Microbial methane cycling research and industry mentoring program finalists in 2022 Eureka Prizes

(L-R) A/Prof Chris Greening and Prof Paul Wood AO, Finalists in the 2022 Australian Museum Eureka Prizes
(L-R) A/Prof Chris Greening and Prof Paul Wood AO, Finalists in the 2022 Australian Museum Eureka Prizes

Two Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute (BDI) researchers are in the running for prestigious Eureka Prizes, the ‘Oscars’ of Australian science. Congratulations to Associate Professor Chris Greening, a finalist in the ‘Research and Innovation’ category, and to Professor Paul Wood AO, a finalist in the ‘Leadership’ category of the 2022 Australian Museum Eureka Prizes

Eureka Prizes honour excellence across the areas of research and innovation, leadership, science engagement and school science, and are presented annually in partnership with some of the country’s leading scientific institutions, government organisations, universities and corporations.

Six Monash University research projects were named as 2022 Australian Museum Eureka Prizes Finalists, which included researchers from the Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences; Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences and Faculty of Information Technology.

The two Monash BDI finalist projects shortlisted for Eureka Prizes are:

Macquarie University Eureka Prize for Outstanding Career Researcher

Associate Professor Chris Greening, Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute
Atmospheric emissions of the potent greenhouse gas methane have doubled through human activities and account for a third of global warming. 80% of the methane emitted into the atmosphere is produced by archaea from sources such as livestock and wetlands, and only 5% is consumed by methane-consuming bacteria, primarily in soils, meaning methane is produced at much higher levels than it is recycled. The research-to-action programs led by microbiologist and biochemist Associate Professor Greening are shifting this balance. Through his high-impact basic research, he has advanced the biochemistry, physiology, and ecology of microbial methane cycling. Notably, he has revealed the microbes and processes that control methane production from numerous sources, uncovered new phylum-level lineages and surprising flexibility of methane-consuming bacteria, and discovered certain bacteria can ‘live on air’ by consuming energy sources such as methane. Through large-scale industrial and government partnerships, he has translated these findings to develop novel strategies to decrease methane emissions from livestock, convert waste gases into animal feed (single-cell protein), and restore polluted ecosystems.

UTS Eureka Prize for Outstanding Mentor of Young Researchers

Professor Paul Wood AO, Adjunct Professor in Microbiology, Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute
Professor Wood is nominated for this award for his vision and leadership to establish the Industry Mentoring and Networking in STEM (IMNIS) program. The idea for the IMNIS programme stemmed from a training program for PhD students called “Project to Product”, which was established alongside  Monash’s Associate Professor Jose Garcia-Bustos and Associate Professor Priscilla Johanesen to introduce PhD students to how to translate their science to products and work with industry. IMNIS is now the premier Australian mentoring program for PhD students and early career postdocs in STEM, with over 400 individuals being mentored each year. IMNIS continues to expand and is now a high-profile program within the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE) and part of the new Elevate program to boost women in STEM. The success of IMNIS is a credit to Professor Wood’s vision, leadership, and tenacity to design and build a mentoring program that would have the scale to make a real impact on the future careers of thousands of young researchers in Australia.

The Eureka Prize winners will be announced on Wednesday 31 August via a live broadcast at 7.15pm AEST. To register, visit the Australian Museum website.

2022 Macquarie University Eureka Prize for Outstanding Career Researcher Finalist, Associate Professor Chris Greening, explaining his ground-breaking research into methane-consuming bacteria, and how through partnerships with industry and government, these microorganisms can be used to convert waste gas emissions into carbon negative pet foods.

2022 UTS Eureka Prize for Outstanding Mentor of Young Researchers Finalist Professor Paul Wood AO discussing the Industry Mentoring Network in STEM program.

About the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute at Monash University

Committed to making the discoveries that will relieve the future burden of disease, the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute at Monash University brings together more than 120 internationally-renowned research teams. Our researchers are supported by world-class technology and infrastructure, and partner with industry, clinicians and researchers internationally to enhance lives through discovery.

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