The Flinders scientist who made global headlines by unboiling an egg has been honoured with an Ig Nobel prize.
The quirky sounding experiment by Flinders University Chemistry Professor Colin Raston and his team belies a major scientific breakthrough that is transforming the field of medicine and more.
Professor Raston is the creator of the Vortex Fluidic Device (VFD). This compact machine is capable of unravelling proteins, a revolutionary development that has huge implications for the treatment of cancer, the manufacture of pharmaceuticals, the production of biofuels and food processing.
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His reaction to winning an Ig mirrored the eureka moment of his breakthrough.
“Wow, did I really do that?”
“It’s living the dream. All scientists want to do something that is significant, but this has the wow factor,” Professor Raston says
“It’s not what we set out to do, to unboil an egg, but it’s the way of explaining the science involved and helping the wider world realise the momentousness of it.”
“The sheer scale of this is mind boggling. The global pharmaceutical industry alone is worth $160 billion annually and the processing of proteins is central to it. The VFD is completely changing it – and is set to do the same for the fuel and food industries. It’s impossible to place a price on the value of this device.”
“Winning an Ig is both humbling and amazing,” he says.
Vice-Chancellor Professor Colin Stirling congratulated Professor Raston on his honour and says it reflects Flinders’ commitment to innovation excellence.
“Professor Raston’s research is already improving people’s lives, with his VFD boosting the potency of a common cancer drug fourfold – meaning better treatment with fewer side effects. And that’s just the start,” Professor Stirling says.
“I’m proud to be able to say that Flinders is once again at the cutting edge of a technology with significant global implications for social and economic transformation.”
“Discoveries such as this underscore the valuable role of universities in the research sphere and the importance of investment in research,” Professor Stirling says.
The Ig Nobel Prizes honour achievements that make people laugh, and then think, by celebrating the unusual, honouring the imaginative, and spurring people’s interest in science, medicine, and technology.
Professor Raston was presented with the coveted prize in a gala ceremony at Harvard overnight by a panel of genuine Nobel Laureates in front of 1100 splendidly eccentric spectators. The newly crowned Ignitary sported a tie emblazoned with fried eggs for the occasion!