SA’s best scientific minds awarded at last night’s Science Excellence and Innovation Awards

South Australia’s leading Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine (STEMM) professionals were recognised at last night’s SA Science Excellence and Innovation Awards.

South Australia’s leading Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine (STEMM) professionals were recognised at last night’s SA Science Excellence and Innovation Awards.

The awards, held at the SA Film Corporation’s Glenside studios, recognise South Australians excelling at STEMM, while showcasing the importance of science, research and innovation.

The prestigious Scientist of the Year award was taken out by SAHMR’s Professor Maria Makrides who leads a team working to improve the lives of pregnant women and young children through nutrition.

2022 Scientist of the Year, Professor Maria Makrides explained her role at SAHMRI, saying “My team works to improve the outcomes for pregnant women and young children using nutritional interventions.

“I had done a science degree, and was looking for something more applied. I looked at nutrition and dietetics thinking that that was a way to combine good physiological and biochemical science with real-life application.

“My interest in infancy care was the focus on nutrition for optimal growth and development – not just maintenance. A baby will double its weight in the first four months of its life. In adult terms, it’s a little bit more straightforward. We don’t double our weight in four months, and if we did, we’d be in a lot of trouble!

“Most mothers are probably not deficient in nutrients because we have a great food supply in Australia. Often our issue is more about oversupply of nutrients, or nutrients being out of balance.

“What I’d love to see is for people to be more focused on quality, the balance of nutrition, and moving away from particular fad diets that tend to cut out specific nutrient groups—that can sometimes have unintended consequences.”

The awards provide an opportunity for leaders and teams working in research and education institutions, schools, industry and the community to come together and celebrate their achievements.

They are a significant occasion in South Australia’s science calendar and are recognised as the state’s premier science event which highlights the diversity of scientific endeavour and research in South Australia.

Almost 400 guests attended the award night which was sponsored by Novatech Creative Event Technology, Commonwealth Bank and Telstra.

The 2022 SA Science Excellence and Innovation Award winners are:

  • Scientist of the Year: Professor Maria Makrides, SAHMRI
  • Innovator of the Year: Professor Andre Luiten, Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing, The University of Adelaide
  • PhD Research Excellence Award: Dr Chelsea Thorn, University of South Australia
  • STEMM Educator of the Year – Primary/Secondary: SPARK Team, Trinity College
  • STEMM Educator of the Year – University/RTO: Dr Richard Lilly, The University of Adelaide
  • Excellence in Science and Industry Collaboration: Driving Australia’s Blue Bioeconomy, Centre for Marine Bioproducts Development, Flinders University

Chief Scientist for South Australia Professor Caroline McMillen congratulated the winners, saying “I am proud to say that this year’s SA Science Excellence and Innovation Award winners are as diverse as the STEMM workforce they represent. Congratulations to all.

“This cohort is developing solutions to some of the world’s most pressing challenges and inspiring the next generation of South Australians to take up STEMM careers and change the world!

“The winners’ stories allow us to be optimistic about the future – we are fortunate to have such outstanding researchers, innovators, collaborators, and educators who are delivering remarkable outcomes every day across our state.”

Susan Close, Deputy Premier and Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science attended the awards, saying on the evening “I am delighted to introduce the winners of the 2022 SA Science Excellence and Innovation Awards – a group of passionate STEMM champions making a significant positive impact to their sectors and communities.

“Each year, I look to this cohort for an indication of South Australia’s STEMM strengths and where our industries are headed.

“And with winners representing health, education, geology—as well as the cutting-edge fields of quantum physics and marine bioproducts—our future looks bright!   

To learn more about the outstanding work of each winner, visit

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