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

Media release

Two Curtin University researchers and two PhD candidates have been shortlisted amongst 13 finalists in the 2014 Premier’s Science Awards, which celebrate the State’s best in scientific research and science engagement.

Among the finalists for Scientist of the Year is Professor Steven Tingay, Director of the Curtin Institute of Radio Astronomy (CIRA) and Deputy Director of the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research.

Dr Ryan Loxton, Senior Lecturer in Curtin’s Department of Mathematics and Statistics, has been named a finalist for the Woodside Early Career Scientist of the Year, and PhD candidates Mark Zammit and Thomas Russell are two of three finalists for the ExxonMobil Student Scientist of the Year.

Professor Graeme Wright, Curtin’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research and Development, said this result was a reflection of the University’s focus on increasing research activity and intensity.

“Our scientists are carrying out research that is at the leading edge of significant scientific discoveries,” Professor Wright said.

“Whether that is tracking dangerous space debris or looking at atom-scale solutions for cancer detection, they are reaching new frontiers.

“It is particularly exciting to see our PhD candidates dominating the Student Scientist of the Year category – a good indication of the new talent coming through Curtin – and I wish them all the best when the winners are announced during National Science Week.”

Professor Tingay has played a significant role in the successful bid by Australia and New Zealand to host the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) radio telescope and led the development of its $51 million precursor, the Murchison Widefield Array, which has been observing the universe for the past year.

Dr Loxton’s research focuses on optimal control and optimisation, which uses mathematical techniques to find ways of controlling real-world systems in an optimal manner. He works in areas including robotics, electronics and chemical engineering.

Mr Zammit, a PhD candidate from the Department of Imaging and Applied Physics, is modelling the collisions of atoms and molecules for application in fusion technology, materials research, cancer detection and radiotherapy treatment.

Mr Russell, a PhD Candidate from CIRA, is studying black holes and how they extract energy from infalling matter. His research will help improve understanding of black holes, including how they evolve and how they influence the evolution of galaxies and the universe.

Winners along with the 2014 inductee into the Science Hall of Fame will be announced at a ceremony held on 21 August – during National Science Week – Australia’s largest annual celebration of science.