Academy honours ANU scientists

25 May 2015

The Australian Academy of Science has honoured scientists from The Australian National University (ANU) for their work and discoveries in the core of the earth, astronomy, rocket science and the human immune system.

Four ANU scientists - Professor Martin Asplund, Professor Christine Charles, Professor Malcolm Sambridge and Professor Carola Vinuesa - are among the 21 new Fellows elected to the Academy.

ANU Vice-Chancellor Professor Ian Young AO congratulated the new Fellows and said the range of their research underlined the breadth of scientific research at ANU.

"I congratulate the four new Fellows, not only for their excellent careers, but for the leadership they have shown in their fields," Professor Young said.

"Their contribution to the research community exemplifies what makes ANU a world-class university."

The Australian Academy of Science champions excellence in Australian science, and currently has 503 Fellows and Corresponding Members from all natural sciences.

Professor Vinuesa from The John Curtin School of Medical Research was recognised for her discoveries into how our immune system produces high quality antibody responses to fight infections, while preventing the development of autoimmune diseases such as lupus.

"It's a huge honour, I feel very grateful to all those who have supported my work through the years and believed in what I do," she said.

Astronomer Professor Martin Asplund, from the Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics, said his recognition was humbling.

"It's a humbling experience - I never thought I would get to this point so early in my career," said Professor Asplund, who was recognised for his work on the life and death of stars and the search for earth-like planets orbiting other stars.

Professor Charles from the Research School of Physics and Engineering was recognised for her pioneering work into plasma thrusters for spacecraft.

"I feel this will give me the opportunity to show that women are as capable in science as men," she said. "I have had a lot of young women interested in aerospace, and I try to encourage them.

"The efforts from the academy in this direction are fantastic, and I will endeavour to keep the momentum rolling. I thank the academy for the opportunity."

Earth scientist Professor Malcolm Sambridge was honoured for his influential work modelling data from diverse sources such as seismic waves in the Earth's interior, microanalysis of chemicals in minerals and landscape evolution.

"It's a humbling honour - puts a spring in your step, particularly because it's one's peers who elect members of the Academy," said Professor Sambridge, who works at the Research School of Earth Sciences.

Academy President Professor Andrew Holmes said election to the Academy celebrated excellence and recognised contributions to science of the highest order.

"Each of these research scientists has changed the way we think and made a significant and lasting contribution to his or her field," Professor Holmes said.