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PM's Science Prize Awarded for Investigations into Dark Matter in Galaxies

The Australian Institute of Physics congratulates the winners of the Prime Minister's Prizes for Science, who received their awards at a dinner at Parliament House last night.

Prof Ken Freeman from the Australian National University received the $300,000 Prime Minister's Prize for Science. He discovered that what we see of galaxies—as stars, gas and dust—is only a small fraction of their mass. The rest is dark matter. Today he is exploring the archaeology of our own galaxy - the Milky Way, and mentoring the next generation of astronomers.

Ken has been at the forefront of Australian astronomical research for many years and is a world leader on investigations into dark matter in galaxies. His work has set the benchmark in this field and his international reputation is outstanding. He is a worthy winner of this prestigious award and alongside Brian Schmidt is further demonstration of the exceptional standing that Australia achieves in astronomical research.

And I'm delighted to hear that AIP member, Prof Eric May of the University of Western Australia, has received the $50,000 Malcolm McIntosh Prize for Physical Scientist of the Year for his work in improving the efficiency and sustainability of liquid natural gas. Australia's minerals and energy sectors are transforming our economy. We often forget that they don't just ¡®dig it up' and ship it. Both sectors are highly technological and innovative. Physicists and engineers in particular play critical roles in finding and exploiting new resources and getting them to market.

Eric's techniques for making accurate measurements of the thermodynamic properties of fluids are central to the engineering of extraction and production facilities and to capturing carbon dioxide in the process. His work improves efficiencies by a few percentage points. In an industry worth tens of billions of dollars that's a very important contribution.

The other prize recipients were:

  • Dr Mark Shackleton, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, who received Science Minister's Prize for Life Scientist of the Year for his work on how breast cancer and melanoma grow and resist treatment
  • Michael van der Ploeg, assistant principal and specialist science teacher at Table Cape Primary School in Wynyard, Tasmania, who received the Prime Minister's Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Primary Schools for opening up the world of science to his students
  • Anita Trenwith, science teacher at Salisbury High School, north of Adelaide, who received the Prime Minister's Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Secondary Schools for a unique program that makes science accessible to special-education students.


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