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4 May 2007

Top Scientist


MANDYAM SRINIVASAN: My name is Mandyam Srinivasan. I've been in Australia for nearly 25 years now. I come originally from Bangalore in India. I came to Australia purely by accident. I was finishing a PhD at Yale and I'd heard about this famous lab at the Australian National University and applied for a job and then here I am!

My own particular speciality is looking at small, flying insects, seeing how they see the world, how they navigate in it, and then we also try and use some of these ideas we learn from small insects to put into small flying vehicles that will see the world the way insects see them.

DR JUDITH REINHARD: These are just one of his many specialities. Srini is actually an engineer. He started off as an engineer and discovered later, when he worked in the United States, his passion for biology.

MANDYAM SRINIVASAN: I always wanted to do something that was in the interface between biology and engineering. You could say I had a premature midlife crisis and I didn't want to do just engineering. I've got one foot in both camps, which is sort of fun.

DR JUDITH REINHARD: He's one of the world's best honeybee scientists and he won, this year, the 2006 Prime Minister's Prize for Science. We are all very impressed and all really happy to work with Srini.

MANDYAM SRINIVASAN: It's totally unexpected and I'm totally... ..really thrilled by it. But I think it's a fantastic recognition of the value of basic science and I'm really thrilled about that.

DR JUDITH REINHARD: This award is not only national - the greatest award that you can get as a scientist in Australia - it's also internationally a really important award. He's known on every continent in the entire world for his work.

DR MARIE DACKE: I am from Sweden and I've come here for my postdoc 'cause, well, this lab here, and Srini's group, is one of the world-leading labs when it comes to vision and behaviour.

DR JUDITH REINHARD: We have many people from Germany, from Sweden, from England, but also from India, from the United States and from Asia.

BERNADETTE NUNN: Why?

DR JUDITH REINHARD: Because he's so well known. He's a great scientist, but also a wonderful person and people enjoy working with him.

MANDYAM SRINIVASAN: I would say, you know, to young students anywhere in the world, try to follow your heart. Don't be too rational about what to do, don't go after whatever seems to be the most lucrative in terms of money, just follow your heart and do what you think you'll enjoy doing best and you will definitely succeed.