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Published 22 November 2022

Research Honours Aotearoa winners celebrated in Te Whanganui-a-Tara

All-electric aircraft, vaccine safety and communication about Covid-19 and a fit-for-purpose hijab design were among the topics of the researchers honoured at the final 2022 Research Honours Aotearoa regional event held at Parliament this evening by Royal Society Te Apārangi, in association with the Health Research Council of New Zealand.

 


The following medals and awards were presented by Royal Society Te Apārangi:


SUPERCONDUCTING ENGINEERING FOR ALL-ELECTRIC AIRCRAFT
The Pickering Medal to recognise excellence and innovation in the practical application of technology was awarded to Professor Rod Badcock, Robinson Research Institute, Te Herenga Waka Victoria University of Wellington. It was presented for developing superconducting technologies that are enabling electrical machines at the leading edge of current engineering practice, such as electric aircrafts and high-speed trains. Rod’s accomplishments in advancing the science and technology of high temperature superconductors have already had an important commercial impact and his work is setting the stage for widespread adoption of all-electric aircraft. Read more on Pickering Medal winner.


GLOBAL PLATE TECTONICS AND NEW ZEALAND’S ALPINE FAULT
The Hutton Medal for significantly advancing understanding in animal sciences, earth sciences or plant sciences was awarded to Professor Rupert Sutherland FRSNZ, Te Herenga Waka —Victoria University of Wellington. It was presented for fundamental discoveries in global plate tectonics, the evolution of Zealandia and the implications for active faulting and large magnitude earthquakes in New Zealand. His work on the Alpine Fault has identified its structure, slip rate and earthquake history, and he was the first to recognise that it was capable of generating magnitude 8 earthquakes. Read more on Hutton Medal winner.


COVID-19 COMMUNICATOR FOR PUBLIC HEALTH

The Callaghan Medal for an outstanding contribution to science communication and raising public awareness of the value of science to human progress was awarded to Professor Michael Baker MNZM, University of Otago, Wellington. It was presented for science-informed commentary on the Covid-19 pandemic and other major public health issues in Aotearoa New Zealand. Michael has focused on a wide range of health issues along with evidence-informed solutions and used multiple channels to engage with the wider public, decision-makers, and key groups of practitioners over his 30-year career. His work during 2020-22 has been dominated by assisting with the Covid-19 pandemic response. This work has including strong scientific advocacy for the elimination strategy. Read more on the Callaghan Medal winner.


FIT-FOR-PURPOSE HIJAB FOR MUSLIM POLICEWOMEN
Tahunui-a-Rangi Award for inventing or creating a unique and ingenious structure, device, product, design, system, service or artefacts(s) which is significant in its economic, social, cultural, or environmental impact was presented to Deborah Cumming and Nina Weaver, Ngā Pae Māhutonga Wellington School of Design, Massey University, for creating a fit-for-purpose hijab.  Operational Hijab Design supports safe and inclusive practices and changes the future of policing for Muslim women around the world. It was commissioned by New Zealand Police following the devastating 2019 Christchurch terror attack that drew attention to the lack of Muslim representation in police ranks. Read more on Tahunui-a-Rangi Award winner.


CHAMPION FOR DIGITAL HUMANITIES
The Pou Aronui Award for distinguished service to humanities-aronui over a sustained period was presented to Professor Paul Millar, School of Humanities and Creative Arts, University of Canterbury, for his commitment to growing capacity and expertise in Aotearoa New Zealand in digital humanities, which involves the intersection of digital technologies and humanities disciplines. During his career, Paul has obtained $2.42 million funding for digital humanities projects, promoted its teaching, created nationally significant archives, championed post-disaster humanities research, and served as president of the Australasian Association for Digital Humanities. Read more on Pou Aronui Award winner.


SKELETONS AS WINDOWS INTO THE HEATH AND DIET OF PAST PEOPLE
The Mason Durie Medal for an outstanding contribution to the social sciences that while originating in a New Zealand environment, has had an international impact, was awarded to Professor Hallie Buckley, University of Otago. It was presented for transforming the way we conceptualise the biomedical history of the ancestors of modern Polynesians, and ground-breaking discoveries of ancient disease in Asia. Hallie leads numerous large scale, multi-disciplinary and multinational projects on the bioarchaeology of diet and health in the Asia-Pacific region. These projects interrogate skeletal and chemical evidence of the lived experiences of populations during major periods of change, as either initial colonisers of a region or when undergoing significant biosocial change. Read more on Mason Durie Medal winner.


IMPORTANCE OF HIGH COUNTRY MANAGEMENT FOR BIODIVERSITY
Charles Fleming Award for Environment Achievement for distinction in the protection, maintenance, management, improvement or understanding of the environment, in particular the sustainable management of the New Zealand environment was presented to Professor Ann Brower, University of Canterbury. It was presented for her pioneering interdisciplinary research that challenged the foundations of high country tenure review, and catalysed legislative reform to improve the conservation of New Zealand’s unique landscapes and biodiversity. Her work has protected 5% of New Zealand's landmass and is helping to combat species loss globally by improving mechanisms for evaluating and protecting habitats. Read more on Charles Fleming Award winner. 


WHY ISN’T MY PROFESSOR MĀORI?
Royal Society Te Apārangi Te Kōpūnui Māori Research Award for an early career researcher to recognise innovative Māori research with a promising trajectory was presented to Dr Tara McAllister, Centre for Science in Society, Te Herenga Waka— Victoria University of Wellington, for research into the underrepresentation and undervaluing of Māori academics. Tara’s ground-breaking research has drawn national and international attention to the under-serving of Māori by New Zealand’s universities. Her most pivotal work ‘Why isn’t my professor Māori? A snapshot of the academic workforce in New Zealand universities’ showed Māori comprise only 5% of the academic workforce and this proportion has remained stagnant for at least six years. Read more on Te Kōpūnui Māori Research Award winner.


FORECASTING CORAL REEF STATUS UNDER CLIMATE CHANGE
The Hamilton Award for encouraging scientific research in New Zealand by early career researchers was presented to Dr Chris Cornwall, Te Herenga Waka —Victoria University of Wellington, for work on the impacts of climate change on coral reef growth globally. By amalgamating data from real world reefs and modelling, the research quantified the effects of climate change at more than 200 locations globally. The research found that even under low greenhouse gas emissions scenarios, coral reefs will suffer extensive impacts, and will cease to exist as we know them under moderate or higher emissions scenarios. Read more on Hamilton Award winner


The following medal was presented by the Health Research Council of New Zealand:


ALLAYING COVID-19 VACCINE SAFETY CONCERNS
The Liley Medal for published research that makes a significant contribution to health and medical sciences was awarded to Professor Colin Simpson, Te Herenga Waka Victoria University of Wellington, for his role as a lead author of one of the first papers in the world to confirm the safety of COVID-19 vaccines. Using data from Scotland, the Nature Medicine paper found no link between the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and any of the adverse effects under examination, while the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine was found to be associated with small increased risks of some adverse events similar to other common vaccines.

 

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Additional 2022 Research Honours Aotearoa awards were presented in Kirikiriroa Hamilton and Ōtepoti Dunedin earlier in the month. Information of these awards is available at  www.royalsociety.org.nz/2022-research-honours-aotearoa

Source: Royal Society Te Apārangi