Academics announced as finalists in 5 Eureka Prize categories

31 July 2019

Academics with expertise spanning biomedical engineering, the internet-of-things, medicine and quantum physics have been selected as finalists for five categories in Australia's most comprehensive national science awards, the 2019 Australian Museum's Eureka Prizes.

Award finalist: Eureka Prize for Leadership in Innovation and Science

Professor Branka Vucetic, Faculty of Engineering

Director of the Internet of Things (IoT) and Telecommunications Laboratory within the School of Electrical and Information Engineering, Professor Branka Vucetic has made seminal contributions to the fields of coding and wireless communications with much of her work underpinning the wireless technologies we use today. 

“Within the area of the internet-of-things, my focus has been on providing wireless connectivity for mission-critical applications, such as automated power grids, information exchange between vehicles and smart satellites,” said Professor Vucetic.

“Being chosen as a finalist in the Eureka Prizes emphasises the importance of this area, and is a wonderful honour,” she said.

Founder and CEO of Q-CTRL and Finalist in the Eureka Prize for Promoting Understanding of Science, Professor Michael J. Biercuk is a quantum technologist.

Award finalist: Celestino Eureka Prize for Promoting Understanding of Science

Professor Michael J. Biercuk, Faculty of Science

Using traditional media alongside other creative platforms, Professor Biercuk brings his expertise not only to the technology sector, but also the arts and public policy, ensuring science positively and broadly impacts society.

“I’m always grateful for the opportunity I have to share my excitement about the quantum future, because in science, education, and business, I believe it’s a focus on storytelling and human connection that leads to success. 

“Being named a finalist in this Eureka Prize category for promoting understanding of science is a humbling recognition of my work at the University and as the Founder and CEO of Q-CTRL, through which I’ve made sharing a message about the transformational nature of quantum technology my priority,” said Professor Biercuk.

Award finalist: Eureka Prize for Innovative Use of Technology

Professor Hala Zreiqat AM, Faculty of Engineering

Hala Zreiqat AM is a Professor of Biomedical Engineering within the Faculty of Engineering, the Director of the ARC Training Centre for Innovative BioEngineering and directs the Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering Research Unit.

Her group consists of multidisciplinary team of researchers including engineers, cell and molecular biologists and clinicians. Her lab works on the development of novel engineered materials and 3D printed platforms for regenerative medicine, particularly in the fields of orthopaedics, dental and maxillofacial applications. 

“Being selected as a finalist for this prestigious prize is a great honour. It’s fantastic to see the field of biomedical engineering recognised, particularly as our industry continues to make enormous advancements,” said Professor Zreiqat.

“I would like to thank my amazing team, colleagues and our wonderful industry partners for their ongoing support,” she said.

Award finalist: Eureka Prize for Infectious Diseases Research

ACT Now for Tuberculosis Control –  Associate Professor Greg Fox and Professor Warwick Britton from the University of Sydney's Faculty of Medicine and Health and Professor Guy Marks from the University of New South Wales.

Tuberculosis (TB) is often referred to as “Ebola with wings” because if left untreated, the disease – for which an estimated one in three cases are not diagnosed – has a mortality of more than 50 percent. The University of Sydney/UNSW team has uncovered evidence it says will be a game-changer for the global disease.

More than 100,000 people in a high-burden country, Vietnam, have participated in the group’s clinical trials, which demonstrate that screening significantly increases detection rates, slashes mortality rates and is cost-effective. The results are relevant for other high-burden regions and populations at risk for TB, including migrant populations in Australia.

The group has produced findings that have major implications for international efforts for reducing TB, filling a gap in evidence identified by the World Health Organization, and supporting the scale-up of efforts to find and treat cases to meet the WHO target of eliminating TB by 2035. 

"Tuberculosis is the leading infectious cause of death globally. Most of the 10 million people each year who develop TB are in Asia, and one in three are not diagnosed" said Associate Professor Greg Fox

“These exciting results show that major steps towards TB elimination are possible with existing tools and highlight the importance of controlling TB in our region for Australia,” said Professor Britton.

Professor Guy Marks is a respiratory physician and epidemiologist committed to finding solutions to the big problems affecting global lung health.

"We have had most of the tools needed to diagnose TB for over 100 years and the drugs need to effectively cure the disease for over 50 years. With these tools we have nearly eliminated it in many countries. In my view it is a scandal that, in 2019, it remains the largest infectious disease killer in the world," said Professor Marks.

Award finalist: 3M Eureka Prize for Emerging Leader in Science

Associate Professor Melody Ding, Faculty of Medicine and Health

Associate Professor Melody (Ding) Ding is passionate about generating policy-relevant evidence through high-quality epidemiological and population health research, as well as in globally relevant issues in climate change, sustainability and health. 

The 2018 NSW Young Tall Poppy of the Year continues to innovate, collaborate and generate world-leading research in novel areas, such as the health consequences of car dependency and the relationships between urban environments and health, through her research in the School of Public HealthFaculty of Medicine and Health.

“With this recognition, I am more motivated than ever to make a difference in environmental and population health through my research, teaching, mentoring and community engagement,” said Associate Professor Ding.

“I am very grateful to everyone who has inspired, encouraged and supported me throughout my career. I believe that science is a collaborative endeavour and that it is through building a nurturing and supportive environment that we achieve excellence. We need to create and promote a fair, ethical, and collegial culture in academia despite the competitive environment,” she said.

About the Eureka Prizes

The Australian Museum Eureka Prizes are the country’s most comprehensive national science awards, honouring excellence across the areas of research & innovation, leadership, science engagement, and school science.

Presented annually in partnership with some of the nation's leading scientific institutions, government organisations, universities and corporations, the Eureka Prizes raise the profile of science and science engagement in the community by celebrating outstanding achievement.


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