Australian Academy of Science Annual Report 2017Download report as pdf

2017 Annual Report

Australian Academy of Science

Image: NASA




Development of digital communications capability


Launch of major plans for space science and technology, and agricultural sciences


Delivery of Regional Collaborations Programme


Development of the ‘Canberra Declaration’ to establish an International Brain Initiative


Delivery of national public speaker series on the science of polymers


Publication of Australian climate science capability review


President's message

2017 was an exciting year for the Academy from many perspectives. We elected 21 leading scientists as new Fellows and welcomed two Corresponding Members. With now more than 520 Fellows in our ranks we are a force to be reckoned with.

We were globally very active—supporting international science organisations, regional connections and emerging scientists, raising the importance of global health with the G20 as part of the S20 Science Forum, developing a Canberra Declaration for an International Brain Initiative, and managing the Australian Government’s Regional Collaboration Programme among the most noteworthy.

We were catalysts for change through SAGE, the Australian Brain Alliance and Future Earth Australia. We leveraged the power of video and social media to engage millions of people from around the world in science. Many National Committees worked on plans for the future, and we published major 10-year plans for agricultural sciences and space science and technology.

The extraordinary impacts of our science and maths education programs are becoming more clear. We extended the programs’ reach and focused on providing resources and professional learning for thousands of teachers—who told us what a difference we are making to classroom learning in Australia.

The Academy only succeeds in all these areas through donations and grants, and I am deeply grateful to all those individuals and organisations who partnered with us in so many ways. I am proud of the Academy’s achievements, and encourage you to explore our annual report to gain a broad understanding of our achievements.

Professor Andrew Holmes AC PresAA FRS FTSE

Chief Executive's message

2017 was my first full year at the Academy, and although the breadth of our activities guaranteed a challenge it is immensely satisfying to see so many achievements reported here.

The Academy’s financial performance and efficient delivery of activities continue to provide a solid basis for future development and give donors and partners confidence in our ability to collaborate and deliver. This is essential for future growth and sustainability.

We have maintained a strong focus on activities that support our strategic objectives. However, we have remained nimble enough to harness new opportunities such as the development of the Academy’s new digital communications capability. With all of our activities we have deeply valued Fellows’ expertise and guidance, and Fellows’ enthusiasm to engage and participate. It is a privilege to lead an organisation with the skills and willingness to embrace change. I thank the Fellows and Academy staff for their commitment to growing and improving everything we do and for remaining focused on improving science in and for Australia.

I trust you will enjoy reading our annual report, and encourage you to contact me if it inspires you to become more involved in the Academy’s work.

Anna-Maria Arabia

Our Strategic Plan

Consistent with our new Strategic Plan for 2015-2020, the activities of the Academy this year have been focused on five strategic themes, underpinned by a commitment to operational excellence.

  • Excellence in science—championing, celebrating and supporting excellence in Australian science
  • International engagement—promoting Australia's international scientific engagement
  • Scientific literacy—building public awareness and understanding of science
  • Influential voice—providing independent, authoritative and influential scientific advice
  • Operational excellence—being an effective and efficient organisation that supports and values its staff

Read more about our strategic plan

The Australian Academy of Science 2015-2020 strategic plan

Philanthropic Support

Many of the Academy’s core activities such as scientific meetings, advice to support policy development, publications, education, public awareness and outreach, international activities, awards and fellowships would not be possible without philanthropic donations.

In 2017, the Academy received over $750,000 in philanthropic support and saw our list of donors to Academy programs grow significantly. The Academy’s Donor Honour Roll reflects that support. All donations of $20,000 and over are acknowledged on the donor boards in the foyer of the Shine Dome

Philanthropy total: $757,000

The Annual Giving Program offers the chance to support the Academy of Science through untied donations that are fully tax deductible. $57,000 was received in donations across the year and through our end of tax year appeal. The May and December Shine On donor newsletters outline the fundraising successes in 2017.

The Academy's Bequest Program

A bequest is a special gift that we preserve as your legacy. Unless specified, bequests are directed to The Australian Academy of Science’s Australian Futures Science Fund.
In 2017 the Academy received a legacy of $338,987 through a bequest from The Estates of the Late Professor John Newton FAA and Dr Silva Newton. Professor Mike Dopita FAA also pledged his bequest with a message to others who might be considering their support to the Academy.


Central to the purpose of the Academy is the recognition and support of outstanding contributions to the advancement of science.

A generous donation of $120,000 from the University of Queensland will ensure the future of the Dorothy Hill Medal

The Academy celebrated its new partnership with the University of Queensland. A generous donation of $120,000 to the Academy from the University of Queensland will ensure the future of the Dorothy Hill Medal, established as an award in 2002 in honour of the late Professor Dorothy Hill AC CBE FAA FRS, a pioneer for women in science.

Continued annual support of $45,000 from Dr Margaret Middleton for endangered Australian native vertebrate animals was received.

The award provides grants of up to $15,000 to support field-based, high-quality ecological research. 76 young researchers have benefitted from this award since 2000.


The Academy acknowledges the following donors as members of the Science Circle. These donors contributed between $20,000 and $99,000 in 2017

  • Anonymous donor for contributions to support a new Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Scientist Award
  • Dr Anna Rickards for her support of the Rod Rickards Fellowship
  • Doug Hooley CSM for his support of the Max Day Environmental Science Fellowship Award

Thank you
to donors

Thanks to your support, we have been able to ensure the Academy of Science remains a vital, viable and visible presence in Australia. The receipt of a number of signature gifts tell only a small part of the story, and we will continue to bring you the stories that showcase the impact of your donations and partnerships.

Thank you to all our donors who supported our work in 2017.

Image: Joanne Whittaker—Winner of the 2017 Dorothy Hill Award


In 2017


Fellows at 31 December


corresponding members living overseas


awards and honours received by fellows


fellows elected


corresponding members admitted to the academy

New Fellows


Professor Igor Bray

Igor Bray ranks in the top few in the world in the field of atomic and molecular collision physics, and is responsible for several major paradigm shifting research breakthroughs during his career.


Professor Ian Chubb

Ian Chubb has been a strong and effective advocate for government and industry support of innovation and research in STEM. He has contributed to improving the infrastructure for scientific research and training and has raised the public profile of science in the media.


Professor Tom Davis

Tom Davis is a leading innovator in polymer and pharmaceutical science who is designing bespoke macromolecular chains for a range of therapeutic applications.


Associate Professor Jane Elith

Jane Elith is interested in the methods used to model the distribution of species, and focuses on how they work, how to improve them for typical data types and applications, and how to deal with their uncertainties.


Professor David Gardner

David Gardner is a world-leading embryologist. His research has laid the foundation for major clinical developments in human IVF.


Professor Jozef Gécz

Jozef Gécz is a human molecular geneticist internationally recognised for his contributions to the genetics of childhood onset neurological disorders, including intellectual disabilities, epilepsies, autisms and cerebral palsies.


Professor Karl Glazebrook

Karl Glazebrook is a world-leading astronomer whose research has led to major advances in our understanding of the evolution of galaxies and the Universe across cosmic time.


Dr Anita Hill

Anita Hill is recognised for her research in materials and process engineering and, more specifically, in the transport of atoms, ions and small molecules in condensed matter.


Professor Philip Hugenholtz

Philip Hugenholtz is a microbiologist who has made landmark contributions to the understanding of uncultured microbial diversity, evolution and ecology.


Professor Cameron Jones

Cameron Jones is a recognised international leader in the emerging field of Modern Main Group Chemistry and has made numerous landmark contributions to the stabilisation of low-oxidation state and metal-to-metal bonded systems.


Dr Evans Lagudah

Evans Lagudah is a molecular geneticist who has made outstanding contributions to international agriculture through his work on disease resistance in crop plants.


Professor Melissa Little

Melissa Little is internationally recognised for her research on kidney development and her pioneering studies into novel regenerative approaches to the diagnosis and treatment of kidney disease.


Professor Jennifer Martin

Jennifer Martin is an internationally renowned protein crystallographer. She has made seminal discoveries in bacterial redox biochemistry and applies structure-based approaches to design and develop new drugs.


Professor Dietmar Müller

Dietmar Müller is a world-leading geophysicist whose research has transformed our understanding of the Earth’s evolution over the past 200 million years. He has developed new capabilities for modelling tectonic, geodynamic, environmental and resource-formation processes.


Professor John Patrick

John Patrick is internationally renowned for his theoretical and experimental advances in the regulation of nutrient transport and partitioning in plants.


Professor Tim Ralph

Timothy Ralph is internationally acclaimed for his pioneering theories in quantum information science.


Professor Lois Salamonsen

Lois Salamonsen is internationally recognised for her transformative contributions to human fertility/infertility related to the uterus. Her work addresses immense global challenges and is delivering new translational concepts to alleviate uterine infertility without IVF.


Professor Mark Smyth

Mark Smyth is the most highly cited immunologist in Australia and is recognised for his significant contributions to tumour immunology.


Dr John Volkman

John Volkman is internationally acknowledged as an authority on the discovery and application of lipid biomarkers in organic geochemistry, environmental studies, petroleum geochemistry and palaeoclimatology.


Professor Branka Vucetic

Branka Vucetic has made fundamental contributions to the science of coding theory, which underpins all modern telecommunications techniques.


Professor Nicholas Wormald

Nicholas Wormald is one of an elite group of mathematicians globally who combine the most advanced probability theory, combinatorics and theoretical computer science to produce deep insights into the nature of random and complex networks.


Fellows were active in the following Academy-related work:

• National Committees • International meetings and collaborations • Awards committees • Academy policy submissions and reports • Sectional committees for assessing nominations of new Fellows • Participation in media • Reviewers of videos and articles • Symposium convenors • Science at the Shine Dome • National Speaker Series • Regional groups

Honours and awards to Fellows

Graham Farquhar
2017 Kyoto Prize

Jenny Graves
Prime Minister's Prize for Science

Justin Gooding
Eureka Prize for outstanding mentor of young researchers

Name Award
Professor Sam Berkovic AC FAA FRS National Academy of Medicine - USA, Member
Emeritus Professor David Boger FAA FRS FTSE National Academy of Engineering (US), Member
LAS (US), Alumni Achievement Award
Professor Susan Clark FAA Ramaciotti Medal for Excellence in Biomedical Research
Professor Peter Colman AC FAA FRS FTSE Order of Australia: Companion in the General Division
Professor Michelle Coote FAA ARC Georgina Sweet Australian Laureate Fellowship
Professor Graham Farquhar AO FAA FRS Kyoto Prize
ACT Senior Australian of the Year (applies to 2018)
Professor Geoffrey Fincher AO FAA Order of Australia: Officer in the General Division
Professor Maria Forsyth FAA Victoria Prize
Professor Ken Freeman AC FAA FRS Order of Australia: Companion in the General Division
National Academy of Sciences (USA), Foreign Associate
Professor David Gardner FAA ASRM Distinguished Researcher Award
Professor Andy Gleadow AO FAA Order of Australia: Officer in the General Division
Professor Justin Gooding FAA Eureka Prize, UTS, Outstanding Mentor of Young Researchers
Professor Jenny Graves AO FAA Prime Minister's Prize for Science
Lorne Genome Conference Julian Wells Medal
Professor Min Gu FAA FTSE Chinese Academy of Engineering - Foreign Member
Professor Richard Harvey AM FAA FRS Order of Australia: Member in the General Division
Professor Andrew Holmes AC PresAA FRS FTSE Order of Australia: Companion in the General Division
Professor Eddie Holmes FAA FRS ARC Australian Laureate Fellowship
Royal Society of London, Fellow
NSW Premier's Prize: Excellence in Biological Sciences
Professor Ian Hume AO FAA Order of Australia: Officer in the General Division
Professor Jagadish AC FAA FTSE IUMRS Sômiya Award
Professor Brian Kennett FAA FRS American Geophysical Union, Inge Lehmann Medal
Dr John Kirkegaard FAA Farrer Memorial Medal
Professor Geoffrey Lindeman FAA Victoria Prize
Professor Angel Lopez AO FAA Order of Australia: Officer in the General Division
Professor Max Lu AO FTSE FAA Order of Australia: Officer in the General Division
Professor Stephen MacMahon AO FAA Order of Australia: Officer in the General Division
Professor Yiu-wing Mai AM FAA FRS FTSE Chinese Academy of Engineering - Foreign Member
Professor Jennifer Martin AC FAA Wunderly Orator, Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand
Professor Colin Masters AO FAA FTSE Order of Australia: Officer in the General Division
Professor John Mattick AO FAA FTSE Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering Fellow
Professor Trevor McDougall AC FAA FRS NSW Premier's Prize: Excellence in Maths, Earth Sciences, Chemistry and Physics
Professor Geoff McFadden FAA ARC Australian Laureate Fellowship
Dr Phil McFadden AO FAA Order of Australia: Officer in the General Division
Professor Gerard Milburn FAA FRS Royal Society of London, Fellow
Professor John Pate FAA FRS WA Premier's Science Awards: Hall of Fame Inductee
Professor Harry Poulos AM FAA FTSE American Society of Civil Engineers, OPAL Award for Design
Professor Jamie Rossjohn FAA Academy of Medical Sciences, Fellow
FAOBMB Award for Research Excellence
Professor Susan Scott FAA Bruno Rossi Prize, American Astronomical Society - co-recipient
Professor Frances Separovic FAA IUPAC Distinguished Women in Chemistry or Chemical Engineering
Professor John Shine AC FAA Order of Australia: Companion in the General Division
Doctor of Science honoris causa (ANU)
Professor Michelle Simmons FAA FTSE NSW Australian of the Year (applies to 2018)
Professor Evan Simpson AM FAA Order of Australia: Member in the General Division
Professor Jonathan Sprent FAA FRS National Academy of Sciences (USA), Foreign Associate
Professor Fedor Sukochev FAA ARC Australian Laureate Fellowship
Professor Mathai Varghese FAA ARC Australian Laureate Fellowship
Professor David Vaux AO FAA Order of Australia: Officer in the General Division
Professor Bob Vincent AM FAA Order of Australia: Member in the General Division
Professor Jane Visvader FAA Victoria Prize
Professor Susanne von Caemmerer FAA FRS Royal Society of London, Fellow
Professor Gordon Wallace AO FAA FTSE Order of Australia: Officer in the General Division
New South Wales Scientist of the Year
Professor Malcolm Walter AM FAA Order of Australia: Member in the General Division
Professor George Willis FAA ARC Australian Laureate Fellowship
Professor Aibing Yu FAA FTSE Chinese Academy of Engineering - Foreign Member

Advocacy and Policy Influence

The Academy provides advice to governments: submissions, position papers, commissioned research, direct engagement with MPs and Senators, advocates for science: general and discipline-based advocacy and campaign activity in collaborations with sector stakeholders supports early- and mid-career researchers: 4000 member EMCR Forum and the Theo Murphy initiative activity funding program, and undertakes policy projects: decadal plans for science, economic analysis, policy discussion papers and sector analysis reports.

We worked with the National Computational Infrastructure (NCI) to secure parliamentary and government support for a $70 million replacement of NCI’s supercomputer announced in December.


Submissions to government covering issues from school education to the Great Barrier Reef.The Early- and Mid-career Researcher Forum made 2 of the submissions.


Position statement on freedom of movement of scientists.

Australian Climate Science Capability Review

The report recommends that government consider mechanisms to ensure better coordination of climate research across Australia’s universities and climate agencies. It also recommends increasing climate science capability in a number of critical areas.

The review surveyed all of Australia’s climate research agencies and centres, including the Bureau of Meteorology, the CSIRO, the Australian Antarctic Division and universities to identify how many Australian researchers are working across the various disciplines and sub-disciplines of climate science, and how well these different areas are performing.

We supported and participated in Science meets parliament, a two-day event bringing hundreds of scientists, political leaders, policy-makers and the media together, and Science meets Business, a new approach to facilitating STEM–industry collaboration, showcasing success stories and breaking down barriers between science and business.

Catalyst for change


Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE) is a national initiative of the Academy in partnership with the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering based on the Athena SWAN program in the UK. We are improving gender equity and diversity in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM).


Expanding our reach

5 new institutional members joined SAGE, expanding program membership to 45 institutions.

These institutions employ approximately 170,000 individuals, not including students.


30 workshops were delivered and 3 peer review workshops were held for SAGE members to support the peer review and accreditation process.

"SAGE is a catalyst for change within institutions.
Analysis of data and cuture has enabled institutions to identify actions for change"

The Australian Brain Alliance

Crack the Brain's Code

The aim is to establish an Australian Brain Initiative that will create advanced industries in neurotechnology, develop treatments for debilitating brain disorders, and produce high-impact transdisciplinary collaborations that will increase our understanding of the brain.

The Alliance led the development of a ‘Canberra Declaration’ to establish an International Brain Initiative, signed by 10 country programs and international organisations during ‘Brains at the Dome’ in December

the Future earth australia logo

Future Earth Australia

In a year of consolidation, we built national support for the program. We signed an agreement with the Global Green Growth Institute to provide up to 10 placements a year for early-career researchers and postgraduate students to pursue research placements with the institute, and partnered in the EcoCity World Summit in Melbourne.

We contributed to a Future Earth teacher resource book produced by the Australian Science Teachers Association for National Science Week, and participated in the Young Australians Plan for the Planet, launched during National Science Week.


Broadening our reach

"Australia is recognised globally for its high-quality research. Despite having only 0.3 per cent of the world’s population, Australia contributed to almost 4 per cent of world research publications in 2016."

We facilitated access to global science and technology and promoted strategic partnerships between Australian and overseas researchers.

Global Networks

Australian expertise and leadership contributed to regional and global science networks. Australian scientists had extensive opportunities to contribute to international strategic planning and priority setting, and to establish research collaborations with other leaders in their fields.

Representatives of the Academy participated in numerous high-level international events, including the S20 Science Forum, where a position statement on global health was presented to German Federal Chancellor Dr Angela Merkel, and visits to Vietnam and Malaysia to meet with counterpart academies to strengthen regional networks.

The Academy is the Australian member of the International Council for Science (ICSU) and around 30 of its member organisations. Australia is represented on the Council’s Executive Board by Professor David Black FAA as Secretary-General and Professor John Buckeridge as Member. Australia’s global science credibility and influence is enhanced by high-level representation on the executives of ICSU organisations, and approximately 370 Australians are involved with the organisations at any given time.

In 2017 the members of ICSU and the members of the of the International Social Science Council voted to support a merger of the two bodies. The newly-formed International Council for Science will be established in July 2018 and will lead stronger responses to future global challenges.

The Academy is an executive member of the InterAcademy Partnership (IAP). Academy President, Professor Andrew Holmes, is a member of the Executive Committee of the IAP for Science and Foreign Secretary, Professor Cheryl Praeger, is a member of the Board of the IAP for Research.

Professor Praeger, is a Member-at-Large of the Association of Academies and Societies of Sciences in Asia’s Executive Board. Professor Praeger also chairs the AASSA Special Committee for Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) which was established in 2017.

The Academy was represented on 2 three-year IAP for research projects:

Harnessing Science, Engineering and Medicine to Address Africa’s Challenges

Engaging African and non-African leaders in science, engineering and medicine, African governments, bodies such as the United Nations and the African Union, the global donor community, industry, and other stakeholders in activities that demonstrate the value of independent Academy science-policy advice, with the ultimate goal of ensuring sustainability of national investment of science and technology. Academy Vice President Dr TJ Higgins is a member of the project’s working group.

Improving Scientific Input to Global Policymaking: Strategies for Attaining the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Developing a framework for action that strengthens the global science-policy interface and facilitates productive collaboration and adoption of best practices among the organisations that generate scientific advice. The IAP has published a guide to the SDGs for the global science community. Academy Treasurer Professor Michael Barber is a member of the project’s working group.

Connecting Science


researchers were supported to participate in the Academy's international activities in Australia


researchers were supported to participate in the Academy's international activities overseas.

Regional Collaborations Programme

Australian-led collaborative projects to help address the Asia–Pacific affordable housing crisis, tackle hepatitis B and monitor the impact of coastal climate changes were among five research organisations to receive $897,210 collectively in Australian Government funding.
The funding was provided under the first round of the $3.2 million Regional Collaborations Programme, which is administered by the Australian Academy of Science and is part of the National Innovation and Science Agenda.

Australian and overseas researchers supported by the Academy to travel internationally

Interactive world map. Data available in table format below.
Flag of Australia
Total outgoing researchers
Total incoming researchers
Flag of New Zealand
New Zealand
Total outgoing researchers
Flag of China
From China
Flag of Indonesia
To Australia
Flag of Brazil
To Australia
Flag of Japan
From Australia
Flag of France
From Australia
Flag of India
From Australia
Flag of Singapore
From Australia
Canada flag
From New Zealand
Activity No. of researchers supported in Australia No. of researchers supported overseas
Regional Collaborations Programme 5
Australia—Americas PhD research internship program 31
Commonwealth Science Conference 30
APEC ASPIRE Prize 3 8(??)
JSPS Fellowships 14
HOPE meeting, Japan 6
Australia—China workshop: Measurement challenges for electrical energy security 50
Australia—China symposium on synthetic biology 38
Falling Walls Lab Australia 25
Falling Walls Lab Berlin 2
France—Australia Science Innovation Collaboration (FASIC) Fellowships 4
Rod Rickards Fellowships (to France) 3
Science at the Shine Dome 3
Australia—India Early- and Mid-Career Researcher Fellowships 14
Visit to the National Institutes of Health in the USA by a junior scientist 1
Italy—Australia Science and Innovation Forum 40
Graeme Gaughley Fellowship 1
Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting 9
Selby Travelling Fellowship 1
Rudi Lemberg Travelling Fellowship 1
"I returned to Australia immediately after I completed the East Asia and Pacific Summer Institutes (EAPSI) program. In addition to returning to work with my host at Monash, I also secured a position with CSIRO Nanomaterial and Devices as a Postgraduate Fellow. I can’t thank the Australian Academy of Science enough for this opportunity!"

Giovanni DeLuca - Georgia Institute of Technology

2017 Ease Asia and Pacific Summer Institutes (EASPI) Program Participant

"I was ecstatic to learn that I would be representing Australia at the international Falling Walls Lab in Berlin. Falling Walls has inspired me to passionately work towards bringing change in the world through scientific research as well as promoting science education."

Mortaza Rezae – Curtin University

Joint winner Falling Walls Lab Australia, participant Falling Walls Lab Berlin

"Falling Walls was the most ideal platform to put forward and share my current research project with a broad national and international audience. Falling Walls 2017 will be one of the most memorable and useful experiences of my research career."

Vini Gautam – Australian National University

Joint winner Falling Walls Lab Australia, participant Falling Walls Lab Berlin

67th Lindau Meeting of Nobel Laureates

9 fellowships were provided under the Science and Industry Endowment Fund.


Early- and mid-career researchers

  • Supported 337 EMCRs across 17 programs, including international activities
  • Piloted a flexible model to support Australian early-and-mid-career researchers through the Theo Murphy Initiative
  • Launched Kick-starting collaboration, a guide to industry–academia collaboration developed by the EMCR Forum
  • Engaged with 211 EMCRs in 4 events
  • 3458 researchers were members of the EMCR Forum

22 National Committees for Science involving 250 members

Fostered science in Australia

Linked the Academy with the wider Australian and international scientific community

published 10-year plans for agriculture, and space science and technology

850+ Scientists and stakeholders attended National Committee events


National Committees for Science

The success of the National Committees depends on active Chairs who are leaders in their disciplines. We thank the Chairs who retired and welcome the new Chairs.

National Committee Outgoing Chair Incoming Chair
Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Professor Pat Michie FAA Professor David Badcock
Data in Science Professor Jane Hunter Professor Lesley Wyborn
Space and Radio Science Professor Russel Boyce Professor Fred Menk

Australian organisations contributed towards Australia’s annual subscriptions to international unions of the International Council for Science, partnering the Academy through our National Committees:

  • Australian Institute of Physics—towards the International Union for Pure and Applied Physics
  • Royal Australian Chemical Institute—towards the International Union for Pure and Applied Chemistry
  • Australian Mathematical Science Institute—towards the International Mathematical Union
  • Geoscience Australia—towards the International Union for Geological Sciences
  • Australian Antarctic Division—towards the Scientific Committee for Antarctic Research

Decadal plans for science

Decadal plans are 10-year strategic plans for science disciplines, and are developed by the Academy’s National Committees for Science.
The purpose of a plan is to:

  • assess the current state of knowledge in a specific science discipline
  • identify and set priorities for the most important scientific questions for the next decade
  • outline strategies to achieve these priorities and goals.

Decadal plans are produced by the research community, but the audiences for the documents are, to a large extent, policy makers and funding bodies.

Excellence in Science

Awarded in 2017

The Academy champions, celebrates and supports excellence in Australian science through its awards and grants.

Total value of awards: $341,583
48 awardees

2017 Honorific Awards

5 career, 3 mid-career and 9 early-career research awards announced
$10,500 worth of associated honorariums and lecture funding.
Awards went to researchers from 10 organisations in 6 Australian states and territories

The 2017 awards were announced in November 2016 and most were presented at the Academy’s annual flagship event, Science at the Shine Dome, in May 2017.

2017 Research Awards

Total committed in 2017: $265,583
18 awardees

Moran History of Science research - 2018 Awardees

Dr Linden Ashcroft

Why observe? The motivation behind Australia's most prolific weather watchers

Ms Kelly McKinley

A history of activism and public attitudes in Australia towards genetic modification (GM) science in agriculture and food production

J G Russell award - 2017 Awardees

Dr Nicole Rijs

To develop ion-mobility mass spectrometry methods to observe the molecular evolution of model self-assembly reactions with high temporal and structural resolution.

Dr Pengyi Yang

To map and model ‘trans-omic’ networks that cut through omic layers using machine learning and multi-omic data integration.

Dr Tong Wang

To understand the molecular mechanisms of neuronal communication and how neurons modify their synaptic strength.

Dr Brett Hallam

To understand hydrogen passivation mechanisms in silicon solar cells.

The Margaret Middleton Fund for endangered Australian native vertebrate animals - 2018 Awardees

Dr Christopher Gordon

University of Wollongong: Interacting impacts of persistent fire regimes and predation on threatened mammals

Ms Katharine Senior

University of Melbourne: Spatial solutions for managing fire and native mammal conservation

Ms Emma Spencer

University of Sydney: Does predation threaten the endangered night parrot (Pezoporus occidentalis)?

The Max Day Environmental Science Fellowship Award - 2018 Awardees

Ms Melissa Houghton

University of Queensland: Invertebrate monitoring and community ecology as a measure of change in island ecosystems to inform conservation decision-making.

Ms Charlie Phelps

Edith Cowan University: Determining the cumulative effect of putative pathogenic microbes, increased temperature and herbivory on Ecklonia radiata.

The Thomas Davies Research Grant for Marine, Soil and Plant Biology - 2018 Awardees

Dr Ashlea Doolette

University of Adelaide: How do Australian native plants survive on low phosphorus soils? New insights using 31P NMR spectroscopy

Dr Mark Farrell

CSIRO: An innovative method for probing active soil microbial function

Dr Manoj Kumar

University of Technology Sydney: Identification of the molecular response of seagrasses to heavy metal pollution and ocean acidification

Dr Zoe Richards

Curtin University: Enhancing coral threatened species management with integrated phylogenomics

Professor Isaac Santos

Southern Cross University: Coral reef calcification in the Great Barrier Reef following widespread bleaching

Dr Allison van de Meene

University of Melbourne: Dissecting mechanisms of cell wall deposition and variability for improved understanding of our crop plants and products

Douglas and Lola Douglas Award - 2017 Awardee

Dr Bianca Middleton

Menzies School of Health Research and Charles Darwin University. Strategies to reduce the burden of gastroenteritis in Aboriginal children

Conference awards and lectures

Total committed: $30,000
9 joint organisers

Boden Research Conference

Ecological surprises and rapid collapse of ecosystems in a changing world

Elizabeth and Frederick White Research Conference

Gas–solid reactions in earth sciences and astronomy.

Fenner conferences on the environment

The use of gene drive technology in conservation.

Travelling Fellowships And Lectures

Total committed in 2017: $35,500
4 awardees

11 lectures at 10 universities or institutes with an estimated 780 attendees
3 associated lectures at 3 universities or institutes with an estimated 330 attendees

Dr Graeme Nugent

2018 Graeme Caughley Fellowship - Landcare Research in New Zealand

Dr Stefanie Dimmeler

Selby Travelling Fellowship - Goethe University

Dr Christina Kellogg

Rudi Lemberg travelling fellowship - United States Geological Survey

Professor Paul Mulvaney

Loyd Rees Memorial Lecture - University of Melbourne

Inspiration and Impact: education

Academy science and maths programs in Australian Schools

The Academy has a strong track record delivering evidence-based school science and mathematics professional learning and curriculum resources for Australian teachers and students. Our flagship programs Primary Connections: linking science with literacy and Science by Doing are used by teachers and students throughout Australia and many other countries, and our newest program, reSolve: Maths by Inquiry, is generating great interest and uptake from teachers around the country.

Curriculum Resources

Resources are developed by curriculum experts and reviewed by hundreds of educational experts, teachers and scientists from Australia and abroad. The resources cover every strand of the mathematics curriculum from Foundation to year 10. To date, the multi-year programs have produced:


Curriculum-linked primary science modulesDigital and hard copy; linked to literacy


Interactive curriculum units for high school(years 7-10)


Maths modules and lesson planscovering every strand of the mathematics curriculum from Foundation to year 10

Number of Science by Doing program registrations over time

(recorded 30 December annually)



of Australian primary teachers are aware of Primary Connections


reSolve Champions from across Australia were selected for professional learning and evaluation


registrations received for Science by Doing in 2017, an increase of 45% to 160,000 (up from 110,000 in 2016)


Australian Association of Mathematics Teachers

Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute

Australian Science Teachers Association

Eucalypt Australia supported and collaborated on the development of the Primary Connections curriculum unit Among the gum trees. Its funding also supported the provision of four free copies of the information text to every primary school in Australia.

Professional learning and Uptake

To date, the multi-year programs have produced:


Primary teachers have participated in Primary connections professional learning workshops, including 2,200 preservice teachers.


Registered users of Science by Doing, including 2 in every 3 high school teachers.


regular users of Science by Doing download 9 terabytes of curriculum resources each month


maths teachers and educators subscribed to reSolve during pilot phase

What teachers say

"I think the resources and the whole Science by Doing program is quite literally the best resource available for interactive and meaningful science teaching. I wanted to thank you and your team for designing everything in this magnificent set of curriculum activities"

Maths and science teacher, Queensland

"I highly recommend this workshop and think it should be compulsory! Primary Connections puts students in the driver’s seat and encourages them to find answers to their own questions. This model should be encouraged in all teachers"

Primary Science teacher, Western Australia

"The reSolve resources provide excellent opportunities for reflection and use of mathematical language. They cater for all levels and have excellent scaffolding to builds students’ skills and language. Discussions were very robust and it was lovely to hear the variety of ideas and sharing of concepts."

Primary maths teacher – New South Wales

Support and Recognition

Program support from the Australian Government since 2004

Numerous awards for excellence in educational publishing

Impact of our programs

More science is being taught in primary school: Primary Connections increases confidence in teaching science, and supports collegial approach to professional learning

Science by Doing results in an estimated 50% increase in student group work, cooperative learning and student investigation

Preliminary evaluation of reSolve: Maths by Inquiry shows students are highly engaged, including those who lack confidence or motivation

Science for Everyone

Curious logo

Social media science communication strategy

The Academy's Facebook followers

From 9000 to 150,000 followers in 3 months

The aim of our strategy is to use content designed for social media to reach people who wouldn’t normally engage in science.

From October, content was published on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram, and included translated content on Weibo and Toutiao in China. With sharing and boosting of posts, we reached millions of previously unengaged people in Australia and globally, who now know about the Academy and are watching, reading and sharing credible science content.

Many of our videos, articles and photos were inspired or supplied by Fellows, members of National Committees, early- and mid-career researchers and awardees. All content was also published on our website.

We established publishing relationships with a number of major media organisations including News Corp and The Conversation. Content was regularly offered to other media through the Australian Science Media Centre.

The Academy’s Council invested in the project start-up and provided strong governance structure and quality assurance. Many Fellows were involved in the videos and articles themselves, and reviewed content to ensure scientific accuracy.

Visit the Curious Website



Media releases issued


news articles published on our website


mentions of the Academy across Australian print and Australian broadcast, and online (global and Australian sites)


mentions of the Academy on social media


pieces of media coverage across broadcast (radio/TV), print and online about the launch of the review of Australia’s Climate Science Capability


National Speaker Series—Polymers in a Material World

Total speakers: 9 Total audience: 585
The 'Polymers in a material world' lecture was held in Melbourne during February and Sydney during March. 'Making better humans with polymers' was a lecture that was held in Woolongong during August then Brisbane in October, and Adelaide in November of 2017.

Canberra Speaker Series—Dawn of the New Space Age

Total speakers: 6 Total audience: 915
This speaker series was held in the Shine dome, in Canberra

Feb—Gravitational Waves and Space Time
Apr—Exploring the Milky Way
Jun—Cleaning up space junk with lasers

Aug—Australian Satellites and where to find them
Oct—Journeying to the centres of planets
Dec—Australia's role in looking for life on Mars


New Fellows admitted


Academy medals presented


EMCR Workshops


total attendees

The Shine Dome

The shine dome was hired on 105 days and earned a total of $99,000

The Academy’s unique and iconic building started tweeting in May, and by year’s end had hundreds of Twitter fans following the much-loved and quirky home of science in Australia.


Historical Records of Australian Science

10 articles on the history of science
6 biographical memoirs
18 book reviews

CSIRO Publishing Journals of Scientific Research

14 peer reviewed scientific journals

Operational Excellence


The Academy is governed by a Council of 17 Fellows, which met four times. To ensure Academy business was progressed effectively between Council meetings, the Executive Committee (EXCOM) met five times.
The Finance Committee met twice.

Education Committee

An Education Committee, chaired by Professor Ian Chubb, was convened as an advisory body to the Academy Council. It strategically aligns the Academy’s three education programs and assists Council and the Chief Executive in planning future directions and identifying needs and opportunities.

Our education committee

Financial Summary

for the 2016-2017 financial year

Read the financial report

Raised $15 million...

  • $10 million government and grant funding
  • $2.7 million investment revenue
  • $2.3 million self-generated revenue

The Academy’s investment portfolio grew from $51.7 million to $55.7 million, an increase of 7.9%

Invested $14.9 million, with major investments in:

  • $8.2 million grant-related expenditure
  • $1.8 million administration
  • $1.3 million project-related expenditure
  • $1.3 million Primary Connections

The number of employees increased from 68 (full-time equivalent 61) to 75 (FTE 68) during the year. At year end there were 52 female and 23 male employees.
Due to program changes and natural attrition, 18 people left the Academy and 29 people were recruited

Operational Improvements

Engaged a new Investment Manager and developed a Strategic Investment Policy

Developed an ICT Strategic Plan

Developed a five-year Capital Management Plan for the Shine Dome and Ian Potter House

Commenced a review of the Heritage Management Plan – last updated in 2008

Developed a Code of Conduct (to be published in 2018)

Commenced implementation of a new Financial Management Information System

Finalised Phase 2 of audio visual upgrades in the Shine Dome and Ian Potter House

The Academy Website

Our website received nearly 523,000 visits, an increase of 13% on the previous year