Fifty-one finalists have been announced in 2020's leading Australian science awards -the 2020 Australian Museum Eureka Prizes. Selected from hundreds of entries by 74 judges over 400 hours, the finalists range from solutions to global environmental challenges to finding new ways to deliver life-saving medication.
The winners will walk away with $170,000 in prize money, along with national and international recognition for their work.
In the Science Engagement category of the awards, the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources Eureka Prize for STEM Inclusion nominees include the CSIRO Indigenous STEM Education Project, the Kakadu National Environmental Science Program, and Kamilaroi man Corey Tutt from Deadly Science.
Despite being the world's first scientists, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are significantly underrepresented in all areas of STEM. Deadly Science targets remote and regional schools across Australia, connecting young Indigenous people with mentors, providing culturally appropriate science resources and delivering virtual STEM lessons.
Speaking with NITV News, Mr Tutt said it was "incredible" to be nominated and "a huge honour".
"I hope with this nomination, I can help inspire kids out there to chase the unknown and love all things STEM."
Mr Tutt also gave a shout out to his fellow nominees.
"So great to see two over Aboriginal lead programs selected as finalists in partnership with the CSIRO. Sixty-five thousand years plus of science and counting!"
CSIRO's Indigenous STEM Education Project is a national initiative aimed at improving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander student aspiration, achievement and participation in STEM using evidence-based solutions. The project has reached beyond the walls of classrooms to increase the skills, capability and ambition of whole communities.
On the Kakadu team, the CSIRO partnered with the University of Western Australia, Charles Darwin University, Kakadu National Park Board and Traditional Owners, Northern Land Council, Microsoft and National Environmental Science Program Indigenous custodians. They worked together with scientists and developed new ways to apply science and Indigenous knowledge to managing Kakadu National Park.
Traditional Owners and Rangers are now using technologies that include artificial intelligence, drones, time-lapse cameras and videos to manage the land within this World Heritage Area.
Director and CEO of the Australian Museum, Kim McKay, said the Eureka Prizes are a crucial part of the Australian Museum's role at the forefront of Australian scientific research, education and outreach.
"For 30 years, the AM Eureka Prizes have recognised the ground-breaking work of Australian scientists," said Ms McKay.
"The AM is both a holder of knowledge and a seeker of new understanding – our role is to nurture and encourage scientific endeavour, curiosity and wonder and we do this daily through the work of the Australian Museum Research Institute.
"The finalists for this year's AM Eureka Prizes embody those ideals, and their work is making a difference both here and globally – they will lead us all into new areas of discovery, conservation and economic growth," said Ms McKay.
Other finalists include pandemic preparation research, a single-dose cure for malaria, citizen scientists studying brush-turkey behaviour in suburbia, research on the origins of modern humans, technology which creates a virtual 3D-model of a cancer cell and two projects looking at the impact of feral cats on native fauna and biodiversity.
Winners will be announced on the evening of Tuesday 24 November 2020, and for the first time in the prizes' 30-year history, the ceremony will be a live, free, digital event.