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ICRAR recognised in Australia Day Achievement Awards

As part of recent Australia Day celebrations, two West Australians were awarded Australia Day Team Achievement Medallions for their contribution to the Australia/New Zealand bid to host the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) radio telescope project.

ICRAR, a joint venture between Curtin University and The University of Western Australia, is working closely with the Department of Commerce and others throughout Australia and New Zealand to provide the international community with the best site to host the next generation telescope.

ICRAR Outreach and Education Manager, Pete Wheeler, and Penny Griffin of WA’s Department of Commerce received the highest level of recognition for their efforts.



The team with their Australia Day Team Achievement Medallions.  From left to right: (Back Row) Pete Wheeler, Outreach and Education Manager, ICRAR; Jerry Skinner, Public Affairs Officer, SKA and Astronomy Section, DIISR; Ben Scandrett, Project Officer, SKA and Astronomy Section, DIISR; Mike Bryson, Manager, SKA and Astronomy Section, DIISR; (Front Row) Jesusa Aguilar, Assistant Manager, SKA Site Establishment Section, DIISR; Julia Evans, General Manager, Research Infrastructure and Science Policy Branch, DIISR; Penny Griffin, Manager Communications, Radio Astronomy, Department of Commerce.

“Each year, in the lead up to Australia Day, the Department of Innovation, Industry, Science & Research recognises outstanding performance of individuals and teams working on nationally significant projects in the preceding year,” Mr Wheeler said.

“It’s a real honour to receive this award. It’s not why we do the work we do, but it’s great to have a chance to look back on a job well done, particularly when it involves a team of people working so hard to secure this project for Australia and New Zealand.”

Mr Wheeler said if the two countries were chosen as the host site, thousands of antennas would be located in ‘radio quiet’ areas throughout Australia and New Zealand.

“When connected and operational, these antennas will work together to create the world’s biggest radio telescope, capable of seeing the first light from the first objects to exist in the Universe. It’s a very exciting project,” he said.

ICRAR Deputy Director (Engineering), Professor Peter Hall, said ICRAR’s success had been a testament to the quality of its staff and their dedication to the SKA initiative

“ICRAR is one of three pillars of the Australian SKA bid and its staff take seriously their role in briefing the world on the technical and other advantages of the Australian site,” Professor Hall said.

Australia Day Team Achievement Medallions were awarded on 25 January 2011 to members of the intergovernmental Taskforce that managed Australia and New Zealand’s participation and presentation at the International Square Kilometre Array (SKA) Forum in the Netherlands in 2010.

Recipients included four officers from the Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research in Canberra; and three external contributors, one from New Zealand’s Ministry of Economic Development and two from Western Australia.

Their achievements are credited with clearly positioning Australia and New Zealand’s bid as the candidate site able to deliver the best science to the international community.