17 October 2018

Research accolades at PM’s Prizes for Science

Australian Research Council (ARC) Chief Executive Officer, Professor Sue Thomas, congratulates the recipients of the 2018 Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science announced this evening, including many whose outstanding research has received funding support from the Australian Government through the ARC.

The Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science, awarded annually, are considered amongst Australia’s most esteemed awards to recognise and celebrate outstanding achievement in scientific research, research-based innovation and excellence in science teaching.

“On behalf of the ARC, I extend congratulations to all recipients, each recognised today for their outstanding contributions to Australian research and innovation, and for the important benefits that their research endeavours are delivering,” said Professor Thomas.

In particular, Professor Thomas extended congratulations to:

  • Emeritus Professor Kurt Lambeck AO from The Australian National University, who has received the 2018 Prime Minister’s Prize for Science for transforming our understanding of our living planet. Emeritus Professor Lambeck’s research has revealed how our planet changes shape, and how these changes influence sea levels, the movement of continents, and the orbits of satellites. His research has contributed to more precise GPS-based systems, enabling precision agriculture, new ways to explore for minerals, and improved navigation tools in smart phones. Emeritus Professor Lambeck has recently completed a project to explore the effects of ice on sea level, which was funded under the ARC’s Discovery Projects scheme, has led three other Discovery Projects grants, and has been involved in a Linkage, Infrastructure Equipment and Facilities (LIEF) scheme grant.
  • Dr Simon Poole and Dr Steven Frisken—as part of the Finisar team—who have received the 2018 Prime Minister’s Prize for Innovation for creating and commercialising technologies that underpin the internet. Dr Poole and colleagues, including Dr Frisken, through their company Finisar, have developed technologies that make global internet connections faster and more efficient—creating liquid crystal switches that remove the bottlenecks that limit speed and volume of data in optical fibres. Dr Poole is a Partner Investigator in a currently funded ARC Discovery Projects scheme grant; and Dr Frisken was a Partner Investigator in an ARC LIEF project, two ARC Linkage Projects, and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Ultrahigh Bandwidth Devices for Optical Systems.
  • Dr Lee Berger from James Cook University, who has received the 2018 Frank Fenner Prize for Life Scientist of the Year for solving the mystery of frog extinctions and challenging global paradigms about wildlife health. After over a decade of research, Dr Berger found the chytrid fungus to be the cause of a global mass extinction of frogs, responsible for the decline of hundreds of species and disappearance of at least six species in Australia. Her research has led to the establishment of global quarantine protocols, recovery programs designed to reduce the risk of infection, and alerting wildlife health experts to the threat of other wildlife diseases. Dr Berger has received funding for her research through two ARC Discovery Projects and Linkage Projects grants, and was the recipient of a 2010 ARC Future Fellowship.
  • Associate Professor Jack Clegg from The University of Queensland, who has received the 2018 Malcolm McIntosh Prize for Physical Scientist of the Year for creating flexible crystals and new separation technologies. His research has designed new kinds of flexible crystals for use in modern electronics including smartphones, and created molecules that can be custom designed to act as sieves for a vast range of manufacturing processes from the oil industry, from water filtration to drug production. Associate Professor Clegg has received funding through two ARC LIEF grants, two Discovery Projects grants and was the recipient of a 2014 ARC Future Fellowship.

“All of these researchers are making outstanding contributions towards the advancement of Australian science and research, which is clearly delivering important benefits to Australians,” said Professor Thomas. 

“Each year, I am delighted when ARC-funded researchers receive these high accolades, and I’m pleased that, once again, their efforts have been recognised with these awards. I am proud that the ARC has supported them towards their research goals.”

For more information about all 2018 prize winners, visit the Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science website. For more information about ARC funding schemes, visit the ARC website

Media contact: ARC Stakeholder Relations, 0412 623 056 or communications@arc.gov.au