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Sally Brooker

Sally Brooker


The winner of the 2017 Hector Medal, Sally Brooker was only the fourth woman to win the award in its more than hundred year history. Brooker garnered the award for her work designing and synthesising molecules with a wide range of properties, such as carbon-dioxide selective absorption and selective ‘turn-on’ fluorescence.

Brooker’s most significant contribution, however, has been in the field of molecular magnetism, where she has led development of metal molecules which can switch between different states in response to external stimuli. Because these can be controlled, these new molecules can be used to build nano-devices, with a wide range of potential applications.1

In recent years Brooker, a Professor of Chemistry at the University of Otago, has been inspired by her students to begin working on molecules which could contribute to a ‘greener’ future, such as compostable plastics or the production of hydrogen from light energy.2


1. “Royal Society Te Apārangi - 2017 Hector Medal Presentation to Professor Sally Brooker,” accessed April 1, 2018, https://royalsociety.org.nz/news/2017-hector-medal-presentation-to-professor-sally-brooker/.

2. “Role in ‘greening’ Planet Earns Award | Otago Daily Times Online News,” accessed April 1, 2018, https://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/role-greening-planet-earns-award.

This profile is part of the series 150 Women in 150 Words that celebrates women’s contributions to expanding knowledge in New Zealand, running as part of our 150th Anniversary.