The 2005 Prime Minister's Prizes for Science were awarded at a presentation ceremony held on 4 October 2005. The five 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.
2005 Awards Presentation
The public recognition of our two latest Nobel Laureates capped off the sixth annual awards of the Prime Minister's Prizes for Science on 4 October 2005.
Guests at the black tie dinner in the Great Hall of Parliament House not only celebrated the achievements of three brilliant scientists and two outstanding science teachers, they also lauded our newest Nobel laureates, Barry Marshall and J. Robin Warren, recipients of the 2005 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.
Barry Marshall's surprise entrance (arranged at very short notice!) was greeted with a standing ovation from more than 550 scientists, science academics and science teachers attending the event. It was a unique opportunity for some of the most prominent members of the Australian science community, assembled in one place for the only time in the year, to offer their congratulations - an unforgettable moment for all!
The Prime Minister's Prize for Science (a solid gold medallion embossed with the Australian Coat of Arms and a grant of $300,000) is the nation's greatest award for scientific achievement. This year it was presented to David Boger, of the University of Melbourne's Particulate Fluids Processing Centre. David received the award for the remarkable advances he has made in understanding the properties of fluids in motion - the study of which phenomena is the science of rheology.
The then Prime Minister, Mr Howard, also presented the Prizes for Excellence in Science Teaching in Primary and Secondary Schools to Mr Mark Merritt of Marmion Primary School in Perth, and Mr Mike Roach of Hamilton Secondary College in Adelaide.
Mark and Mike are deserving recipients of this year's science teaching awards, which are Australia's most significant, comprising a solid silver medallion and a grant of $50,000.
Harvey Millar of the University of Western Australia received the Science Minister's Prize for Life Scientist of the Year for his work on plant mitochondria, the "power units" within plant cells that convert starches to energy and - Harvey discovered - also produce antioxidants such as Vitamin C. Harvey's further discoveries about the nature and functions of a number of proteins possessed by plant mitochondria are giving us our first insights into how plants can tolerate stressful conditions such as heat and saline environments. Harvey and his team are among the world's leading researchers in this relatively new field of biological science, plant proteomics.
The University of Sydney's Cameron Kepert was awarded the Malcolm McIntosh Prize for Physical Scientist of the Year. Cameron made his discoveries and advances in knowledge by exploring the shared boundaries of chemistry and physics in a new field of science, molecular electronics. Cameron's technological advances include the development of new materials with pores only nanometres in diameter which are designed to trap molecules of only one kind - and when all the pores are filled, the material itself can signal this by changing its colour or its magnetic properties. The breakthroughs being made here have applications in pharmaceuticals, industrial processes, environmental management, and energy conservation. In pharmaceuticals, for example, Cameron's materials can be designed to trap either left-handed or right-handed molecules, and let the other type through. Another of Cameron's discoveries, materials that shrink when heated, also have a wide range of potential applications, including in car engines.
The Science Minister's and Malcolm McIntosh Prizes each comprise a silver medallion and a grant of $50,000, and are Australia's highest awards in the life and physical sciences.