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2015 News and media

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Governor's School STEM Awards winners announced

The finalists and winners in the 2015 Governor's School STEM Awards were announced by Her Excellency the Hon Kerry Sanderson AO, Governor of Western Australia, at a ceremony held at Government House on Thursday 3 December 2015.

Her Excellency said the Awards recognise that quality teaching and learning are key to developing young people's interest in STEM subjects, and identified that school leadership teams are vital to the overall process.

The finalists and winners in each category were:

Primary School Category

Overall Winner for the Leadership Excellence Award: Rosalie Primary School
Winner of the Meritorious Leadership Award: Beaconsfield Primary School
Finalists: Armadale Primary School and Lesmurdie Primary School

Secondary School Category

Overall Winner for the Leadership Excellence Award: Newton Moore Senior High School
Winner of the Meritorious Leadership Award: John Curtin College of the Arts
Finalists: Georgiana Molloy Anglican, Leeming Senior High School, Penrhos College and Perth Modern School

The Office of Science extends its congratulations to the winners and to all participating schools. For more information about the achievements of each school visit the Governor's School STEM Awards page on this website.

Photo: Her Excellency the Hon Kerry Sanderson AO, Professor Peter Klinken, Ms Sharyn O'Neill, Mr Alan Brien and Ms Fiona Roche with the Leadership Excellence Award recipients Rosalie Primary School (Primary School Category) and Newton Moore Senior High School (Secondary School category).

Roundtable to present Marine Science Strategy Marine Science Roundtable

The Marine Science Roundtable met on 1 December 2015 to present to the Premier the key outcomes of a series of working group meetings. Chief Scientist Professor Peter Klinken and Curtin University Chancellor Mr Colin Beckett co-chaired the meeting, which included key representatives from industry, government and the research community.

The Blueprint for Marine Science 2050 was commissioned by the Western Australian Marine Science Institution. On the basis of the Blueprint, the Premier commissioned the Marine Science Roundtable. The roundtable's aim was to seek commitment from key leaders across the sector to a long-term collaborative science program to deliver on the Blueprint's research priorities. The first of the roundtables established a mandate for a first-of-its-kind collaboration between key marine industry sectors,  government and the science sector.

Three roundtable meetings and a series of working group meetings were held from July 2015. 

WA Innovations make waves at the 2015 Australian Innovation Challenge

Australian Innovation Awards Image.jpgTwo Western Australian Innovations have been honoured in the 2015 Australian Innovation Challenge at an awards ceremony held in Canberra on 25 November 2015.

Biomedical engineer Robert McLaughlin won the Health category and was the overall winner of the competition for the Microscope-in-a-needle innovation.

The microscope in a needle was developed by a team from UWA's Optical + Biomedical Engineering Laboratory, in collaboration with clinicians from Royal Perth Hospital and Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, and with support from Cancer Council WA and the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

Named as the most innovative piece of science in Australia, the world's smallest handheld microscope can fit in a needle to guide surgeons while they are operating and has the potential to radically improve the safety and effectiveness of cancer surgery.

Michael Ottavio (Carnegie Wave Energy) was also the winner in the Minerals and Energy category for the Perth Wave Energy Project, which uses patented wave-power technology to feed electricity into the grid.

Chief Scientist of Western Australia, Professor Peter Klinken, congratulated the award recipients and hoped that Western Australia would embrace the opportunity that innovation offered.

"These are tremendous success stories and Perth has a real opportunity to transform itself into a centre of creativity and innovation. These technologies are representative of the innovative ideas emerging from the medical and energy sectors in WA. Collaborations across universities, industry and government are essential to ensure they become commercial realities."

The Australian Innovation Challenge awards aim to drive some of the nation's best ideas to commercialisation and honour excellence across a broad range of areas. Further information about the 2015 Awards can be found on The Australian website.

WA school girls excel at International Chemistry Olympiads

Ms Park at the official team announcement held at Parliament House in Canberra on 16 June 2015.Western Australian Perth Modern School students Ms Hui Min Tay and Ms Hyerin Park have won Bronze medals at the 2015 International Chemistry Olympiads in Azerbaijan.

The girls were the only two students from Western Australia to make the national team of seventeen representing Australia at the UNESCO-sanctioned International Science Olympiads.

The International Science Olympiads are the world’s toughest science competitions with Australia’s brightest students competing against the best in the world. In 2015 competitions took Ms Tay at the official team announcement held at Parliament House in Canberra on 16 June in Denmark (Biology), Azerbaijan (Chemistry), Brazil (Earth Sciences) and India (Physics). A total of 14 medals were won by the Australian team.

Chief Scientist of Western Australia, Professor Peter Klinken, congratulated Ms Tay and Ms Park on their outstanding achievements and wished them the best in their future endeavours, who are both keen to pursue a career in medical research.

In Australia, The Australian Science Olympiads program is run by Australian Science Innovations and supported by the Australian Government Department of Education and Training. For more information on the International Science Olympiads please visit the Australia Science Innovations website. Photo credits: Australian Science Innovations. 

Premier visits Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory in WA Mid-West

The Premier and Science Minister Colin Barnett visited the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) on 30 September 2015, joined by Parliamentary Secretary to the Premier Donna Faragher and Office of Science Executive Director Fiona Roche.

Located in the remote outback of the State’s Mid West, the MRO is already home to two world-leading radio telescopes and will be the Australian site for the Square Kilometre Array project.

The Premier’s visit was hosted by Dr Lewis Ball, Director of CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science and supported by Professors Carole Jackson and Lister Staveley-Smith, Directors at the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research.

For more information view the article on The West Australian website.

2016 ATSE Clunies Ross Awards

Nominations of candidates for the 2016 Clunies Ross Awards are now open.

The Clunies Ross Awards, run by the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE), recognise excellence in the application and commercialisation of science, engineering and technology. In recognition of the complex nature of such activities, from 2016 the Awards will be awarded in three categories, with a single winner in each category.

Nominations close 2.00pm AEDT Friday 30 October 2015.

For more information view visit the Clunies Ross Awards page on the ATSE website.

Winners announced in 2015 Premier's Science AwardsHon Donna Faragher MLC with Professor Mark CassidyHon Donna Faragher MLC with Professor Mark Cassidy

On 20 August 2015, the outstanding efforts across Western Australia in science research and science engagement were celebrated during the 2015 Premier’s Science Awards ceremony.

The top honour was taken out by Professor Mark Cassidy, a highly distinguished civil engineer from The University of Western Australia and Director of the Centre for Offshore Foundation Systems.

Professor Cheryl Praeger, was announced as the 2015 inductee for her outstanding contributions to the field and her work encouraging the involvement of women in mathematics.

The ceremony was held at the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research and Professor Peter Klinken, Chief Scientist of Western Australia, was the Master of Ceremonies for the evening.

For further information please view the media statement and the 2015 Award winners page on this website.

Inspiring the next generation of engineers - Australian Engineering Week event

On Tuesday 4 August 2015, a free student night was held at Scitech for high school students interested in pursuing a career in engineering. The event, was also open to parents, teachers and career counsellors, will include an opportunity to talk to representatives from Universities, Challenger TAFE, Central Institute of Technology and Department of Defence. Particpants will also hear career stories from engineers in the field.

For further information visit the Engineers Australia website.

Australian Engineering Week celebrates the significant and valued contribution engineers provide to our economic, social and technological aspects within our daily lives.  A range of events and activities will be hosted across Australia. This year, Australian Engineering Week will be held between 3 - 9 August.

Premier meets with WA Fellows Western Australian Fellows meet with Hon Colin Barnett MLA and Hon Donna Faragher MLC

On 1 May 2015, Premier and Science Minister Colin Barnett and Parliamentary Secretary to the Premier, Donna Faragher, met with the current Western Australian Fellows to discuss the progress of their research.

Prominent researchers in their respective fields, the Fellows were attracted to the State under the Western Australian Fellowships Program to build and lead world-class research teams.

Together the Fellowships of Professors Andrew Whitely (soil microbial diversity), Carole Jackson (radio astronomy) and Mark Jessell (geological modelling) span four of the five State Government science priority areas announced in April 2015.

For further information about the Fellows and the program, visit the WA Fellowships page on this website.

Innovator of the Year 2015

The Innovator of the Year (IOTY) Program has showcased innovative and entrepreneurial individuals, businesses and creative minds since 2006. The program has benefitted many of those who have particiapted, as well as the broader community of Western Australia.

The 2015 WA IOTY program comprises two categories - the Emerging Innovation Category (pre-revenue) and the Growth Category (post-revenue).

The Emerging Innovation Category is for applicants who have not generated revenue from their innovation. The Growth Category is open to applicants that have generated revenue from their innovation.

Further details about the program can be located on the Department of Commerce website.

Parliamentary Secretary celebrates WA's contribution to Inspiring Australia

On Thursday 30 April 2015, Scitech welcomed the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Industry and Science, the Hon Karen Andrews MP to celebrate the Inspiring Australia initiative in Western Australia.

As part of the proceedings Mrs Andrews launched the new four-year agreement expected to boost Inspiring Australia's successes in Western Australia. The agreement outlines more activities during National Science Week, and building regional hubs to deliver year-round science events for local communities. It involves the Commonwealth and State Governments, and is coordinated through Scitech. Western Australia's four public universities and Engineers Australia (WA Branch) also contribute funding for National Science Week.

Inspiring Australia is the national strategy that seeks to build a strong relationship between science and society, underpinned by effective communication of science and its uses and benefits.  Mrs Andrews said that the initiative provided "leadership, resources and support to build a science literate knowledge nation."

For more information, view the media statement.

Science on the Swan Conference

Alternate image textThe inaugural Science on the Swan Conference was held in Perth between 21-23 April 2015. The focus of the conference was ‘Hot Topics in Life Course and Development'. The conference showcased  the very best of medical science and health research in Western Australia, and brought together an outstanding international faculty and leading researchers from across Australia.

The Premier and Minister for Science, Hon Colin Barnett MLA opened the conference and launched a Science Statement for Western Australia on 21 April 2015. For more information view the Science Statement page of this website.

Big week of activities for Big DataAlternate image text

Big Data Week, was held in Perth from April 20 to 26 with numerous events taking place designed to educate, inform and inspire people about big data.

As part of the schedule the State Government hosted an event at the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre in Kensington on April 22, called Maximising Opportunities with Government Data.

The event brought together data scientists and public sector employees across government to listen to case studies and discuss how the State Government can best use Big Data to improve service delivery. The Chief Scientist of Western Australia, Professor Peter Klinken provided the welcome and spoke about the opportunities and benefits of Big Data for Western Australia.

For more information view the media statement.

New blueprint for marine science launched by Premier

Alternate image textThe Premier and Science Minister Colin Barnett launched the Blueprint for Marine Science 2050 in front of attendees of the 2015 Western Australian Marine Science Institution Research Conference.
The blueprint identifies what new information will be needed to improve the productivity of WA's marine industries and enhance protection of the marine environment over the coming decades. 
More than 100 areas needing more research are identified in the blueprint across the fisheries, oil and gas, coastal development, transport and environmental protection sectors.  
The blueprint was independently commissioned by the Western Australian Marine Science Institution and is available at  

Strengthening relationships between research and industryAlternate image text

Premier and Science Minister Colin Barnett has congratulated a group of PhD students completing the first wave of workplace projects through the new iPREP WA program.

iPREP WA comes under the umbrella of Advancing Western Australian Research Education (AWARE) which has brought together the State's five universities in a unique collaboration which seeks to improve the skills of graduate researchers in the State. In the current round, 17 PhD students were competitively selected to work with five industry partners.

For more information please view the media statement and visit the AWARE website. 


Australia's largest annual astronomy festival returned with a bang in 2015! Astrofest, a vibrant celebration of astronomy and Western Australian science, was held at Curtin Stadium on the Curtin University campus in Bentley on Saturday 28 March. An estimated 4,000 people attended the event and the date for Astrofest 2016 will be announced in a few months.

For more information visit the Astrofest website.

Professor Alan Robson's WA Science Hall of Fame citation unveiled

2014Science Hall of Fame Inductee Emeritus Professor Alan Robson with Her Excellency the Hon Kerry Sanderson AO Governor of WAEmeritus Professor Alan Robson's citation was unveiled on the Western Australian Science Hall of Fame honour board, at an evening reception held at Scitech on 12 March 2015.

This occasion also brought together leaders in the science community as well as the 2014 Premier's Science Award winners and sponsors.

Her Excellency the Honourable Kerry Sanderson AO, Governor of Western Australia unveiled the citation and acknowledged Professor Robson's vast and varied contributions to the Western Australian science community.

Hall of Fame inductees represent exceptional examples of outstanding achievement in Western Australian science. For more information visit the WA Science Hall of Fame page on this website and view the media release.

Communicate to Inspire

On Thursday 12 March 2015, Professor Peter Klinken, Chief Scientist of WA provided the opening address at Scitech's inaugural Science Communications Conference and acknowledged the importance of communicating the value of science to the community.

The Conference theme 'Communicate to Inspire' brought together over 100 science communicators from across the State, to share knowledge and improve communication between different types of science communicators. It also sought to inspire local science communicators and celebrate their important contribution to the community.

Coordinated and lead by Scitech, the Conference was made possible with the support of the Office of Science and  the Australian Government's Department of Industry and Science, through the Inspiring Australia initiative.

Further information can be found on the Scitech and Inspiring Australia websites.

Opportunities for collaboration with Europe in the areas of research, innovation and education

On Wednesday 11 March 2015, over 100 interested researchers and representatives from research, industry and higher education institutions attended an Information Session organised by the Delegation of the European Union (EU) to Australia.

The purpose of the session was to discuss opportunities for collaboration with Europe in the areas of research, innovation and education.

Professor Peter Klinken, Chief Scientist of Western Australia provided the welcome. Attendees were provided with an overview of the EU's Horizon 2020 Program and the EU's Erasmus+ program. Western Australian researchers who had participated in previous EU Framework Funding programs then presented on their experiences.

This was followed by presentations from a range of individual EU Member States on opportunities available for collaboration. Copies of all the presentations from the session will be made available on this website in the near future.

As part of the wider program, the Research, Innovation and Education Counsellors of the European Union Member States visited a number of organisations and research institutions to identify opportunities to enhance linkages between Western Australia and Europe.

Further information about the Delegation can be found on the Delegation of the EU to Australia website.

Western Australian projects funded in National Science Week grant round

Six Western Australian projects have been funded in the $500,000 National Science Week grant round announced by The Hon Ian Macfarlane MP, Minister for Industry and Science.

Western Australian events receiving funding are: Gingin Science Festival; Goodness Sustainability & Innovation Festival; Red Earth Night Sky Astro Fair; Helena Payload for Oxygen & Art on Mars; Cleaning Chemistry; and the Community Science Expo - Patterns in science.

A full of list of projects funded and details are available on the 2015 National Science Week website. For more information about the announcement please view the Minister for Industry and Science's media release.

National Science Week will be held from 15-23 August 2015. In Western Australia, National Science Week is supported by the State Government and coordinated by Scitech together with the Western Australian National Science Week Coordinating Committee.

Alternate image text

Visiting Public Health Research and Policy Professor John Frank

Professor John Frank, the Director of the Scottish Collaboration for Public Health Research and Policy, visited the Telethon Kids Institute from 5 March to 28 March 2015.

Professor Frank's broad research and professional interests concern the determinants of population and individual health status and especially the causes, remediation and prevention of socio-economic gradients in health.

While visiting the Institute, Professor Frank presented a number of free continuing professional development sessions, critical appraisal workshops and guest lectures.

iPREP WA - linking PhDs to industry 

iPREP InductioniPREP WA is a new initiative from the Graduate Research School at ECU and involves a unique collaboration between all 5 WA universities and the Office of Science.

PhD students who have submitted their thesis for examination work in interdisciplinary teams on a 6-week project for an industry partner. The program is supported by industry partners to provide the opportunity for PhD graduates to apply research skills to non-academic workplaces. The current round commenced in February 2015 with 16 PhD students working with 5 industry partners.

For more information visit the iPREP website.