Rock stars of the new economy

Image - Rock stars of the new economy
Date Published :
Thursday, December 10, 2015

UNSW researchers and alumni are among the newly minted “rock stars of the Knowledge Nation 100”.

The inaugural Knowledge Nation 100 includes “visionaries, intellects, founders and game changers” who will help shape the country’s future prosperity. The list, consisting of 10 recipients across 10 categories, was revealed at a lunch in Sydney today attended by the Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull.

The group was chosen by the Knowledge Society, guided by Australia’s Chief Scientist, Professor Ian Chubb and senior commentators from The Australian newspaper, which will publish the full list tomorrow in its The Deal magazine.

“Australia’s greatest assets are not those under the ground but the men and women walking on top of it,” Prime Minister Turnbull said.

“If we are to achieve our potential as a nation and remain a prosperous economy, we must put innovation at the heart of everything we do.”

The UNSW recipients are:

  • Scientia Professor Martin Green from UNSW’s School of Photovoltaic and Renewable Energy Engineering. Known as the ‘father of photovoltaics’, Green is Director of the Centre for Advanced Photovoltaics. His group's contributions to photovoltaics include the development of the world’s highest efficiency silicon solar cells and several successful spin-off companies.
  • Associate Professor Cyril Boyer, the deputy-director of UNSW’s Australian Centre for NanoMedicine. Boyer received a 2015 Prime Minister’s Science Prize and the Le Févre prize from the Australian Academy of Science for his work with polymers – small, repeating chains of molecules that are ubiquitous in nature and industry.
  • Professor Maria Kavallaris, the co-director of UNSW’s Australian Centre for NanoMedicine and Program Head at the Children’s Cancer Institute. Kavallaris is using nanotechnology to deliver drugs and gene-silencing therapies directly to cancer cells. Kavallaris was recognised earlier this year in the Australian Financial Review and Westpac Australia’s 100 Women of Influence Awards for 2015.
  • Associate Professor Andrea Morello from UNSW's School of Electrical Engineering and Telecommunications. Morello’s research is aimed at building a quantum computer based on single spins in silicon. Morello is also actively engaged in science outreach and education.
  • Professor Toby Walsh, artificial intelligence expert from UNSW’s School of Computer Science and Engineering and research group leader at Data61, the largest data innovation group in Australia. Walsh recently spoke at a United Nations event highlighting the deadly threats of artificial intelligence in modern warfare, and called for a ban on autonomous weapons.
  • Professor David Sinclair from UNSW’s School of Medical Sciences and the Genetic Department at Harvard Medical School. Sinclair has been recognised for his research on the anti-ageing compound, resveratrol, found in red wine.
  • Professor Les Field, Vice-President & Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) at UNSW and Secretary for Science Policy at the Australian Academy of Science. An internationally recognised expert in organometallic chemistry, Field has played a key role providing advice to government on their new innovation agenda.

Among the UNSW alumni featured on the list are:

  • Scott Farquar and Mike Cannon-Brookes, UNSW engineering graduates, co-founders and CEOs of Atlassian. The Sydney-based technology company this week raised $638 million in an initial public offering on the US Nasdaq, bringing its market value to over $6 billion.
  • Daniel Petre, a UNSW commerce graduate, venture capitalist, philanthropist and Partner of Air Tree Adventures. 

Back to top