The science spotlight shined bright for South Australian researchers – we look back at the year of awards.

The South Australia Science Excellence Awards recognised the best and brightest in our state. The state’s top scientists convened at the Adelaide Convention Centre in August to celebrate great careers, milestone discoveries and outstanding scientific endeavour. The awards night honoured educators, collaborators and researchers. But the night’s top honour, the South Australian Scientist of the Year, went to Professor James Paton from the University of Adelaide. Professor Paton was recognised for his research into disease caused by streptococcus pneumoniae, which kills 1-2 million people a year. Find out more about his groundbreaking research in his video interview below.

Great science communicators were also recognised through the SA Young Tall Poppy Science Awards. This year, eight Tall Poppies were awarded to researchers who demonstrated excellent science and excellent engagement with the community. However, it was Dr Laura Weyrich who was named the 2017 SA Tall Poppy of the Year. Dr Weyrich is a pioneer in ancient DNA, researching dental plaques of ancient human specimens to tell a story of human lifestyle, diet, climate and environment.

South Australian researchers also made their mark on the national stage. Two South Australian teams were awarded Australian Museum Eureka Prizes. The Aboriginal Heritage Projected, led by the University of Adelaide and the South Australian Museum won the Excellence in Interdisciplinary Scientific Research award. The team worked with Aboriginal families and communities to map Indigenous Australian arrival and migration.

Not to be outshone were The Colvera Team from CSIRO, Clinical Genomic Pty Ltd and Flinders University. The team won the Innovation in Medical Research Award for developing a new blood test to detect cancer DNA in blood plasma.

Of course, great science happens across Australia and we were thrilled by the announcement that Professor Jenny Graves had been awarded the Prime Minister’s Prize for Science. Professor Graves was awarded in recognition of her 50 year, ongoing career in epigenetic and genomic research.

The year 2017 has been an exciting year for science in South Australia and across the nation. We look forwarded to more exciting discoveries next year!

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