Eureka! Flinders is in the finals

A quest to help the planet live more sustainably by harnessing underutilised marine bio-resources, and a collective commitment to increase the representation of queer people in the sciences has seen two leading Flinders University researchers named as finalists in the prestigious Eureka Prizes.

Professor Wei Zhang

Professor Wei Zhang is in the running for the 2022 Eureka Prize for Leadership in Science and Innovation for his pioneering work at the forefront of marine biotechnology and bioproducts.

As the founding Director, Centre for Marine Bioproducts Development at Flinders University since 2009, and the Research Director of the newly established $270 million Marine Bioproducts Cooperative Research Centre, Professor Wei Zhang has been driving the development of Australia’s emerging next generation biorefinery and marine bioproduct industries.

Spanning incredibly diverse possibilities, from biodegradable marine-based ‘plastics’, food supplements and compounds to fight viruses, to bioenergy and pharmaceutical products, Professor Zhang has been instrumental in forging partnerships and commercial opportunities with enormous potential to contribute to the national economy and address global sustainability challenges.

Dr Monica Cations is part of a national collective called QueersInScience vying for the 2022 Eureka Prize for STEM inclusion.

Dr Monica Cations

As the founder and immediate past chair of the SA chapter of QueersInScience and the state’s representative on the national network, Dr Cations has been a driving force in the volunteer-run organisation which focuses on fostering connections and promoting inclusion for LGBTQIA+ researchers, academics, professionals and students in Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths and Medicine (STEMM).

QueersInScience is committed supporting and promoting Australia’s vibrant pool of LGBTQIA+ science talent. It runs social and professional events to build community strength, foster peer connection, fight discrimination and harassment, and reduce gender stereotypes.

Pam Catcheside hunts for native fungi and truffles, and has named several species.

Pam Catcheside, from the College of Science and Engineering, was instrumental in starting the national Fungimap Inc project, a finalist in the Prize for Innovation in Citizen Science.

Instigated by mycologists and ecologist, the project aims to attract a network of citizen scientists to observe and map thousands of species of Australian macrofungi to uncover endangered species and increase understanding of why fungi are irreplaceable in our ecosystems.

A long time Honorary Research Associate at the SA Herbarium, Ms Catcheside and Flinders University Professor David Catcheside are currently on Kangaroo Island mapping fungi recovery in areas worst hit by the Black Summer bushfires.

The Australian Museum Eureka Prizes are the country’s most comprehensive national science awards, honouring excellence across the areas of research & innovation, leadership, science engagement, and school science.

Established in 1990, the prizes are presented annually and raise the profile of science and science engagement in the community by celebrating outstanding achievement.

The prizes will be awards in a gala ceremony Wednesday 31 August in Canberra and broadcast live online.

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Centre for Marine Bioproducts Development College of Education, Psychology and Social Work College of Medicine and Public Health