The 2006 Prime Minister's Prizes for Science were awarded at a presentation ceremony held on 16 October 2006. 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.
2006 Awards Presentation
The 2006 Prime Minister's Prizes for Science were presented to five of Australia's top scientists and science teachers by the former Prime Minister and former Minister Bishop at a black-tie function in the Great Hall of Parliament House on Monday 16 October 2006. This event was attended by some 550 guests including members of Parliament, members of scientific organisations and university-based research teams, members of the science teaching profession and the media.
Dr Robyn Williams AM presided over the proceedings of the evening. Robyn is a science journalist and radio broadcaster who has hosted The Science Show on ABC Radio National since 1975, Ockham's Razor (created in 1984) and In Conversation since 1997.
Professor Mandyam Veerambudi Srinivasan (known to all as Srini) was awarded the major prize, the Prime Minister's Prize for Science, for his dual achievements of:
- learning how bees navigate between the hive and food sources, and control their flight speed and landing; and
- verifying his theories of insect vision function by successfully implementing them in prototype robotic systems.
Srini, a Distinguished Professor at the Australian National University, was awarded his prize by the former Prime Minister, John Howard, who also presented two awards to Australia's top science teachers.
Ms Marjorie Colvill of Tasmania was awarded the Prime Minister's Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Primary Schools; and Ms Anna Davis of Sydney was presented with the Prime Minister's Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Secondary Schools.
Both teachers exemplify what students can achieve when they have a passionate and committed science teacher. Marjorie and Anna assist their students to learn by teaching their students to think for themselves and to ask insightful questions. Marjorie and Anna support their students in their quest for knowledge, and encourage their students to achieve. Anna's teaching at Casimir Catholic College has resulted in a 17% improvement in student results in HSC science.
The former Minister for Education, Science and Training, Ms Julie Bishop, presented Dr James Whisstock with the Science Minister's Prize for Life Scientist of the Year for his work on two groups of molecules known as proteases and serpins. Proteases are enzymes that are responsible for breaking down damaged cells in the body. Unless they're controlled, proteases can go on to attack healthy cells to the extent that they cause diseases including cancer.
James' many discoveries include how one member of the serpin family, known as a maspin, functions to prevent breast cancer.
The former Minister for Education, Science and Training, Ms Julie Bishop presented Dr Naomi McClure-Griffiths with the Malcolm McIntosh Prize for Physical Scientist of the Year. A Senior Post-Doctoral Fellow at the CSIRO Australia Telescope, Naomi has conducted research leading to new understandings of the size and age of the Milky Way.
Naomi is now considered one of her generation's world leaders in astronomy.
The presentation evening ended with a toast by the then Prime Minister and former Minister Bishop to all award recipients. Congratulations to Srini, Marjorie, Anna, James and Naomi.