Science superstars honoured by academy

Courtesy of ANU

Three exceptional scientists from The Australian National University (ANU) have been recognised for their world-leading work with our forests, marine megafauna and critical metals.

Professor David Lindenmayer, Professor Stephen Cox and Associate Professor Ana Sequeira have been recognised as part of the 2024 Australian Academy of Science Honorific Awards.

Professor Lindenmayer has been studying Australia’s forests for decades. As one of the world’s most prolific ecologists, he’s helped shape our understanding of how our forests are changing, and how to best protect them for future generations.

This work has included some of the largest long-term forest studies in Australia, and has now seen him recognised with a prestigious career achievement award – the Macfarlane Burnet Medal.

“We can actually see the structure of our forests changing,” Professor Lindenmayer said.

“With more and more fires, the big old trees are being lost, and not replaced. They’re also key structures for a whole range of species who are going to need a lot of help to make it through the next 30, 40, 50 years.”

Professor Lindenmayer and his team have been working closely with First Nations communities to better understand how traditional practices can be implemented to help care for Country and reduce bushfire risk.

He’s also passionate about improving biodiversity on farms across Australia.

“We need to be thinking about how we put back vegetation to create a healthy farm ecosystem. Better management of our farm dams can also play a big part in that,” Professor Lindenmayer said.

Professor Stephen Cox is the 2024 recipient of the Haddon Forrester King Medal. Photo: Australian Academy of Science

Professor Cox has been awarded the Haddon Forrester King Medal, a career award for lifelong achievement and outstanding contribution to science.

His work has been instrumental in pinpointing where we should focus the search for valuable ore deposits such as gold and copper.

“I liked the idea of working with something that was more relevant to society. I became very enthusiastic about trying to understand how various sorts of ore deposits form, and that’s led me through my very interesting career,” Professor Cox said.

Associate Professor Ana Sequeira has been awarded the Fenner Medal. Photo: Australian Academy of Science

Marine ecologist Associate Professor Sequeira has won the Fenner Medal for her work tracking ocean giants like the whale shark and the threats they face.

“Whale sharks can travel entire ocean basins if they want to. To me that was fantastic. I wanted to understand how they did it,” Associate Professor Sequeira said.

“We’re entering a new era where there’s a focus on protecting our oceans, but it’s also important to think about exactly where to direct those efforts. My research is helping to answer that question.”

You can find full details of the 2024 Australian Academy of Science Honorific Awards here.

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