UWA's David Blair named WA Scientist of the year

26/10/2007 - 10:37


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UWA physics professor and gravity expert David Blair was last night named Western Australian Scientist of the year at the Premier's Science Awards.

UWA's David Blair named WA Scientist of the year

UWA physics professor and gravity expert David Blair was last night named Western Australian Scientist of the year at the Premier's Science Awards.



The full text of an announcement from the Premier's office is pasted below

A world-leader in gravitational science has won the major $100,000 prize in the Premier's Science Awards, the richest of its kind in Australia.

At a gala dinner held at Scitech last night, Premier and Science and Innovation Minister Alan Carpenter announced Professor David Blair as the 2007 Western Australian Scientist of the Year.

Mr Carpenter said Professor Blair, the Professor of Physics at The University of Western Australia and an avid contributor and supporter of The Gravity Discovery Centre in Gingin, was an outstanding science contributor with a passion and devotion to the universe at large and its creation.

"Professor Blair has been instrumental in creating the Gravitational Wave Observatory, a prototype for a detector that can identify gravitational waves that will help us to make sense of the universe," he said.

"WA has been identified as the best location on earth to house the observatory and Professor Blair is collaborating with specialists from around the world."

The Premier also announced a $42 million funding deal over five years for Scitech Discovery Centre.

"This funding will allow Scitech to continue to deliver high quality science programs and exhibitions for the entire Western Australian community," he said.

"Over the last four years, more than 821,000 people have visited the interactive science centre and this funding will ensure Western Australians will continue to enjoy and discover more about the world and the science of how things work.

"I am working to ensure our strong economy delivers better services for all Western Australians."

Mr Carpenter also announced Scitech and Nobel Prize winners Professor Barry Marshall and Dr Robin Warren as the inaugural inductees to the Western Australian Science Hall of Fame.

"Scitech Discovery Centre is a State icon and is essential in encouraging the younger generation to choose science as a career option, as well as providing professional development opportunities for teachers throughout WA," he said.

"The winners of the 2005 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, Professor Barry Marshall and Dr Robin Warren, have been inducted for their work in discovering the real cause of stomach ulcers."

The Premier congratulated all the winners of the Premier's Science Awards, which were designed to recognise and reward the State's scientists, science teachers and science communicators.

"The Premier's Science Awards are the richest State-based science awards in the country and recognise the outstanding science talent the State has to offer," Mr Carpenter said.

"The State Government wants to reward our science community for their vital work in science, research and innovation and encourage them to continue their important work and the awards help us do this.

"Science and innovation are, and will continue to be, major drivers of the global economy well into the future.

"All the winners of the Premier's Science Awards are exceptional examples of the outstanding achievements in Western Australian science."

The winners are:

Western Australian Scientist of the Year - $100,000
Professor David Blair - Professor of Physics at The University of Western Australia

David Blair has worked for many years on the worldwide quest to detect gravitational waves. Alongside many students and colleagues at UWA, he has developed a very sensitive detector and the first sapphire clocks. Professor Blair is currently developing the gravitational wave observatory facility near Gingin and the exciting public facility, The Gravity Discovery Centre.

Western Australian Young Scientist of the Year - $50,000
Dr Kristen Nowak - Research Fellow for the Western Australian Institute for Medical Research

Dr Nowak researches rare muscle disorders, which can sometimes lead to complete paralysis at birth. She has made world-first discoveries into the genetics of these diseases, helping to make Perth a global leader in diagnosing these muscle disorders. Dr Nowak is dedicated to finding a therapy for patients with actin-caused muscle diseases.

Premier's Prize for Excellence in Science Communication Outside the Classroom - $50,000
Mr Roger Harris - Centre Manager at Herdsman Lake Wildlife Centre

Roger Harris has seen a 300 per cent increase in school student participation in the WA Gould League's education program in the last five years. Last year more than 13,000 students participated in the environmental science and indigenous learning experiences and Mr Harris received an Education Award of Excellence in recognition of his outstanding contribution. Mr Harris' three keys to success in environmental education are partnership, collaboration and passion.

Premier's Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching: Tertiary - $50,000
Professor Paul McMenamin - Associate Dean (Teaching and Learning), Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences and School of Anatomy and Human Biology at The University of Western Australia

Professor McMenamin uses innovative methods, such as body painting and model building, to teach clinically important aspects of human anatomy. His role in the medical faculty is to inspire colleagues to strive towards excellence in their teaching and learning with the aim of producing better health professionals for WA.

Premier's Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching: Secondary - $50,000
Mr Warwick Mathews - Teacher at Shenton College

Mr Mathews is a passionate educator with a remarkable capacity to create a sense of excitement and discovery. His work has been critical to the success of the science program at Shenton College, initiating programs including the student research vineyard, wine science, and the participation in UWA's scientists in school program and the international biotechnology competition, the sanofi-aventis International BioGENEius Challenge of Western Australia.

Premier's Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching: Primary - $50,000
Mr Allan Whittome - Teacher at Badgingarra Primary School

Mr Whittome is a highly valued colleague among his peers, who holds a depth and intensity of passion for all things scientific. His science lessons are engaging, hands-on, energetic and constantly evolving for students and staff alike. He teaches science through interactive activities and integrating several learning areas.

The awards are a joint project between the State Government via the Department of Industry and Resources and Scitech, with the support of the Premier's Science and Innovation Council.


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