Australia’s top scientists elected as Fellows of the Academy

27 May 2019
Australia’s top scientists elected as Fellows of the Academy

A SAHMRI researcher is among a group of scientists who are being acknowledged for their outstanding contributions to science.

Nutrition researcher, Professor Maria Makrides, is one of eight women among 22 scientists elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science.

Maria is an international leader in maternal–infant nutrition, with a focus on optimising the cognition, growth and immune development of children. She is especially recognised for her rigorous nutritional intervention studies during the first 1000 days of life—between conception and a child’s second birthday.

Her multidisciplinary research group conducts large-scale randomised controlled trials to investigate the health effects of dietary fatty acids, iron, iodine and novel dietary ingredients. She has made major contributions to changes in the composition of infant formulae, on changing international food laws and on setting specific nutrient recommendations worldwide.

This list also includes neuroscientist Professor Lyn Beazley, who has made a major contribution to the advancement of Australian science and was the first female to hold a Chief Scientist role nationally. She joins genetic statistician Professor David Balding, who co-developed a probability formula that has been used in hundreds of criminal cases worldwide to interpret DNA profile evidence.

The new Fellows’ pioneering contributions also include research that has underpinned the safe and cost-effective construction of offshore oil and gas platforms; increased our understanding of why people move differently in pain; and provided new insights into the role of DNA that is unrelated to its genetic function.

Australian Academy of Science President, Professor John Shine, congratulated the new Fellows for making significant and lasting impacts in their scientific disciplines.

“These scientists were elected by their Academy peers following a rigorous evaluation process. What stands out among the new Fellows elected this year is the collective impact of their science on an international scale,” Professor Shine said.

“As the Academy celebrates its sixty-fifth anniversary, we are committed to acknowledging excellence in science, but we recognise that to achieve this we must celebrate and embrace diversity and inclusion in all its forms.

“We have adopted a range of best-practice measures to ensure that the outstanding contributions of our female scientists are properly recognised. These measures are working with 36% of Fellows elected in the past five years being women, but there is more to do.

“We call on the leaders of the science and research sector to help us identify diversity candidates who have made an outstanding contribution to science, so that they may be considered for election to the Academy in 2020,” Professor Shine said.