Flinders at forefront of science awards

From Excellence in Science and Industry Collaboration to Scientist of the Year, Flinders University was at the forefront of the 2020 SA Science Excellence and Innovation Awards.

South Australia’s Scientist of the Year has been shared between Professor Colin Raston and Professor Sharad Kumar and the nation-leading South Australian Medical Device Partnering Program, led by Flinders University Professor Karen Reynolds, won the Excellence in Science and Industry Collaboration Award.

The awards, delayed by last year’s COVID-19 restrictions, were held on Friday 12 February at the Adelaide Botanic Garden.

Flinders University Vice-Chancellor Professor Colin Stirling congratulated Professor Raston, Professor Reynolds and other finalists and winners – including the 2020 Tall Poppy and Unsung Heroes of Science.

The Minister for Innovation and Skills David Pisoni said Professors Raston and Kumar are global leaders respectively in environmental and health research both making important scientific breakthroughs during their brilliant careers.

Professor Raston’s pioneering Australia’s green chemistry movement in the 1990s continues to focus on the development of clean technology, with research aimed at devising environmentally friendly alternatives to toxic chemicals processing.

“The invention of the vortex fluidic device put Professor Raston’s work on the global stage, earning him international recognition for the development of a new science,” Mr Pisoni said.

Professor Raston is a South Australia Premier’s Professorial Research Fellow in Clean Technology and is the Professor of Clean Technology at Flinders University.

Professor Kumar holds a Research Professorship of Cell Biology, a Chair of Cancer Biology at the University of South Australia and he co-founded leading medical research institute, the Centre for Cancer Biology.

“The passion and dedication that Professor Raston and Professor Kumar have towards their craft is an inspiration for the next generation of scientists,” Mr Pisoni said.

Their ground-breaking achievements are putting our state on the world stage and furthering the Marshall Government’s goal of becoming the nation’s State of Science.”

The Medical Device Partnering Program, led by the Flinders University Medical Device Research Institute director Professor Karen Reynolds at Tonsley, is an incubator fostering collaborations between researchers, industry, end-users and government and develop medical technologies with global market potential.

Also based at the Tonsley Innovation District, Micro-X Ltd was named the inaugural South Australian Innovator of the Year sponsored by Novatech for developing and commercialising its “Nano” mobile X-ray unit which uses carbon nanotube technology. A growing number of Flinders University graduates work at Micro-X at Tonsley.

The 2020 SA Science Excellence and Innovation Awards recognised the work of Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine (STEMM) leaders and teams working in research and education institutions, schools, industry, and the community.

The awards encouraged people to become involved in science and innovation and to recognise the depth and diversity of scientific endeavour and research in SA.

Scientist of the Year and the Innovator of the Year recipients received a prize to the value of $25,000. Winners of the other four categories received a prize to the value of $10,000 to use towards their career development.

South Australia’s Chief Scientist Professor Caroline McMillen said that SA’s Science Excellence and Innovation Awards demonstrate how STEMM researchers are working across the State to solve key challenges facing communities across Australia and the world.

“Last year as the world lived through the COVID 19 pandemic and devastating bushfires, the value of evidence based solutions driven by research and innovation became clear,” Professor McMiIlen said.

“Now is the time to shine a bright light on the excellent work of researchers, innovators, educators and their industry collaborators in SA and beyond.

“The work of this year’s finalists in the SA Science Excellence and Innovation Awards provide remarkable examples of world-leading research fuelling innovation in health, environmental sustainability and new technologies supporting hi-tech industries.

“These awards also recognise exceptional, dedicated and passionate STEMM educators who every day inspire bright and talented South Australians to be equipped for success in the workforce of the future.”

Other honourable mentions in the 2020 awards include:

Flinders researchers from the College of Science and Engineering who collaborated in the Great Australian Bight Research Project led by the SA Research and Development Institute (SARDI), another finalist in the Excellence in Science and Industry Collaboration category.

The winner of the STEM Educator – University or Registered Training Organisation Award, Dr Kerry Wilkinson from University of Adelaide, obtained qualifications at Flinders University – BSc ’99, BSc(Hons) ’00, PhD(Chem) ‘04. Another finalist was alumnus Associate Professor Maurizio Costabile BSc ’94, BSc(Hons) ‘95.

Dr Alice Clement, Dr Ian Moffat and Dr Margaret Shanafield are the Flinders University 2020 Tall Poppy of Science finalists.

Also, Steven Walker BSc ‘93 was a finalist in the Unsung Hero of South Australian Science Communication while Patricia Vilimas, from the College of Medicine and Public Health, was a 2020 finalist for Unsung Hero of South Australian Science.

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