, about a puzzling neurological disorder.

Harry Driessen, a sixth-grader from Croydon Public School in NSW, won the University of Sydney Sleek Geeks Science Eureka Prize

Others were recognised for their work on cancer, for leadership and for mentoring younger scientists.

A stand out in medical research was the creation of the first vaccine and effective human treatment against the deadly Hendra virus.

“I’m extremely impressed by the amazing scientific work happening around our country,” says Kim McKay, Australian Museum Director and CEO.

The 2014 Australian Museum Eureka Prizes:

  • Lesley Hughes from Macquarie University was awarded the Australian Government Eureka Prize for Promoting Understanding of Australian Science Research for her extensive work communicating and improving understanding of climate change. Watch the video.
  • Maree Teesson, Director of the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, UNSW, was awarded the University of Technology, Sydney Eureka Prize for Outstanding Mentor of Young Researchers for her mentoring of researchers in the field of substance abuse and mental health issues. Watch the video.
  • Tim Lyons from One Atmosphere was awarded the Defence Science and Technology Organisation Eureka Prize for Outstanding Science in Safeguarding Australia for his invention of a lightweight helicopter buoyancy device that inflates within a second to save lives following a helicopter crash at sea. Watch the video.
  • Terry Speed from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research won the CSIRO Eureka Prize for Leadership in Science for his leadership in the field of bioinformatics: high quality number crunching crucial to cancer research. Watch the video.
  • Mark Talbot from CSIRO was awarded the New Scientist Eureka Prize for Science Photography with his image Wheat through the looking glass, capturing the birth of a seed using a scanning electron microscope. Watch the video.
  • Harry Driessen, a sixth-grader from Croydon Public School in NSW won the University of Sydney Sleek Geeks Science Eureka Prize for his video The Sound of Music, which explains what sound waves are, how we hear sound and how musical instruments work.
  • The University of Tasmania’s Graham Edgar and Rick Stuart-Smith won the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage Eureka Prize for Environmental Research, for harnessing the efforts of 200 divers around the world to create the Reef Life Survey, a unique and freely available global data set documenting the health of the world’s reefs. Watch the video.
  • Adriana Downie from Pacific Pyrolysis won the 3M Eureka Prize for Emerging Leader in Science for her championing and communication in the field of slow-pyrolysis technology—converting plant waste products into biochar, a soil improver with potential to mitigate climate change. Watch the video.
  • Jackson Huang, a year-12 student from the Queensland Academy for Science, Mathematics and Technology won the University of Sydney Sleek Geeks Science Eureka Prize—Secondary for his video Phantom Limbs, an explanation of a puzzling neurological disorder and the complexity of the human nervous system.
  • The Water Use Efficiency Initiative team—CSIRO’s John Kirkegaard and James Hunt, and Stuart Kearns of the Grains Research and Development Corporation—won the Department of Agriculture Landcare Eureka Prize for Sustainable Agriculture for developing more water-efficient grain-farming methods: allowing grain farmers to add more than 50 per cent more wheat yield from the same water supply. Watch the video.
  • CSIRO’s Hendra Virus Research Team in Geelong won the Australian Infectious Diseases Research Centre Eureka Prize for Infectious Diseases Research for creating the first vaccine and effective human treatment against Hendra virus and developing skills and resources that are being applied against Ebola. Watch the video.
  • Tri Phan from the Garvan Institute and the Australian National University’s Steve Lee won the ANSTO Eureka Prize for Innovative Use of Technology for their patented invention of a $2 microscope that transforms smartphones into mobile laboratories. Watch the video.
  • Simon Ho from the University of Sydney was awarded the Macquarie University Eureka Prize for Outstanding Early Career Researcher for his enormous contribution to evolutionary science through his work on ‘molecular clocks’, which help biologists explain how quickly different organisms evolve. Watch the video.
  • The University of Melbourne’s SEARCH (South-eastern Australian Recent Climate History) team won the University of New South Wales Eureka Prize for Excellence in Interdisciplinary Scientific Research for their success in mapping a thousand years of Australian climate history. Watch the video.
  • The B-cell Team at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research won the University of New South Wales Eureka Prize for Scientific Research for unravelling the workings of the rare, specialised cells in our blood that create antibodies to fight infection and disease. Watch the video.

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