Royal Society medals honour top scientists

The New Zealand Research Honours Dinner, an annual awards evening celebrating top New Zealand researchers, was held in Auckland this week.

Professor Margaret Brimble from the University of Auckland School of Chemistry was honoured by receiving not one but three medals at the annual Research Honours Dinner , which was held in the Auckland Museum on Wednesday. Prof Brimble is a world leading researcher in synthetic organic chemistry with a specific focus in the design of synthetic analogues of naturally occurring molecules produced by the brain in response to injury. Her most recent work has focused on developing drugs to prevent damage in traumatic brain injury, funded by the US army.

Prof Brimble was awarded the highest honour in science, the Rutherford Medal, for exceptional contributions to the advancement and promotion of public awareness, knowledge and understanding in addition to eminent research or technological practice.

The recognition of Prof Brimble’s work did not end there. She also received the MacDiarmid Medal for outstanding scientific research that could have large human benefit and the Hector Medal for excellence in chemical sciences.

Science outreach recognised

The Callaghan Medal ‘ for outstanding contribution to science communication’ was awarded to Professor Shaun Hendy (Victoria University Wellington and Industrial Research Limited) for his outstanding work in raising public awareness of science and its role in increasing economic prosperity.

His citation reads: Professor Shaun Hendy is a leading physicist with an outstanding ability to communicate a broad range of scientific ideas. He is well known to a wide readership through his column A Measure of Science on Sciblogs, his regular broadcasts on RadioNZ Nights, and other regular talks on science topics. He has been especially effective in analysing and communicating the ways in which science and innovation increase economic prosperity. His ideas and analyses have already influenced businesses and policy-makers in New Zealand, and will continue to do so.

Other awards announced at the event included:

The Pickering Medal, awarded to David Edward Williams (University of Auckland) for his contribution to the development of biomedical and gas sensors which have been commercialised.

The Thomson Medal, awarded to Richard Hubert Furneaux (Industrial Research Limited) for his outstanding and inspirational leadership of carbohydrate chemistry research and its commercial application to biotechnology in New Zealand. 

The Sir Charles Hercus Medal, awarded to John David Fraser (University of Auckland) for pioneering studies on bacterial superantigens have major implications for understanding and treating a range of human infectious diseases.

The Cooper Medal, awarded to Mark Alister Poletti (Industrial Research Limited) for his world-leading development of the globally preferred method for tuning concert hall acoustics

The Hutton Medal, awarded to Robert Ewan Fordyce (University of Otago) for his seminal contributions in New Zealand vertebrate paleontology. 

The Jones Medal, awarded to Robert Ian Goldblatt (Victoria University Wellington)  for his profound and world-leading research in modal logic and category theory, and his lifetime of dedicated service to mathematics.

The Dame Joan Metge Medal, jointly awarded to  Linda Tuhiwai Smith (University of Waikato) for her outstanding contribution in inspiring, mentoring and developing the capacity of Maori researchers through teaching and research and Janet Holmes (Victoria University Wellington) for her outstanding unique contribution to linguistics.

The Humanities Aronui Medal was awarded to To Alan Edward Musgrave (University of Otago) for his enduring and profound influence as a philosopher of science whose influence has ranged widely across the Humanities and the Social Sciences.

The Mason Durie Meda, awarded to Russell David Gray (University of Auckland) for his pioneering social science research on questions of fundamental relationships between human language, cognition and biology.

The Pou Aronui Award, awarded to Jonathan Ngarimu Mane-Wheoki (University of Auckland) for his outstanding contribution in the development of the humanities in Aotearoa New Zealand.