State’s leading scientists, engineers honoured at prestigious awards

20 Oct 2014


2014 NSW Science & Engineering Awards prize winners (Pictured from Left to Right): Ms Alice Leung; Professor Behdad Moghtaderi; Professor Kostya (Ken) Ostrikov; Professor Nicholas Talley; Dr Peter Freewater; NSW Governor His Excellency General The Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Ret'd); Associate Professor Andrea Morello; Professor Mark Westoby; NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer Professor Mary O'Kane; Secretary of NSW Trade & Investment, Mr Mark Paterson; Professor Benjamin Oldroyd; Professor Salah Sukkarieh; NSW Parliamentary Secretary for Renewable Energy, Ms Leslie Williams MP.

One of the world's most influential ecologists has taken out the State's top prize for science.

Professor Mark Westoby from Macquarie University has been named Scientist of the Year at the 2014 NSW Science & Engineering Awards in Sydney this evening (Monday 20 October 2014).

Over the past two decades, Professor Westoby has pioneered 'trait-based ecology', in which the features of very large numbers of species across wide geographic ranges are used to categorise species into functional types, and explain patterns of species occurrence and abundance.

As well as helping understand the essential features of natural ecology over evolutionary timescales, such information is essential to understanding the impacts of climate change and changing patterns of land use with a growing human population.

The Patron of the Awards, NSW Governor His Excellency General The Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Ret'd), presented Professor Westoby his trophy during a gala ceremony at Government House. Professor Westoby was also awarded $55,000 in prize money.

The NSW Science & Engineering Awards celebrate researchers whose cutting-edge work has generated economic, health, environmental or technological benefits for the State.

Trophies were handed out in eight categories – the winners each receiving $5,000:

1. Excellence in Mathematics, Earth Sciences, Chemistry and Physics

Professor Kostya (Ken) Ostrikov, CSIRO

2. Excellence in Biological Sciences (Ecology, environmental, agricultural and organismal)

Professor Benjamin Oldroyd, the University of Sydney

3. Excellence in Biological Sciences (Cell and molecular, medical, veterinary and genetics)

Professor Nicholas Talley, the University of Newcastle

4. Excellence in Engineering and Information and Communications Technologies

Professor Salah Sukkarieh, the University of Sydney

5. Emerging Research

Associate Professor Andrea Morello, the University of New South Wales

6. Renewable Energy Innovation

Professor Behdad Moghtaderi, the University of Newcastle

7. Innovation in Public Sector Science and Engineering

Dr Peter Freewater, Greater Sydney Local Land Services

8. Innovation in Science and Mathematics Education

Ms Alice Leung, Merrylands High School

Chief Scientist & Engineer, Professor Mary O'Kane, said the Awards are a chance to recognise and reward those who are making tremendous contributions to science, engineering and research in NSW.

"These talented individuals – through their innovation, collaboration, resourcefulness and impact – are contributing to major advances in our well-being and economy," Professor O'Kane said.

"They are exemplars of a State R&D sector that is known for posing hard problems and finding innovative ways to crack them.

"We all should feel inspired by their incredible accomplishments," she said.

For more information about the 2014 NSW Scientist of the Year, Professor Mark Westoby, go to:

For full profiles on the category winners, go to: