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Eureka! Congratulations to our winners

Dr Paul Beggs and Ron Oldfield presented with prestigious Eureka Prizes.

Macquarie University congratulates environmental health expert Dr Paul Beggs and Biological Sciences Senior Research Fellow Ron Oldfield, who were last night presented with prestigious Eureka Prizes for medical research and science photography.

Premier Nathan Rees with Eureka Prize winner Dr Paul Beggs. Photo courtesy of KatieMac Publicity.Beggs, from the University's Department of Environment and Geography, won the $10,000 prize in the Medical Research category for his work exploring the relationship between climate change, asthma and allergies.

His work was the first in the world to link increased worldwide asthma with climate change. He was also nominated in the popular People's Choice Award category.

Beggs began looking at allergens such as pollen, house dust, mites and mould spores and discovered that climate change may make asthma and food allergies to nuts more severe and more common. His interest in food allergies was initially sparked by research into poison ivy and how climate change may make the plant more toxic to humans.

The photographic skill of long-time Biological Sciences Senior Research Fellow Ron Oldfield was also recognised with a Eureka Prize.

Biological Sciences Senior Research Fellow Ron Oldfield also recognised with a Eureka Prize. Photo courtesy of KatieMac Publicity.Oldfield shared the $4000 prize for Science Photography for a photograph of a collection of Dictyostelium cells, clumped together to form a single slug-like organism.

The Eureka Prizes are the premier science prizes in Australia presented annually by the Australian Museum. The prizes recognise excellence in the fields of scientific research and innovation, science leadership, science journalism and communication, and school science.

This year in particular, the Eureka finalists' work reflected the important role of science in tackling the big issues that face Australia and the world, with research into climate change featuring prominently.

The 2009 winners were announced at a black-tie awards dinner last night, where they were joined by more than 900 leaders of government, science, industry, academia and the media.

The University was well represented at the awards dinner, with the Indigenous Science Education Program (ISEP) and its team comprising Associate Professor Joanne Jamie, Dr Ian Jamie, David Harrington and Associate Professor Subramanyam Vemulpad also nominated as finalists in the Promoting Understanding in Science category for their Engaging Indigenous Students in Science Project.