An innovative approach to teaching STEM subjects saw Flinders University lecturer Associate Professor Karen Burke da Silva take top honours at the Australian Awards for University Teaching tonight in Canberra.

Minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham said the Awards recognise university teachers who are constantly seeking out ways to build on success, improve their performance and ultimately help improve the performance of their students. 

“Professor Burke da Silva has been a true leader in university research – her 'Scientists leading Scientists' program has driven science academics to improve their teaching skills,” Minister Birmingham said.

“It’s work like that from Professor Burke da Silva that has been and will be key to the excellence and innovation of Australia’s higher education system.”

The 30 awards announced at the Australian Awards for University Teaching honoured excellence in biological sciences, health, humanities, arts, law, and business. 

“University educators equip the next generation of leaders and innovators with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed,” Minister Birmingham said.

“In a world of rapidly changing technologies and processes, Australia needs to remain an agile, smart and creative nation. Outstanding university teaching is essential to ensuring we are well-prepared for the future.

“For example, tonight’s awards recognised how Associate Professors Birgit Loch from Swinburne University of Technology and Catherine Attard from Western Sydney University have been pioneering ways of engaging students studying mathematics while Associate Professors Mario Ricci from the University of Adelaide and Dr Jaclyn Broadbent from Deakin University have been breaking new ground delivering biology and health sciences courses to thousands of students in ways that have been shown to boost their engagement. 

“These awards highlight the key role that teachers and their support staff play for students to get a university education that is high quality and highly engaging.”

A full list of award recipients will be available at