Wireless power technology gets Prime Minister's science prize

Wireless power technology gets Prime Minister's science prize

Two University of Auckland professors have received the top prize at this year's Prime Minister's Science Prizes for their work with wireless power.

Professor John Boys and Professor Grant Covic of the University of Auckland’s Inductive Power Transfer (IPT) team received the $500,000 of the top prize for the wireless and inductive power transfer technology they have developed and commercialised. 

Examples include electric vehicle charging, automatically guided vehicles, wireless lighting systems and at least 70 percent of the world’s LCD screens are built on systems using their prize-winning technology.

Covic and Boys, who are recognised as global leaders in wireless power research, plan to use their prize money to develop inroad power charging systems so that electric vehicles can recharge as they travel the highways.

Another winner of this year's Science Prizes is Dr Benjamin O'Brien, CEO of StretchSense, (Emerging Scientist Prize of $200,000), who has pioneered the development of small, light and soft, stretchy sensors that measure movement of the human body and transmit the information to a smart phone app. 

The Prime Minister’s 2013 Science Teacher Prize has been won by FenellaColyer, Head of Physics at South Auckland’s Manurewa High School. She is the driving force behind a 30 percent increase in the past two years in the number of Maori and Pasifika students studying physics, with their pass rate rising to 81 percent and exceeding the national average. Fenella demystifies science by tailoring teaching programmes to individual student abilities and interests, embedding literacy skills into each module. Fenella receives $50,000 and Manurewa High School receives $100,000.

The Prime Minister’s 2013 Future Scientist Prize has been won by Thomas Morgan of Marlborough Boys’ College, Blenheim. The Year 13 student completed a detailed project showing oyster mushrooms have the potential to be enriched with Vitamin D when exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light. His study could help address Vitamin D deficiency, which is linked to osteoporosis, a major cause of suffering and disability. Tom receives a scholarship of $50,000 to help pay for tertiary studies.

Dr Siouxsie Wiles, a microbiologist at the University of Auckland, has won the Science Media Communication Prize, for her work with bioluminescence to help prevent and combat infectious diseases. She wins $50,000, with a further $50,000 allocated for development of her science media communication skills.