Nano, quantum science win PM Science awards

A nanoscientist, quantum physicist, and biochemist are among those to have received Australia’s most prestigious award for outstanding achievements in scientific research.

At an event in Canberra, Minister for Industry and Science Ed Husic and Chief Scientist Dr Cathy Foley announced the winners for the Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science.

The Prize for Science went to Professor Michelle Simmons for her work in quantum mechanics. Simmons is the creator of the new field of atomic electronics and is working on ways of commercialising the technology for use in quantum computing.

The Prize for Innovation went to Professor Glenn King, a molecular biologist at the University of Queensland. He discovered that molecules in the venom of the funnel-web spider could kill insects that damage crops, but were safe for humans, bees and domestic animals.

He has since started a number of companies looking at venom peptides for use in medicine and other important biotechnology applications.

The Malcolm McIntosh Prize for Physical Scientist of the Year went to Professor Yuerui (Larry) Lu, a nanoscientist at the Australian National University. Professor Lu and his team made the first experimental discovery of interlayer exciton pairs.

The Frank Fenner Prize of Life Scientist of the Year went to microbiologist Professor Chris Greening at Monash University. He focuses on microbes that are important for biodiversity, food production and helping address climate change.

The Prize for New Innovators went to virologist Associate Professor Lara Herrero at Griffith University. She focuses on mosquito-transmitted viruses and works on the way viral infections are diagnosed, treated and managed, including repurposing existing drugs to focus on treatments.

Primary school teacher Judith Stutchbury and Cybersecurity teacher Donna Buckley were both awarded the Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching.

The prize winners take home a share in $750,000 in prize money, as well as a medallion designed by artist Wojciech Pietranik.

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