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Eureka Prizes announces five Sydney finalists

29 July 2016
The Oscars of Australian science selects an engineer and three scientists from Sydney as well as an international collaboration.

The Oscars of Australian science, the Eureka Prizes, has nominated Sydney in five categories for work spanning defence engineering; brain disorders; healthcare leadership and innovation, mentoring and collaborative work as part of an international consortium.

Known as Australia’s Oscars of science, the Eureka Prizes has nominated four University of Sydney researchers as finalists and also selected a leading international collaboration that includes Sydney.

Presented annually, the prestigious Australian Museum Eureka Prizes rewards excellence in the fields of scientific research and innovation, science leadership, school science and science journalism and communication.

The awards dinner, where winners will be announced on 31 August, is the largest national celebration of Australian science.

Three finalists are from the Faculty of Science and one is from the Faculty of Engineering and Information Technologies.

"It's wonderful that four of our scientists from across the University have been named as finalists in the Eureka Prizes this year. This success reflects the high calibre research carried out across the sciences and engineering," said Professor Trevor Hambley, Dean of the Faculty of Science.

"Our finalists cover a range of areas of excellence from early career research to scientific leadership, and from mentoring of young researchers to scientific research that safeguards Australia."

In addition to the finalists below, in the collaboration category, the University of Sydney is represented by Associate Professor Tara Murphy. Associate Professor Murphy is part of an international consortium of universities and research institutions that own and operate the radio telescope the Murchison Widefield Array in Western Australia.

The individual Eureka Prize finalists from the University of Sydney are:

Dr Michael Bowen, from the School of Psychology, Faculty of Science, is a finalist in the Eureka Prize for Outstanding Early Career Researcher. Dr Bowen’s research focuses on discovering and developing novel treatments for serious brain disorders. His research has established oxytocin and novel molecules that target the brain’s oxytocin system as prime candidates to fill the void left by the lack of effective treatments for alcohol-use disorders and social disorders.

Associate Professor Xiaoke Yi, from the School of Electrical and Information Engineering, Faculty of Engineering and Information Technologies, is a finalist in the Eureka Prize for Outstanding Science in Safeguarding Australia. Associate Professor Yi’s research leverages breakthroughs in miniaturised photonic integrated circuit approaches to build a high-sensitivity, ultra-wideband and tunable radio-frequency (RF) front-end system, that solves technical challenges in defence platforms where size, weight and power are key issues to manage.

Professor Stephen Simpson AC, Director of the Charles Perkins Centre, and from the School of Life and Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Science, is a finalist in the Eureka Prize for Leadership in Innovation and Science. Under the leadership of Professor Stephen Simpson AC, the Charles Perkins Centre has become one of the foremost centres in preventative health and policy in Australia, bringing together a diverse, cross-disciplinary team to tackle the scourges of obesity and metabolic disease.

Professor Chris Dickman, from the School of Life and Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Science, is a finalist in the Eureka Prize for Outstanding Mentor of Young Researchers. Professor Dickman has been an extraordinary mentor of early career researchers for more than 30 years, and has formally supervised more than 140 Honours and postgraduate students to successful completion, as well as 20 postdoctoral fellows. His field-based programs in ecology and conservation of the natural environment have supported the research of very large numbers of students, postdoctoral fellows, and more than 1000 research volunteers.

Check out all the Eureka Prize finalists at: http://australianmuseum.net.au/eureka

Vivienne Reiner

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