04/05/2004 - 22:00

National leaders in science and tech

04/05/2004 - 22:00

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THE 2003 Australian of the Year, Fiona Stanley, has been ranked as the most influential Western Australian in the field of science and technology.

THE 2003 Australian of the Year, Fiona Stanley, has been ranked as the most influential Western Australian in the field of science and technology.

Professor Stanley is the founding director of the West Perth-based Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, which was established in 1990 and presently has 300 employees.

She is also the chief executive of the Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth, which aims to improve the health and well-being of young Australians.

In addition, she is a member of the Prime Minister’s Science, Engineering and Innovation Council, the Premier’s Science Council and the Telstra Foundation.

Being Australian of the Year has elevated Professor Stanley’s national profile, and her specialist research focus on child health is starting to give her international recognition.

Professor Linda Kristjanson does not share Professor Stanley’s high public profile, yet many hold her in high regard.

She won national recognition when she was named winner of the 2002 Telstra Business Women’s Award.

Professor Kristjanson is a leading national figure in nurse education and research, especially in palliative care research, and holds WA’s first professional chair in Palliative Care at Edith Cowan University.

She is also associate dean of research and higher degrees in the Faculty of Communications, Health and Science, director of ECU’s Cancer, Palliative Care and Family Health Research Team and director of the Centre of Nursing Research at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital.

Professor Ian Constable is the founder and managing director of the Lions Eye Institute, the largest eye research institute in the Southern Hemisphere, and is also chairman of the Premier’s Science Council.

Each year the institute provides specialist clinical services to 40,000 patients in Australia and overseas, and its surgeons perform about 3,000 eye operations.

It employs 100 scientists and has an annual budget of about $7 million, making it the envy of many other research organisations.

The institute’s clinical and research success has not been matched in the commercial sphere, with spin-out company Q-Vis being a notable failure.

It recently sold the rights to another of its leading technologies, artificial corneas, to a US company.

Bruce Hobbs is WA’s chief scientist, heading the premier’s office of science and innovation.

Formerly with CSIRO, Dr Hobbs helps to decide the allocation of State government funds to a multitude of existing and aspiring research organisations.

Perth’s major universities are among the many groups competing for government research funds, and they are also aiming to be major players in the commercialisation of research.

At Curtin University, the person in charge of this task is the highly regarded Dr Barney Glover, who was promoted last year to the position of pro vice-chancellor research and development.

His role is to nurture and enhance the university’s re-search culture and develop commercial opportunities from that research.

Dr Glover joined Curtin in 1997 as director of research and development and also worked in the Centre of Excellence in Industrial Optimisation. He recently bolstered the commercialisation team at Curtin with the recruitment of Conrad Crisafulli from venture capital firm TechStart.

At the University of Western Australia, Dr Andy Sierakowski is director of the Office of Industry and Innovation. UWA’s high profile spin-out companies include Advanced Powder Technology, which now produces three branded products, including the transparent zinc cream Zinclear.

Another spin-out company currently travelling a rocky path is Vitrostone, which has encountered some technical setbacks in the development of its innovative paving product.

Fiona Wood has become a household name in WA following her work as head of Royal Perth Hospital’s surgical team dealing with victims of the Bali bombing.

She is also a co-founder of Clinical Cell Culture, a developer of innovative spray-on skin to help the healing process for burns victims.

C3 has been listed on the Australian Stock Exchange since late in 2002 and last year raised more than $7 million from investors to pursue the commercial development of its products.

Another influential Western Australian in science and technology is Professor Beverley Ronalds, who moved last year to a new position as chief of CSIRO’s petroleum resources division.

Soon after joining CSIRO, she announced a new research alliance between CSIRO, UWA and Curtin focusing on the oil and gas industry.

She is highly regarded for both her research and her applied work on the design, installation and operation of fixed and floating offshore platforms, on the North West Shelf, the North Sea and the Gulf of Mexico.

CSIRO Petroleum, which employs 150 people, is based at the Australian Resources Research Centre in Bentley.

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