Rutherford’s legacy looms large at top science awards

Last night, New Zealand’s top scientists were celebrated at the annual Science Honours dinner, hosted by the Royal Society at Te Papa in Wellington. The event was timed to coincide with the 100th anniversary of Ernest Rutherford first learning that he’d been awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry. The evening’s theme extended to include an actor’s lively recreation of selections from Rutherford’s public talks, archival footage of the man himself, and was presided over by a large, bronze bust of the esteemed scientist.  Professor Mary Fowler, Rutherford’s great-granddaughter — a geophysicist at the University of London — addressed the crowd, and several other Rutherford descendants were also on hand.

The night’s top honour, the Rutherford Medal, was awarded to structural biophysicist and Distinguished Professor David Parry of Massey University for his research into fibrous proteins.

The Pickering Medal for achievement in technology went to Dr Ross Ihaka of the University of Auckland, a statistician who has developed free software for “data crunching” applications that has been adopted worldwide.

The Manhire Prize for Creative Science Writing, this year on the theme of evolution, was awarded to Dave Armstrong for his fiction, and Will Catton of Otago University for his non-fiction.

Full details of the 14 science awards given out can be found here.

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