20 Oct 2014
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
2. Excellence in Biological Sciences (Ecology, environmental, agricultural and organismal)
3. Excellence in Biological Sciences (Cell and molecular, medical, veterinary and genetics)
4. Excellence in Engineering and Information and Communications Technologies
5. Emerging Research
6. Renewable Energy Innovation
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: http://www.chiefscientist.nsw.gov.au/awards/2014-nsw-scientist-of-the-year
For full profiles on the category winners, go to: http://www.chiefscientist.nsw.gov.au/awards/2014-category-winners