AIG congratulates recipients of annual Australian Academy of Science awards

Australian Institute of Geoscientists > National > AIG congratulates recipients of annual Australian Academy of Science awards

Australian scientists’ leading research has today been recognised with Academy awards

AIG sincerely congratulates all scientists honoured for their achievements by the Australian Academy of Science.  

Geoscientists feature prominently amongst the 20 award recipients receiving prestigious honorific awards for their contributions to the advancement of science at the early, mid and career levels

The awarded research includes understanding how our wetlands respond to a changing climate and revealing serious complications in carbon capture

President of the Australian Academy of Science, Professor John Shine, said this year’s awardees are blazing a trail for science both locally and globally. 

“The award recipients have made a significant contribution to the research enterprise and the impact of their research will continue for years to come. 

“They have distinguished themselves and the whole of Australian science, and the Academy is proud to support their outstanding contributions.”

Haddon Forrester King Medal and Lecture

, Dr Kathy Ehrig FAIG, BHP Billiton (Olympic Dam)

Dr Kathy Ehrig is renowned for her insights into the complex geological events involved in the formation of the supergiant copper-uranium-gold-silver Olympic Dam ore deposit. Her leadership in this research has attracted global attention because her advances may contribute to further discoveries elsewhere. She has created highly innovative solutions in characterising in situ ore properties and predicting metal extraction in advance of mining, primarily in the context of the Olympic Dam mine. These solutions are based on her profound knowledge and understanding of mineral assemblages and have proven to be highly robust and transferable to other mines, thereby having a crucially positive impact on productivity. The foundation of her achievements has been her ability to integrate diverse datasets through harnessing cutting-edge research methods and novel approaches. Dr Ehrig’s diligence, enthusiasm and dedication to the pursuit of science combine to make her an exceptional research leader.

Professor Richard Henley, Australian National University

For over 50 years, Professor Richard Henley has been a leader in the development of understanding of how economic deposits of metals, especially copper and gold, were formed within large-scale hydrothermal systems in volcanoes and mountain belts. The fundamentals that he derived have provided the basis of exploration for epithermal through to orogenic gold deposits, the practical chemistry of fluids in active geothermal systems and many follow-up research programs around the world. He has been acknowledged for his direct contribution to a number of major discoveries including the giant Ladolam Au (Lihir Island, Papua New Guinea) and the Onto Cu-Au (Hu’u, Sumbawa Island, Indonesia) deposits. In the last few years, he has led the recognition of high temperature magmatic gas reactions with rock forming minerals as the principal control on the generation of porphyry copper deposits. He is currently focused on application of X-ray micro CT scanning to derive new and detailed understanding of water-rock interaction chemistry and the properties of rock materials.

Further information about the Haddon Forrester King Medal is available here.

Mawson Medal and Lecture

Professor Andrew Roberts, Australian National University

Professor Andrew Roberts has made fundamentally important contributions to understanding the magnetisation of sediments, which provides the basis for use of paleomagnetism to reconstruct global plate tectonic movements and to understand variations in Earth’s magnetic field through its history. His work influences all aspects of understanding sedimentary magnetisation acquisition, and has particularly contributed to recognising that the previously poorly-known magnetic mineral greigite, and magnetic minerals produced by magnetotactic bacteria, make important contributions to the magnetisation of globally distributed sedimentary rocks. He is an international leader in the field of environmental magnetic analyses of climate change, and has developed new methods in rock magnetism that are used widely in solid state physics, materials science, the magnetic recording industry, and Earth science. His work in environmental magnetism has made significant contributions to understanding African monsoon dynamics, sea level variations, and Arctic and Antarctic glacial history.

More information about this medal is available here.

Dorothy Hill Medal

Dr Samintha Perera, University of Melbourne

Australia’s per capita carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are among the world’s highest and the recent drought and bush?re crises clearly illustrate our vulnerability to increases in greenhouse gas emissions. Although carbon dioxide geo-storage in deep coal seams can play a vital role in emission reduction, conversion of CO2 into a highly chemically reactive “supercritical CO2 (scCO2)” at such deep depths causes unpredictable CO2 ?ow behaviours in coal seams while modifying its’ flow and mechanical properties. Dr Samintha Perera discovered the unique interaction between the coal mass and scCO2 and the resulting impacts on underground applications. According to her ?ndings, all these unique scCO2 behaviours in coal seams are caused by the signi?cant coal matrix swelling resulted from the coal-scCO2 interaction. Regardless of that, she found the effectiveness of scCO2 as a fracking ?uid for coal reservoirs, which gave a great value to this problematic scCO2 as a reservoir stimulation agent.  

More information about this medal is available here.

Frederick White Medal

Professor Kerrylee Rogers, University of Wollongong

Professor Kerrylee Rogers has made an internationally significant contribution to one of the most pressing environmental issues of our time: the impact of climate change on the world’s most threatened and ecologically important habitat, wetlands. Her work has demonstrated that coastal wetlands (mangrove and saltmarsh) respond dynamically to sea-level rise. By trapping sediment and building root systems, wetlands adapt to climate change but also help mitigate climate change by sequestering atmospheric carbon dioxide. Professor Rogers has used these insights to show that the restoration of coastal wetlands is an effective climate change adaptation strategy that can yield financial benefits to landholders. Carbon captured through wetland restoration can be reported by governments as saved emissions and traded by landholders in emissions trading programs. These insights have been effectively communicated through management and policy-focused papers, presentations and expert advice.

More information about this medal is available here.

John Booker Medal 

Associate Professor Annan Zhou, RMIT University

Associate Professor Annan Zhou has made seminal contributions to the understanding and modelling of the fundamental hydromechanical behaviour of unsaturated soils. Any soil can be unsaturated with water due to either evaporation or engineering processes like excavation. Unsaturated soils have been widely blamed for many geotechnical problems like slope failures, dam collapses, pavement cracking and foundation failures since they may produce large deformation and even suddenly lose their strength in wetting events. Associate Professor Zhou has established a new modelling framework to tackle the most fundamental issues in unsaturated soil mechanics. Within this framework, many unanswered questions and seemingly con?icting behaviours related to strength, deformation, soil-water interaction of unsaturated soils can be reasonably explained and effectively modelled. Based on the novel constitutive modelling framework and robust numerical techniques, he has developed advanced numerical tools for better design and assessment of infrastructure involving unsaturated soils in Australia and worldwide.

For more information about this medal, click here.

Follow this link to read more about each of the Academy’s 2022 honorific awardees.

Congratulations again to all medal recipients.

Know an amazing Australian scientist? Nominate them for an award! Nominations are now open for the Academy’s 2022 honorific awards, research conferences, research awards and travelling fellowships.