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New Zealand Science Teacher

News

Royal Society NZ honours stand-out researchers

Outstanding Kiwi researchers were acknowledged at the Royal Society of New Zealand 2016 Research Honours event, held in Christchurch last night. Medals were presented by both the Royal Society of New Zealand and the Health Research Council of New Zealand.

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Professor Michael Corbalis, recipient of the 2016 Rutherford Medal.

“We’re pleased to have the opportunity to honour these researchers, our excellent and inspiring experts, and their achievements in the sciences, social sciences, technology and the humanities at the 2016 Research Honours Dinner. New Zealand needs to retain more of our excellent researchers and providing opportunities for us to show our respect and admiration for their work helps them both at home and overseas,” says Royal Society of New Zealand President Emeritus Professor Richard Bedford QSO FRSNZ.

Researchers were honoured for their work in a huge range of fascinating inquiries, demonstrating the strength of commitment in this country to solving problems and help us understand our world. How did human language evolve? How can school leaders best enable students to learn successfully, or teach literacy? What’s the best way to deal with low blood sugar in babies? How does light move in fibre optic cables? Can we mimic muscle movement using polymers? Is it possible to model a respiratory system? Can mitochondrial DNA move between cells? What impact have colonial ways of thinking had?

Here’s the full list of those honoured at the awards ceremony last night:

The Rutherford Medal, the Society’s premier science award, went to Emeritus Professor Michael Corballis ONZM FRSNZ of the University of Auckland for his research into the human mind. His work includes understanding the differences in the two hemispheres of the brain, the evolution of language and the human capacity for ‘mental time travel’.

The Health Research Council of New Zealand awarded the Liley Medal for outstanding contributions to health and medical science jointly to Professor Mike Berridge from the Malaghan Institute of Medical Research and Dr Paul Young from Capital & Coast District Health Board and Medical Research Institute of New Zealand. Professor Berridge received the medal as one of the lead researchers in a landmark paper that was first to demonstrate movement of mitrochondrial DNA between cells in animal tumours. Dr Young received the Liley Medal for leading the largest clinical trial ever conducted exclusively in New Zealand’s intensive care units, comparing two intravenous fluid therapies.

The Royal Society of New Zealand awarded the Pickering Medal to Associate Professor Iain Anderson for commercialising electroactive polymer technology that can mimic muscle action.

The Royal Society of New Zealand’s Thomson Medal for science leadership was awarded to Dr Bruce Campbell of Plant and Food for his contributions to agriculture and horticulture, which have led to innovations in grazing crop, wine, kiwifruit and avocado sectors.

Professor Hamish Spencer FRSNZ, University of Otago, received the Callaghan Medal for science communication from the Royal Society of New Zealand for his leadership of successful partnerships engaging public in scientific activities involving the Allan Wilson Centre and both Uawa/Tolaga Bay and Ngai Tāmanuhiri.

Professor Merryn Tawhai, Deputy Director of the Auckland Bioengineering Institute at the University of Auckland, was awarded the MacDiarmid Medal by the Royal Society of New Zealand for her research to create anatomically detailed models of the respiratory system.

The Royal Society of New Zealand awarded the Hector Medal for outstanding advancement in the physical sciences to Associate Professor Stéphane Coen, University of Auckland, for his research into optical phenomena in optical fibre.

Professor Wendy Nelson MNZM FRSNZ, of NIWA and University of Auckland, was awarded the Hutton Medal from the Royal Society of New Zealand for her research into seaweeds. She has significantly expanded knowledge of New Zealand seaweeds and the evolutionary relationships between seaweeds worldwide.

Professor Tony Ballantyne FRSNZ, University of Otago, was awarded the Royal Society of New Zealand’s Humanities Aronui Medal for reshaping scholarly thought on British imperial history.  His research on the history of the British empire during the nineteenth century has shown how ideas about cultural difference (race, religion, language and gender) structured colonial power, and how these ideas influenced and continue to influence both colonised and colonising people.

The Mason Durie Medal for social sciences was awarded by the Royal Society of New Zealand to Distinguished Professor Viviane Robinson, University of Auckland, for her research and development work on educational leadership.

Professor Stuart McNaughton ONZM, University of Auckland, was awarded the Dame Joan Metge Medal from the Royal Society of New Zealand for excellence in research and capacity building in the social sciences.  Professor McNaughton has pioneered techniques that allow schools to improve teaching outcomes by monitoring their own results.

Emeritus Professor Alastair Scott, University of Auckland, was awarded the Jones Medal by the Royal Society of New Zealand for his lifetime contribution to statistics.

Professor Rick Millane, University of Canterbury, was awarded the T.K. Sidey Medal from the Royal Society of New Zealand for his research into using electromagnetic radiation to image biological material.

Professor Richard Beasley CNZM FRSNZ, Medical Research Institute of New Zealand and Capital & Coast District Health Board, has been awarded the Sir Charles Hercus Medal by the Royal Society of New Zealand for his wide-ranging contributions to advancing respiratory medicine and health science research in New Zealand.

Distinguished Professor Jane Harding ONZM, from the University of Auckland’s Liggins Institute, has been awarded the Beaven Medal from the Health Research Council of New Zealand for her research into treating babies with low blood sugar with a cost-effective dextrose gel massaged into the inside of a baby’s cheek.

Next week NZST will be chatting with Rutherford Medal winner Emeritus Professor Michael Corballis, about his work toward understanding the inner workings of the human mind.

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