Meteoric rise to the top

Meteoric rise to the top

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Dr Adam Cross and Professor Phil Bland are winners at the Western Australian Premier’s Science Awards. Photograph — Aaron Van Rongen.

Being a Scientist of the Year finalist is already exciting but becoming the Scientist of the Year is another story.

With two big wins for Curtin University, the Premier’s Science awards named Professor Phil Bland Scientist of the Year and Dr Adam cross winner in the Early Career Scientist of the Year.

Professor Bland’s research explores the origin and evolution of the solar system through the analysis of meteorites.

This has taken the Rossmoyne resident to meteorite ‘hot spots’ across the globe.

Professor Phil Bland and Dr Adam Cross have a mission. Photograph — Aaron Van Rongen.

Recently he led the formation of the Space Science and Technology Centre at Curtin University, home to the largest group of planetary scientists in the Southern Hemisphere.

Prof Bland was named joint winner along with Edith Cowan University’s Professor Robert Newton.

“Western Australia has a thriving research community so it’s very humbling to be recognised in this way,” he said.

“Robert is an amazing scientist and it’s a privilege to share the award with him.”

Prof Bland expects this year to be more exciting than the last one as Curtin researchers will be sending up the first small satellite on a sub-orbital launch later this year and into orbit in mid-2020.

‘That’ll be WA’s first spacecraft and it won’t be the last,” he said.

Dr Adam Cross is a passionate ecologist and conservationist whose research transforms sterile mining landscapes into healthy ecosystems.

“We have had some early successes in kick starting soil formation and returning biodiversity to tailings,” he said.

Dr Cross spent the last decade searching for a rare carnivorous water plant in swamps and billabongs across Northern Australia.

He is now recognised as the world’s authority of two genera Aldrovanda vesiculosa and Cephalotus follicularis.

“It is a huge honour to be named as the winner, the calibre of the other finalists was incredible and it’s wonderful recognition for our restoration research work,” he said.