- Scitech will relocate from City West to Perth Cultural Centre
- Inaugural Premier's Fellow in Agriculture and Food announced
- Conservation scientist Professor Kingsley Dixon is Scientist of the Year
- Professor Ian Ritchie AO inducted to WA Science Hall of Fame
Premier and Science Minister Colin Barnett has announced the Liberal National Government would continue its strong support of science education by relocating Scitech from its current West Perth premises to the Perth Cultural Centre.
Speaking tonight at the Premier's Science Awards, Mr Barnett said Scitech would remain at City West until 2021 after which it would be relocated to a space completely reimagined as a modern, digitally driven, state-of-the-art centre for science education.
"The State Government's long-term commitment to the cultural centre as the epicentre of science, literature and the arts is already demonstrated in the $428 million new museum complex," he said.
"A reinvigorated cultural centre will highlight the importance of science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics to the community.
"Scitech is a natural fit for the cultural centre, working closely with the new museum and also at the $17 million upgrade of the museum's Welshpool facilities, where opportunities to share storage and exhibition development facilities will be explored."
The Premier also revealed the appointment of Dr Simon Cook as the inaugural Premier's Fellow in Agriculture and Food. His appointment will see the Government collaborate with Curtin and Murdoch universities through the delivery of a cutting edge agricultural research program.
As the Premier's Fellow, Dr Cook will build and lead a research team in Western Australia to develop the State's capabilities in big data and agriculture.
Mr Barnett said the appointment provided an excellent opportunity to strengthen the collaboration across two leading universities within the field of agriculture, and build on the successes of past Fellows in creating hubs of academic excellence in areas of need.
Regional Development Minister Terry Redman said the Fellowship program represented yet another exciting opportunity to broaden the State's economy made possible by the Liberal National Government's Royalties for Regions program.
"I am pleased Royalties for Regions can support world-leading research of particular importance to regional WA's economy and the agriculture sector by investing in these important programs," Mr Redman said.
The Science Awards also saw conservation scientist Professor Kingsley Dixon crowned Scientist of the Year.
Professor Dixon, from Curtin University, was previously Foundation Director of Science at the Botanic Gardens and Parks Authority and has been credited as the driving force behind its research excellence.
"Professor Dixon is widely known for discovering the specific chemical in smoke that is responsible for germination in many of Australia's plants," the Premier said.
Dr Scott Draper, from The University of Western Australia, was announced as the winner of the Woodside Early Career Scientist of the Year for his work on offshore fluid mechanics.
Audiologist Christopher Brennan-Jones, from The University of Western Australia, was announced as Student Scientist of the Year. Curtin's Fireballs in the Sky was awarded the Chevron Science Engagement Initiative of the Year.
For the tenth year in a row, the awards have also recognised lifelong contributions to science through the Western Australian Science Hall of Fame. Professor Ian Ritchie AO was announced as the 2016 inductee for his dedication to science and his championing of a practical, business-focused approach to science in the State.
Professor Ritchie was instrumental in the transformation of the WA Chemistry Centre to the ChemCentre, as well as the establishment of the AJ Parker Cooperative Research Centre for Hydrometallurgy. The induction was made posthumously and was accepted by his son, Andrew Ritchie.
- Scitech is a not-for-profit organisation which increases awareness, interest, capability and participation by West Australians in science, technology, engineering and mathematics
- Scitech has been based at City West for 28 years, with its annual visitors growing from 168,000 to a peak of 315,000 people in the past 15 years
- The Government Architect will ensure Scitech's new home takes full advantage of the opportunities to connect and link Scitech to WA's new and existing world-class institutions
- For more information about the Fellow program, visit https://www.dpc.wa.gov.au/science/ScienceAndAgribusinessConnect/Pages/default.aspx
- For more information about the awards, visit http://www.dpc.wa.gov.au/science
Premier and Science Minister's office - 6552 5000
Regional Development Minister's office - 6552 6700
Premier's Science Awards - Winners' Profiles
Scientist of the Year
Professor Kingsley Dixon
Curtin University Professor and Visiting Professor at Botanic Gardens and Parks Authority
Professor Dixon's efforts in conservation science, restoration ecology and plant science have been fundamental to conserving threatened species and transforming ecological restoration practice in Australia. His discovery of the specific chemical in smoke that is responsible for germination in Australian species has had widespread application, being valued at $100 million per annum in terms of potential global benefits to agriculture, mining restoration and horticulture. As Foundation Director of Science at the Botanic Gardens and Parks Authority for 32 years, he is acknowledged as the driving force behind the creation of its world-recognised research laboratories.
Woodside Early Career Scientist of the Year
Dr Scott Draper
Senior Lecturer, School of Civil, Environmental and Mining Engineering (The University of Western Australia)
Dr Draper is known internationally for his research in offshore fluid mechanics. He has developed models to optimise the configuration of offshore wind and tidal turbines for renewable energy, predict seabed scour and estimate the stability of offshore structures in extreme wave conditions. His research on marine renewable energy provided the first accurate assessment of marine renewable energy resources in the UK. Across all fields of offshore fluid mechanics, Dr Draper has published more than 50 peer-reviewed papers, has worked on multiple Australian Research Council projects and has supervised award-winning PhD and Master students.
ExxonMobil Student Scientist of the Year
Mr Christopher Brennan-Jones
PhD Candidate, Ear Sciences Centre (The University of Western Australia)
Mr Brennan-Jones' PhD research focused on improving efficiency and access to ear and hearing healthcare services in WA. He led an international consortium which assessed the reliability of automated hearing tests for use in the absence of specialists. Mr Brennan-Jones discovered some common inconsistencies that, if not corrected, could result in missed diagnoses of middle ear disease or tumours. Building on this work, he has developed diagnostic protocols that can be applied to automated audiometry to correct these errors and is translating this research into practice, by establishing an indigenous ear health program in the East Pilbara.
Chevron Science Engagement Initiative of the Year
Fireballs in the Sky (Curtin University)
The Desert Fireball Network aims to understand the early workings of the solar system by studying meteorites, fireballs and their pre-Earth orbits by capturing the paths of fireballs in the sky from multiple viewpoints. With this data, the fireball's pre-Earth orbit and eventual landing position are tracked. Fireballs in the Sky is the outreach arm of the project. More than 89,000 West Australians have engaged with the program through hands-on activities, talks and events, and it has received international media coverage. The citizen science smartphone app has had 23,000 downloads world-wide and, in 2015, the app was awarded the National iAward for Innovation in Education.
Western Australian Science Hall of Fame
2016 Inductee - Professor Ian Ritchie AO
Professor Ritchie was a distinguished scientist, educator and community leader. He was a champion of chemistry and its role in the community, and prominently reshaped the State's scientific landscape by championing a practical, business-focused approach to science.
He supported the retention and renewal of the WA Chemistry Centre. As a key government advisor and foundation board chairman, he guided its rebirth as the now world-class ChemCentre.
Professor Ritchie was also instrumental in establishing Perth as an international hub of research in hydrometallurgy. He was the driving force behind the establishment of the AJ Parker Cooperative Research Centre for Hydrometallurgy in 1992, and served as its director until his retirement in 2001. Under his leadership, the centre grew to become the world's leading, and largest, organisation for hydrometallurgical research.
He was a founding member of the WA Premier's Science Council and the Scientific Advisory Committee to the WA Clean Air Council, where he was the first to advocate for a ban on lead in petrol.
In 2003, he was the second recipient of the Premier's Prize for Achievement in Science, now the Scientist of the Year award.
He was awarded WA Citizen of the Year in 1997, and was made an Officer of the Order of Australia in 2014.
Professor Ritchie passed away in 2014.