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Curtin scientists recognised for leading astronomy and chemistry research

Media release

Curtin astrophysicist Associate Professor Cathryn Trott and electrochemistry researcher Associate Professor Debbie Silvester-Dean have been recognised for their exceptional contributions to the field of science by the Australian Academy of Science.

Associate Professor Cathryn Trott and Associate Professor Debbie Silvester-Dean
Associate Professor Cathryn Trott and Associate Professor Debbie Silvester-Dean

Associate Professor Trott, from the School of Electrical Engineering, Computing and Mathematical Sciences at Curtin University and the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR), was awarded the Nancy Millis Medal for Women in Science, and Associate Professor Silvester-Dean, from Curtin’s School of Molecular and Life Sciences, was awarded the Le Fèvre Medal for research in Chemistry.

Curtin University Vice-Chancellor Professor John Cordery congratulated both Associate Professor Trott and Associate Professor Silvester-Dean for being recognised as research leaders in Australia and around the world.

“Associate Professor Trott has dedicated her career to researching how the first stars and galaxies formed and died more than 12 billion years ago, during a time known as the Cosmic Dawn,” Professor Cordery said.

“Her research involves using low frequency radio telescopes, such as the Murchison Widefield Array in Western Australia, to hunt for a ‘needle-in-a-haystack’ signal from the early universe, which will help to improve our understanding of the universe and answer fundamental questions about galaxies.”

Professor Cordery said Associate Professor Silvester-Dean is a leading expert in room temperature ionic liquids and has been able to develop new and improved ways of detecting toxic gases and explosives in the environment.

“Associate Professor Silvester-Dean’s research has helped to develop tiny sensors which can detect when people are exposed to toxic substances found in materials like paint and fuel and in industries such as mining,” Professor Cordery said.

“The results from her work have helped to inform designs for electrolytes and other ‘smart’ materials in sensors, which one day could be used by people around the world to assess the air quality in their towns and cities.

“I would like to congratulate Associate Professor Trott and Associate Professor Silvester-Dean on being recognised for their exceptional research and inspiring leadership at Curtin University. Both researchers have made outstanding contributions to science, both nationally and internationally.”

Associate Professor Trott and Associate Professor Silvester-Dean are among 24 researchers who received prestigious 2021 honorific awards from the Australian Academy of Science.

Further information on the awards and recipients can be found online here.