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Five finalists from Curtin in running for Premier’s Science Awards

Media release

Four Curtin University researchers and the popular Curtin-driven citizen science program, Fireballs in the Sky, have been shortlisted in the 2016 Premier’s Science Awards, which celebrate the State’s best in scientific research and science engagement.

Children engage with Curtin's popular Fireballs in the Sky program. Credit: Curtin University

Among the four finalists for Scientist of the Year is Professor Kingsley Dixon, a Curtin professor and visiting professor at Kings Park and Botanic Garden; and Professor Zheng-Xiang Li, Co-Director of the Australia-China Joint Research Centre for Tectonics and Earth Resources at the Curtin WA School of Mines.

Those vying for Woodside Early Career Scientist of the Year include lecturer Dr Kaiming Bi and senior lecturer Dr Jun Li, both of Curtin’s School of Civil and Mechanical Engineering, while the Fireballs in the Sky program has been shortlisted for the Chevron Science Engagement Initiative of the Year.

Professor Brett Kirk, Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research, said Curtin’s representation amongst the finalists reflected the University’s strong research record and leadership in the areas of environmental science, geoscience, engineering and the mysteries of space.

“I was pleased to see the diversity of research fields represented amongst the finalists, and the level of talent evidenced amongst both our early career and more experienced researchers,” Professor Kirk said.

“Our finalists showcase Curtin’s strong engagement and collaboration with our industry and community partners.

“Curtin has a proud heritage of leading research that is both fundamentally ground breaking, but also impactful and influential on improving society and the way people live.  These two drivers of research excellence and meaningful impact align with the Australian National Innovation and Science Agenda released late in 2015.”

Professor Kirk said the impact of the finalists’ research was exciting.

“Professor Kingsley Dixon’s breakthroughs have directly led to preservation of threatened species, and Professor Zheng-Xiang Li’s contributions help us to understand how the earth has developed over the past 2 billion years,” Professor Kirk said.

“Professor Phil Bland and the Fireballs team have revealed unprecedented new knowledge on the origins of the solar system in partnership with the public, while Dr Jun Li and Dr Kaiming Bi have both made advances toward the monitoring and protection of our national infrastructure and the protection of Australian lives.

“The collective achievements of our finalists reflect the strength of Western Australian research showcased by the Premier’s Science Awards, and Curtin congratulates all finalists on their selection.”

Winners will be announced at an awards ceremony on 18 August as part of National Science Week 2016, which runs from 13-18 August.

For more information on the awards and the finalists, see Premier Colin Barnett’s media statement here: https://www.mediastatements.wa.gov.au/Pages/Barnett/2016/07/Premiers-Science-Awards-finalists-announced.aspx.