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Recipients

View recipients of the Rutherford Medal.

Note: The Rutherford Medal was previously known as the New Zealand Science and Technology Gold Medal and was renamed in 2000. All previous Gold Medals are now referred to as the Rutherford Medal.

Latest recipient

The 2021 Rutherford Medal was awarded to Distinguished Professor Philippa Howden-Chapman CNZM QSO FRSNZ and the He Kāinga Oranga/Housing and Health Research Programme from the University of Otago, Wellington for their groundbreaking research that has quantified the effects of housing interventions on occupants’ health and wellbeing, and informed legislation and policy.

Previous recipients

2020

Brian Boyd, literature

Award for his exceptional contributions to literary studies. Brian has provided a new framework for studying arts, informed by evolutionary theory.

2019

Jane Harding, neonatologist

Awarded for her pre-eminent work determining the causes and long-term consequences of interventions around the time of birth, leading to new therapies and understandings that have improved outcomes for mothers and babies around the world

2018

Rod Downey, mathematician

Awarded for his pre-eminent revolutionary research into computability, including development of the theory of parameterised complexity and the algorithmic study of randomness.

2017

Colin Wilson, volcanologist

Awarded for his research showing how large volcanoes behave before and during explosive eruptions, including those that created Lake Taupo, expanding our understanding of volcanoes and the hazards they pose.

2016

Michael Corballis, psychologist

Awarded for foundational research on the nature and evolution of the human mind, including cerebral asymmetries, handedness, mental imagery, language, and mental time travel.

2015

Ian Reid, osteologist

Awarded for his seminal contributions to the understanding and treatment of metabolic bone diseases such as osteoporosis and Paget’s Disease.

2014

Peter Schwerdtfeger, theoretical chemist and physicist

Awarded for his world-leading contribution to fundamental aspects of chemical and physical phenomena in atoms, molecules and condensed matter.

2013

Anne Salmond, social scientist

Awarded for her eminent work on Māori social structures and interactions with the European world, and on European exploration and engagement in the Pacific

2012

Margaret Brimble, chemist

Awarded for her world-leading contributions to the synthesis of bioactive natural products, including a new drug for traumatic brain injury funded by the US army.

2011

Christine Winterbourn, biochemist

Awarded for her outstanding achievements and discoveries in free radical biology which have established her as a leading world authority in this field.

2010

Warren Tate, biochemist

Awarded for his outstanding achievements in molecular biology and molecular neuroscience.

2009

Peter Hunter, computational bioengineer

Awarded for his revolutionary approach to modelling the human body.

2008

David Parry, structural biophysicist

Awarded for his world-leading research on fibrous proteins which has led to major advances in understanding the structure of hair and the working of muscles and connective tissue.

2007

Richard Faull, neuroscientist

Awarded for his ground-breaking work in understanding the human brain. He has a passion and enthusiasm to ensure that his research is world class and that it engages and benefits the whole community.

2006

Edward (Ted) Baker, structural biologist

Awarded for his internationally recognised and  pioneering work in  structural biology, and as a key player in the development of a vibrant biotechnology culture in New Zealand.

2005

Paul Callaghan, physicist

Awarded for world-leading research in development of new Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) methods that have significant impacts in physics, chemistry, biology and medicine.

2004

David Penny, theoretical biologist

Awarded in recognition of his distinguished contributions in theoretical biology, molecular evolution, analysis of DNA information.

2003

George Petersen, biochemist

Awarded for his exceptional contribution in pioneering methods for sequencing DNA and nurturing the development of DNA research in New Zealand.

2002

Jeffrey Tallon, physicist

Awarded for his wide-ranging internationally recognised achievements in the discovery, design, physical characterisation, understanding and application of high-temperature superconductors.

2001

Peter Gluckman, biologist

2000

Alan MacDiarmid, chemist, Nobel Prize winner

1999

David Vere-Jones, statistician

Awarded for his outstanding contributions to research and education in probability, statistics and the mathematical sciences, and for services to the statistical and mathematical communities both within New Zealand and internationally.

1998

William (Bill) Robinson, seismologist

Awarded for his internationally recognised research in materials science leading to the development of seismic isolation dampers, and through them for his contribution to mitigating hazards to human life and construction.

1997

Thomas (John) Walker, soil scientist

Awarded for his internationally recognised and pioneering research in soil science, and for his substantial contribution to public awareness, knowledge and understanding of the behaviour of soils.

1996

No award

1995

William (Bill) Denny, oncologist, and the Auckland Cancer Research Laboratory

Awarded for sustained innovation in the development of new anticancer drugs, and the formation in Auckland of a leading international academic centre in anticancer drug development, to provide opportunities for research-based teaching and student training.

1994

Ian Axford, physicist

Awarded for his excellent contribution to fundamental research which has led to a deeper understanding of the nature of planetary magnetospheres, comets, interplanetary space, the behaviour of interstellar gas and the origin of cosmic rays.

1993

Roy Kerr, mathematician

Awarded for his outstanding discoveries in the extra-terrestrial world of black holes.

1992

Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR) Group Award

1991

Vaughan Jones, mathematician, Fields Medalist

Awarded for his international reputation in topology.