South Australian Scientist of the Year

Congratulations to the 2019 SA Scientist of the Year finalists.

Professor Andre Luiten

Leader in physics and precision measurement and Director of the Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing / Chair of Experimental Physics, University of Adelaide

Professor Andre Luiten FAIP GAICD is Director of the Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing and Chair of Experimental Physics at the University of Adelaide. He is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Physics.

Professor Luiten obtained his PhD in Physics in 1997 for which he was awarded the Bragg Gold Medal. He has subsequently held three prestigious Fellowships from the Australian Research Council. For his efforts he was the joint inaugural winner of the WA Premier’s Prize for Early Career Achievement in Science. 

Professor Luiten came to the University of Adelaide in 2013 to take up the Chair of Experimental Physics and a South Australian Research Fellowship from the Premier’s Research and Innovation Fund. 

He has published 6 book chapters and authored 118 journal papers (>4,323 citations) and raised over $22.5M for research. The excellence of his research has been recognised by the award of the Barry Inglis Medal from the National Measurement Institute, the Australian Institute of Physics’ Alan Walsh Medal for Service to Industry and the prestigious 2018 Eureka Prize for Outstanding Science in safeguarding Australia.

He is also the co-founder and managing Director of Cryoclock Pty Ltd, a start-up company recently named Avalon 2019 Defence SME of the Year.


Professor Emily Hilder

​World leading analytical chemist and Director of the Future Industries Institute, University of South Australia

Professor Emily Hilder is a world-leading analytical chemist, pioneering disruptive approaches to chromatography, microsampling, blood analysis, explosives detection and biopharmaceutical analysis. These approaches have led to commercial and field adoption, including chromatography advances for protein analysis, DNA purification and ion analysis, and materials for microsampling. 

Her supportive leadership and collaborative approach has brought together industry, government, researchers and students to focus on tomorrow’s solutions. 

Professor Hilder is the Deputy Director of the Australian Research Council’s Training Centre for Portable Analytical Separation Technologies and the ARC IDEAL Research Hub and a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering and the Royal Australian Chemical Institute. She has been recognised with several awards, including the 2016 Silver Jubilee Medal (Chromatographic Society, UK), and was named a top 10 international leader in analytical science on the 2017 The Analytical Scientist Power List. 

Since 2016 Professor Hilder has also led the Future Industries Accelerator, which has supported more than 125 businesses to access research infrastructure, R&D vouchers and staff secondments at the University of South Australia.

Professor Jozef Gecz

Leader in genetics and biology of childhood onset neurodevelopment disability, and Head of the Neurogenetics Research Program, University of Adelaide

Professor Jozef Gecz has attracted more than $62 million of competitive research and philanthropic funding during his 25 years of research in Adelaide. 

A Professor of Human Genetics and Chair in the Prevention of Childhood Disability at the University of Adelaide, Professor Gecz is also a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science, Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences, and Faculty of Science of the Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia. 

He is a research pioneer with an enviable track record in gene discovery in intellectual disability, epilepsy, autism and, more recently, cerebral palsy. Professor Gecz identified the first gene for non-syndromic intellectual disability in 1994 and discovered or contributed to the discovery of more than 200 different disease genes. 

Professor Gecz’s research has transformed understanding of the causes and underlying mechanisms of neurodevelopmental disability, leading to clinical trials, informed national and international policy, and implementation of genomics for better health care delivery. His work has established South Australia as an international leader in this field. 


Professor Sharad Kumar

Leading Australian biomedical scientist and Co-Director of the Centre for Cancer Biology, University of South Australia

Professor Sharad Kumar co-founded and co-directs the Centre for Cancer Biology (CCB), where he holds a Research Professorship and Chair of Cancer Biology with the University of South Australia and a NHMRC Senior Principal Research Fellowship.

He has made pioneering discoveries in biomedical sciences through the study of programmed cell death and cellular maintenance, which are critical determinants of health and disease. His work has led to major advances in understanding the causes of cancer, hypertension, inflammation and kidney disease, paving the way for better treatments. 

Highly acclaimed internationally, Professor Kumar has mentored many prominent students and scientists, and has helped bring substantial research and infrastructure funding to South Australia. In 2009 he co-founded the CCB, a premier medical research institute that explores all aspects of cancer. The centre is now an alliance between the University of South Australia and SA Health. 

Professor Kumar’s excellence in research is recognised through Fellowships with the Australian Academy of Science and the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences, as well as major awards such as the ASBMB Amersham Biosciences Award, the Ranbaxy Research Award, the ASBMB Lemberg Medal, the FAOBMB Research Excellence Award, the ANZSCDB President’s Medal and an Order of Australia.

Contact us

SA Science Excellence and Innovation Awards

Department for Innovation and Skills
Ph: (08) 8226 3821

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