Eureka Prizes

Eleven Eureka Prize finalists

29 September 2020
Prestigious science prizes honour our researchers
Eleven University of Sydney individuals and groups have been named as Eureka Prize finalists in recognition of their excellent scientific research, leadership and engagement.

The Eureka Prizes are Australia’s most comprehensive national science awards, honouring excellence in research and innovation, leadership, science engagement, and school science. 

With eleven Eureka Prize finalists this year, the University of Sydney has more finalists than any other organisation in Australia.

Awarded annually since 1990, the Eureka Prizes are celebrating their 30th anniversary this year. Winners will be announced on 24 November in an online awards ceremony.  

Our 2020 Eureka Prize finalists are:

Professor Robert Park

Professor Robert Park

Plant Breeding Institute, School of Life and Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Science

Finalist Eureka Prize for Leadership in Innovation and Science

For nearly two decades, Professor Robert Park has led world-class efforts to develop cereal varieties with inbuilt genetic disease resistance. He is one of the few plant pathologists who has successfully translated their biological discoveries to the real world, his research having a sustained global impact on the economic viability of cereal production and food security.

Professor Geordie Williamson

Professor Geordie Williamson

Sydney Mathematical Research Institute, School of Mathematics and Statistics, Faculty of Science

Finalist Eureka Prize for Leadership in Innovation and Science

Your phone has used more mathematical concepts in the last hour than we are able to teach in a university degree; from binary numbers to recent advances in machine learning. Professor Geordie Williamson leads the Sydney Mathematical Research Institute, which is helping understand and shape the mathematical tools of the future.

Professor Carol Armour

Professor Carol Armour

Sydney Medical School, Faculty of Medicine and Health

Finalist Eureka Prize for Outstanding Mentor of Young Researchers

Professor Carol Armour has devoted the last 20 years of her academic career to enhancing local and national research capacity. She has taken her passion for mentoring and career development of staff and created transformative programs and unique opportunities that have advanced the careers of the next generation of researchers.

Feral cat

Cat Ecology, Impact and Management Team: including Professor Chris Dickman, Dr Aaron Greenville, Dr Thomas Newsome and Dr Tim Doherty

Threatened Species Recovery Hub of the National Environmental Science Program: School of Life and Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Science, and Australian National University, University of Queensland and University of Tasmania

Finalist Eureka Prize for Applied Environmental Research

The impact of feral cats on Australia’s wildlife is severe, however a lack of robust evidence has made their effective management an enduring challenge. This collaborative team of scientists and land managers has undertaken national-scale research on the ecology of cats, tested management options and influenced biodiversity conservation policy.

Professor Dacheng Tao

Professor Dacheng Tao

School of Computer Science, Faculty of Engineering

Finalist Eureka Prize for Excellence in Data Science

Deep learning has been shown to reduce human bias, however practical challenges – such as accidents caused by driverless cars – have lowered society’s trust in artificial intelligence. Professor Dacheng Tao has advanced deep learning theory and technologies, enabling the design of innovative algorithms for tasks that include object detection and image enhancement.

Professor Vanessa Hayes

Professor Vanessa Hayes

Sydney Medical School, Faculty of Medicine and Health

Finalist Eureka Prize for Excellence in Interdisciplinary Scientific Research

Breakthrough findings from this landmark study led by Professor Vanessa Hayes and her team pinpoints the homeland of modern humans in southern Africa and suggests how climate change may have driven the first migrations. The findings provide a window into the first 100 thousand years of modern humans’ history.

Professor Lining Arnold Ju

Dr Lining Arnold Ju

School of Biomedical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering

Finalist Eureka Prize for Outstanding Early Career Researcher

Dr Lining (Arnold) Ju’s research has advanced our understanding of how ‘force-sensing’ proteins in the cardiovascular system trigger blood clotting. Inspired by his mechanobiology discoveries, he has proposed novel therapies that efficiently prevent disease-forming clots, a breakthrough that will have life-saving implications for diabetics who are resistant to conventional anti-clotting drugs, such as aspirin and plavix.

Professor Ben Eggleton and team

Professor Benjamin Eggleton, Dr Eric Mägi, Dr Moritz Merklein, Dr Alvaro Casas Bedoya and Dr Yang Liu

School of Physics, Faculty of Science, and Sydney Nano, and Associate Professor Stephen Madden, Australian National University

Finalist Eureka Prize for Outstanding Science in Safeguarding Australia

By harnessing the delicate interaction between light and sound, Professor Ben Eggleton and his team have produced a microchip that provides a unique advantage for defence platforms. With prototypes already developed in Australia and internationally, this compact technology heralds a new era in microwave signal processing and represents real gains in performance, efficiency and cost.

Professor Dieter Hochuli and Matthew Hall group

Team Brush-turkey: Matthew Hall and Professor Dieter Hochuli

School of Life and Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Science, and Dr John Martin and Dr Alicia Burns, Taronga Conservation Society

Finalist Eureka Prize for Innovation in Citizen Science

Once a rare species due to overhunting, the Australian Brush-turkey is now commonly found in urban areas on the country’s east coast. Team Brush-turkey have developed an app that engages the community with sightings while learning about this unique species, the information helping scientists better understand their evolving distribution and the behaviours that enable recolonisation.

Associate Professor Alice Motion

Associate Professor Alice Motion

School of Chemistry, Faculty of Science, and Sydney Nano

Finalist Eureka Prize for Promoting Understanding of Science

Associate Professor Alice Motion is a chemistry researcher, educator and public communicator of science who is committed to engaging new and underrepresented audiences. An important voice for the popularisation of science, she has reached millions of Australians through a range of methods that include original podcasts, musical festivals, television appearances and social media.

Corey Tutt

Corey Tutt

Deadly Science, Faculty of Medicine and Health

Finalist Eureka Prize for STEM Inclusion

Corey Tutt is a Kamilaroi man who founded Deadly Science, a program which provides remote schools across Australia with scientific resources and connects young Indigenous people with mentors to encourage their participation in STEM subjects. Indigenous Australians are the world’s first scientists, yet they are significantly underrepresented in all areas of STEM – Deadly Science aims to change this.

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