Wireless inventor wins top science award

Dr John O’Sullivan bags this year's this year’s Prime Minister's Prize for Science

The winner of the 2009 Prime Minister's Prize for Science, CSIRO's Dr John O'Sullivan.
Image credit – Bearcage Productions

The winner of the 2009 Prime Minister's Prize for Science, CSIRO's Dr John O'Sullivan.
Image credit – Bearcage Productions

A Commonwealth Scientific and Research Organisation (CSIRO) scientist involved with the development of its wireless technology has won this year’s Prime Minister's Prize for Science.

CSIRO’s Dr John O’Sullivan received the award and a $300,000 grant for his contribution to the development of IEEE 802.11a and 802.11g Wi-Fi products, a standard that is used by almost every notebook, desktop and mobile wireless LAN device, as well as contributions to astronomy.

A statement from the Primer Minister’s office said the discovery was one of the most significant achievements in CSIRO's 83 year history.

The organisation announced earlier this month that revenue from settlements over wireless LAN patent infringement cases boosted its financial fortunes to $205 million in the year to June 2009.

The scientific agency’s chief executive, Dr Megan Clark, said O’Sullivan was instrumental in the design of the Australia Telescope and pioneered the approach that led a team to solving the multipath problem that was crucial to the development of fast wireless networks.

“Dr O’Sullivan’s leadership and scientific brilliance continue to contribute to the nation through his development of an innovative radio camera for the Australian SKA Pathfinder (ASKAP) radio telescope,” she said.

O’Sullivan’s work now also involves design of the $3 billion next-generation Square Kilometre Array (SKA) telescope, which will generate more information than has been collected in the history of radio astronomy.

The ASKAP will comprise of 36 antennas each 12 metres in diameter and will be a pathfinder instrument for the full SKA.

Another CSIRO scientist, Dr Amanda Barnard, was awarded the 2009 Malcolm McIntosh Prize for Physical Scientist of the Year for major contributions to the field of nanoscience.

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