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Protecting our oceans – Q and A with 2016 Eureka Prize Winner Dr Denise Hardesty

By: Cara Bevington, Category: Science, Date: 27 Feb 2017

Dr Denise Hardesty talks about her Eureka Prizes experience.

CSIRO Marine Debris team members

CSIRO Marine Debris team members
Photographer:  © CSIRO

“I think winning a Eureka Prize has helped raise the profile of the research that we do, both with the Australian public and in the scientific community” says Dr Denise Hardesty, research scientist and Team Leader of the CSIRO Marine Debris Team.

“We believed (hoped!) the work we’re doing on marine debris at the national scale would be relevant for a Eureka Prize and had enough hope that we decided to go for it,” said Dr Hardesty.

Clearly the judging panel had belief in their work too. The CSIRO Marine Debris Team was a finalist in 2015 and went on to win the 2016 NSW Office of Environment and Heritage Eureka Prize for Environmental Research. The team conducted the world’s first survey of plastic pollutants by identifying the sources and distribution of marine debris around Australia’s coastline. They then used this scientific information to drive effective policy and behavioural change.

“It’s a tremendous honour to have received this award. It was an amazing feeling and such an incredible surprise to be announced winners.” Dr Hardesty said her team was also excited to celebrate the Sleek Geeks School Science winners, “it is so important to support and inspire the next generation.”

The CSIRO Marine Debris Team is gearing up for lots more work in 2017, which Dr Hardesty says is only a good thing, “we love the work that we do and are excited by our current and new projects on the horizon.”

“We have a follow up project, supported by the Australian Packaging Covenant. We’re working on improving our understanding of littering behaviour and reducing inputs upstream. We also have some exciting new work internationally, which grows from our national marine debris project in Australia,” Dr Hardesty said.

Dr Hardesty's message for anyone thinking about entering the 2017 Eureka Prizes is to go for it! “Prepare the best application possible, think about the relevance of your science to the broader community, and spend the time to submit the best application you can.”

Watch the video to learn more about the CSIRO Marine Debris Team and the prize winning research.

Could you be one of Australia’s next science stars? In 2017 there are 15 Eureka Prizes to celebrate and reward excellence in Australian science across 4 categories: research & innovation, leadership, science engagement and school science.

Find out more at the Eureka Prizes website and remember, entries close 7pm AEST Friday 5 May 2017.