2023 Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science celebrate excellence in quantum science, biotechnology

Image credit: minister.industry.gov.au

The 2023 Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science are highlighting and celebrating Australian accomplishments in quantum science, biotechnology, and outstanding teaching, with the awardees being honoured and celebrated for their significant contributions.

Distinguished Australian quantum scientist, Professor Michelle Simmons AO, based at UNSW Sydney, has been awarded the prestigious $250,000 Prime Minister’s Prize for Science for her pioneering work in quantum computing.

Professor Simmons has spearheaded groundbreaking innovations in electronic components for quantum computing, some of which are as minuscule as a single atom.

Notably, she is also the founder of Australia’s first quantum computing company, Silicon Quantum Computing, where she and her team have introduced an innovative precision-based manufacturing approach that is laying the foundation for a novel quantum computing paradigm.

The implications of Professor Simmons’ endeavours extend beyond quantum computing, promising potential applications in diverse fields such as therapeutic drug design, cost-effective airline fuel production, and enhanced agricultural fertilizers.

In a parallel celebration of scientific innovation, Professor and entrepreneur Glenn King, hailing from the University of Queensland, was bestowed with the 2023 Prime Minister’s Prize for Innovation.

Professor King’s pioneering discovery revolves around the transformative potential of Australian funnel-web spider venom, which can be harnessed to create pharmaceuticals addressing chronic pain, epilepsy, and stroke.

His research opens up exciting avenues for pharmaceutical development, showcasing the possibilities of leveraging Australia’s unique biodiversity.

In the education sector, the awards also recognised two exceptional educators, the government revealed.

Judith Stutchbury, the recipient of the 2023 Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Primary Schools, is a dedicated teacher at Kalkie State School in Bundaberg.

Her pedagogical contributions extend beyond the classroom, as she imparts invaluable knowledge about marine turtle conservation in the Great Barrier Reef and has even authored an award-winning work of fiction to promote environmental science.

Similarly, Donna Buckley received the 2023 Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Secondary Schools for her inspirational efforts in educating students from diverse backgrounds.

Buckley has successfully employed mathematics to tackle real-world problems, simultaneously introducing students to the numerous career paths available within science-related fields.

A comprehensive overview of the accomplishments of all the 2023 prize recipients can be accessed on the official Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science 2023 website.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese MP expressed his deep appreciation for the extraordinary contributions made by this year’s awardees, highlighting the world-class calibre of Australia’s scientific and research community.

“The achievements of the 2023 recipients reflect the world-class quality of Australia’s science and research sector and the dedication of our STEM teachers. It confirms the future of Australian science is stronger than ever,” Albanese noted.

Echoing these sentiments, Minister for Industry and Science, Ed Husic, underscored the display of excellence in Australian science and technology.

He recognised the indispensable role of dedicated science educators in nurturing the future generation of scientists and innovators.

“Australians put huge stock in our world-class scientists, and understands science and innovation is at the heart of human progress,” Husic noted.

Minister Husic also emphasised the transformative potential of quantum computing in reshaping industries and addressing pressing challenges, emphasising its role in creating secure, well-paying jobs within the science and innovation sector.