ANU media stars shine in a year of ‘fake news’

30 November 2017

In a world of 'fake news', ANU has celebrated the efforts of academics who have helped bring the real stories to the attention of the media.

The ANU Media and Outreach Awards for 2017 celebrated everything from cockatoos channelling Ringo Starr to the prospect of 50-degree days, with the voices and research of ANU media stars a constant presence on the national and international media stage.

ANU Vice-Chancellor Professor Brian Schmidt said he was proud of the efforts of ANU academics in the media, and he thanked them for making themselves available to speak to the media, often in the very early hours of the morning.

"You've given countless interviews with journalists and made yourselves available for great lengths of time during breaking news to ensure ANU makes the headlines as the go-to authority on the major stories of the day," he said.

Recipients of the 2017 ANU Media and Outreach Awards:


Name of winner



Quirkiest/Most unusual story award

Professor Robert Heinsohn

ANU College of Science

New research from the ANU shows when it comes to percussion, the palm cockatoo is the animal kingdom's match for Ringo Starr and Phil Collins.


Digital Award

The ANU College of Law Marketing and Outreach Team

ANU College of Law

For their work on the College's podcast series, The Constitutional.

Emerging Media Talent Award

Dr Sophie Lewis

ANU College of Science

In October this year, Sophie released research that Sydney and Melbourne could be facing a future of 50-degree Celsius days. This resulted in a slew of media requests that she handled with immense professionalism.


Award for Improving the Quality of Public Debate

Professor Andrew Blakers,

Professor Ken Baldwin,

Dr Christian Downie,

Professor Frank Jotzo

ANU College of Engineering and Computer Science, ANU College of Science,

ANU College of Asia and the Pacific,

ANU College of Asia and the Pacific


All four researchers have been exceptional in providing commentary in relation to the energy debate throughout the year.

Impact Award for Reach and Influence

Professor Lyndall Strazdins,

Professor Andrew Blakers

ANU College of Health and Medicine,

ANU College of Engineering and Computer Science

In February, Professor Strazdins helped to release some compelling research into work-life balance, showing that people who work more than 39 hours a week are putting their health at risk.


Professor Blakers commentary and research on potentially suitable sites for pumped hydro storage has reached an audience of several million.


Outreach Award for Contribution to the Community

Professor Ken Lampl,

Richard Whiteley, Ella Sayers and Dr John Debs

ANU School of Music,

ANU School of Art & Design,
The ANU Makerspace

Professor Lampl was the mastermind behind the theme music for next 2018 Australian of the Year awards, while Richard, Ella and John were the driving forces behind the design and creation of some beautiful national, state and territory trophies.


24/7 Award for Most Impressive Media Performance

Kim Rubenstein

ANU College of Law

Over the course of 2017, in a year where citizenship law was top of the Australian media agenda, Professor Rubenstein played a leading voice in expertise as part of the commentary around the issue.


Op-Ed Writer of the Year

Dr Luke Kemp

ANU College of Science

In a crowded landscape Dr Kemp's op-ed based around the Paris Climate Agreement cut through to offer a unique perspective on the issue.


Vice-Chancellor's Award for Excellence

Professor Susan Scott, Professor David McClelland, and Dr Christian Wolf

ANU College of Science

The Gravitational-Waves Astronomy Team's major breakthrough with the first detection of ripples in space and time, known as gravitational waves, from the collision of two very dense stars generated an enormous amount of media interest. The team helped to prepare media materials and were tireless in their efforts to explain the significance of the discovery to journalists, ensuring that ANU was prominent in the media coverage.


Vice-Chancellor's Award for Excellence

Dr Brad Tucker

ANU College of Science

Brad Tucker is the go-to guy for the media on all things space. He's always willing to make himself available to the media, with regular spots on TV and radio, and is arguably one of the best science communicators in the country.    


Vice-Chancellor's Award for Excellence

Professor Ken Lampl

ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences

Since his appointment at the start of the year, Ken has overseen a shift in media reporting on the ANU School of Music. He has also taken a leading role in some of the year's big announcements including the opening of the new recording studio, the appointment of visiting fellow Mark Opitz, the International Chopin Competition and the Australia Day Awards activities.


Vice-Chancellor's Award for Excellence

Professor Genevieve Bell

ANU College of Engineering and Computer Science

After joining ANU as a Distinguished Professor in February, Genevieve has been one of the University's most high-profile media performers. She gave a sell-out ANU presentation on her thoughts and vision for a new applied science for the 21st Century, and followed up by presenting the prestigious series of Boyer Lectures with the ABC, reaching a wide and influential audience at home and overseas.


Vice-Chancellor's Award for Excellence

Professor Rory Medcalf

ANU College of Asia and the Pacific.

As Head of the ANU National Security College, Rory has been instrumental in leading national discussions and debate about crucial issues on national and international security. He has become a leading figure in national debates, most recently last week's Foreign Policy White Paper, and he is a strong advocate for fellow academics to also share their thoughts and expertise.


Vice-Chancellor's Award for Excellence

Dr Liz Allen

ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences

Liz rarely says no to requests and can be counted on to handle many subjects on demography all while working part-time and juggling her six kids including twin babies. Her Twitter feed @DrDemogrpahy is also a go-to source for thoughtful insights and commentary on social research.


Vice-Chancellor's Award for Excellence

Professor Kim Rubenstein

ANU College of Law

Kim has always been an amazing media performer but her appearance on Q&A earlier in the year showed she is not afraid of strongly advocating her view that Constitution should be changed to reflect a multicultural population.