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Curtin students named among best and brightest at Premier’s awards

Media release

Two outstanding Curtin University students and a leading science outreach program for children have been crowned winners at the 2021 Premier’s Science Awards.

Curtin's winners at the Premier's Science Awards: Daniel Curran, Liam Scarlett and FIRST LEGO League WA (pictured top left to right)

Theoretical physics PhD candidate Liam Scarlett was named a joint winner of the ExxonMobil Student Scientist of the Year for his work in developing a theory and a suite of computer programs that is capable of producing the most detailed database of electron-molecule reaction probabilities to date.

Third-year Curtin Medical School student Daniel Curran was awarded the Shell Aboriginal STEM Student of the Year for his inspirational work and commitment to closing the gap, including in his role as an Aboriginal tutor in the Indigenous Tutorial Assistance Scheme at Curtin’s Centre for Aboriginal Studies.

Curtin’s FIRST LEGO League WA, headed by Tim Keely, was named the Chevron Science Engagement Initiative of the Year, in recognition of its work to engage children in tackling STEM problems.

Curtin University Vice-Chancellor Professor Harlene Hayne congratulated the Curtin recipients acknowledged at the signature annual awards, a keystone in the State Government’s efforts to raise the profile of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

“I am particularly excited to see two inspiring Curtin students recognised among the State’s brightest minds for their achievements in science, technology, engineering and mathematics,” Professor Hayne said.

“Liam’s ground-breaking work in his PhD has been used by scientists working on the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, the world’s largest fusion experiment, making him a notable ambassador for STEM and a most worthy recipient of this honour.

“An outstanding role model for aspiring Aboriginal medical doctors who is committed to closing the gap, Daniel was the top achiever in the Indigenous pre-medicine enabling course through the Centre for Aboriginal Studies and is now in his third year of a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery at Curtin Medical School.”

Professor Hayne said the FIRST LEGO League WA was a collaborative project led by Curtin University and supported by community hubs around Western Australia.

“Curtin’s FIRST LEGO League WA is playing a crucial role in shaping the next generation of STEM leaders by instilling a passion in science and technology from a very young age,” Professor Hayne said.

The winners of the Premier’s Science Awards were announced at a ceremony held at WA Museum Boola Bardip during National Science Week, which runs from August 14 to 22.

The Premier’s Science Awards judging panels are chaired by the Chief Scientist of Western Australia, Professor Peter Klinken.

For more information on the awards, visit here.

Further information about the Curtin winners is provided below.

ExxonMobil Student Scientist of the Year, awarded to an outstanding postgraduate student who has demonstrated a commitment to science at an early stage and shows great promise in reaching the highest levels of excellence

Joint winner: Liam Scarlett, from Curtin’s School of Electrical Engineering, Computing and Mathematical Sciences

About: Liam Scarlett is completing a PhD in theoretical physics, focusing on modelling the fundamental reactions which take place in fusion, medical, and astrophysical plasmas. A highlight of his research has included developing a theory and suite of computer programs to produce the most detailed database of electron-molecule reaction probabilities to date, which was used by scientists working on the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor. Liam has authored an impressive list of publications, championed a number of international research collaborations, been invited to speak at international conferences, and is a positive ambassador for STEM through his supervision of undergraduate research projects.

Shell Aboriginal STEM Student of the Year, awarded to an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander undergraduate or postgraduate student who has demonstrated excellence in STEM studies.

Winner: Daniel Curran, from Curtin Medical School

Daniel Curran is an outstanding Aboriginal medical student committed to closing the gap. He completed the Indigenous pre-medicine enabling course through the Centre for Aboriginal Studies as the top achiever and is now in his third year of a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery at Curtin University. Daniel is an Aboriginal tutor in the Indigenous Tutorial Assistance Scheme. He has acted on the Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association Student Representative Committee and is the First Nations representative for Curtin’s Health Sciences Student Consultative Committee. He is a role model for aspiring Aboriginal medical doctors and healthcare professionals.

Chevron Science Engagement Initiative of the Year, which recognises an initiative that has made an outstanding contribution to community awareness, interest and/or participation in science in Western Australia.

Winner: FIRST LEGO League WA, Curtin University

About: The FIRST LEGO League in WA (FLLWA) challenges teams of 9 to 16-year-old students to engage their minds and their communities to tackle STEM problems. FLLWA comprises two challenges which culminate in high-energy competitions – the Robot Game, which requires a team to design, build and program a LEGO robot that completes missions on a field, and the Innovation Project, which requires a team to identify, research and present a solution to a real-world problem. FLLWA has become embedded in the communities that embrace it, with an estimated 60,000 students, teachers, family members and local community members having been involved since its establishment in 2013.