Geologist Richard Hillis is SA Scientist of the Year

Members of the University of Adelaide community have won a total of seven out of the nine categories at the Science Excellence Awards, including the top prize, 2018 South Australian Scientist of the Year.

The South Australian Government’s Science Excellence Awards celebrate those who have made a significant contribution in their field, demonstrate outstanding leadership and inspire future generations to get involved in science.

The top award, 2018 South Australian Scientist of the Year, went to Professor Hillis, Adjunct Professor at the Australian School of Petroleum, the University of Adelaide and former Chief Executive Officer of Deep Exploration Technologies CRC.

Professor Hillis has received the award in recognition of his outstanding work in the field of mining exploration, and in particular for his work to develop a safer, cheaper and more environmentally friendly drill for Australia’s mining industry.

The other winners are:

Dr Ben Sparkes (Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing, School of Physical Sciences): Tall Poppy of the Year
Dr Sparkes is developing a device that can extend the maximum distance of quantum cryptography, which will boost the security of communications for government, business and the broader community.

Dr Katharina Richter (Basil Hetzel Institute for Translational Health Research, Adelaide Medical School): PhD Research Excellence
Dr Richter has developed two treatments for antibiotic-resistant infections, specifically for recalcitrant chronic sinus infections, and translated both treatments to pilot studies in humans.

The Aboriginal Heritage Project: Excellence in Research Collaboration involving the University’s Australian Centre for Ancient DNA
The Project is a partnership between the local members of the Aboriginal community, the University of Adelaide, the SA Museum and the University of New South Wales. The project has seen the creation of the first genetic map of Aboriginal Australia before European arrival using DNA from historical hair samples.

Jan Bell (Australian Centre of Antimicrobial Resistance Ecology (ACARE): Unsung Hero of SA – Science Communication
Ms Bell’s technical diagnostic expertise and meticulous and invaluable reporting at ACARE is helping to support protect Australians against drug-resistant ‘superbugs’.

Dr Liz Reed (Faculty of Sciences): Unsung Hero of SA – Science Communication
Dr Reed’s research centres on the study of ‘Ice Age’ vertebrate fossil deposits from caves in the Naracoorte area of the Limestone Coast region of South Australia. As part of her work at the University pf Adelaide’s Sprigg Geobilogy Centre, Dr Reed is helping to document the rate and magnitude of climate and environmental change over a range of timescales.

Professor Zbigniew Michalewicz (School of Computer Science): STEM Professional
Professor Michalewicz is Chief Scientist and Co-founder of Complexica, which specialises in sales and marketing optimisation software based on Artificial Intelligence. The STEM Professional Science Excellence Award acknowledges Professor Michalewicz’s outstanding contribution in science to the private sector.

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