2022 Eureka Prize finalists announced

27 July 2022
Six Sydney researchers nominated for prestigious science prizes
Six academics from across the Faculties of Science, Medicine and Health and Engineering have been named Eureka Prize finalists in recognition of their innovative research.

Awarded annually, the Australian Museum Eureka Prizes are Australia’s most comprehensive national science awards, and honour excellence across the areas of research and innovation, leadership, science engagement, and school science.

This year’s finalists from the Faculties of Science, Medicine and Health and Engineering have been recognised for their contribution to scientific research and outstanding early-career research.

Faculty of Medicine and Health

Emerging Leader in Science: Dr Stephanie Partridge

Stephanie Partridge is an NHMRC/National Heart Foundation Early Career Research Fellow and an Accredited Practising Dietitian in the Engagement and Co-design Hub in the Charles Perkins Centre, and School of Health Sciences, University of Sydney.

Dr Stephanie Partridge (left) working with a research student.

Dr Stephanie Partridge (left) with research student.

Nine in ten Australian teenagers don't eat a balanced diet.  

Dr Stephanie Partridge’s research aims to address this by minimising the harm and harness the benefits of online technology. 

Working with young adults, Dr Partridge is conducting studies to understand how meal delivery apps affect how they access and consume food.   

She is also developing preventative health programs using everyday technologies, like texting and apps to help young people live a healthy lifestyle

Using digital interventions informed by teenagers, Dr Partridge aspires to transform the health of young people in this country.  

Outstanding Early Career Researcher: Dr Tess Reynolds

Tess Reynolds is a Cancer Institute of NSW Early Career Fellow, a 2021 Eureka Prize Finalist (Outstanding Early Career Researcher) and the Thoracic Theme Lead at the ACRF Image X Institute.

Dr Tess Reynolds standing inside her imaging lab.

Dr Tess Reynolds.

Across two world-first projects, Dr Reynolds’ research is transforming robotic imaging systems to de-risk surgery.

The first project significantly expands the currently limited surgical field-of-view, to capture long anatomical sites, like the spine and the aorta, in their entirety.

The other addresses the challenges of generating high quality intraprocedural images for guidance and verification during surgery – a process complicated due to patient motion.

Dr Reynolds’ new 3D imaging technology, Adaptive CaRdiac cOne BEAm computed Tomography or ACROBEAT, calculates heart movement to select the best possible time to acquire clear images, allowing surgeons to check that valves and pacemakers have been accurately placed.

Both technologies can be used during complex procedures, eliminating the need for corrective surgeries, providing patients with the best possible health outcomes.

Faculty of Science

Leadership in Science and Innovation: Professor Geordie Williamson

Geordie Williamson joined the Sydney University department in 2017 having completed his PhD in 2008 at the University of Freiburg. His focus areas are algebra, geometry and representation theory.

Professor Geordie Williamson.

Professor Geordie Williamson.

As inaugural director of the University of Sydney’s Mathematical Research Institute, Professor Geordie Williamson is leading research collaborations between local and international mathematicians. 

He has made fundamental contributions to Australia’s research capacity in pure mathematics, while his unique leadership vision is transforming the discipline and helping shape the mathematical tools of the future.

His work focusses on how AI and Machine Learning can be used by mathematicians to help build conjectures, and create mathematical proofs for long-standing concepts.

Excellence in Interdisciplinary research: Professor Manfred Lenzen and Professor David Raubenheimer

Manfred Lenzen is Professor of Sustainability Research at Integrated Sustainability Analysis (ISA) in the School of Physics at the University of Sydney.

The team: Navoda Nirmani Liyana Pathirana, Professor David Raubenheimer, Dr Mengyu Li, and Dr Arunima Malik.

The team: Navoda Nirmani Liyana Pathirana, Professor David Raubenheimer, Dr Mengyu Li, and Dr Arunima Malik.

David Raubenheimer is Leonard P. Ullman Chair in Nutritional Ecology at the Charles Perkins Centre and School of LIfe and Environmental Sciences. His research focus is the development and use of approaches that model foods and diets as mixtures.

Professors’ Manfred Lenzen and David Raubenheimer have joined forces and put together a team that have pioneered integrative methods to understand how dietary choices impact health, environment and economy simultaneously.

The team includes Professor Lenzen, Professor Raubenheimer, as well as Dr Arunima Malik (School of Physics and the University of Sydney Business School) Dr Mengyu Li (School of Physics) and Navoda Nirmani Liyana Pathirana (Charles Perkins Centre and School of Physics).

As a result of thier work, these issues are no longer restricted to separate research fields. 

Uncovering two breakthrough findings, the team’s results indicate how our eating habits drive up carbon emissions through food transport, and how the nutrient composition of our diets affect the environment and economy.  

This integration of data will support decision-making that addresses public health and environmental objectives holistically. 

Faculty of Engineering

2022 ANSTO Prize for Innovative Use of Technology: Professor Julie Cairney

Julie Cairney is a Professor in the School of Aerospace, Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering, the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research – Enterprise and Engagement) and the CEO of Microscopy Australia.

Professor Julie Cairney.

Professor Julie Cairney.

Hydrogen atoms are light and mobile, making them difficult to image using current microscopy methods. 

Materials engineer and scientist Professor Julie Cairney solved this challenge by building a new microscopy workflow to map the 3D position of hydrogen at an atomic scale.

She has used this new technique to better understand and prevent hydrogen embrittlement in steels - a major impediment to the transport of hydrogen as a clean fuel. This innovative use of technology will also be useful for hydrogen-related research across energy, transport and petrochemical industries.