UNSW stands out in Eureka Prize line-up

In subject areas as diverse as preventing beach drownings and understanding the cosmos, six UNSW-affiliated researchers have been singled out as finalists for prestigious Eureka Prizes.

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In subject areas as diverse as preventing beach drownings and understanding the cosmos, six UNSW-affiliated researchers have been singled out as finalists for prestigious Eureka Prizes.

Two UNSW scientists are vying in the same category for the Australian Government Eureka Prize for Promoting Understanding of Australian Science Research, awarded to a research scientist who has effectively communicated their research outcomes to the public:

  • Dr Rob Brander has been shortlisted for his “The Science of the Surf” program, which has significantly improved the understanding of the science of surf hazards, undoubtedly saving lives as a result.
  • Professor Rob Brooks is a leading authority on sex and evolution, and a prolific commentator, author and speaker.

In the ANSTO Eureka Prize for Innovative Use of Technology category, a UNSW team led by Associate Professor Jay Katupitiya, has been shortlisted for developing the SmartSeeder, an autonomously guided robotic seeding system which uses GPS and Control Systems for high-precision agricultural seed placement.

Finalists In the University of New South Wales sponsored Eureka Prize for Scientific Research category - awarded for outstanding curiosity-driven scientific research – are Professor John Webb, Professor Victor Flambaum, Dr Julian King and Dr Julian Berengut, along with  Associate Professor Michael Murphy, from Swinburne University of Technology.

Their research focuses on understanding whether the laws of nature depend on space or time.

Dr S. Eric Han is a contender for the Voiceless Eureka Prize for Scientific Research that Contributes to Animal Protection, awarded to an individual or team for scientific research that has contributed, or has the potential to contribute, to animal protection. Dr Eric Han is developing an alternative method of investigating nerve dysfunction that is animal-free and directly translatable to the human clinical condition.

The finalists for the Rio Tinto Eureka Prize for Commercialisation of Innovation – awarded to an individual, group or organisation for the commercialisation of an innovation within the past 10 years that can be shown to have created significant value within Australia during that time – include Digitalcore, with reseachers from ANU and UNSW – Professor Val Pinczewski and Associate Professor Christoph Arns. Digitalcore uses supercomputing combined with high-resolution 3D scanning of oil-bearing rocks to come to the aid of the international oil and gas industry.

One of the few non-university finalists is UNSW PhD graduate Dr Adriana Downie, from Pacific Pyrolysis Pty Ltd. She is in contention for the 3M Eureka Prize for Emerging Leader in Science. Dr Downie is a recognised leader in the research, development and commercialisation required for biochar technology, which makes a significant contribution to the urgent need for climate-change mitigation, sustainable waste management and agriculture.

The winners will be announced at a Gala Award Dinner at The Royal Hall of Industries, Moore Park on Tuesday, 28 August 2012.