Premier's Science Awards

The Premier's Science Awards recognise and celebrate the outstanding scientific research and engagement taking place in Western Australia.

The awards are a keystone in the Western Australian government’s efforts to raise the profile of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in Western Australia. 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.

2022 Premier's Science Award Winners

The Premier's Science Awards recognise and celebrate the outstanding scientific research and engagement taking place right here in Western Australia. Awards are given to scientists at different stages of their careers, as well as students and STEM engagement initiatives.

The 2022 winners of the Premier's Science Awards were announced at an awards ceremony on Monday 29 August 2022, held at Optus Stadium. Meet the winners of the 2022 Awards below.

You can follow the Premier’s Science Awards using the hashtag #WASciAwards. View the previous Premier’s Science Award winners.

Scientist of the Year

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Awarded to a world class scientist who has demonstrated excellence in a field of science, scientific research or technological advancement and has been active in the field, particularly in the past ten years.

Scientist of the Year - 2022 Winner

Australian Laureate Fellow and John Curtin Distinguished Professor Kliti Grice
Curtin University 

Professor Kliti Grice is an internationally renowned organic geochemist, recognised for her research into compound specific isotope analysis. She is demonstrably creating an enduring legacy in her research field, providing insights into the mass extinction events that have shaped life on Earth, and developing the tools to allow further exploration of the Earth's record of environmental change including species evolution/adaption to the role of microbes in exceptional fossil preservation. Professor Grice is one of Australia's leading scientists and a pioneering female in STEM. Her exceptional level of research output relative to the discipline standard is reflected by her 215 peer-reviewed publications, training of over 30 PhD scholars, and delivery of more than 50 talks internationally.

2022 Finalists

Professor YC Gary Lee 
The University of Western Australia / Institute for Respiratory Health / Sir Charles Gardiner Hospital 

Professor YC Gary Lee (MBChB PhD FRACPP FCCP FRCP) is a clinician researcher and world leader in Pleural Diseases (pleurisy) which affects 23 million people globally. He established the southern hemisphere's first translational pleural program in the University of Western Australia and founded the Australasian Malignant Pleural Effusion network. Using high-quality clinical trials, he has transformed pleural care worldwide, saved lives, improved quality-of-life, cut morbidity and hospitalisations, introduced new therapies and informed many clinical guidelines. His global reputation, track record in high-profile publications, competitive grant awards and training next-generation clinician-scientists have established Western Australia as a world hub of Pleural Diseases. His strong community engagement keeps his research patient-focused. 

Hackett Professor Kadambot Siddique 
The University of Western Australia 

Professor Kadambot Siddique is the Director of The University of Western Australia's Institute of Agriculture, with more than 35 years of experience in agricultural research, research training, technology exchange and management in Australia and overseas. He has a national and international reputation in various aspects of agricultural science, including crop physiology, production agronomy, farming systems, genetic resources and breeding, focusing on wheat, grain legumes (especially chickpea) and oilseed crops. In particular, his crop adaptation, physiology, genetics and agronomy research has boosted cereal and grain legume production in dryland environments. His numerous publications, fellowships and awards, including highly cited researcher in Agricultural Science and Plant Animal Sciences, reflect his research excellence. 

HBF Mid-Career Scientist of the Year

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Awarded to an outstanding scientist who completed their highest degree between five and fifteen years ago, and has demonstrated excellence in a field of science, scientific research or technological advancement.

HBF Mid-Career Scientist of the Year - 2022 Winner

Professor Ajmal Mian 
The University of Western Australia 

Professor Ajmal Mian is a Professor of Computer Science at The University of Western Australia. His research aims to give machines the ability to see, make sense of their environment and describe it in natural language. Besides discovering new knowledge in Artificial Intelligence, Professor Mian collaborates with multiple disciplines to propose novel solutions in medicine, psychology, marine science, agriculture and mining. He is a Distinguished Speaker for the Association for Computing Machinery, President of the Australian Pattern Recognition Society and an Australian Research Council Future Fellow. He has published more than 240 scientific papers and is internationally recognised for his research in Artificial Intelligence and 3D vision. 

2022 Finalists

Associate Professor Hayley Christian 
Telethon Kids Institute / The University of Western Australia 

Associate Professor Hayley Christian is an internationally recognised public health researcher focused on turning challenges into opportunities to make a positive difference to children's health and wellbeing through promoting more active childhoods. Head of the Child Physical Activity, Health and Development Team at the Telethon Kids Institute, Senior Research Fellow at The University of Western Australia and a Heart Foundation Future Leader Fellow, she heads a multidisciplinary team that works closely with families, children, government, non-government organisations, professional bodies and the private sector to uncover the best environments, policies and programs to facilitate physically active lifestyles for children's lifelong health and wellbeing. 

Dr Natasha Hurley-Walker 
Curtin University / International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research 

Dr Natasha Hurley-Walker has transformed our view of the radio sky. She uses powerful supercomputers to analyse petabytes of data from Western Australian telescopes to explore our Universe. Her discoveries include the remains of stellar explosions, insights into the lives of supermassive black holes, and a new kind of repeating radio source unlike anything astronomers have seen before. Giving public talks, media interviews, and filming for documentaries, she has reached tens of millions across the world, inspiring interest in STEM careers. Her work path-finds toward the Square Kilometre Array, which will be the world's largest radio telescope, here in Western Australia. 

Dr Ana Micaela Martins Sequeira 
The University of Western Australia 

Dr Ana M. M. Sequeira, a marine ecologist based at The University of Western Australia's Oceans Institute, leads breakthrough research in the field of marine megafauna movement and conservation. She is the founder, Lead Coordinator and Research Director of MegaMove, a decadal project endorsed by the United Nations Decade for Ocean Science. The project is focused on pushing forward a new frontier in dynamic marine spatial management to improve marine megafauna conservation and show how big data in marine telemetry can be synthesised and translated into ecologically significant behaviours, addressing global scientific and societal problems highlighted in the Australian science and research priorities. 

Associate Professor Danail Obreschkow 
International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research / The University of Western Australia 

Associate Professor Obreschkow is an astrophysicist at The University of Western Australia (UWA) node of the International Centre of Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR). He is a Future Fellow of the Australian Research Council and the Director of UWA's International Space Centre (ISC). Danail's main research passion lies in the dynamics of galaxies, which holds important clues to understanding our own existence in the cosmos. His exceptionally broad research record, sustained success in winning large competitive grants, leadership in space and astronomy, as well as his dedication to science communication, make him a prominent figure in Western Australia's research sector. 

Woodside Early Career Scientist of the Year

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Awarded to an outstanding scientist who has completed their highest degree within the past five years and demonstrated excellence in a field of science, scientific research or technological advancement.

Woodside Early Career Scientist of the Year - 2022 Winner

Dr Qi Fang 
Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research / The University of Western Australia 

Dr Qi Fang has been named by The Australian as one of "Australia's top 40 researchers who are less than 10 years into their careers" and awarded a prestigious Raine Robson Fellow. Dr Fang focuses on developing novel imaging tools for complete cancer removal during surgery. His research has contributed to the commercialisation of cancer imaging probes with a local start-up company OncoRes Medical. He is an inventor with two international patents developing next-generation cancer imaging devices, which have the potential to be widely used in rural and remote areas, improving equity of access to optimal cancer treatment across Western Australia.

2022 Finalists

Dr Rebecca (Bec) Bennett 
Curtin University 

Dr Rebecca (Bec) Bennett is a clinical audiologist and researcher at the Ear Science Institute Australia and an Adjunct Senior Clinical Research Fellow at Curtin University.  Her research focuses on the experience of hearing loss, including how hearing loss can affect us socially, emotionally and psychologically.  By applying her findings, an audiologist will better understand their client's whole life experience and be able to provide interventions that address not only hearing loss, but also the social, emotional and psychological impacts of hearing loss.  Dr Bennett is passionate about partnering with consumers and the community in research planning, execution and translation. 

Dr Nicole Hill
Telethon Kids Institute / The University of Western Australia 

Dr Nicole Hill's vision, as a Forrest Prospect Fellow at Telethon Kids Institute and The University of Western Australia, is to reduce the number of lives lost to suicide by improving equitable access to services for young people bereaved by suicide, and building capacity in youth suicide prevention research in WA. In 24 months, she has secured $1.8 million in funding and has fostered strong collaborations with the mental health and government sector. Dr Hill’s research output is in the top 1% of medical journals globally. In 2022 she was a WA 40Under40 winner for her research in suicide prevention.

Dr Aaron Jenkins 
Edith Cowan University 

Dr Aaron Jenkins is Australia's first Senior Research Fellow in Planetary Health and is internationally recognised for pioneering integrative approaches linking environmental change to human health outcomes. The excellence and quality of his research is evidenced by globally high impact publication, including citation in 23 different subject areas and 71 countries, and receiving over $17 million in research grant awards. With a world-class network of collaborators and donors supporting Western Australian research, his visibility and influence provide timely solutions for watershed management for both human and ecosystem health in Western Australia and our neighbouring regions of the Indo-Pacific.

Dr Rachael Zemek 
Telethon Kids Institute / The University of Western Australia 

Dr Rachael Zemek is a talented, early career cancer researcher at the Telethon Kids Institute.  Passionate about developing the science needed to underpin subsequent medical advances, she has developed unique techniques and made breakthrough discoveries to understand why some cancer patients are cured by immunotherapy and others are not.  Importantly, Rachael's work identified effective new drug combinations to improve the response to immunotherapy, with her end goal to replace the need for chemotherapy altogether.  Rachael has an impressive track record of high impact publications and competitive awards and dedicates her time to inspiring the next generation of scientists. 

ExxonMobil Student Scientist of the Year

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Awarded to an outstanding postgraduate student who has demonstrated a commitment to science at an early stage and shows great promise in reaching the highest levels of excellence.

ExxonMobil Student Scientist of the Year - 2022 Joint Winners

Nikhilesh (Nik) Bappoo 
Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research / The University of Western Australia 

Nikhilesh (Nik) Bappoo is a passionate biomedical engineer with a vision to develop and ethically commercialise novel solutions to unmet clinical needs, hence improving the delivery of healthcare. Nik specialises in blood flow simulations, from ‘engineering the placenta’ to predict abnormalities during pregnancy, to predicting aneurysm growth and rupture. Nik's entrepreneurial mindset has led to the formation of VeinTech, a WA medical device company, aiming to reduce the high rate of failure of cannulation. He also manages product development and regulatory affairs for VitalTrace, another WA company developing a novel biosensor to improve childbirth outcomes for mothers and babies. 

Kathryn Ross 
Curtin University 

Kathryn Ross is a postgraduate research student based at the Curtin Institute of Radio Astronomy and the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research. She studies supermassive black holes in the centres of galaxies, focusing on baby black holes that are smaller than typical galaxies. Using telescopes around Australia, Kathryn discovered these black holes are not as young as previously thought, but frustrated teens being restricted by a surrounding cloud of gas. She is a science communicator promoting STEM to audiences nationally and internationally. Kathryn is also an activist leading a national campaign, IncludeHer, working to diversify the representation of scientists in schools. 

2022 Finalists

Azadeh Ebrahimi Madiseh 
The University of Western Australia  

Azadeh Ebrahimi-Madiseh is a Senior Clinician and an early career scientist serving the WA community in ear and hearing health. She has committed herself to research strategies to improve service delivery in hearing aids, telehealth, cochlear implants and other hearing implants over the last five years. Azadeh's research is focused on improving service delivery to cochlear implant candidates and recipients. She studies barriers to accessing cochlear implants and how these can be overcome to provide the 90% of Australians in need of cochlear implants with the benefit of the intervention they desperately need. She is an advocate for value-based care delivery and use of digital health to improve access. Azadeh has been invited to present at more than 40 scientific and community events, professional organisations and panel discussions. 

Rebecca Russell
Curtin University 

Rebecca Russell is an Associate Nutritionist and final-year PhD student at Curtin University, focusing on diet and multiple sclerosis (MS). Rebecca is dedicated to assisting people with MS navigate the plethora of conflicting dietary advice available, by developing a tailored online nutrition education program. She has published eight scientific articles and presented at five national and international conferences. Rebecca has been awarded three competitive scholarships, and nearly $25,000 in research funding for a project that she runs as Chief Investigator A. She mentors and supervises a range of students, and actively engages with the Western Australian MS community. 

Frances Theunissen 
Perron Institute for Neurological and Translational Science / Murdoch University 

Frances Theunissen is undertaking her PhD at the Perron Institute for Neurological and Translational Science and Murdoch University. Her research seeks to identify novel genetic markers for motor neurone disease (MND) that can be used as enrichment tools to improve the success of MND clinical trials. Her publications include multiple high impact papers, and she reported the first genetic association between the gene STMN2 and sporadic MND. She formed and led international collaborations to launch a genetic marker pipeline project, recently funded $250,000 by FightMND. She is an ambassador for research, teaches and mentors students and passionately volunteers in science outreach programs.

Shell Aboriginal STEM Student of the Year

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Awarded to an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander undergraduate or postgraduate student who demonstrates excellence in STEM studies.

Shell Aboriginal STEM Student of the Year - 2022 Joint Winners

James Hill 
The University of Western Australia / Telethon Kids Institute 

James Hill is a PhD student at The University of Western Australia and Telethon Kids Institute who is investigating how negative attitudes and actions (stigma) relate to the disproportionately poor mental health outcomes of trans and gender diverse young people. Improving understanding of this group's experiences is essential for creating targeted interventions. James' goal is to become a researcher and clinical psychologist and work with Indigenous and LGBTQAI+ people to assist them in living full and healthy lives. He believes that engaging with communities and learning from lived experience is imperative for the development and creation of interventions. 

Tahlia Prior 
Curtin University 

Tahlia Prior is a proud Ballardong Whadjuk Nyungar, Wajarri Yamatji woman and an outstanding final year Civil Engineering student. She has excelled academically in Elder and Traditional Owner community representation, and in connecting with industry partners and opportunities.  Tahlia is a bright, emerging female civil engineering and STEM leader. She has been recognised by significant organisations in her field for her technical engineering capabilities at this early stage of her career. Her focus on contributing to a wide range and at a depth and breadth of community initiatives throughout Western Australia, is recognised by wider Aboriginal and Engineering professional communities. 

2022 Finalists

Aaron Haji Ali 
The University of Notre Dame Australia 

Aaron Haji Ali is studying a Bachelor of Education (Secondary), with a major in physics. Following his graduation, Aaron's goal is to teach in remote areas of WA, bringing his passion and enthusiasm for STEM to Indigenous youth. In addition to his studies, Aaron has also undertaken a ten-week teaching placement at a school in Broome to inspire and motivate students to explore different aspects of STEM, and is also currently employed as a Teacher Assistant at a Perth school, splitting his time between classroom responsibilities and pastoral care and activities for Indigenous boarders. 

Brianna Ozies 
The University of Notre Dame Australia 

Brianna Ozies is a Djugun woman from Derby in the West Kimberley and is in her second year of a Doctor of Medicine at The University of Notre Dame Australia. To gain further medical experience, she returns home from Perth and works at Derby Aboriginal Health Service (DAHS) during her university breaks, where she most recently served as the DAHS Covid-19 Administrative Support Officer. With COVID's inevitable impact on the Kimberley, she helped to prepare her community by aiding in boosting vaccination rates, establishing a COVID clinic and raising COVID awareness, so she could do her part in keeping her community safe from the impacts of COVID.

Shoshanna Scott 
The University of Notre Dame Australia 

Shoshanna Scott is a second-year Nyungar medical student at The University of Notre Dame Australia who is passionate about research and the impact it can have on the community. In addition to Shoshanna's studies, she works as a Research Assistant at Kulbardi Aboriginal Centre, a Registered Nurse in the COVID Workforce, and has also previously held the Student Success Officer role at Kulbardi Aboriginal Centre. In these roles, Shoshanna advocates for patients, provides support to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander undergraduate students, and contributes to research about covert racism in our community. Shoshanna is passionate about advocating for underrepresented groups in STEM and health care.

Chevron Science Engagement Initiative of the Year

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Recognises an initiative that has made an outstanding contribution to community awareness, interest and/or participation in science in Western Australia.

Chevron Science Engagement Initiative of the Year - 2022 Joint Winners

Autism Academy 
Curtin University 

Autism affects around one in every 100 people, and the number of autistic people in employment in Australia is low. Research shows less than one-third of autistic adults have paid employment, with more than half never having held a paid position. Curtin's Autism Academy is a social innovation initiative harnessing the talents of people with autism for the collective benefit of individuals, industry and community. The Autism Academy provides a suite of programs, starting in the first years of high school, to build interest in STEM learning and to provide pathways towards training and development. Through a mix of formal training courses, hackathons, bootcamps and paid internships, the Autism Academy transforms individual lives and workplace cultures. By the end of 2021, 45 people had transitioned into tertiary education, 75 people had participated in high-value internships and the Autism Academy had trained 400 young people.  

Marble Bar Virtual World 
Marble Bar Primary School 

Students at a Western Australian remote school are celebrating Indigenous culture through an exciting, cutting-edge STEM Virtual World. The school has collaborated with Elders and Airborne IT to create a first-of-its-kind VR world and virtual teacher development centre, showcasing the area's Nyamal Culture, opening a door to the East Pilbara’s rich Indigenous cultures locally and globally. Marble Bar's Virtual World has engaged schools, tourists, colleagues and government officials across Australia, the Americas, Asia and more. The STEM project exemplifies collaborative partnerships between Elders, students, community and industry leaders including CSIRO, BHP, Atlas Iron, Roy Hill, Australian Schools Plus and Horizon Power.

2022 Finalists

Dr Magda's and Nerdy Nard's Chemistry Zoom Party 
Edith Cowan University 

Dr Magda's and Nerdy Nard's Chemistry Zoom Party began in 2020 as an online science engagement initiative, designed to offer hands-on science activities, following the cancellation of National Science Week events due to COVID-19 restrictions. Over a three-year period (including 2022), 600 science kits containing resources for experiments have been sent across Western Australia, where more than 2,000 participants have joined the event online from home and conducted experiments alongside the presenters Dr Magda and Nardia live from the Edith Cowan University SuperLabs. The program has attracted significant interest from industry, including ChemCentre and education institutions, as well as funding from state and federal providers. 

Innovation Central Perth
Curtin University in partnership with Cisco 

Innovation Central Perth (ICP) started in 2015 as an industry and science collaboration centre located at Curtin University's Perth campus. ICP has developed innovative ways for science and technology to support a growing Western Australian economy and facilitates a productive and meaningful way to showcase science to industry, as well as a model for Western Australian organisations to successfully connect with the scientific community. ICP partners with organisations across the State to drive science engagement across industry and community and sits at the edge of science and industry, bridging the gap through a unique method that provides tangible solutions to government and industry, and real-world experience to students. ICP is designed to nurture innovation and growth for Western Australia through technology deployment to solve complex challenges. 

Peel Bright Minds
Peel Bright Minds, supported by Regional Development Australia Peel Incorporated 

Peel Bright Minds is a community-led initiative in WA’s Peel Region, on a mission to inspire a curious community. Through immersive, experiential learning activities, we aim to make the fascinating world of science, technology, engineering and maths accessible, inclusive and fun. Our flagship project, Trail Blazers, is a five-day residential camp with an intensive dual focus on immersing Peel’s young people into emerging STEM industries, and equipping them with the leadership and life skills needed to thrive in the new world of work. We also offer deliver a myriad of engagement activities including guest speaker events, regional STEM awards, pop-up stalls, and original short films and podcasts, all focused on enabling regional communities to connect, learn and grow.

Star Dreaming
Curtin University / International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research / Yamaji Art / Prospero Productions / Last Pixel 

Star Dreaming is a 180-degree immersive film experience that follows two children from Geraldton as they discover the Square Kilometre Array and the Yamaji culture of the Traditional Owners of the land on which it is built. The film explores science, art, technology and Indigenous culture side-by-side. Awarded the Best Astronomy Education award at the Dome Under Festival, its opening season at the WA Maritime Museum in Fremantle was experienced by thousands of people. Selected by international film festivals, it will be distributed internationally and will be Western Australian science and culture to the world. 

Our Partners

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The Department gratefully acknowledges the official sponsors and supporters of the awards.

The Premier’s Science Awards are proudly sponsored by Chevron, ExxonMobil, HBF, Shell and Woodside.

The Premier’s Science Awards are also supported by Curtin University, Edith Cowan University, Murdoch University, The University of Notre Dame Australia, The University of Western Australia, CSIRO, Pawsey Supercomputing Centre, Telethon Kids Institute and the Western Australian Museum.

Partners of the 2022 Premier's Science Awards.

Apply for an award

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Applications for the 2022 Awards are now closed.

If you would like to receive information about applications for the 2023 Awards please email science@jtsi.wa.gov.au.

Page reviewed 23 September 2022