The RSNSW History and Philosophy of Science Medal

The Society’s History and Philosophy of Science Medal is awarded each year to recognise outstanding achievement in the History and Philosophy of Science with preference being given to the study of ideas, institutions, and individuals of significance to the practice of the natural sciences in Australia.

The Royal Society of NSW History and Philosophy of Science Medal was established in 2013 to recognize outstanding achievement in the History and Philosophy of Science. It was first awarded in 2014.

RSNSW History and Philosophy of Science Medal 2022

Stephen GaukrogerThe Medal for 2021 has been awarded to Emeritus Professor Stephen Gaukroger FRSN FAHA FRHistS FRSA of the School of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Sydney. Professor Gaukroger is one of the world’s leading historians of science and philosophy. Educated at the University of London and the University of Cambridge, he has held positions at Cambridge, Melbourne, and Sydney, as well as visiting professorships at Oxford, London, Aberdeen, and the École normale supérieure – Paris Sciences et Lettres. Now Emeritus Professor of History of Philosophy and History of Science at the University of Sydney, he is the author of sixteen books, including an internationally renowned intellectual biography of Descartes (1995). His work has been translated in Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, and Russian. His major work is the 4-volume study of science and the shaping of modernity: The Emergence of a Scientific Culture, 1210-1685 (2006); The Collapse of Mechanism and the Rise of Sensibility: 1680-1760 (2010); The Natural and the Human, 1739-1841 (2016); Civilization and the Culture of Science, 1795-1935 (2020).

RSNSW History and Philosophy of Science Medal 2021

Dean RicklesThe Medal for 2021 has been awarded to Professor Dean Rickles, Professor of History and Philosophy of Modern Physics at the University of Sydney. Professor Rickles has made seminal contributions to both the history and the philosophy of modern physics, creating two-way traffic from conceptual and philosophical issues to historical ones. His work has been used and praised by philosophers, historians, and physicists alike. In particular, he has been a central figure in the emerging field of history and philosophy of quantum gravity (the as yet unknown theory that would treat our two great fundamental theories of physics, general relativity and quantum theory, in a single framework), and has driven much of the current research landscape. He has been responsible for many firsts, including the first detailed histories of string theory, praised by its chief architect (John Schwarz), and of quantum gravity, and the first philosophical papers on dualities and loop quantum gravity.

RSNSW History and Philosophy of Science Medal 2020

Professor Alison BashfordThe Medal for 2020 has been awarded to Professor Alison Bashford FRSN FAHA FBA FRHistS, an ARC Laureate Fellow from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at UNSW (Sydney).  Professor Bashford is one of Australia's most eminent historians, recognised internationally for her ground-breaking and transformative historical studies of the biomedical and environmental sciences. Her scholarly distinction is recognised by fellowships of both Australian and British academies. Professor Bashford has greatly enlarged and raised our understanding of past conceptions of race, population and place in Australia and the world. She has brought the history of the human and environmental sciences into the scope of world history. She has written five acclaimed books and numerous other published works in which she reveals connections of science and medicine with national projects and global ambitions. Further, her extensive and various studies have reoriented the history of science toward the southern hemisphere and the Pacific, showing us how natural knowledge has been assembled in Australia and the region.

RSNSW History and Philosophy of Science Medal 2019

The Medal for 2019 has been awarded to Professor Evelleen Richards, an Honorary Professor in the School of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Sydney. Professor Richards is an Australian scholar of outstanding achievement and international standing. Her work is particularly notable in that she has made significant contributions to answering key questions in the history of science, especially in the history and historiography of evolutionary theory, as well as to the study of contemporary research policy in science and medicine. Her studies in the contextual history of evolutionary biology are internationally regarded as offering a major advance in the understanding and interpretation of the scientific past. Her recent book on the genesis and reception of Charles Darwin’s concept of sexual selection, “Darwin and the Making of Sexual Selection” has generated substantial international impact, being awarded the 2018 Suzanne J Levinson Prize of the US History of Science Society. Equally remarkable during her career has been her engagement with the history and socio-politics of medicine and their policy implications, demonstrating the importance of historical and sociological analyses in illuminating medical practices and policy, particularly in relation to clinical trials and drug regulation.

RSNSW History and Philosophy of Science Medal 2018

The Medal for 2018 was awarded to Professor Paul Griffiths FAHA FRSN of the Department of Psychology at the University of Sydney. Professor Griffiths is renowned for his work in the philosophy of biology, in particular for his distinctive theoretical and methodological contributions to the philosophy of biological development, ranging across genetics, genomics and evolutionary biology. He also made significant contributions to the philosophy of cognitive science, and most recently, to the philosophy of medicine.

List of Past Recipients of the RSNSW History and Philosophy of Science Medal

Year     Medallist

2014    Ann Moyal

2015    Professor Warwick Anderson

2016    Professor Roy MacLeod

2017    Professor Peter Godfrey-Smith

2018    Professor Paul Griffiths

2019    Professor Evelleen Richards

2020    Professor Alison Bashford

2021    Professor Dean Rickles

2022    Emeritus Professor Stephen Gaukroger



These prestigious awards for excellence in science, technology, philosophy, and the arts, awarded by Australia's oldest learned society, recognise outstanding achievements. The Society's portfolio of awards has been entirely revamped in 2023 to provide greater breadth, to recognise recent and evolving disciplines, and emerging as well as established research stars.  Information about the new structure and portfolio of awards is provided on the main awards page

Winners of the 2023 awards will be announced at the 1318th Ordinary General Meeting of the Society to be held on 29 November 2023 and will be publish on the website shortly thereafter.

Winners of awards in previous years, and information about the awards program prior to 2023, may be found on the Past Awards page of this website.

Nominations for the 2024 Awards will open on 1 July 2024, with information about the new awards and how to apply available from the Awards menu on this website.

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