on January 24th, 2022

From perfecting cochineal ear implants to simply driving sustainability many Australians have been named lauded as Australian of the Year.

Under the banner of Reflect, Respect, Celebrate the annual Australian of the Year awards shine a light on amazing Australians that have contributed greatly not only to national society but globally as well.

Here are some impressive winners from the field of science.

Australian of the Year

An award for outstanding Australians that shapes society and drives change.

1994 – Ian Kiernan

Does his name sound familiar? It should, Ian is an environmental campaigner and the head of the Clean Up Australia movement that morphed into Clean up the World.

According to the Australian of the Year Awards, this Sydney-born environmentalist has worked with the United Nations on clean-up initiatives to mobilize over 30 million people in more than 80 countries to clean their immediate environment.

Ian was a builder by trade and studied at the Sydney Technical College. He passed away in 2018 and clean-ups are still in his memory. What a legacy.

2007 – Tim Flannery

Also known as Professor Tim Flannery, thank you very much, this university mastermind is the reason many concepts of climate change were adapted into the regular digest.

Born in Melbourne, Tim went on to specialize in earth sciences and zoology before capturing the ecological history of Australia and New Zealand work The Future Eaters.

But it is his acclaimed study of human-induced climate change The Weather Makers that solidified him as an Australian of the year.

The Weather Makers was written in clear and accessible language that underscored the effects of climate change and the role of humans.

The work has been translated to over 20 languages, and Flannery has worked with the Australian government to reduce carbon emissions since.

The book’s title also inspired The Weather Makers Holistic Engineering, a think tank of sorts that puts climate change into action in New Zealand.

Picture: The Weather Makers, Wikipedia Commons
Machine learning and modern computer technologies concepts.

2018 – Michelle Simmons

This professor in quantum physics is one of the world’s leading scientists and she is a pioneer of a different kind, having thought deeply on a quantum leap in computing.

This Brit arrived in Australia two decades ago when she joined the University of NSW Quantum Physics Department and transformed it into a prime example of advanced computer systems.

In 2012 Michelle led a team to create the first transistor from a single atom, and the world’s thinnest wire. Her work is connected to building a super quantum computer that can solve complex problems with haste, and on this front, she is at the helm to revolutionize drug design, perfect weather forecasting, see self-driving vehicles become more general and make artificial intelligence perfect.

Senior Australian of the Year

Australians aged 60 and over who continue to achieve and contribute to the country is not overlooked, and here are the amazing winners in science.

Picture: Hear, Hear! Wikipedia Commons

2001 – Graeme Clark

This medical doctor changed the world with ear implants that have allowed thousands to hear again.

His research focused on electrical stimulation of the auditory nerve and how that can allow deaf Australians to understand speech was almost scoffed at – but when he was able to produce a viable cochlear implant or ‘Bionic Ear’ things changed.

After clinical trials, his device has been implanted across the world and has made him a leading scientist in the field of hearing technology.

Dr Greame has been a celebrated individual for most of his career and he has a deep understanding of the benefits of bio-technology.

2018 – Graham Farquhar

One of Australia’s most celebrated scientists, Dr Graham is a leader in understanding photosynthesis.

With his research on extremely complex problems like the world, hunger is being revolutionized since he uses his love of science to create practical benefits within the agricultural sector.

He has studied mathematics and physics used this knowledge to create mathematical models of how plants work.

From efficient watering systems to protecting crops, he’s worked on amazing solutions within agriculture.

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

Young Australian of the Year

During this section of the awards, younger Australians get recognition for their contributions to society, and the extent of their work is mesmerizing.

Photo by Shot by Cerqueira on Unsplash

1999 – Bryan Gaensler

Bryan Gaensler completed a Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Sydney and when he proceeded to start his PhD this astronomer discovered that supernova remnants aligned with the magnetic field of the Milky Way create cosmic compasses.

He has also been at the forefront of ensuring sciences get enough funding from the government to make new and amazing discoveries.

Gaensler has authored more than 400 scientific papers on cosmic magnetism, neutron stars, supernovae and the interstellar medium.

2012 – Marita Cheng

Called an engineering visionary Marita led a campaign to allow young women to become interested in engineering. She founded Robogals Global in 2008, to up the levels of participation from women in the field of engineering and technology. Robogals uses activities to educate around engineering and science, aimed at girls.

Marita went on to study engineering herself and is heavily involved in robotics to this day – but her drive to engage young women and girls in engineering has changed the views of what women can achieve, and ensured more women enter the field of engineering.

The next Australian of the Year award ceremony takes place on 25 January 2022. For more information click here.

The latest news

EIT News

A Hero with a Lifesaving Legacy  

Meet James Mackay, the Technology Manager at the Engineering Institute of Technology (EIT), also known as a hero. His journey is nothing short of inspiring, and it's about time the... Read more
EIT News

UAE Floods: Role of Engineers in Cloud Seeding and Climate

The recent downpour in Dubai has raised the question of whether cloud seeding or extreme weather was to blame and what engineering is involved in either scenario. The recent downpour... Read more
EIT News

3D Printing: Technology, Applications, and Future Prospects 

In this insightful blog, we investigate the transformative field of additive manufacturing.   The Engineering Institute of Technology’s (EIT) senior Mechanical Engineering on-campus lecturer and the Doctor of Engineering Research Coordinator, Dr. Vishal... Read more
Engineering Institute of Technology