2023 Eureka Prizes Celebrate Birdwatching, Immune Responses, and Evolutionary Mapping

The Eureka Prizes, an annual event held at the Australian Museum in Sydney, brought together hundreds of scientists from across the country to celebrate outstanding contributions to science and public understanding of science. This year’s ceremony highlighted various achievements, including awards for a large-scale wildlife monitoring program, a project focused on rescuing endangered orchids, and research on the immune response to COVID-19. Other honorees were recognized for their work in sustainable energy and mining, transforming waste carbon dioxide into useful building blocks, and developing an open-source tool for studying DNA sequences and evolution.

Australian Museum CEO Kim McKay emphasized the importance of scientific knowledge and innovation in addressing global challenges such as climate change. She praised Australian scientists for their leadership, innovation, and inspiration in advancing scientific understanding and protecting the environment.

Among the winners, the Waterbirds Aerial Survey Team received the prize for applied environmental research for their extensive wildlife surveys, which have influenced the management of wetlands and national parks. Noushka Reiter was awarded for excellence in botanical science for her orchid conservation program, which has successfully propagated endangered species and reintroduced them into the wild. The Corona Queens team from the University of Melbourne and the Peter Doherty Institute won the prize for infectious diseases research for their study on the immune response to COVID-19 in high-risk groups.

The Economic Fairways Mapper Team from Monash University and Geoscience Australia received recognition for their open-source tools that identify sustainable locations for renewable energy and mining projects. Fengwang Li from the University of Sydney was honored for developing a more efficient process to produce ethylene from waste carbon dioxide. Minh Bui and Robert Lanfear from the Australian National University were awarded for their open-source software that analyzes DNA data to map evolution.

Other prizes were given in categories such as emerging leader in science, leadership in science and innovation, mentorship of young researchers, interdisciplinary scientific research, innovative use of technology, safeguarding Australia through science, scientific research, innovation in citizen science, promoting understanding of science, science journalism, STEM inclusion, and school science.

The Eureka Prizes serve as a platform to recognize and celebrate the achievements of Australian scientists and researchers who contribute to the advancement of knowledge and the betterment of society.