In recognition of their ground-breaking research, seven Monash University scientists have been shortlisted in this year’s Australian Museum Eureka Prizes – the nation’s top science awards.
Finalists include researchers from the Monash Alfred Psychiatry Research Centre, the Faculties of Science, Information Technology, Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences; and the Monash Bioethics Centre are each in the running for one of 17 awards across four categories.
The Australian Museum Eureka Prizes honour excellence across the areas of research and innovation, leadership, science engagement and school science, and are presented annually in partnership with some of the country’s leading scientific institutions, government organisations, universities and corporations.
Monash finalists for the 2020 Australian Museum Eureka Prizes are:
2020 Celestino Eureka Prize for Promoting Understanding of Science:
- Dr Gemma Sharp, Monash Alfred Psychiatry Research Centre.
Known for her ability to tackle stigmatised and misunderstood issues, particularly in mental health, Dr Gemma Sharp is a skilled science communicator who extends her influence across multiple media platforms. Her engaging and relatable approach has led to greater mental health awareness and treatment seeking in the community.
Finkel Foundation Eureka Prize for Long-Form Science Journalism:
- Dr Paul Biegler, Monash Bioethics Centre.
A new device to create embryo-like structures is shedding light on the mystery of early human development and the blight of miscarriage and birth defects. But could these embryoids one day supply transplant organs or even make a baby? In Biology’s Black Box, Dr Paul Biegler asks bioengineers and policymakers how far we can take the ’embryo in a dish’.
UNSW Eureka Prize for Scientific Research:
- The Australian Quantum Vortex Team, Monash School of Physics and Astronomy in collaboration with the University of Queensland; and Swinburne University of Technology.
Turbulence is a ubiquitous phenomenon that causes giant vortices to form, influencing global weather, flight and even galaxies. The Australian Quantum Vortex Team has developed pioneering laser technologies to observe the microscopic origins of turbulence for the first time. Their results verify 70-year-old predictions that these vortices emerge in quantum fluids and have important implications for the design of future quantum technologies.
- Professor Mark Febbraio, Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences
Despite the existence of several established treatments for type 2 diabetes, a drug that halts or reverses disease progression is not yet available. Through his metabolic disease research, Professor Mark Febbraio has discovered that a compound called IC7Fc could improve glucose metabolism, progressing new drug therapies for people living with diabetes.
ANSTO Eureka Prize for Innovative Use of Technology
- Monash Milkshake Team, led by Ben Boyd, Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.
The Monash Milk team has developed innovative new synchrotron-based methods to study the interaction of milk and milk-like systems with drugs. The resulting insights have enabled the development of formulations for progressing new safe and effective drug formulations for children, including the first ever single dose cure for malaria.
- BioNanoVR, Dr Angus Johnston, Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, in collaboration with the University of Queensland and UNSW.
Visualisation of scientific data is crucial to scientific discovery and communicating findings. BioNanoVR has developed a completely new way of interacting with complex biological data by using virtual reality (VR). This multidisciplinary project allows users to be miniaturised and to come face-to-face with a real cancer cell, or watch nanoparticles target tumours inside the body.
UTS Eureka Prize for Excellence in Data Science
- Professor Dinh Phung, Faculty of Information Technology.
Professor Phung’s pioneering research has led to the development of algorithms that can uncover infinite hidden patterns from big data. He has revealed how next-generation theory and tools can harness big data for the coming artificial intelligence revolution and advance fundamental science, delivering considerable social and economic benefits.
The winners will be announced on Tuesday 24 November 2020 at Sydney Town Hall. For more information on the Eureka Prizes, visit the Australian Museum website.