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Published 2 November 2021

2021 Rutherford Foundation postdocs and scholarship recipients

Top row from left: Rahul Makam, Syrie Hermans, Charlie Ruffman. Bottom row from left: Hilary Dutton, Neil Vallelly, Kerry Hilligan.

2021 Rutherford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowships and a Cambridge-Rutherford Memorial PhD Scholarship have been awarded to six early-career researchers in Aotearoa.

The 2021 Postdoctoral Fellows and Cambridge-Rutherford Memorial PhD Scholarship recipient will be exploring a diverse range of research topics:

  • How to educate our innate immune system to improve long-term population health
  • Metallic catalysts to reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere
  • Neoliberalism and regimes of migrant detention in Aotearoa
  • Developing youth resilience and wellbeing through better “youth-adult helping relationships”
  • Impact of regenerative agriculture on soil microbial communities 
  • Developing gene therapy for inherited eye diseases.

The Rutherford Foundation Fellowships and Cambridge-Rutherford Memorial PhD Scholarships seek to build human capability in research, science and technology, including social sciences and the humanities. The funding opportunities support early career researchers who demonstrate a passion for research and have a strong sense of the purpose and benefits of research to Aotearoa. Receiving a Rutherford Foundation award is expected to be of significant value in the future career development of the supported scholars and postdoctoral fellows and help them to establish a foundation on which to embark on an independent research career.

For 2021, the Royal Society Te Apārangi has announced five Rutherford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowships and one Cambridge-Rutherford Memorial PhD Scholarship.

Two-year Rutherford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowships have been awarded to:

  • Dr Hilary Dutton, University of Canterbury, for research titled: Youth experiences of self-disclosure in youth-adult helping relationships
  • Dr Syrie Hermans, Auckland University of Technology (has been at Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Germany), for research titled: Regenerative agriculture in Aotearoa: Are soil microbial communities indicators of agroecosystem benefits?
  • Dr Kerry Hilligan, Malaghan Institute of Medical Research (has been based at National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in the US), for research titled: Improving long-term population health through education of the innate immune system
  • Dr Charlie Ruffman, University of Auckland, (has been based at University of Otago) for research titled: Flicking the switch to reduce carbon dioxide by melting metallic alloys
  • Dr Neil Vallelly, University of Otago, for research titled: The borders of capital: Neoliberalism and regimes of migrant detention in Aotearoa New Zealand.

A Three-year Cambridge Rutherford Memorial PhD Scholarship has been awarded to:

  • Dr Rahul Makam (MBChB), University of Cambridge, for research titled: Exploring Gene Therapy Paradigms for Mitochondrial Blindness


The Fellowships are administered by Royal Society Te Apārangi. Support for this programme comes from the New Zealand Government with funding from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, with additional support for the Cambridge-Rutherford Memorial PhD Scholarship from the Cambridge Commonwealth, and European and International Trust.


More information on the new Rutherford Foundation recipients awards is available.


Source: Royal Society Te Apārangi