University of New South Wales researchers have dominated the 2008 Australian Museum Eureka Prizes, winning an unprecedented six awards for their achievements in water, climate and renewable energy research and their leadership in Australian science and engineering.
UNSW delivered a powerful result In the prestigious awards, known as "the Oscars of Australian science", with the six awards far outstripping the next-best result of two awards going to the University of Sydney. The UNSW tally is the highest by any institution in the 19-year history of the Eureka Prizes.
Professor Robert Clark, a Federation Fellow and Director of UNSW's Centre for Quantum Computer Technology, was awarded the CSIRO Eureka Prize for Leadership in Science for his pioneering research in the field of quantum computing. Hailed as "a pivotal figure and visionary" in his field, Professor Clark is leading research which promises to fundamentally change computing science. Former Australian Chief Scientist Dr Robin Batterham paid tribute to Professor Clark, saying: "He has made a catalytic effort which will do nothing less than revolutionise our existence."
In a major achievement, the entire UNSW School of Photovoltaic and Renewable Energy Engineering took out the IAG Eureka Prize for Innovative Solutions to Climate Change for its groundbreaking and consistently strong record in solar cell research.
Solar cell engineering PhD student Nicole Kuepper, from the School of Photovoltaic and Renewable Energy Engineering, stood out by winning two major awards. The 23-year-old's work to create a low-cost solar cell that can bring clean, green energy to developing nations captured the Australian public's imagination - winning her the People's Choice Award. The patented technology, which uses common, low-cost items such as a pizza oven, nail polish and an inkjet printer, also won Nicole the British Council Eureka Prize for Young Leaders in Environmental Issues and Climate Change.
Environmental scientist Professor Richard Kingsford, from UNSW's School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, received the Australian Government Eureka Prize for Promoting Understanding of Science. Professor Kingsford has played a major role in lifting awareness of the health of, and threats to, Australia's major rivers and wetland systems.
And extraordinary research into rainfall patterns undertaken by Federation Fellow Professor Matthew England and his team at the UNSW Climate Change Research Centre won them the Land & Water Australia Eureka Prize for Water Research and Innovation. The team - Professor England, Dr Caroline Ummenhofer, Dr Alex Sen Gupta and Dr Agus Santoso from UNSW and Dr Mike Pook from CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research, enabled the prediction of dramatic rainfall variations in Western Australia through their work to identify variations in ocean temperature.
Winners of the awards were announced at a gala dinner held at Sydney's Royal Randwick Racecourse on August 19.