Eureka science prizes: Justin Yerbury wins analysis honour for work on motor neurone illness | Australia information

A motor neurone illness researcher dwelling with the illness, a nanomaterials engineer and a recycling pioneer have been amongst these awarded Eureka prizes on the Australian Museum on Wednesday night time.

Established in 1990, the Eureka prizes recognise the work of Australian scientists and science communicators.

Prof Justin Yerbury of the College of Wollongong was awarded the College of New South Wales (UNSW) Eureka prize for scientific analysis, for his work on motor neurone illness (MND).

Yerbury, who has been dwelling with MND since 2016, first heard of the situation when his uncle was identified.

“On the time … we had no thought what MND was, and we had no clue of what was to return,” Yerbury instructed Guardian Australia through e-mail. “Within the subsequent few years we might lose cousins, aunts, my grandmother and my mom.”

A necessity to know the situation ultimately led Yerbury to a profession in MND analysis.

“I wanted to know why there was no medication that might decelerate the illness,” he mentioned.

“Not having studied biology earlier than, I struggled to know. It was like studying one other language … I made a decision to enrol in some biology courses on the native college to advance my information.”

His laboratory’s work has broadened the understanding of MND and defined why motor neurons – the nerve cells that management muscle groups – die within the situation.

“As a discipline, we have to higher perceive the molecular causes of MND as a way to uncover or design efficient medication,” he mentioned.

Yerbury mentioned he was “actually humbled” to even be thought of for a Eureka prize. “The award is a mirrored image of the hassle and help of many individuals, with out whom my work wouldn’t be attainable.”

Prof Sumeet Walia of RMIT College was awarded the Eureka prize for rising chief in science. His analysis into nanomaterials – at scales 1000’s of instances smaller than the width of a human hair – has functions together with window coatings to maximise warmth effectivity, and synthetic imaginative and prescient applied sciences.

Sumeet Walia is posing for a photo in a lab. He is wearing a lab coat and the lab behind him is dark with a green glow
Prof Sumeet Walia has been recognised as an rising chief and needs to see extra equality and variety in science. {Photograph}: RMIT College

Walia’s curiosity in science has been lifelong. “As a baby I used to be all the time curious,” Walia mentioned. “Each time I used to get toys, as a substitute of enjoying with them I used to interrupt them open.”

Walia, who grew up in a small city in India, moved to Australia 16 years in the past to pursue a profession in engineering.

“All the things that we do in our each day lives is influenced by science,” he mentioned. “We want to verify science is nicely supported, evidence-based selections are taken, and there may be extra equality and variety in our scientific sector.”

Supplies scientist Prof Veena Sahajwalla of UNSW was awarded the Celestino Eureka prize for selling understanding of science. Sahajwalla is famend as a recycling pioneer and the inventor of sustainable merchandise, and in 2018 launched the world’s first e-waste “microfactory”.

“The thrilling factor about microrecycling is that technically nothing ought to go to landfill,” Sahajwalla mentioned. The copper and tin used within the circuit boards of digital gadgets, for instance, might be re-used in “attention-grabbing new alloys”, whereas rare-earth metals like cobalt ought to be recycled from the electrodes of lithium ion batteries, she mentioned.

Veena Sahajwalla is standing in a factory holding component. She is wearing a black suit and pink shirt and is looking at the camera
Prof Veena Sahajwalla is a famend recycling professional who has been recognised for her science communication. {Photograph}: Richard Freeman/UNSW

Sahajwalla mentioned the award was the “final recognition of the truth that science and scientific endeavours are going to be so necessary … [in] shaping a sustainable future”.

Prof Raina MacIntyre of UNSW was awarded the division of defence Eureka prize for management in science and innovation.

MacIntyre, who heads the biosecurity analysis program on the Kirby Institute, was recognised for her “important management position within the worldwide response to the Covid-19 pandemic” and her contributions to worldwide public well being coverage.

Different recipients in 14 prize classes included scientists researching how diets have an effect on the surroundings, the right way to enhance the therapy of sexually transmitted illnesses and the way wildlife responds to administration adjustments on farms.