Advance Awards 2020: Introducing the Technology and Science Award Finalists

WATCH > Introducing Dr Abigail Allwood


Dr Abigail Allwood is at the cutting-edge of space exploration. She is one of only seven principal investigators developing innovative instruments to accompany the Mars 2020 Rover expedition. Not only is she the first Australian, but also the first woman scientific lead on a Mars mission. During Abigail’s exceptional career she has authored countless articles, is a visiting scholar at California Institute of Technology and acts as an editorial board member and review scientist for some of the world’s leading space agencies. Perhaps, most importantly, Abigail is a passionate advocate for science education and believes that Australia needs to invest more in STEM education and opportunities if we are to curtail the brain drain of our brightest minds and talents.

Dr Abigail Allwood is well recognised as a world-leading field geologist, astrobiologist and research scientist with NASA’s prestigious Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Her focus is the Planetary Instrument for X-Ray Lithochemistry (a $39M project involving some of the world’s best scientists and engineers) which will examine rock chemistry as part of the Mars 2020 Rover expedition. Abigail has authored over 60 journal articles, abstracts and conference papers and is a review panel scientist for NASA, European Space Agency and Swiss National Science Foundation. Earlier in her career, Abigail was responsible for groundbreaking-work proving billion-year-old rock formations in Australia’s Pilbara region held records of Earth’s oldest life forms. The discovery made the cover of the renowned Nature international journal. 

WATCH > Introducing Professor Bryan Gaensler


Professor Bryan Gaensler is an award-winning astronomer and author who is internationally recognised for his groundbreaking work on dying stars, interstellar magnets and cosmic explosions. His popular astronomy book “Extreme Cosmos” was published worldwide in 2012, revealing Bryan’s passion for understanding the Universe. Like the rest of us, Bryan is fascinated by the ways in which celestial objects change, flicker, flare and explode, but as Director of the Dunlap Institute, Bryan takes it a step further,  aiming to develop new approaches to astronomy through innovative hardware and software, to train the next generation of astronomers, and to foster public engagement in science. Not to mention aiming to uncover why the Universe is magnetic.

A former Young Australian of the Year, NASA Hubble Fellow and Harvard professor, Professor Bryan Gaensler was an Australian Laureate Fellow at The University of Sydney and founding Director of the Centre of Excellence for All-sky Astrophysics, before relocating to Canada in 2014. He gave the 2001 Australia Day Address, was named one of Sydney’s 100 most influential people for 2010, and in 2011 was awarded Australia’s Pawsey Medal for outstanding research by a physicist aged under 40. Bryan is currently the Director of the Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of Toronto, Canada, and the Canada Research Chair in Radio Astronomy. He is harnessing the unique capabilities of the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) to conduct the Polarisation Sky Survey of the Universe’s Magnetism (POSSUM). Bryan hopes to tailor the unique capabilities of wide-field telescopes and all-sky surveys to explore the time-domain Universe for discoveries and new physical insights.

WATCH > Introducing Professor Daryl Williams


Professor Daryl Williams is the inventor and scientific pioneer of a new family of scientific methods for powder characterisation. Every solid drug substance developed globally in the past 15 years will have been tested for stability and moisture uptake using the instruments he has developed. These new experimental methods have been incorporated into global standards, transforming industrial and research practice in the pharmaceutical, food, personal care and materials industries. For the past 20 years, Daryl has successfully led the commercialisation of his methods through the company he created, Surface Measurement Systems, a global developer and manufacturer of scientific instruments. It is rare and noteworthy for an academic to have such a broad commercial impact on world-wide industrial practices. 

In 2020, Professor Daryl Williams and his team were short-listed for the Royal Academy of Engineering’s MacRobert Prize, whilst the Royal Society of Chemistry awarded Professor Williams the 2020 Chemistry World Entrepreneur of the Year Award. The success of both Daryl’s academic and entrepreneurial work has been recognised by major awards from Imperial College, the Engineering Employers Federation (now MAKE) as well as the Institution of Chemical Engineering. He received Imperial College’s President’s Medal in 2017, the EEF’s Future Manufacturing Award in Innovation for 2018 and the Institution of Chemical Engineers’ Geldart Medal in 2018/19 for his ‘major contribution to particle technology’. More than 7000 publications (papers, posters, abstracts and theses) have been published worldwide which include data that is derived from just one of Daryl’s techniques; 25% of these publications are patents. Now that’s a lesson in keeping your powder dry!

WATCH > Introducing Dr David Pender


A manufacturing revolutionary, Dr David Pender has designed and run some of the most advanced manufacturing facilities in the world. He has started them up, debugged them and brought them to full capacity. David brings his unique background of high-tech knowledge mixed with lean methodology and pragmatic leadership to ensure the technical success of these high-tech start-up factories. Combining technical know-how with astute people management skills, he brings out the best in organisations and businesses attempting to cross the chasm to advanced manufacturing. As Vice President of SageGlass, the dynamic glass arm of Saint-Gobain, David manages the world’s most innovative and high-tech electrochromic glass facility. In producing glass for buildings that connects occupants to the outdoors, the team notes increases in occupant productivity, well-being and general happiness, whilst reducing energy costs and improving building sustainability.

Dr David Pender grew up in Sydney. He completed his undergraduate studies in Ceramic Engineering at UNSW as a Coop Scholar graduating with first-class honours, and worked at CSIRO and ANSTO before obtaining a Masters and Ph.D. at the University of Connecticut, USA in the field of Advanced Ceramics Processing. He worked at GE’s Corporate R&D labs in upstate New York, before moving to Germany, joining the world’s largest building materials company, Saint-Gobain. He produced electrochromic coated glass: glass that tints on demand, for Ferrari. He then moved into the Solar field, first designing and then running large thin film CIS solar module production facilities in Eastern Germany for Avancis. David has devoted his time to develop the teams needed to work in this environment, working with the local community college to develop an apprenticeship program as well as developing an in-house training program to meet the needs of Sage’s team members.

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