Research into the cause of the devastating Black Summer bushfires has been shortlisted for the prestigious 2021 Australian Museum Eureka Prizes, which celebrate excellence in science.
The NSW Bushfire Risk Management Hub – including researchers from the University of Tasmania, University of Wollongong, University of New South Wales and Western Sydney University – has been announced as a finalist in the NSW Environment, Energy and Science Eureka Prize for Applied Environmental Research category.
The Hub was commissioned by the NSW Bushfire Inquiry to help it understand what happened during the 2019-20 fires and why they differed from previous fire seasons.
Its findings addressed major knowledge gaps relating to droughts, fuel dynamics, and the social and environmental impacts of the fires — directly influencing many of the NSW Bushfire Inquiry recommendations and setting the future direction for fire management.
University of Tasmania lead researcher Dr Grant Williamson welcomed the team’s nomination as testament to its strength in collaboration.
“Having worked extremely hard after the 2019-20 fire season to gather data and quickly put together a range of analyses to help authorities understand the causes and impacts of the Black Summer fires, we were glad to see our science and recommendations utilised and adopted by the NSW Bushfire Inquiry,” Dr Williamson said.
“We were all especially excited to hear about our place as a finalist for the Eureka Prize, acknowledging the importance of our work in making Australian communities safer, and understanding how the Australian environment is being changed by extreme fires.”
Known as ‘the Oscars of Australian science’, the Eureka Prizes offer $160,000 in prize money across a broad spectrum of research from environmental to innovative technologies, defence and mentoring. Winners of the 2021 AM Eureka Prizes will be announced on Thursday, 7 October.