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Five Eureka Prize finalists for University of Sydney


27 July 2012

Four University of Sydney individual scientists and one team of scientists have been selected as finalists in the 2012 Australian Museum Eureka Prizes- the largest and most comprehensive prizes for science in the country.

In the Faculty of Science, Associate Professor Min Chen, from the School of Biological Sciences, is a finalist in the Eureka Prize for Scientific Research; Professor Tony Weiss, from the School of Molecular Bioscience, is a finalist in the Eureka Prize for Medical Research Translation; and Dr Michael Biercuk, from the School of Physics, is a finalist in the Eureka Prize for Innovation in Computer Science.

In the Faculty of Engineering and Information Technologies, Professor Seok-Hee Hong, from the School of Information Technologies, is a finalist in the Eureka Prize for Innovation in Computer Science.

From the University of Sydney's Westmead Millennium Institute, a team led by Associate Professor David Booth, Professor Graeme Stewart, and Professor Jacob George is a finalist in the Eureka Prize for Medical Research Translation.

The Eureka Prizes have been awarded annually for the past 23 years, honouring excellence with 18 prizes across the areas of Research and Innovation, Leadership and Commercialisation, Science Communication and Journalism, and School Science.

The 2012 winners will be announced at the Eureka Prizes Award Dinner on Tuesday 28 August in Sydney, which will be attended by celebrated scientists, industry leaders, journalists, researchers and policy-makers.

Each Eureka Prize is judged by a panel of eminent and qualified individuals, whose contribution of expertise and time helps support the credibility of the Eureka Prizes.

Associate Professor Min Chen has been named a finalist in the $10,000 Eureka Prize for Scientific Research for her outstanding curiosity-driven scientific research. She has made outstanding achievements in the field of plant science and discovered the first new chlorophyll in over 60 years - chlorophyll f. She is also a world-recognised leader in unravelling the function of long-wavelength chlorophylls in photosynthesis.

Professor Tony Weiss has been named a finalist in the $10,000 Eureka Prize for Medical Research Translation for his outstanding medical research which has been translated into clinical applications. It's not stretching the truth to say that flexibility is crucial for living organisms - every movement of the lungs during breathing, every elastic arterial response to heartbeat and every versatile response of skin all rely on elastin for elasticity. Taking this one step further, Professor Tony Weiss is shaping tropoelastin into products for human tissue repair.

Dr Michael Biercuk has been named a finalist in the $10,000 Eureka Prize for Innovation in Computer Science for his quantum firmware innovation in computer science that has the potential to improve the lives of many people. Dr Biercuk's groundbreaking work on the development of quantum firmware for the revolutionary field of Quantum Computer Science has produced a 'Rosetta Stone' which has helped bridged the divide between the strangeness of quantum coherent hardware and conventional control circuitry.

Professor Seok-Hee Hong has been named a finalist in the $10,000 Eureka Prize for Innovation in Computer Science for her innovative work that provides new scalable algorithms for the visual analytics of massive complex networks. These fast algorithms will enable security analysts to detect abnormal behaviour such as money laundering, biologists to understand protein interaction networks and software engineers to find new ways to understand large software systems.

Associate Professor David Booth, Professor Graeme Stewart, and Professor Jacob George, from the University of Sydney's Westmead Millennium Institute, and Dr Vijay Suppiah, from the University of South Australia, have been named as finalists in the $10,000 Eureka Prize for Medical Research Translation for their outstanding research on hepatitis C. Treatment for hepatitis C is very expensive and unpleasant, requiring frequent injections, but clears the virus in only 50% of cases. Associate Professor David Booth's team has identified a gene test to predict who will best respond to treatment, saving many patients from current treatments that may not work.


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Media enquiries: Verity Leatherdale, 02 9351 4312, 0403 067 342, verity.leatherdale@sydney.edu.au