Royal Society of NSW Awards for 2019

The Council of the Royal Society of New South Wales is pleased to announce its Awards for 2019. The award winners are listed below, with links to information about both the awards and their recipients: 

James Cook Medal — Scientia Professor Matthew England

Professor Matthew England The James Cook Medal, the Society’s highest honour, is awarded from time to time for outstanding contributions to both science and human welfare, in and for the Southern Hemisphere.

Professor Matthew England, of the UNSW Climate Change Research Centre, is recognised as one of the world’s foremost experts in how the world’s oceans control regional and global climate on time scales from seasons to millennia. His field of research spans physical oceanography and climate dynamics, where he has written seminal papers on Southern Ocean water-mass formation, Antarctic ocean-atmosphere-ice interactions, climate modes of variability, and ocean ventilation processes. Importantly, in the context of the James Cook Medal, England has a sustained track record of outstanding research and discovery in areas that make an impact on human welfare, both here in Australia and across other regions of the Southern Hemisphere, including improved predictions of rainfall and climate variability, discoveries of the oceanic drivers of severe drought and flooding rains, and quantification of the impacts of climate change and the fate of ocean pollution.

Clarke Medal — Professor Dietmar Müller

Professor Dietmar Müller The Clarke Medal is awarded each year for distinguished research in the natural sciences, conducted in Australia and its territories, in the fields of botany, zoology, and geology (considered in rotation). For 2019, the medal was awarded in geology.

Professor Dietmar Müller, of the School of Geosciences at the University of Sydney, is internationally renowned for discoveries that have transformed our fundamental understanding of the Earth’s evolution, environments and geological resources. Many of these discoveries were made possible only through Müller’s international research efforts in building a Virtual Earth Laboratory to “see” deep into the Earth in four dimensions (space and time), opening up the Earth’s dynamic history going back 200 million years. His scientific discoveries are outstanding, with contributions to the field including age and tectonic evolution of the ocean basins, earthquake hazard mapping, Australia’s intraplate stress through time, sea floor image analysis, the evolutions of continental basins and margins, and linking plate tectonics and mantle convection to Australia’s surface topography through time.

Edgeworth David Medal — Professor Si Ming Man

Professor Si Ming Man The Edgeworth David Medal is awarded annually for distinguished research by a young scientist under the age of 35 years for work undertaken mainly in Australia or contributing to the advancement of Australian science.

Professor Si Ming Man, of the John Curtin School of Medical Research at the Australian National University, is an outstanding young researcher in the field of innate immunology, attaining a full professorship only six years after his PhD graduation. Six of his recent papers are recognised as “highly cited”, being in the top 1% of the field. His research has identified a class of disease-fighting “killer” proteins, produced by the cell, which can directly attack bacteria, causing these pathogens to die and release signals that can rapidly trigger activation of the immune system. Further studies have shown that immune receptors have critical roles in preventing gut inflammation and the development of colorectal (bowel) cancer, while most recently he has discovered that toxins from foodborne bacteria can be detected and blockaded by immune receptors to prevent sepsis.

History and Philosophy of Science Medal — Professor Evelleen Richards

Professor Evelleen Richards The Society’s History and Philosophy of Science Medal is awarded annually to recognise outstanding achievement in the History and Philosophy of Science.

Professor Evelleen Richards, an Honorary Professor in the School of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Sydney, 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.

Walter Burfitt Prize — Professor Kourosh Kalantar-Zadeh

Professor Kouroush Kalantar-Zadeh The Walter Burfitt Prize is awarded every three years to a resident of Australia or New Zealand for research in the pure or applied sciences that is deemed to be of the highest scientific merit, judged according to scientific output published during the preceding six years.

Professor Kourosh Kalantar-Zadeh, of the School of Chemical Engineering at UNSW Sydney, 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.

Royal Society of New South Wales Scholarships

The Royal Society Scholarships, valued at $500, together with a complimentary year of associate membership of the Society, are awarded annually in order to acknowledge outstanding achievements by young researchers in any field of science. Applicants must be enrolled as research students in a university in either NSW or the ACT on 1 January in their year of nomination.

For 2019, the RSNSW Scholarships have been awarded to:

  • Ms Emma Austin — The University of Newcastle
  • Mr Shayam Balaji — The University of Sydney
  • Mr Michael Papanicolaou — University of Technology Sydney and the Garvan Institute of Medical Research
  • Mr Thomas Pettit — University of Technology Sydney.

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