UTS researchers honoured for excellence in engineering science and physics

Dayong Jin and Igor Aharonovich. Photo: Anna Zhu

Dayong Jin and Igor Aharonovich. Photo: Anna Zhu

In summary: 
  • Professor Dayong Jin has been recognised as a “world leader” in his field by the Australian Academy of Science, which awarded him the 2017 John Booker Medal
  • Associate Professor Igor Aharonovich has been awarded the 2017 Pawsey Medal for his “breakthrough research” aiding the development of quantum communication systems

Two UTS researchers working at the leading edge of modern science have been recognised by the Australian Academy of Science in its annual awards for excellence.

Professor Dayong Jin, winner of a Eureka Prize in 2015, has been named the 2017 John Booker medallist in engineering science. Associate Professor Igor Aharonovich, a NSW Tall Poppy award winner in 2015, receives the Pawsey Medal in physics.

Professor Jin leads the multimillion-dollar ARC Research Hub for Integrated Device for End-user Analysis at Low-levels (IDEAL) which aims to develop diagnostic devices with vastly improved detection capabilities.

The Academy of Science has recognised Professor Jin as a “world leader” in his field, noting that his research “opens up many opportunities in biomedical devices, early diagnosis and light-triggered nanomedicine” where his functional nanomaterials harness light to diagnose disease and deliver drugs in a targeted and carefully controlled way.

Associate Professor Aharonovich is delivering “breakthrough research” in the development of quantum communication systems, the Academy noted, as well as contributing to one of “the pressing issues in the modern era” – securing private information and sensitive data through unbreakable encryption.

Professor Jin said his award “benchmarks our style at UTS”.

“We want more than the traditional science,” he said. “Science is the building block, of course, in revealing things that have never been discovered before, but we want to build the bridges that take us from fundamental science to applied science and engineering. That’s what delivers the impact, the new methods and devices, for industry and for the community.”

At 34, Associate Professor Aharonovich is one of the youngest recipients of the Pawsey Medal and joins an illustrious group of past winners that comprises some of the nation’s leading scientists, including Nobel Prize winner Professor Brian Schmidt.

He said the award is an acknowledgement of the importance and impact of research he and his colleagues are doing, adding that it is research made possible “through the hard work of an entire team, including students and postdoctoral researchers”.

“Our research is exploratory – we dig in where people haven’t really looked before. The award validates our line of research and encourages us to pursue it and try to bring it to the next level.”

In allocating its 2017 honours, the Academy has recognised researchers working in the fields of physics, microbiology, applied mathematics, earth science, materials engineering, chemistry, evolutionary biology, fluid dynamics and more.

UTS Dean of Science Professor Judith Smith said she is delighted Professor Jin and Associate Professor Aharonovich have been recognised in this way.

“They are outstanding researchers in a field that is itself strong in Australia. I know the awards will push them on to develop this exciting technology which has such power to transform our future,” Professor Smith said.

The President of the Academy of Science, Professor Andrew Holmes, congratulated all the award winners for their inspiring work.

“The discoveries made by our awardees will change people’s lives,” Professor Holmes said.

“These men and women are the best of Australia’s leading and emerging scientists; from researchers building on existing research and enhancing our understanding of specific fields, to those working at the very edge of human understanding and knowledge.”

The awards will be formally presented at the Academy’s annual three-day celebration of Australian science, Science at the Shine Dome, to be held in Canberra in May 2017.

Read more about the award winners and their research here.

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