2015 Prime Minister's Prizes for Science

22 October
Graham Farquhar, Ken Silburn, Ian Chubb, Rebecca Johnson, The Hon Malcolm Turnbull, The Hon Christopher Pyne, Jane Elith, Graeme Jameson, Cyrille Boyer.
Graham Farquhar, Ken Silburn, Ian Chubb, Rebecca Johnson, The Hon Malcolm Turnbull, The Hon Christopher Pyne, Jane Elith, Graeme Jameson, Cyrille Boyer.

The Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science were presented in Canberra to six of Australia’s exemplary scientists and science educators by the Prime Minister on Wednesday, 21 October 2015.

The black tie celebratory dinner, held in the Great Hall of Parliament House, was attended by more than 500 Members of Parliament, distinguished scientists, science educators, industry captains and prominent leaders of the science and education community.

The 2015 Prime Minister’s Prize for Science was awarded to Professor Graham Farquhar AO of the Australian National University for his outstanding contributions towards the understanding of photosynthesis. His innovative research has a significant impact across many levels of our society through plant biology applications in Earth, Environmental, Biological and Agricultural sciences. Professor Farquhar has undertaken and led research across a broad range of fields and scales, from integration of photosynthesis with nitrogen and water use of plants, stomatal physiology, isotopic composition of plants and global change.

This year saw the introduction of a new award – The Prime Minister’s Prize for Innovation. This award is presented to an Australian or Australian team who has innovatively translated scientific knowledge into a commercially available product that has significant economic, social and, where relevant, environmental impacts. The inaugural prize was awarded to Laureate Professor Graeme Jameson AO of the University of Newcastle whose achievement is the discovery and development of a new device for the separation of fine mineral particles, known as the Jameson Cell. This technology has been of significant value to the minerals industry.

The Frank Fenner Prize for Life Scientist of the Year was awarded to Victorian Dr Jane Elith of the University of Melbourne. This award is in recognition of her outstanding contributions to applied ecology, through her influential role in the development, evaluation and application of species distribution models, statistical models that describe relationships between the occurrence and abundance of species and the environment.

The Malcolm McIntosh Prize for Physical Scientist of the Year awarded to Associate Professor Cyrille Boyer of the University of New South Wales for his research in polymer science and applications in nanomedicine, with the development of new functional polymers and new nanomaterials for drug delivery imaging.

In recognition of their dedication to inspiring and educating Australia’s future generations of scientists, the Prime Minister’s Prizes for Excellence in Science Teaching in Primary and Secondary Schools were awarded respectively to Mrs Rebecca Johnson from Windaroo State School in Queensland and Dr Kenneth Silburn from Casula High School in New South Wales. Mrs Johnson initiated a specialist science program within her school featuring innovative and imaginative approaches which has now been replicated in many other schools. Dr Silburn has made an outstanding contribution to science education including through his advocacy and support for a range of community and professional development activities in the teaching sector.

The prizes are awarded annually and are a tribute to the contributions that our scientists and science teachers are making to Australia's current and future scientific capabilities.

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