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Media Release

August 23 2007

Excellence rewarded for top UniSA scientists

The 2007 South Australian Science Excellence AwardGreat leadership, clever management and strong communication skills have all been rewarded for three outstanding scientists at the University of South Australia who have taken top honours at the 2007 South Australian Science Excellence Awards announced last night.

UniSA scientists and researchers won in three of the four award categories, with Laureate Professor of Physical Chemistry and Minerals Processing, John Ralston named SA’s first Scientist of the Year.

This new category recognises outstanding achievement in an area of “scientific research that significantly advances knowledge and has produced or has the potential to produce a commercial outcome and/or benefit to the community”.

Professor Chris Daniels, UniSA’s Chair in Urban Ecology won the award for Science Education and Communication Excellence. Director of Research at UniSA’s Institute for Sustainable Systems and Technologies and Professor of Mathematics, Jerzy Filar was recognised for Science Leadership and Management Excellence.

Congratulating the recipients, UniSA’s Vice Chancellor, Professor Peter Høj said it was wonderful to see scientific excellence rewarded in SA.

“These awards recognise three outstanding researchers who have excelled in science leadership, management, education and communication and it is important that we have an opportunity to celebrate that in the wider community,” Prof Høj said.

“In creating these awards, the State Government has given all South Australians a chance to learn more about our superb researchers and acknowledge their invaluable local and international contributions.”

SA Scientist of the Year, Prof Ralston is the creator and foundation Director of UniSA’s Ian Wark Research Institute (The Wark™), which is the Australian Research Council Special Research Centre for Particle and Material Interfaces and the headquarters for the Australian Mineral Science Research Institute.

Under his leadership, research expertise at The Wark™ has been applied to a range of industrial problems in mineral processing, leading to productivity increases for the mining industry of more than $100 million a year.

A science communicator with drive, enthusiasm and talent, Prof Daniels has developed an extensive media profile in radio and print and has worked across the media to explain, educate and involve different communities in the environmental debate. He is a frequent and popular speaker who uses humour, creative analogy and relevant personal arguments to connect with the audience as individuals. His publications and writings are always accessible, exciting and fun, at the same time as giving readers accurate and engaging knowledge. Prof Daniels communicates a passion to participate and believe that individuals can make a difference.

The UniSA Foundation Chair of Mathematics and Statistics, Prof Filar is a highly regarded mathematician who has played a leading role in practical research projects that achieve mathematical solutions for sponsors and industry partners. These have included uncertainty analysis of integrated models of enhanced greenhouse effect, modelling the risk of accidents at level crossings and analysis of Australian sea-level data. He also led a drive to encourage more female participation in maths, establishing UniSA’s Hypatia Scholarships for Mathematically Gifted Women. In the 10 years since its foundation 11 recipients have continued on to undertake PhD studies in mathematics.

More information about the winners is available here.
 


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