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ICRAR-Curtin researcher Dr Natasha Hurley-Walker has been named Western Australian Young Tall Poppy Scientist of the Year at the 2017 WA Young Tall Poppy Science Awards.

Dr Hurley-Walker, an Early Career Research Fellow from the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research, is considered a leader in the field of radio astronomy and helped commission the low-frequency Square Kilometre Array (SKA) precursor radio telescope, the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA), which is located in the Western Australian outback.

Professor Jo Ward of Curtin and Chair of the WA Selection Committee, Dr Natasha Hurley-Walker, Ms Di Jones, Executive Director of the WA Museum.

Professor Jo Ward of Curtin and Chair of the WA Selection Committee, Dr Natasha Hurley-Walker, Ms Di Jones, Executive Director of the WA Museum.

Dr Nadim Darwish, an ARC-DECRA Research Fellow in the Department of Chemistry at Curtin University, was also among five WA early career scientists recognised as WA Young Tall Poppy award winners. His research uses individual molecules to create tiny electrical components, which can help reduce the costs and sizes of electronic devices.

Curtin University Vice-Chancellor Professor Deborah Terry congratulated both Dr Hurley-Walker and Dr Darwish on receiving the awards, adding that their research greatly contributed to raising the profile of the University.

“It is wonderful to have two of Curtin’s talented young researchers recognised at these prestigious awards, and it is testament to their commitment in their respective fields,” Professor Terry said.

“Dr Hurley-Walker has been recognised for her ongoing success in the field of radio astronomy, most importantly for her work on the MWA. She is a great advocate for science, and has visited many schools to introduce primary school children to astronomy, as well as giving high school students advice about pursuing a career in science.”

Dr Hurley-Walker used the MWA to survey the entire southern sky for the GaLactic and Extragalactic All-sky MWA (GLEAM) survey, offering astronomers the first ‘radio colour’ view of the low-frequency sky. You can explore the interactive GLEAM-O-SCOPE here.

She has also given keynote talks at Astrofest, Australia’s largest astronomy event, and was also involved with Guerrilla Astronomy, a project focusing on pop-up telescopes around Perth.

Dr Hurley-Walker said she was honoured to be recognised for her contributions to the science community.

“I have always had a strong passion for science, and I am honoured that my work at Curtin University and throughout the wider community has been recognised,” Dr Hurley-Walker said.

“I am extremely proud to have worked on the unique GLEAM survey project, and while the team is made up of international researchers, the work was truly enabled by the radio-quiet environment and amazing supercomputing resources here in Western Australia.”

The Tall Poppy Award winners participate in education and community outreach programs in which they become role models to inspire school students and the broader community about the possibilities of science. This involves a range of science promotion activities, including visits to schools, educational seminars, workshops and public talks.

The annual awards are presented by the Australian Institute of Policy and Science (AIPS), and recognise outstanding young scientists for their research and/or academic achievement as well as excellence in communication and community engagement to promote an understanding of science.

For further information on the Young Tall Poppy Science Awards, please visit the AIPS website.