SYDNEY: Research into the secret language of chickens, the holy grail of sunscreen and the moral compass of scientists were among the 19 winning entires at this year’s Australian Museum Eureka prizes, the country’s most prestigious science awards.
Australia’s most inspired minds came together for a glittering awards ceremony held at Randwick Pavillion at Sydney’s Royal Randwick Racecourse. With prize money worth $190,000 on offer, the 2010 winners received their accolades in front of many of Australia’s top thinkers, politicians and celebrities.
“Once again, Australia’s scientific community is showing that it can punch well above its weight when you consider the scope and influence of the work of the 2010 Eureka Prize winners,” said Frank Howarth, director of the Australian Museum.
K-lynn Smith and Chris Evans, from the Centre for the Integrative Study of Animal Behaviour at Macquarie University in Sydney, won the Eureka Prize for Scientific Research that Contributes to Animal Protection for their pioneering research challenging the concept of the feckless fowl.
Sentient chickens: the scientific case for improved standards portrays chickens as social, intelligent creatures complete with Machiavellian tendencies to adjust what they say according to who is listening.
“Changing the perception of chickens’ cognitive abilities is key to building a consensus for reforming intensive farming practices,” says Howarth.
Ray of hope
The Eureka Prize for Scientific Research was awarded to Amanda Barnard, leader of the Virtual Nanoscience Laboratory at the CSIRO in Victoria, for her research into the properties of nanoparticles in sunscreen.
Nanotechnology has helped develop transparent sunscreens, enabling us to ditch the heavy white war paint. Unfortunately, the same nanotechnology can produce toxic free radicals that may cause degenerative diseases and cancers.
Barnard has been analysing the efficacy, aesthetics and potential nanotoxicity of sunscreens, allowing manufacturers to tailor the properties of sunscreens and helping consumers to make more informed decisions.
This year’s Eureka Prize for Research in Ethics went to John Forge, Research Associate at the Unit for History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Sydney, for his research culminating in The Responsible Scientist: A Philosophical Inquiry. The book examines the social, moral and legal responsibilities faced by scientists across all areas of scientific enquiry.
THE FULL LIST OF WINNERS OF THE 2010 AUSTRALIAN MUSEUM EUREKA PRIZES:
Eureka Prize For Early Career Research – Rowena Martin, Australian National University
Eureka Prize For Environmental Research – David Lindenmayer, Australian National University
Eureka Prize For Excellence In Research By An Interdisciplinary Team – Meat Standards Australia (MSA) Pathways Team: Rod Polkinghorne, John Thompson, Garry Griffith, Paul Greenwood, Robyn Warner, Drewe Ferguson and David Pethick
Eureka Prize For Innovation In Computer Science – Peter Stuckey, NICTA
Eureka Prize For Innovative Solutions To Climate Change – Low Carbon Growth Plan for Australia, ClimateWorks Australia
Eureka Prize For Medical Research Translation – Philip Hogg, University of New South Wales
Eureka Prize For Outstanding Science In Support Of Defence Or National Security Ba-Ngu Vo, Ba-Tuong Vo and Antonio Cantoni, University of Western Australia
Eureka Prize For Research In Ethics – John Forge, University of Sydney
Eureka Prize ForScientific Research – Amanda Barnard, CSIRO
Eureka Prize For Scientific Research That Contributes To Animal Protection – K-lynn Smith and Chris Evans, Macquarie University
Professor Peter Cullen Eureka Prize For Water Research And Innovation – Greg Leslie, University of New South Wales and Bruce Sutton, University of New South Wales and University of Sydney
Eureka Prize For Leadership In Science – Martin Green, University of New South Wales
Eureka Prize For Environmental Journalism Sarah Clarke for The Real Science
Eureka Prize For Advancement Of Climate Change Knowledge – Environment Victoria
Eureka Prize For Promoting Understanding Of Science – Tony Peacock, the Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre
Eureka Prize For Science Journalism Ian Townsend for Self Inflicted Sickness
Eureka Prize For Science Photography – Roz Batten
Eureka Prize For Science Teaching – Jane Hall-Dadson, Exeter High School
Sleek Geek Science Eureka Prize, Primary – Lily Colmer, Albany Hills State School
Sleek Geek Science Eureka Prize, Secondary – Steven Megaloudis, Betty Cheregi, Matt Dalla Rosa, Byron Mihailides, Evan Raif and Paul Dalla Rosa from St Helena Secondary College
Eureka Prizes People’s Choice Award – Clinton Fookes, Queensland University of Technology