An internationally renowned radio astronomer and a pioneer in the field of epigenomics were jointly named WA’s Scientist of the Year, last night, during the 2020 Premier’s Science Awards.
The prestigious award and its $50,000 prize was shared by UWA-Harry Perkins Institute Professor Ryan Lister and Curtin University-International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research Professor Steven Tingay.
At a time when COVID-19 has highlighted the value of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), this year’s Premier’s Science Award winners demonstrate the diverse talent in Western Australia’s science community.
Professor Lister’s ground-breaking work is recognised internationally for generating the first complete map of the human epigenome, and his research has revolutionised the understanding of genome regulation, stem cell biology and brain development.
Co-winner Professor Tingay’s astronomy research has been the driving force behind the $50 million Murchison Widefield Array, the precursor to the Square Kilometre Array, and his personal research has resulted in more than 280 refereed publications, accumulating more than 12,000 citations.
The Premier’s Science Awards ceremony is a key event in the Western Australian STEM calendar, and is an important initiative in celebrating the achievements of local scientists.
Premier’s Science Awards were also presented to:
- Dr Chris Brennan-Jones (Telethon Kids Institute) – Woodside Early Career Scientist of the Year ($10,000);
- Morgan Cox (Curtin University) and Todd Bond (The University of Western Australia) – joint winners of the ExxonMobil Student Scientist of the Year ($10,000);
- Simone Harrington (The University of Western Australia) – Shell Aboriginal STEM Student of the Year ($10,000); and
- Diving deep in the #NingalooCanyons (Western Australian Museum) – Chevron Science Engagement Initiative of the Year ($10,000).
The Premier’s Science Awards Hall of Fame inductee for 2020, Professor Mark Randolph, was also recognised last night for his lifelong contribution to geomechanics, most notably his work in establishing the Centre for Offshore Foundation Systems, and Advanced Geomechanics.
In June, the State Government launched the Take 2 STEM campaign to encourage greater take-up of STEM subjects and equip students with the skills to drive WA’s technological future and create job opportunities.
The 2020 Premier’s Science Awards were sponsored by Woodside Energy, Shell, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Telethon Kids Institute, Murdoch University, Edith Cowan University, University of Notre Dame, Curtin University and The University of Western Australia.
For more information about the winners and finalists, visit https://www.jtsi.wa.gov.au/ScienceAwards
As stated by Premier Mark McGowan:
“Through science we are able to tackle some of the biggest challenges facing our times, and COVID-19 has shone more of a light on the importance of STEM to our whole community.
“I am pleased of the achievements of all the winners of the 2020 Premier’s Science Awards – you have made an incredible contribution, not only to science in WA, but in many cases, across the globe.
“This year’s award winners represent a wide cross-section of the science world, and should stand as a reminder that achievements in STEM are not only for those with years of experience.
“Whether your passion is fighting cancer, combating climate change or unlocking the secrets of the universe, I encourage everyone to use these awards as inspiration, and consider a career in STEM to help drive Western Australia’s technological future.”
As stated by Science Minister Dave Kelly:
“The COVID-19 pandemic has put STEM breakthroughs firmly in the spotlight, and this year’s Premier’s Science Award winners represent the very best scientists our State has across a wide range of fields.
“I would like to congratulate all eight winners in this year’s awards, not only for their commitment to the understanding of the world we live in but also for being role models to future scientists across our State.
“The WA science community is world leading, and the breakthroughs of these award-winning scientists not only help raise the profile of their universities and Western Australia, they help build a brighter future for us all.”