Premier and Science Minister Colin Barnett has announced the WA Government would continue its strong support of science education by relocating Scitech from its current West Perth premises to the Perth Cultural Centre.
Speaking tonight at the Premier’s Science Awards, Mr Barnett said Scitech would remain at City West until 2021 after which it would be relocated to a space completely reimagined as a modern, digitally driven, state-of-the-art centre for science education.
“The State Government’s long-term commitment to the cultural centre as the epicentre of science, literature and the arts is already demonstrated in the $428 million new museum complex,” he said.
“A reinvigorated cultural centre will highlight the importance of science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics to the community.
“Scitech is a natural fit for the cultural centre, working closely with the new museum and also at the $17 million upgrade of the museum’s Welshpool facilities, where opportunities to share storage and exhibition development facilities will be explored.”
The Premier also revealed the appointment of Dr Simon Cook as the inaugural Premier’s Fellow in Agriculture and Food. His appointment will see the Government collaborate with Curtin and Murdoch universities through the delivery of a cutting edge agricultural research program.
As the Premier’s Fellow, Dr Cook will build and lead a research team in Western Australia to develop the State’s capabilities in big data and agriculture.
Mr Barnett said the appointment provided an excellent opportunity to strengthen the collaboration across two leading universities within the field of agriculture, and build on the successes of past Fellows in creating hubs of academic excellence in areas of need.
Regional Development Minister Terry Redman said the Fellowship program represented yet another exciting opportunity to broaden the State’s economy made possible by the Liberal National Government’s Royalties for Regions program.
“I am pleased Royalties for Regions can support world-leading research of particular importance to regional WA’s economy and the agriculture sector by investing in these important programs,” Mr Redman said.
The Science Awards also saw conservation scientist Professor Kingsley Dixon crowned Scientist of the Year.
Professor Dixon, from Curtin University, was previously Foundation Director of Science at the Botanic Gardens and Parks Authority and has been credited as the driving force behind its research excellence.
“Professor Dixon is widely known for discovering the specific chemical in smoke that is responsible for germination in many of Australia’s plants,” the Premier said.
Dr Scott Draper, from The University of Western Australia, was announced as the winner of the Woodside Early Career Scientist of the Year for his work on offshore fluid mechanics.
Audiologist Christopher Brennan-Jones, from The University of Western Australia, was announced as Student Scientist of the Year. Curtin’s Fireballs in the Sky was awarded the Chevron Science Engagement Initiative of the Year.
For the tenth year in a row, the awards have also recognised lifelong contributions to science through the Western Australian Science Hall of Fame. Professor Ian Ritchie AO was announced as the 2016 inductee for his dedication to science and his championing of a practical, business-focused approach to science in the State.
Professor Ritchie was instrumental in the transformation of the WA Chemistry Centre to the ChemCentre, as well as the establishment of the AJ Parker Cooperative Research Centre for Hydrometallurgy. The induction was made posthumously and was accepted by his son, Andrew Ritchie.