How big is the problem of invasive species? In the words of Deakin University’s Professor Euan Ritchie, ‘the short answer is: it’s massive’. Invasive genes and species are one of the biggest environmental problems facing Australia and the number one cause of native species extinctions. They also cause immense economic and cultural damage; since the 1960s, Australia has variously spent and incurred losses amounting to $390 billion due to invasive species.
With deep expertise in environmental microbiology and biotechnology, Professor Andrew Ball’s research focuses on developing clean, sustainable technologies to remediate environmental contamination, looking for ways of removing contaminants – particularly petroleum hydro-carbons (oil), but also other organic pollutants – from soils, groundwater and water bodies.
Dr Rajesh Ramanathan combines nanoparticles with light to achieve a wide range of biomedical applications. From sensing chemicals and bacteria, to healing wounds and imaging patients, his nanotechnology is at the forefront of biomedical science and its potential is endless. Winner of the 2019 Phillip Law Postdoctoral Award for Physical Sciences, Dr Ramanathan shared his journey to incorporate elements of nature into the design of nanoparticles for a wide range of biomedical applications. By shining a light on patients and nanoparticles, he can reveal their glucose levels, repair their wounds, and image their tumours.
On the 13th of December 2019, Her Excellency the Honourable Linda Dessau AC, Governor of Victoria, presented the Royal Society of Victoria’s Medal for Excellence in Scientific Research to Professors Anthony Burkitt and Jamie Rossjohn (en route to induct the new Victorian Premier and Cabinet!). Professor Burkitt leads a consortium of Australian universities and institutes to develop a bionic eye and technology, Bionic Vision Australia, and Professor Rossjohn is a leader in the field of immunology, in his quest to better understand how the immune system works and can be manipulated to address disease. The RSV Research Medal awarded to two leaders in their fields recognises both their research career achievements as well as their impact in the scientific community through mentorship and public engagement.