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Eureka science awards give top honours

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Cate Blanchett, Australian Museum

Actress and patron of the Australian Museum, Cate Blanchett, and People's Choice Award winner, Katherine Belov.

Credit: Australian Museum

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SYDNEY: From drive-through blood tests and frogs back from the dead, to the ethics of happy pills and Tasmanian devils, the Eureka Prizes honoured Australia's leading scientific research.

The prestigious prizes, awarded by the Australian Museum, were handed out at a glitzy dinner and ceremony held at Sydney's Royal Hall of Industries. In attendance were celebrities and public figures including actress Cate Blanchett, governor general Quentin Bryce, premier of New South Wales, Nathan Rees MP, and newscaster Sandra Sully.

Much coveted

Much coveted by academics, the Eureka Prizes celebrate their 20th anniversary this year. Nineteen prizes, worth a total of $180,000 dollars, reward research across many disciplines of science, as well as science-related photography, journalism and teaching.

One of this year's top prizes went to Conrad Hoskin, of the Australian National University, in Canberra, who landed the Eureka Prize for Early Career Species Discovery, for his work on the biodiversity of frogs and reptiles.

Hoskin, affectionately known as the "frog guy" in northern Queensland, was acclaimed for the discovery of nine new rainforest species, including the Kuranda tree frog, and for the rediscovery of the armoured mist frog, previously thought extinct.

This year's People's Choice Award went to geneticist Katherine Belov, of the University of Sydney, for her pioneering work on the deadly facial tumour disease decimating the Tasmanian Devil. Unlike the other awards, which are decided by an expert panel of judges, this award is voted for by the public. Belov was handed the award by Cate Blanchett, patron of the Australian Museum, who also gave a short speech.

For 25 years of research into vaccines for malaria and other diseases, Michael Goode of the Queensland Institute of Medical Research, in Brisbane, took the Eureka Prize for Leadership in Science. One malaria vaccine his team have developed is at the final stages of preclinical trials.

The Environmental Journalism award was won by the ABC current affairs television program Four Corners, for a story on the summer sea ice melt of the Arctic.

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