Award for science star

Written By miftah nugraha on Selasa, 27 Agustus 2013 | 19.55

Hobart geoscientist Dr Jo Whittaker, of the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, has won the L'Oreal Women in Science fellowship. Picture: SAM ROSEWARNE

HOBART geoscientist Jo Whittaker has discovered chunks "left behind" about 100 million years ago when India began moving away from Australia.

Dr Whittaker has been named a L'Oreal for Women in Science fellow, one of three women in Australia and New Zealand, for her work.

As an Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies scientist, she is the first University of Tasmania researcher to win the award, worth $25,000.

Dr Whittaker is reconstructing how the Indian, Australian and Antarctic tectonic plates separated, forming the Indian Ocean and the continents as they exist.

The "move" of India began about 130 million years ago.

``What I do is like taking a big jigsaw puzzle and fitting it back together,'' Dr Whittaker said.

She was on maternity leave when the Southern Surveyor vessel pulled up rocks from the two knolls together half the size of Tasmania about 1400km off Fremantle.

"We knew from satellite data that they were on the sea floor," Dr Whittaker said.

"I'll have $25,000 to spend on research. I'm doing some more analysis on the rocks."

She said the knowledge was important for oil and gas exploration and for climate research.

Melbourne University's Kathryn Holt, who is studying the genome of deadly bacteria, and Misty Jenkins, from Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, who is learning about killer white blood cells, were the other recipients.

Awards were given in Melbourne tonight.

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