The 20th Premier’s Science Awards Winners

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20th Premier Science Awards banner. Image Credits: WA Government
20th Premier Science Awards. Image - WA Government

In conjunction with the National Science Week in Australia, the 2021 winners of the West Australian Premier’s Science Awards were announced at the awards ceremony on Monday 16 August 2021, held at the West Australian (WA) Museum Boola Bardip.

The annual awards are a keystone in the WA government’s efforts to raise the profile of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in WA. Over the years, awards alumni have become important ambassadors for the state, helping to inspire future generations to take up courses and careers in STEM.

One such recipient is a researcher from The University of Western Australia (UWA) whose work has paved the way for cleaner, sustainable energy production. Professor Eric May was awarded the prestigious WA Scientist of the Year, presented by the Hon. Roger Cook, Minister for Health and Science.

Professor May, from UWA’s School of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics, is an internationally recognised leader in the areas of fluid science, thermodynamics, metrology and natural gas engineering. 

His understanding of the behaviour of gases and liquids and development and use of ground-breaking measurement technology have helped reduce the cost and environmental impact of liquefied natural gas production. Other real-world outcomes of his research include decreasing greenhouse gas emissions from coal mines and optimising air conditioning cycles based on new, environmentally-friendly refrigerants.

Professor Eric May in his laboratory. Image Credits: UWA

Professor May was elated to receive the award, citing it is a “tremendous honour” and “is great recognition of the hard work” for the work his team had done over a long period of time.

Awards like WA Scientist of the Year are important because they inspire young people at the beginning of their careers to pathways that will help them reach their full potential.

The bigger picture here is getting that new talent into the pipeline, those people build on the work we’ve done and actually help humanity reach the targets its aiming for.

Professor Eric May

Internationally recognised ecologist, Emeritus Professor Richard Hobbs, a former WA Scientist of the Year (2011), was inducted into the Western Australian Science Hall of Fame at the ceremony for his significant contributions over the last 37 years to the development and application of ecology, in Australia and overseas.

Other awards were:

  • Associate Professor Edward Litton (UWA and Fiona Stanley Hospital) and Dr Arman Siahvashi (UWA) – joint winners of the Woodside Early Career Scientist of the Year
  • Liam Scarlett (Curtin University) and Niamh Troy (UWA and Telethon Kids Institute) – ExxonMobil Student Scientist of the Year
  • Daniel Curran (Curtin University) – Shell Aboriginal STEM Student of the Year and
  • FIRST LEGO League WA (Curtin University) – Chevron Science Engagement Initiative of the Year.

Each category has a $10,000 prize.

To find out more information on the Premier’s Science Awards and how to make an application for the 2022 Premier Science Awards, visit here.