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Dr Niraj Lal a winner at "Oscars of science"
Monday 11 October 2021
Dr Niraj Lal has won the presitigous Celestino Eureka Prize for Promoting Understanding of Science.
In addition to serving as a Lecturer on Renewable energy at the ANU School of Engineering, Dr Lal is an innovative and highly respected science communicator who has authored two books aimed at inspiring a love of science among children, including one about an emu that defies gravity and learns to fly.
He also hosts an ABC podcast, regularly appears on national TV and has presented a special program on Australia's renewable energy future for ABC TV's science program, Catalyst.
"I didn't expect to win!" Dr Lal said. "I was honestly happy just to be in such great company.
"There are so many people to thank - if this is the 'oscars of Australian Science', they'd have to cue the music on my acceptance speech.
"But in particular I'd like to thank all the wonderful creative people I've been lucky enough to communicate science with.
"Communicating science for me isn't just about highlighting the wonders of our Universe, though that can be pretty great
"It's also about showing how the process of scientific thinking and evidence-based reasoning can help us decide what to believe.
"I especially like taking science to kids. My aim is not to only spark curiosity and wonder in our world, but to help give kids the tools to figure things out for themselves, so they make better decisions than the generations before them.
"The real value of awards like this is to help this kind of work continue in the future, and that's what I'll keep doing in promoting the understanding of science."
Two other ANU academics, Professor Lindell Bromham and Dr Xia Hua, won the Eureka Prize for Excellence in Interdisciplinary Scientific Research — a win they share with colleagues from the University of Queensland and the Karungkarni Art and Culture Aboriginal Corporation.
ANU Vice-Chancellor, Professor Brian Schmidt, congratulated all three ANU winners on their "remarkable achievements".
"Science is one of humanity's most profound forms of expression. It helps us understand the workings of the world and our place in it. It helps make our lives better," he said.
"In the case of Niraj, it sparks a sense of wonder and excitement in people of all ages, and charts a cleaner, greener future for our planet.
"Their work is vital. These awards are a wonderful recognition of this and the positive impact their science has every day.
"Please join me in congratulating all three on their well-deserved win."