The Illawarra’s stellar young scientist Macinley Butson has been named the 2018 NSW Young Australian of the Year.
The 17-year-old inventor received news she had won the prestigious award on Monday night at a ceremony at Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art, after being revealed as a nominee last week.
The Australian of the Year judges recognised the teenager, who has just started year 12 at the Illawarra Grammar School, as “a rising star in the male-dominated world of science”, noting an already long list of achievements and “world-beating’ inventions.
For instance they highlighted how she made history in 2017 when she became the first Australian to win the top medicine prize at the prestigious INTEL International Science and Engineering Fair.
Macinley’s idea, ‘Smart Armour’, is a shield that can be used by breast cancer patients to protect their non-treated breast while undergoing radiotherapy treatment.
They also said Ms Butson was “a prolific inventor” who has won awards for other “exceptional” ideas, like as a system that simultaneously collects solar power and filters water, a spoon that accurately measures and delivers oral medicine to children, and a device that deters garden snails without the use of poison.
Also at Monday night’s ceremony, another leading female scientist Professor Michelle Yvonne Simmons was named as the NSW Australian of the Year.
Recognised as being “one of the world’s top scientists”, judges said Professor Simmons had “pioneered research that could lead to a quantum leap in computing”.
The state’s senior Australian of the year was named as 93-year-old surgeon Dr Catherine Hamlin, while maths teacher Eddie Woo was named the NSW Local Hero.
These four finalists will join 32 recipients from around the country, who will represent their states at the national awards.
The four overall Australians of the Year will be announced on January 25 in Canberra.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the awards celebrated selfless contributions of the recipients.
“Their dedication to the issues that affect our State and our nation ignites discussion, raises awareness and improves our lives,” she said.
“Leading by example, they inspire all of us to make a difference in our communities.”
National Australia Day Council CEO Jenny Barbour said the recipients were examples of how individuals could have big affects in the wider community.
"[These are] people making extraordinary contributions to our society,” she said.
“The stories of the NSW Award recipients show us the power of an individual and how one person can make a big difference – from education to medicine to scientific breakthroughs, they are all making an impact.”