Top 5 Under 40

TOP 5 UNDER 40 ANNOUNCED
But we actually have six this year...

Can technology save us from climate change? Have you ever been shocked at how much a paper cut hurts? What makes a fish such an excellent athlete, and why does the flu hit certain people so hard?

These are just some of the questions unearthed in a nationwide search for leading early-career researchers who have a flair and passion for communicating their work as part of Top 5 Under 40, an initiative of ABC RN and UNSW that aims to give a voice to a new generation of science thinkers.

However, so impressed with the calibre of entrants this year, the judges just couldn't stop at five, and of the 10 finalists shortlisted from close to 150 applications, six will undertake a 10-day media program as 'Scientists in Residence' at RN in 2016.

"We have noted in The Science Show on many occasions that the standard of science communication in Australia has improved spectacularly. Our young scientists, through competitions and practice, have reached scintillating form. For this reason we, the judges, found ourselves compelled to recognise six under 40 instead of only five. We are delighted to acknowledge such a superb standard of achievement and look forward to welcoming them all to the ABC," said Robyn Williams, presenter of RN’s The Science Show, who chose the final six along with fellow judges Professor Fiona Stanley (UWA) and Deborah Smith, UNSW Science Media Adviser and former Science Editor of The Sydney Morning Herald.

The "Top 6" for 2016 are:

  • Gail Alvares, University of Western Australia: Psychologist investigating novel and affordable ways to improve the quality of lives of children with autistic spectrum disorder.
  • Adam Bumpus, University of Melbourne: Geographer working at the intersection of technological innovation studies and economic geography on the role of technology in climate change solutions. 
  • Niraj Lal, Monash University: Physicist using nanophotonics to increase the efficiency of next-generation solar cells, aiming for double the efficiency that’s currently on roof tops. 
  • Jodie Rummer, James Cook University: Marine biologist tracking the athletic capacity in fish to determine how climate change will affect the future of ecosystems and biodiversity.
  • Kirsty Short, University of Queensland: Immunologist researching the mechanisms that drive increased susceptibility to the influenza virus in certain subsets of the population (pregnant women and asthmatics).
  • Tasha Stanton, University of South Australia: Neuroscientist investigating what influences levels of pain, and using visual illusions to help create new treatments for sufferers of chronic pain.

"This is a great thing for me and science in general, because it is an incredible opportunity to share the story of what we do to make things better in the world,” said one of the ‘top six’, Adam Bumpus. “It’s about opening a conversation about where the world is going, and that is really exciting."

Ideas springing from their research will be broadcast and published on various ABC programs and platforms during their time as scientists in residence with RN in July 2016.

“We’re excited to once again partner with RN to raise the profile of the country’s excellent researchers and help them communicate their vital ideas,” said Professor Les Field, UNSW Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Secretary for Science Policy at the Australian Academy of Science.

READ: Meet ABC RN's newest scientists in residence

LISTEN: RN Breakfast announces the winners and Fran Kelly interviews Adam Bumpus and Kirsty Short

Top 5 Under 40: A national search for early-career researchers who have a flair and passion for communicating their work with the winners to be ‘Scientists in Residence’ across ABC RN. Supported by UNSW, one of Australia’s leading science and technology universities and ABC RN, the ABC’s ideas network.

Media contacts
Denise Knight, Director, UNSW Media Office, 0405 207 685, d.knight@unsw.edu.au
Lisa Cuthbertson, Marketing Manager, ABC RN, 0477 306 780, cuthbertson.lisa@abc.net.au