Darwinian moment of discovery leads to Eureka Prize nomination

July 24, 2015

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAileen Elliot, a technician in parasitology at Murdoch University has been selected as a finalist for the 2015 New Scientist Eureka Prize for Science Photography.

Described as the "Oscars of Australian Science", the Australian Museum Eureka Prizes reward excellence in research, leadership, education and communication.

Ms Elliot captured her award winning photograph of a thorny headed worm (phylum Acanthocephala) in the process of performing her every day job in the parasitology diagnostic laboratory.

“I received, for identification, several bland cysts found in the peritoneum of the often caught but only recently described, Eel Tailed Catfish,” Ms Elliot said.

“On dissection, out popped this incredible little worm.

“As a parasitology technician, seeing amazing life forms such as this has the power to turn a mundane day in the lab into one of sheer brilliance.

“Through this image and others like it I get to share my modern day Darwinian moments of discovery with others and hope to excite and inspire the next generation of budding parasitologists.”

The idea of Ms Elliot entering her photograph in the awards came up after a casual discussion with colleagues in the tea room at Murdoch University.

“A few colleagues and I had gathered around for morning tea and there was a copy of New Scientist on the table,” she said.

“A colleague was flicking through the magazine and saw an ad for the Eureka Prizes and it was then that it was suggested I enter.”

Ms Elliot said the nomination as a finalist was a surprise.

“It’s all a bit surreal really. I put in an entry, not really expecting anything to come of it, so it’s hard to believe that my photograph will appear among this year’s finalists,” she said.

The winner of the Australian Museum New Scientist Eureka Prize for Science Photography will be announced on August 26 in Sydney, as well as a number of other Eureka Prizes for excellence in science.

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