Academy awards for scientific excellence

11 February 2008

University of Sydney scientists have taken out three of the four awards made to NSW scientists by the Australian Academy of Science for 2008. The award winners were announced in January and recipients will receive their awards in a ceremony as part of the Science at the Shine Dome event, held in Canberra in May 2008.

Professor Rick Shine, from the School of Biological Sciences, will receive the prestigious Burnet Medal and Lecture for biological research. Rick's award is for his outstanding and influential research history in ecology, evolution and conservation spanning over 30 years.

With over 500 papers published in international scientific publications, Rick has a very high international profile. He is also an accomplished communicator producing books for general audiences and speaking frequently at international conferences.

The Academy stated: 'Professor Shine's influence on Australian vertebrate biology is unparalleled and he has transformed the fields in which he works.'

As part of this award, Rick will present the 2008 Macfarlane Burnet Lecture on 7 May 2008, at the Academy's Science at the Shine Dome event held in Canberra.

Professor Leo Radom, from the ARC Centre of Excellence in Free Radical Chemistry and Biotechnology in the School of Chemistry, will receive the Craig Medal for research in chemistry, for work in the field of theoretical and computational chemistry.

Leo has made major contributions to the use of theory in several areas of chemistry. His research covers the application of computational quantum chemistry to the study of chemical structures and reactions. He has contributed to areas such as gas-phase ion chemistry, substituent effects in cations, radicals and anions, free radical chemistry, 'designer chemistry', and transition-metal-free hydrogenation. Leo's early papers provided a template for benchmarking and applying theoretical methods to chemistry.

Associate Professor Kostya (Ken) Ostrikov, from the School of Physics, will receive the Pawsey Medal for research in physics for early-career researchers under 40 years of age. Ken's award is for research excellence in plasma nanoscience and its potential application for future computer chips, solar cells and communication systems.

Ken has achieved international repute through his contributions to diverse multidisciplinary fields, particularly in plasma nanoscience, where he is widely recognised as a pioneer and world leading authority.

Using innovative approaches, Ken has worked on the creation and manipulation of atomic and nanoscale building blocks, the organisation of nanomatter by plasma, and describing the interactions between plasma and solids. His research has created new ways to generate self-assembled nanomaterials, nanoelectronic and photonic structures.

Academy President, Professor Kurt Lambeck, congratulated the award recipients saying, "The future of Australian science is in good hands with such outstanding talent amongst our researchers.

"These prestigious awards offered by the Academy acknowledge excellence in scientific research and are part of ensuring that scientists gain recognition for their work. Science provides many positive benefits and it is important to recognise the scientists who work hard so that we can benefit in our daily lives."