Dr Sophie Lewis named 2019 ACT Scientist of the Year

Released 09/08/2019 - Joint media release

Hot on the heels of Canberra's driest July in 37 years, climate scientist Dr Sophie Lewis has been named the 2019 ACT Scientist of the Year.

Dr Lewis' research is helping to better understand the impact of climate change on the ACT and to prepare for the local, national and international effects as our planet warms.

Using climate model data, she was able to show that the year's high temperatures were more likely because of climate change.

Dr Lewis is a Senior Lecturer and Research Fellow at the University of New South Wales Canberra who received her PhD in palaeoclimatology in 2011 from the Australian National University and started her research on Australia's record hot 2013 summer.

Quotes attributable to Chief Minister Andrew Barr:

"I congratulate Dr Lewis as our 2019 ACT Scientist of the Year. She will receive $30,000 from the ACT Government to continue her important work."

"Dr Lewis plans to share her knowledge through educational programs for children and young people to encourage them to develop their interests in climate change and empower them to help us make positive action on climate change."

"The annual ACT Scientist of the Year award celebrates excellence in scientific research and innovation in the ACT and showcases the contribution that local scientists make to the global body of knowledge."

Quotes attributable to Minister assisting the Chief Minister on Advanced Technology and Space Industries Mick Gentleman:

"Showing the link between man-made climate change and global temperature rises is incredibly important and Dr Lewis' award is well earned."

"Dr Lewis will hit the ground running as we enter National Science Week (10-18 August), getting involved at the grass roots level with our youngest Canberrans. Sophie will help teach children at Pinocchio Early Learning Centre in Dickson as part of Destination Moon on 12, 14 and 16 August."

"Dr Lewis' research has fundamentally changed the scientific community's knowledge of Australia's climate extremes by filling critical gaps in global knowledge. Her innovative approach is now being used by the World Weather Attribution project."

"As part of this research, Dr Lewis developed a method to accurately, reliably and quickly analyse the connection between extreme weather events and climate change. She then used this approach to analyse the impacts of climatic events, including the Great Barrier Reef bleaching in 2016."

Quotes attributable to Dr Sophie Lewis, 2019 ACT Scientist of the Year:

"I'm thrilled to receive this award and it's an incredible honour knowing the world-class standard of science being done in Canberra."

"As ACT Scientist of the Year, I'm excited to be more involved with school groups and visiting a wider range of schools and age groups. Canberra's students are incredibly passionate and socially engaged on issues such as sustainability and climate change."

"I will also be using the prize money to develop programs for high school and college age young people in Canberra to develop their interests in climate change and empower them help us make positive action on climate change. This will invest in our young people and allow them to teach their peers elsewhere in Australia."

Quotes attributable to Professor Ian Chubb AC, Chair of the ACT Scientist of the Year Selection Panel:

"It is timely that this award should go to a young scientist making strides in the important field of climate change research, which I consider one of the most complex and demanding scientific problems of our time.

"Dr Lewis' work is ground-breaking and will enable us to understand more clearly the effects of our changing climate.

"Her outstanding scientific contributions, combined with her efforts to educate young people and promote STEM education, makes Dr Lewis highly deserving of this recognition."

Dr Lewis joins past recipients Dr Rose Ahlefeldt (2018), Dr Kai Xun Chan (2017), Dr Ceridwen Fraser (2016) and Dr Colin Jackson (2015) who each spent their 12 months as ACT Scientist of the Year inspiring young people to consider STEM careers and promoting the ACT as a centre of excellence for science and research.

For more information on the ACT Scientist of the Year Award visit: www.act.gov.au/scientistofyear.

- Statement ends -

Section: Andrew Barr, MLA | Mick Gentleman, MLA | Media Releases

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