ANU Future Fellow Dr Nicholas Cox has been awarded the Robin Hill Award from the International Society of Photosynthetic Research.
Dr Cox from the ANU Research School of Chemistry said he was honoured to be internationally recognised for his research.
"The award allowed me to present my work to the entire photosynthesis community, providing new opportunities for collaborative research," he said.
Dr Cox received the award for his work in Germany to develop new methods to investigate the mechanism of biological water oxidation, a major step in photosynthesis.
"Even today this mechanism is still not understood how this process works, even though it is responsible for all the oxygen in the earth's atmosphere and the evolution of multi-cellular life including humans," he said.
"If we could mimic this process we would have a cheap, efficient way of using light energy to generate hydrogen, which could then be used as a chemical fuel to power society.
"Our fossil-fuel based economy already relies on ancient photosynthesis - fossilised plant material now in the form of coal, oil and gas - to do this."
Dr Cox is helping to establish Australia's first high-field electron paramagnetic resonance facility to conduct new chemistry, structural biology and materials science applications.
ANU is collaborating with the University of New South Wales, University of Queensland, University of Wollongong and University of Sydney.