Science heroes win Eureka fame

James Riley
Editorial Director

While the winners’ circle at the 2019 Australian Museum Eureka Prize ceremony on Wednesday was crowded with recipients from the life sciences, biomedical and environmental fields of study, two of the nation’s top data and communications research leaders were also honoured.

Data science legend Professor Longbing Cao from the University of Technology Sydney was awarded the Eureka Prize for Excellence in Data Science for his work in developing cutting-edge theories and systems to analyse real-life, real-time data for delivering smarter business transformation.

Professor Cao has two PhD’s, one on Pattern Recognition and Intelligent Systems from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the other in computing science from the University of Technology in Sydney. He is highly respected for his computer science work in both pure research and applied research.

He has worked as a research leader in the Capital Markets CRC, and now in his current positions as both a professor of information technology at the Faculty of Engineering and IT at UTS, as well as the founding director at UTS’ Advanced Analytics Institute.

Longbing’s research has found its way into many real-world financial systems, among other things. Most recently, his work his work has enabled more efficient, active and tailored debt recovery and payment collection practices, producing significant socio-economic benefits to Australia.

And University of Sydney professor Branka Vucetic, an internationally recognised expert in coding theory and its applications in wireless networks, was awarded the CSIRO Eureka Prize for Leadership in Innovation and Science.

Professor Vucetic has held various research and academic positions in the UK, Yugoslavia and Australia, and since 1986 she has been with the University of Sydney’s School of Electrical and Information Engineering, where she is currently Laureate Professor and director of the Centre of Excellence in Telecommunications.

Prof Vucetic’s current research activities are focused on advances in wireless networks and internet of things. With the rapidly growing mobile services, there has been an ever-increasing demand for very high wireless transmission data rates up to tens-of-Gigabits/second.

“I develop new algorithms for cellular, WiFi and satellite communications that provide fast connectivity for enterprise networks and billions of individuals,” Prof Vucetic said.

“Now I’m working on ultra-reliable, low-latency communications technologies. They will enable industrial automation at large scale, self-driving cars, and tele-robotic surgery.”

Other Eureka Prize winners included a team that discovered cells that could lead to cancer immunity, a professor who developed the world’s first synthetic biomaterials for bone repairs, and a team that has created the potential to restore movement after paralysis via blood vessels.

It included awards for a program of science education for Indigenous students, the designers of a wetlands’ ability to store carbon, as well as school students showcasing their science skills.

The Australian Museum Eureka Prizes are Australia’s leading science awards, presenting trophies and $170,000 in prize money across four categories – Research & Innovation, Leadership, Science Engagement, and School Science

Among the 17 prizes are two new prizes, the Eureka Prize for STEM inclusion, presented by the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science and the Eureka Prize for Long-Form Science Journalism, presented by the Finkel Foundation.

Australian Museum Director and chief executive Kim McKay highlighted the critical role of scientists in all facets of society.

“The work of scientists is what will change Australia’s future. It plays a critical role in so many areas – business, conservation, medicine, engineering, safety, communications and more – it touches every part of our lives,” Ms McKay said.

“The Australian Museum Eureka Prizes have been acknowledging Australia’s scientific achievers for almost 30 years – people who are often not publicly recognised but whose work has an impact on all of us every day”.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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