2015 Winners

South Australian Scientist of the Year


Professor Craig Simmons
Director, National Centre for Groundwater Research and Training, Flinders University

Professor Simmons has made breakthrough discoveries about the hidden world of groundwater, using theory, experiment, field work and cutting-edge computational simulations. His work is answering critical questions about our environment, food and water security, coal seam gas and fracking, mining and nuclear and radioactive waste disposal.  Professor Simmons has positioned Australia as a world leader at the forefront of groundwater science. His outstanding record of personal contributions to Australian science, education and policy reform are helping to build a prosperous and sustainable Australia. 

PhD Research Excellence

Dr Katherine Moore
School of Chemical and Physical Sciences, Flinders University​


Katherine completed a Bachelor of Science in Nanotechnology with First Class Honours at Flinders University in 2010. She then began her PhD in 2011, throughout which she demonstrated passion, dedication and excellence. This was not just within her own field of double-walled carbon nanotube (DWCNT) research, but also towards the promotion of science to Australian youth in such events as the National Science and Engineering Challenge. Her outstanding performance has been recognized by many prestigious awards, such as the Finders University Academic Medal, an Australian Postgraduate Award and Best Student Research Paper, and has produced many first class journal publications, six of which have impact factors higher than 10. Katherine has made a significant contribution to the field of DWCNTs, specifically in chemical sorting techniques, which will allow for metallic or semiconducting nanotubes to be isolated for specific electronic, biosensor or nanoelectromechanical purposes. Most recently, she was invited to write a review of the field for the top tier journal, Advanced Materials, which has an impact factor of 15. 

Early Career STEM Professional


Mr Tristan Goss
Research Engineer, Defence Science and Technology Organisation


Since joining DSTO in 2011, Tristan's research has focused on reducing the vulnerability of Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel while increasing their combat effectiveness. His contributions in defence science include improvements to Australian capability to predict aircraft vulnerability and improved understanding of ADF aircraft and weapon employment tactics. His research allows a better understanding of the risk of injury or death to ADF personnel and non-combatants. Understanding this risk allows it to be mitigated where possible, saving lives and preventing injuries. In 2011 Tristan was awarded a Defence Support Services Bronze commendation for his work on Australian missile systems and in 2014 he received the Weapons and Combat Systems Division ‘Outstanding Early Career Achievement’ award.

Early Career STEM Educator of the Year – School Teaching


Mr Simon Brooks, Henley High School


STEM education has an important role to play in education and since becoming an educator in 2010, Simon’s main focus has been on how he can integrate mathematics, science and design and technology education. His application will focus on two areas that he has concentrated on during his teaching career and strived to make a contribution which has enhanced student learning in STEM. Advanced Technologies is a subject he has developed and the other is his work around integrating the STEM subject areas into the middle school curriculum.

Early Career STEM Educator of the Year – Tertiary Teaching


Dr Maria Parappilly, School of Chemical and Physical Sciences, Flinders University


A theoretical Physicist and educational researcher Dr Parappilly teaches first year and supervises PhD in physics education.  Passionate about making physics accessible and exciting she employs innovative instructional strategies including Inquiry Based Lab; Team Based Learning; LEGO Physics and Diagnostic tests, all of which have positively impacted on retention, success and progression of students. She led a National Science and Mathematics network (SaMnet) Scholar physics project and spent a year as a Faculty scholar in STEM learning.  With these projects, and other research endeavours, Dr Parappilly has gathered data systematically to continuously improve student learning outcomes and to reinvent her practice to meet the needs of her students.  She also disseminates her ideas through peer-reviewed journal articles and in an Office for Learning and Teaching (OLT) good practice guide. Her innovations have grown well beyond her classrooms and have enthusiastically been adopted by other professionals.

Tall Poppy of the Year

Dr Tasha Stanton, School of Health Sciences, University of South Australia


Pain is frustratingly complex. Dr Stanton’s research has determined that people with chronic pain often have changes in the way their body feels to them caused by changes in perception of how the brain “codes” for that body part. Using visual illusions, Dr Stanton’s team can change how the body looks to a person (to make it look bigger or smaller) and by changing how the painful body part looks reduces the pain experienced in osteoarthritis suffers. Her innovation in this area stands to trigger a new field of research into novel exploitation of brain-based mechanisms to induce analgesia and promote function.

Dr Stanton is the section editor for the BodyinMind website. She has been involved in numerous public lectures, both nationally and internationally, to improve public knowledge about the brain’s role in pain and new brain-based treatments.