2016 Recipients

The prizes are awarded annually and are a public recognition and tribute to the contributions that our scientists, innovators and science teachers are making to Australia's current and future scientific and commercialisation capabilities.

The 2016 Prime Minister's Prizes for Science was awarded at a presentation ceremony on 19 October 2016.

  • Prime Minister's Prize for Science
    Richard Shine
  • Prime Minister’s Prize for Innovation
    Michael Aitken
  • Prize for New Innovators
    Colin Hall
  • Malcolm McIntosh Prize for Physical Scientist of the Year
    Richard Payne
  • Frank Fenner Prize for Life Scientist of the Year
    Kerrie Wilson
  • Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Secondary Schools
    Suzy Urbaniak
  • Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Primary Schools
    Gary Tilley

2016 Awards Presentation

The Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science were proudly presented to seven of Australia’s exemplary scientists and science educators by the Prime Minister on Wednesday 19 October 2016.

The black tie celebratory dinner, held in the Great Hall of Parliament House, was attended by over 450 Members of Parliament, distinguished scientists, science educators, industry captains and prominent leaders of the science and education community.

The 2016 Prime Minister’s Prize for Science was awarded to Professor Richard Shine AM for his research into reptilian behaviours and their applicability to wider understandings of vertebrate evolution; his research into the roles and importance of reptiles in ecosystems; and for his discoveries in cane toad biology that have led to new understandings of invasive behaviours and to biological and physical methods of controlling cane toad populations.

The Prime Minister’s Prize for Innovation was awarded Professor Michael Aitken AM for his development of the software and mathematical tools to create real-time surveillance systems for transactions in financial markets, able to track all trading activity and to detect anomalies (such as insider trading and fraud); for the translation to applications such as health insurance and mortgage finance; and for his work in developing methods for ensuring fairness and efficiency in market activity and design.  His innovations have generated more than one hundred million dollars over the past decade and he is a world leader in his field.

The Frank Fenner Prize for Life Scientist of the Year was awarded to Associate Professor Kerrie Wilson for her original, significant and internationally-recognised contributions to conservation science: conservation prioritisation – applying economic principles to environmental management to ensure efficient and optimal use of funds; and ecosystem services—identifying and quantifying the benefits that ecosystems deliver to societies.

The Malcolm McIntosh Prize for Physical Scientist of the Year awarded to Professor Richard Payne for his chemical syntheses of a range of new therapeutic proteins with demonstrated potential to fight different forms of cancer and to break down blood clots; and for the development of synthetic molecular compounds and natural product analogues with potential to become new drugs for the treatment of malaria and tuberculosis.

This year saw the introduction of a new award, The Prize for New Innovators. This award recognises an exceptional early-mid career innovation in the commercialisation of scientific research that has had substantial beneficial economic, social and (where relevant) environmental impacts. The inaugural prize was awarded to Dr Colin Hall for his invention of a world-first plastic automotive mirror that is light-weight, UV and corrosion resistant and shatterproof. The mirror is a feat of materials science, being a multi-layered composite of resin, silica and chrome. It is produced in South Australia and has achieved sales in excess of US$160m since 2012.

In recognition of their dedication to inspiring and educating Australia’s future generations of scientists, the Prime Minister’s Prizes for Excellence in Science Teaching in Primary and Secondary Schools were awarded respectively to Ms Suzy Urbaniak from Kent Street Senior High School in Western Australia and Mr Gary Tilley from Seaforth Public School in New South Wales. Ms Suzy Urbaniak, for her inspirational development of a resources-focused Earth and Environmental Sciences curriculum to teach to students in Years 8-12; for her successful efforts in interesting students in the resources industry’s variety of geoscience, engineering and environmental career opportunities; for her targeted and successful initiatives to encourage female and aboriginal students to study science; and for her contributions to earth science education in WA. Mr Gary Tilley, for his development and implementation, since 2002, of a whole-of-school science curriculum delivered with the assistance of visiting scientists; for his creative and engaging science teaching, involving a combination of science and art; and for his professional contributions, including mentoring new science teachers.  He has inspired scores of primary school students to take an ongoing interest in science in their later years of study.

Photo Gallery

View the photo gallery from the 2016 Prime Minister's Prizes for Science presentation.
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