The Walter Burfitt Prize

The Walter Burfitt Award honours the life and work of Walter Charles Fitzmaurice Burfitt BA MB ChM BSc (1874 – 1956), an eminent Sydney surgeon, known for his deft and extremely rapid operations. In 1927, he and his wife donated money to establish the Walter Burfitt Prize for published research, and was first awarded in 1929. In 2004, funding for the prize was augmented by Dr Burfitt’s granddaughter, Dr Anne Thoeming. In 2023, Council designated it the Royal Society of New South Wales Walter Burfitt Award.

Educated University of Sydney (BA 1894, BSc 1898, MB, ChM 1900), he held a number of distinguished positions during his career: Resident medical officer, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital 1900; general practice, Glebe 1901-12; consultant surgeon, Macquarie Street 1912-40; surgeon and later gynaecologist, Lewisham Hospital 1901-40; medical officer, St Vincent's Hospital from 1901 and at the diphtheria clinic of the Royal Alexandra Hospital for Children and visiting surgeon, Parramatta District and Western Suburbs hospitals. He retired in 1944. He was also a Founding Member of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons 1928; Founder and sometime President of the Medical Benevolent Association of New South Wales; and Founder and sometime Chairman of the Hospital Almoners' Guild.

Walter Burfitt Prize 2022

Susan ScottThe Walter Burfitt Prize for 2022 has been awarded to Distinguished Professor Susan M Scott FAA FEurASc from the Australian National University College of Science. Professor Scott is is an internationally recognised mathematical physicist who has made fundamental advances in our understanding of the fabric of space-time in general relativity, and in gravitational wave science. She has pioneered breakthrough results probing the existence and nature of space-time singularities, the global structure of space-time, and possible initial and final endstates for cosmological models representing our Universe. Professor Scott has also been a pioneer in the analysis of astrophysical signatures in gravitational wave experiments, including the searches for gravitational waves from asymmetric neutron stars and from inspiralling binary systems of black holes and neutron stars. She has played an important role in the development and promotion of gravitational research worldwide, and a leading role in Australia’s participation in the first direct detection of gravitational waves in 2015.

Walter Burfitt Prize 2019

The Walter Burfitt Prize for 2019 has been awarded to Professor Kourosh Kalantar-Zadeh, of the School of Chemical Engineering at UNSW Sydney. Professor Kalantar-Zadeh is renowned for his research and development in the areas of liquid metals, atomically thin materials and ingestible sensors. He is a prolific researcher, recognised in 2018 by Clarivate Analytics as a “Highly Cited Researcher”. Over the past six years, his contributions have been frequently first-in-world and have set the agenda for research fields internationally in areas such as two-dimensional (2D) materials, liquid metals and microfluidics, and point-of-care diagnostic systems and sensors.

Year & RecipientYear & Recipient
1929    N.D. Royle (Medicine)
1932    C.H. Kellaway (Medicine)
1935    V.A. Bailey (Physics)
1938    F.MN. Barnet (Medicine)
1941    F.W. Whitehouse (Geology)
1944    H.L. Kesteven (Medicine)
1947    J.C. Jaeger (Mathematics)
1950    D.F. Martyn (Ionospheric Geophysics)
1953    K.E. Bullen (Geophysics)
1956    J.C. Eccles (Medicine)
1959    F.J. Fenner (Microbiology)
1962    M.F. Glaessner (Palaeontology)
1965    C.A. Fleming (Micropalaeontology)
1968    L.E. Lyons (Chemistry)
1971    M.R. Lemberg (Medicine)
1974    B.J. Robinson (Radiophysics)
1977    A. Kerr (Plant Pathology)
1980    H.A. Buchdahl (Physics)
1983    W.S. Hancock (Biochemistry)
1986    B.N. Figgis (Inorganic Chemistry)
1992    G. Paxinos (Psychology)
1995    R.M. Manchester (Astronomy)
1998    A.K. Burrell (Chemistry)
2001    M.W. Parker (Medicine)
2004    B.A. Neilan (Biology)
2007    M. Colless (Astronomy)
2010    R. Shine (Biology)
2013    M. Simmons (Physics)
2016    J. Gooding (Chemistry)
2019    K. Kalantar-Zadeh (Chemical Engineering)
2022    S. M. Scott (Theoretical Physics)



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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