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Australia Salutes Its Science Heroes

April 27, 2010

Leading Australian researchers will next week be honored for their work in fields ranging from cancer prevention and how sex shapes us, to the revelation of past climates, the secrets of coral reefs and the future of our oil and gas industry.

The Australian Academy of Science will present its highest awards over two days, 5th and 6th May, at the Academy’s Shine Dome in Canberra, to three eminent scientists for their career contributions to their fields, and five awards to outstanding early-career researchers.

On Friday, 7th May, the Academy will present a full-day conference entitled ‘Genomics and Mathematics’, on how medicine and mathematics are being combined to develop powerful new scientific weapons to combat killer diseases.

Wednesday, 5th May, 9.30AM ““ 10.15AM
The Academy’s flagship 2010 Macfarlane Burnett Medal and Lecture will feature Professor David Vaux of La Trobe University. Prof Vaux is a leading authority on “Ëœcell suicide’, a key factor in the prevention of leukemia and lymphoma. In this lecture he will discuss the prospects for novel drugs – the outcome of years of basic research and now in human trials – that offer new strategies for preventing disease.

Thursday, 6th May, 10.15AM ““ 12.30PM

The following outstanding research scientists will receive awards and provide brief presentations:

1. The 2010 David Craig Medal will be presented to Professor Robert Gilbert, the University of Queensland for his original and substantial contributions in polymer science, which have influenced industrial polymer chemistry.

2. The 2010 Mawson Medal will be presented to Professor Patrick De Deckker, Australian National University for his pioneering work on the origins of Australian dust that has enabled us to reconstruct past climates on land and in the sea.

3. The 2010 Fenner Medal will be presented to Professor Robert Brooks, The University of New South Wales, for work that has fundamentally changed the way scientists and the public think about the fascinating relationships between the evolution of sex differences, death and ageing.

4. The 2010 Ruth Stephens Gani Medal will be presented to Dr Stuart Macgregor, Queensland Institute of Medical Research, for work in statistical genetics that has helped clarify the genetic base of diseases ranging from schizophrenia to cancer.

5. The inaugural 2009 Anton Hales Medal will be presented to Professor Jeffrey Walker, now of Monash University, for pioneering work in monitoring soil moisture from space in real time, leading to better prediction of weather, food production and water availability.

6. The 2010 Dorothy Hill Award will be presented to Dr Nicole Webster, Australian Institute of Marine Science, for work on symbiosis in coral reefs ““ including the discovery of 3000 different bacteria living in a single sponge ““ and its significance for the ability of reefs to recover from climate and human impacts.

7. The 2010 Frederick White Prize will be presented to Dr Amanda Barnard, CSIRO, who will describe her research into new ways to ensure that novel nanomaterials are safe, both for humans and for the environment.

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