Honour roll

Past Award Finalists and Recipients

Young Australian of the Year

State Finalist

State: New South Wales

State Finalist Young Australian of the Year 2017

Shyeh Tjing Cleo Loi


While an undergraduate student at the University of Sydney, Shyeh Tjing Cleo Loi made a major astrophysics discovery. Using radio telescopes as a giant pair of electronic eyes, Cleo located huge plasma tubes in the atmosphere. Scientists have long hypothesised that the interaction of the earth's magnetic field with energy from the sun would create tubes of plasma, but they had never directly observed them – until now. With incredible scientific insight and technical innovation, Cleo surprised many senior scientists, who at first thought her discovery was ‘too good to be true’. Cleo’s work has made an impact around the world, with some claiming she has invented a whole new field of research. She has authored five scientific papers on her results – a result almost unheard of for an undergraduate student. Now at Cambridge studying her PhD, Cleo combines her formidable intellect with humility and maturity, impressing both professors and peers with her work ethic and passion for scientific endeavour.