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Media Release

November 29 2007

UniSA scientist SA’s top man

2007 South Australian of the Year - Laureate Professor John RalstonA formidable talent in the world of science has been honoured with the title of 2007 South Australian of the Year.

In August UniSA’s Laureate Professor John Ralston was named SA Scientist of the Year but this latest award acknowledges his contribution to the state on a much broader scale.

Prof Ralston is the Director and founder of UniSA’s Ian Wark Research Institute (The Wark™) based at UniSA’s thriving Mawson Lakes Campus. The Wark is one of the world’s leading centres for particles and materials research and the lead institute for the Australian Minerals Science Research Institute (AMSRI). The Wark™ is engaged in research into a range of fields including minerals processing technologies, biomaterials, biotechnology and bio and polymer interfaces feeding into a broad range of industries.

One of Prof Ralston’s great passions is to lead research that is contributing to the development of a more sustainable society and environmentally and economically efficient industries.

Through The Wark™ and AMSRI, Prof Ralston has attracted more than $100 million in funding to SA from government, industry and other partners. According to a recent independent report, one $24 million Wark project has delivered $436 million in savings to the mining industry through innovations in minerals processing technologies and other aspects of the industry.

UniSA Vice Chancellor Professor Peter Høj says this acknowledgement for Professor Ralston and for the power of science and education to change communities and deliver tangible benefits is gratifying evidence that UniSA’s approach to end-user inspired research is paying great dividends.

“Prof Ralston has had a transforming impact on this State through his vision, his research leadership and his commitment to the vital role research can play in improving individual lives and communities,” Prof Høj said.

“He continues to be a great advocate for the development and importance of international research communities, nurturing the careers of hundreds of young scientists from Australia and around the world and spearheading research relationships with some of the world’s most advanced research centres of excellence.”

Prof Ralston has actively supervised more than 50 PhD students and today The Wark™ has more than 100 active research projects; formal education and research partnerships and agreements with institutions in 11 countries; and more than 140 staff from all corners of the globe. Almost 130 post graduate research students have graduated from The Wark™.

“Prof Ralston is a great South Australian asset and someone we feel extremely proud to have as a research leader at the University of South Australia,” Prof Høj says.

“We can now share that pride with the whole community.”

Career notes

2007 South Australian of the Year
Laureate Professor John Ralston

• 1978 Awarded a PhD in Physical and Colloid Chemistry – University of Melbourne
• 1980 Established the Centre for Colloid and Interface Science at Swinburne University
• 1984 Appointed Professor of Chemical Technology at UniSA
• 1986 Awarded the Senior Fulbright Fellowship
• 1993 Elected as a Fellow of the Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering
• 1994 Founded the Ian Wark Research Institute (named in recognition of eminent Australian scientist Sir Ian William Wark)
• 1995 Awarded the RK Murphy Medal in Industrial Chemistry/Chemical Engineering
• 1997 Awarded the RSC Australian Lectureship in Chemistry
• 2000 Successful in gaining ARC Special Research Centre in Particles and Materials Interfaces
status for The Wark™
• 2002 Awarded and Honorary Doctorate from the Abo Akademi, Finland
• 2003 Awarded and Australian Government Centenary Medal
The Wark™ granted status as a national Centre for Nano and Biomaterials
• 2005 Elected as a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science
Named the AE Alexander Memorial Lecturer of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute
Named UniSA’s first Laureate Professor
Led a successful bid to establish and become lead Institute for the Australian Minerals Science Research Institute (AMSRI) comprising a consortium of world class Australian university research centres and a global network of 24 collaborators (supported by Australia’s largest ever ARC Linkage grant with a cash value of more than $22 million with a goal to support innovations that improve energy efficiency, frugal water use and waste management, improved minerals processing technologies and develop better and new materials)
• 2006 Elected to the Council of the Academy of Science
Awarded the Premier’s Science Excellence Award in research leadership
Awarded the Chemeca Medal for Outstanding Service and Contribution to Chemical Engineering
Named by the Australian Mining Magazine the inaugural winner of the Most Outstanding Contribution to Mining award.
• 2007 Named South Australian Scientist of the Year

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