The Shorland Medal is awarded in recognition of major and continued contribution to basic or applied research that has added significantly to scientific understanding or resulted in significant benefits to society
Shorland Medal 2017
The 2017 Shorland Medal is awarded to the Fetal Physiology and Neuroscience Team at the University of Auckland, led by Professors Alistair Jan Gunn (Physiology and Paediatrics) (pictured) and Laura Bennet (Physiology). The team, which includes Drs Joanne Davidson and Justin Dean (Physiology) and Professor Colin Green (Ophthalmology), has made an outstanding contribution researching the major causes of death and disability in early childhood, including the identification of compromised fetuses in labour, dissecting the mechanisms of perinatal brain injury and finding new ways to treat asphyxial brain injury before and after birth. Their most influential work was a series of experimental studies that provided the foundation for understanding how, when and in whom cooling can be successfully used to reduce brain damage in babies. These studies have established cooling, a simple, practical and safe therapy, as the first treatment that significantly improves survival without disability after brain injury at birth.
The 2016 Shorland Medal is awarded to Professor Antony Braithwaite from the Dunedin School of Medicine at the University of Otago. Professor Braithwaite is a leading cancer researcher with a focus on the signaling pathways controlling cancer cell development and on p53 in particular. Professor Braithwaite has been a Research Professor in the Department of Pathology since 1996, where he currently leads a team of more than a dozen researchers and students. Professor Braithwaite has served the national community as a key player in founding the Institutional Biological Safety Committee on which he served for 8 years, and serving 6 years with HRC Biomedical Research Committee, as well as with the HRC Maori Health Research Committee and the NZ Genetic Technology Advisory Committee. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand in 2013 and awarded a James Cook Research Fellowship in 2015.
This year’s Shorland Medal was awarded to Dr Ian Brown. Dr Brown is a Distinguished Scientist in the Advanced Materials Group of Callaghan Innovation. He has had an outstandingly successful 41-year research career as a materials chemist, first in Chemistry Division of DSIR, then in IRL, and finally Callaghan Innovation. His research began in the fields of ceramics and glass manufacture. He then developed applications of significant benefit to New Zealand, including the utilisation of waste glass and New Zealand ironsands to produce new ceramic materials, and researched the chemistry of fertiliser manufacture from phosphate rock. Ian was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand in 1999, and awarded a DSc by Victoria University in 2000. He has been Adjunct Professor at Victoria since 2006, and is the current president of the New Zealand Institute of Chemistry.
The 2014 Shorland Medal is awarded to Professor Wei Gao, Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Auckland. He received his DPhil from Oxford University, UK in 1988, and worked at MIT, USA for 5 years as a Research Fellow. At the University of Auckland, he leads a research group of 30 people, and has made significant contributions in a wide area including nano-materials, thin films and coatings, light alloys, corrosion and oxidation, superconductors, photocatalysis, wastewater treatment and electron microscopy. His group discovered a simple method to produce “black titania” (TiO2-X), which can collect energy by absorbing UV, visible and infrared radiations from sun light, dramatically improving the efficiency of using solar energy. The nanostructure alloy/composite coatings his group developed possess superior wear and corrosion resistance, and are being used in machinery, tool and device industries in New Zealand and overseas. His selective oxidation map/theory has established the relationships of microstructure and protective oxidation, and has significant impact on oxidation resistant coating research. He has 660 refereed research publications including 375 journal papers, 11 books and book chapters and 15 patents. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society NZ and IPENZ; Vice President of the International Thin Films Society; sits on a number of editorial boards of international journals; and is Honorary/Advisory Professor for 8 universities overseas. He has also received a number of prestigious awards, including the RJ Scott Medal, James Cook Fellowship, RH Cooper Award and Distinguished Materials Scientist of China.
The 2013 Shorland Medal is awarded to Graham Nugent and a team of wildlife ecology and management researchers from Landcare Research, in recognition of their outstanding leadership and prolonged contribution through research to resolve the major environmental and economic problems in New Zealand caused by introduced mammal pests, particularly possums. The team’s skill base spans wildlife ecology, the eco-epidemiology of bovine tuberculosis (TB), computer modelling, animal physiology and behaviour, toxicology, animal welfare and product development. Their research had clarified the role of various pest species as TB vectors and as threats to native biodiversity; helped develop new strategies for local elimination of pest and pest and disease freedom; helped substantially reduce the environmental, non-target, and animal welfare risks caused by pest management; and significantly improved approaches to measuring benefits and outcomes. This work has contributed greatly to the progressive development of a much more cost effective, but also more sustainable and socially acceptable, suite of pest-management strategies and tools. Underpinning this are their 57 journal publications since 2009 – widely cited nationally and internationally. The benefits have been an efficient possum control industry, major reductions in agricultural production losses from TB, increased protection of native plants and animals, and recognition of New Zealand as global leader in vertebrate pest control.
The recipient for 2012 is Professor Michael Hendy, University of Otago.
Professor Hendy is awarded the Shorland Medal for an outstanding body of research into mathematical phylogeny – the set of mathematical tools for reconstructing evolutionary relationships between species using DNA sequences. The application of combinatorics and graph theory to phylogenetics has proved to be an exceptionally fruitful area for Professor Hendy, yielding over 80 papers published in that field. Our understanding of evolution has developed at an unprecedented rate in recent years and much of this can be attributed to the pioneering work of Professor Hendy and his co-worker, Professor David Penny. In the 1980s Penny and Hendy put Darwin’s theory of evolution to a particularly stringent mathematical test, finding not only that it stood up to their test, but that it was not a tautology as had been asserted by the
philosopher, Karl Popper. In 2001, Professor Hendy teamed up with three other researchers at Massey University to develop an application for the government’s new Centres of Research Excellence Fund. This led to the establishment of the Allan Wilson Centre for Molecular Ecology and Evolution, hosted by Massey with partners in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, and Dunedin. The Allan Wilson Centre advances knowledge of the evolution and ecology of New Zealand and Pacific plant and animal life, and of human history in the Pacific.
The New Zealand Association of Scientists Shorland Medal for 2011 is awarded to Professor Harjinder Singh, co-Director of the Riddet Institute, Massey University. Professor Singh has demonstrated distinguished scholarship and intellectual leadership in food science and technology, especially in relation to milk products.
His research has had a major international impact on both the dairy industry and the general scientific community. Over 200 papers have been published with his research, and in addition he has successfully mentored over 60 research students and post-doctoral fellows. Not only is his research very highly cited, but he has served on editorial boards of journals and on external agencies, has helped obtain research grants of over $43 million and has been awarded several patents.
Professor Singh is a Fellow of Royal Society of New Zealand, Fellow of the International Academy of Food Science and Technology, Fellow of the New Zealand Institute of Food Science and Technology. He has been awarded the William C. Haines Dairy Science Award (California Dairy Research Foundation); Marschall Rhodia International Dairy Science Award (American Dairy Science Association) and the Massey University Individual and Team Research Medals (2006).
The Shorland Medal for 2010 is awarded to Professor Ken McNatty, AgResearchProfessor Kenneth McNatty is one of the world’s leading figures in reproduction biology, having made a number of important basic research discoveries and then seen them through to applications with significant economic benefits. He is the author of 260 peer-reviewed research papers and holds 10 patents. Ken’s reputation was founded on a number of discoveries during the ‘70s and ’80s relating to follicular development and egg viability and the differences between humans, sheep and cattle. This work led to Ken becoming a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand in 1992, having been nominated by Brian Shorland. Further fundamental research on ovulation followed, and provided insight into the system that regulates the number of eggs released at ovulation. This work provided the basis upon which Ken’s team at AgResearch developed AdroVax, a sheep twinning vaccine that has made a substantial contribution to the New Zealand economy, estimated to be in excess of $100 million per annum. Now based at Victoria University, Ken continues to develop new insights into reproduction, with projects focussed on human health, agricultural benefits, environmental impacts on reproduction and even seeking to improve rates and success of reproduction in New Zealand’s native avian fauna.
The Shorland Medal for 2009 is awarded to Professor Alan B. Kaiser FRSNZ, School of Chemical and Physical Sciences, Victoria University of Wellington Professor Kaiser has for many years investigated the electronic properties of several types of novel conducting material, ranging from conducting plastics to glassy metals, magnetic materials to superconductors, with a particular focus on understanding the conduction processes. Most recently he has researched graphene (a layer of carbon atoms only one atom thick, thought not to exist in nature until recently), and carbon nanotubes (tiny tubes of rolled-up graphene), both of which have great potential for carbon-based electronics. His publications have been widely used by other authors, and he has received numerous invitations to give talks at international conferences. He also has helped develop New Zealand's international science links, collaborating with researchers in many countries, and organizing the first Korea-NZ Symposium on Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology in 2003 (and co-organizing another in 2007).
The New Zealand Association of Scientists' Shorland Medal is awarded in recognition of a career in research that has resulted in significant advances in knowledge or benefits to society. The recipient of the medal for 2008 is Dr Graeme L. Gainsford, of Industrial Research Ltd, Gracefield, Lower Hutt. Dr Gainsford has had a distinguished career, originally in the Chemistry Division of DSIR and later in the CRI, Industrial Research Ltd (IRL). His research has focused around the use of X-ray crystallography to determine the structures of single crystals. This is a technique very widely used to determine the detailed molecular structure of compounds, and this has enabled him to work on a wide range of areas within chemistry (and increasingly within other areas of science). Crystallographers work to solve other peoples' structural problems, and Dr Gainsford has collaborated extensively with scientists from a variety of New Zealand research institutions, and from around the world. He has a very high number of research publications, and has stimulated a range of younger scientists.
The 2007 medal was awarded to Dr Robin Mitchell, of HortResearch, Mt Albert for making an outstanding personal lifetime contribution in using the skills of a chemist to answer an important biological and commercial problem - how pathogenic bacteria cause harm to plants. Dr Mitchell has a national and international reputation for his work of more than 35 years on the toxins of plant pathogens. He is recognised internationally as a pioneer in the field of phytopathogen toxin research. He has discovered four different compounds or compound families that are active toxins and is working on a fifth novel toxin family. The isolation and characterisation of these toxic compounds required him to develop new methods for separating out several unstable compounds present in solutions at extremely low concentrations. He had to determine which fraction was associated with which biological activity, and to purify extremely small amounts so that the chemical structure could be established. It took four years to isolate the toxin produced by bacterial halo blight of beans. This work won him the Easterfield Medal of the New Zealand Institute of Chemistry in recognition of the quality and originality of his research work. His work not only reveals the structure of the toxins but also determines the pathways of toxin synthesis and the interrelationships between the toxins and the host plant. More recently he has developed an interest in the possible use of naturally produced bacterial toxins as a means of controlling fireblight in apples. This work is inherently difficult and his success shows what long term, sustained, meticulous research effort combined with imagination, determination and foresight can achieve.
The 2006 medal was awarded to Professor David Parry, of the Institute of Fundamental Sciences, Massey University for his contributions to biophysics. Prof Parry, who is now retired, has had a most distinguished career in biophysics. His research focussed particularly on the analysis of the ultrastructure of fibrous proteins and thus has been of high relevance to New Zealand. The fibrous proteins he has studied include those in hair, collagen, muscle, tendon, skin and the cornea. His work is marked by a deep understanding of the fundamental biophysics, including the assembly of proteins complexes. David's work has also been recognized internationally with a result that he has over 50 publications that are cited over 50 times each, and nearly 6000 different publications have referred to his work, usually more than once. In addition to his outstanding research contributions he undertook a full administrative role as Head of the Institute of Fundamental Sciences. In 2000, Prof Parry was awarded the Hercus Medal from RSNZ for his studies of the chemistry, physics, biochemistry, ultrastructure and biological function of fibrous proteins, and in 2004, he received the Massey University Research Medal for an outstanding individual researcher. On the international level he has contributed substantially as President of the International Union of Pure & Applied Biophysics (IUPAB) and as Vice-President (Scientific Planning & Review) of the International Council of Science (ICSU) - the first New Zealander to be elected to that position. He is the first New Zealander to be appointed to this position, where he chaired the Committee for Scientific Planning and Review. ICSU incorporates 27 Scientific Unions from 103 countries and covers all areas of science. Finally, during his long and busy career, Prof Parry has always been accessible to staff and students. On the research, human, and administrative levels, David has made a major commitment and contribution to science in New Zealand.
The 2005 medal is awarded to Dr. Adya Singh, of Scion (New Zealand Forest Research Institute, Ltd), Rotorua, for an outstanding contribution to basic and applied plant and wood sciences. His varied research on the organisation and ultrastructure of woody cell walls and the evaluation of the performance of wood products, have led to enormous financial benefits to the forest products and wood preservation industries in New Zealand and made many of our homes more durable. For example, Dr Singh's work in the 1980s lead to an industrial revolution. His path-breaking and internationally acclaimed discovery showed that the premature, in-service failure of preservative-treated radiata pine posts, used in horticulture, was caused by bacterial (not fungal) attack. Prior to this discovery, bacteria were thought to play only a minor role in wood decay. This knowledge led to substantial improvements in treatment practices, resulting in enormous financial benefits to the wood preservation industry in New Zealand. Another example of the industrial relevance of Dr Singh's more recent work is the birth of an important technology based on fundamental understanding of why clear protective coatings applied to wood surfaces fail within a short time in outdoor applications. This knowledge has resulted in the development of a novel process, which has lead to significant improvements in the service life of such wood-polymer systems in service outdoors. Dr Singh's unselfish devotion to science is reflected in the time he has so generously given to promoting the capabilities and potentials of scientists at all stages of their career through active mentoring and collaborative activities. He is a highly respected wood scientist and a world leader in his specialty, recognised by his election as a Fellow of the International Academy of Wood Sciences in 1996.
The 2004 medal was awarded to Dr. John McKinnon, recently retired from Canesis Network Ltd, formerly The Wool Research Organisation of New Zealand (WRONZ), Lincoln. With an outstanding personal lifetime contribution to research into wool and wool processing, Dr McKinnon is arguably the most distinguished and successful wool chemist in the world. He has demonstrated an outstanding ability to span the spectrum from basic research to masterminding the exploitation of his technologies on a global scale. Dr McKinnon's early research work contributed to the technological developments of the New Zealand wool scouring industry. Major advances improved the colour and cleanliness of wool and culminated in the most recent technology, GlacialTM, which won the WRONZ Invention of the year in 2003. This process is licensed to New Zealand's leading wool scouring and exporting company, New Zealand Wool Services Ltd, where it is their flagship product at their Kaputone plant in Belfast. Carpets made from GlacialTM wool were shown at the Surfaces Carpet Trade Fair in Las Vegas in January 2004 by Glen Eden, one of the leading, top end carpet makers in the USA. Another major contribution was the development of a process and machinery that stabilises carpet yarn so it will not unravel when cut. This TwistsetTM technology has been installed at 10 locations in USA, Japan, Denmark, Belgium, UK and New Zealand. Most recently John has lead a team that created the platform for the new biotechnology company Keratec Ltd. This biotechnology company is unequivocally founded on fundamental scientific knowledge of the structural biology of the wool fibre, its chemical reactivity and especially keratin biotechnology. These endeavours are at the centre of the wool industry's efforts to reposition wool as a sophisticated new product for use in a variety of higher value applications. John has carried out the majority of his research in New Zealand based at what is now Canesis Network Ltd, where he has recently been in the role of General Manager, Corporate Research. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand, and is honoured as an outstanding person of great stature in the wool industry.
The 2003 medal was awarded to Dr. Kenneth MacKenzie, Associate Professor in Chemistry at Victoria University of Wellington and Senior Scientist at Industrial Research Limited. During his 37-year career in chemistry Dr. MacKenzie has published some 240 research papers on the chemistry of ceramics and minerals, the development of new materials such as nitride, sialon and electroceramics, and the application of new analytical techniques. Many of the new materials that he has worked on are used in a range of industrial processes and products. In parallel with his research, Dr. MacKenzie has recently undertaken teaching responsibilities at Victoria University of Wellington. He has rapidly gained a reputation as a valued and enthusiastic teacher, notably in the areas of solid state and ceramic chemistry, and he is also supervising a number of graduate research programmes in ceramic materials. The quality of Dr. MacKenzie's research was recognised very early in his career when, as a PhD student, he published an important paper in Nature on the development of electric potentials in clay minerals caused by ionic movements. This discovery lead him to develop solid state electrolysis as a tool for investigating the chemical behaviour of aluminosilicates and related materials, which in turn extended his research, and that of his group, into the area of new, hi-tech ceramics mentioned above. More recently, Dr. MacKenzie has directed his research towards developing energy-efficient synthesis routes that require lower reaction temperatures for the processing of ceramics. Throughout his career, Dr MacKenzie has received numerous awards and distinctions, including a James Cook Research Fellowship, The Royal Society Medal for Science and Technology, the Ministerial Award for Excellence in Technological Development and the Easterfield Medal. He has been elected to Fellowships of the Royal Society of New Zealand, the NZ Institute of Chemistry, The Royal Society of Chemistry and the Institute of Ceramics.
Dr Hugh Bibby, of the Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences, Wellington, was awarded the 2002 Shorland Medal in recognition of an outstanding personal lifetime contribution to the theory and application of electrical geophysical methods for the exploration of geothermal and volcanic systems in New Zealand, and for devising analytical methods for determining earth deformation parameters from geodetic survey data. His work has improved the recognition of hot-water reservoirs within the geothermal fields and in the selection of sites for production drill holes by being able to predict the likelihood that a hole would encounter hot thermal conditions. A major highlight was the discovery that the Mokai geothermal field was a major resource, whereas previously it was thought to be a very minor resource. Some of Dr Bibby's methods have been widely adopted around the world, and expertise has been called on to assess geothermal systems in many countries. He has been on missions for the UN to El Salvador, Panama, Honduras and Guatemala and for the NZ Government to the Philippines. Dr Bibby currently leads a multi-skilled research team that investigates the fundamentals of volcanism and geothermal heat origin within the Taupo Volcanic Zone. The team studies the physical processes of heat transfer, whether the system is in a "steady state", and factors that make magma unstable leading to an eruption. This work has won international acclaim. Dr Bibby's work is characterised by an outstanding ability in the application of geophysics and a flair for leading large-scale field projects that yield internationally significant results. All this work has resulted in a number of awards. Dr Bibby is a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand; he was awarded the NZ Geophysics prize in 1978, and together with Grant Caldwell, was again awarded the 1999 NZ Geophysics Prize for his work. All this work has resulted in a number of awards. Dr Bibby is a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand. He was awarded the NZ Geophysics prize in 1978 for his mathematical geodetic theory, and again in 1999, together with Grant Caldwell, for his work in electrical prospecting theory.
Professor Brian Halton, of the School of Chemical and Physical Sciences, Victoria University of Wellington, was awarded the 2001 Shorland Medal in recognition of an outstanding personal lifetime contribution to research in chemistry. The studies are on man made molecules, in particular 'strained' organic compounds - fascinating and potentially valuable materials that do not exist in nature. Normal rules of chemical bonding and geometry can be pushed to the limit by strain as the chemist tries to make compounds with interesting and often unpredictable properties. Most stable molecules have geometries that optimise bond angles and lengths to minimise the total energy. But in a strained organic molecule the bond lengths and/or angles are very different from the norm and this gives high internal energy. Such molecules can be likened to coiled springs as ready to be released as a 'Jack-in-a-Box'. Since strained molecules have "high-energy properties" they are generally very reactive and their synthesis is often extremely challenging. Such compounds are of major scientific interest because they help us understand the ultimate possibilities in organic chemistry. Some compounds are, however, of economic importance. Professor Halton has directed his efforts at what was a poorly understood class of compounds. This combines the stability and symmetry of ?benzene with the reactivity and distortion of the smallest and most highly strained three-membered ring compound, cyclopropene, to form the cycloproparenes. This work has led to some 110 of his 140 published works in the international peer-reviewed chemistry literature. Many of the molecules are beautifully coloured, crystalline solids with a stability unusual for such highly strained molecules. Serendipity led Professor Halton to an exceptionally fluorescent derivative with possible uses as a laser dye or in the "new materials" area of organic chemistry. Such was the importance of his discovery that much recent international effort has been directed at the development of new organic materials of this type and a new class of dyes has already resulted. Professor Halton's elegant work is often carried out in collaboration with leading international research groups using equipment and instrumentation not available locally. Joint publications with groups from Australia, Canada, Germany, Israel, the UK, the USA and (the former) Yugoslavia, is providing further international recognition of New Zealand science. He was appointed lecturer in organic chemistry in 1968. In 1991 he was awarded a personal chair, and the following year was elected to the fellowship of the Royal Society of New Zealand.
Dr. R. Paul Kibblewhite, of Forest Research, Rotorua, was awarded the 2000 Shorland Medal in recognition of an outstanding personal lifetime contribution to research into pulp and paper making. He is a world-recognised leader in understanding the properties of wood fibre for pulp and papermaking. Paul's work has contributed to the development of local industry, and is ground-breaking research on an international scale. He produced a series of technical brochures on the properties and processing of radiata market kraft pulps which have been widely used for about 10 years, primarily to help market New Zealand pulps in Asia in competition with pulps from other parts of the world. The cumulative value of this technical marketing material, in terms of sales made and customers converted to radiata pine pulp, is huge. His more recent research in to the genetics of wood fibre characteristics, teaming up with tree breeders and molecular biologists, may well be laying the foundations for new and improved solid-wood pulp and paper products of the future. Starting his career as a Forest Service trainee in 1960, it quickly became clear to his supervisors that Paul's aptitudes lay well beyond tending trees. He was encouraged to specialise in wood chemistry, an area in need of development at the time. After completing a PhD in 1969, at the Institute of Paper Chemistry in Wisconsin, he became the first Forest Service trainee in New Zealand history to achieve a specialist graduate degree in science. Adding to this distinction, he also received a gold medal for the excellence of his thesis. Paul's dedication to this field of research is fuelled not only by its direct relevance to industry, but also by his inherent passion for science. The enthusiasm he brings to his work has become legendary and he has imbued the subject of wood fibre with a level of excitement that listeners find contagious. For a scientist to present a highly specialised and technical subject in such a compelling way is a rare talent in itself. A popular and accomplished speaker, as well as a prolific writer, he has been a strong proponent of effective communication. In the early 1980s he established a formal Technology Transfer Group within Forest Research to help raise the standard of communication from researchers to end-users, an area in which he excels. As a senior scientist, he is supportive of younger staff and is renowned for his sound advice as a mentor. His talent for "getting to the point" has helped many less experienced scientists to focus on an optimum approach. Throughout his career, Paul Kibblewhite has demonstrated a mastery of using scientific method as a tool and communicating the results. He is also a fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand.
Prof. Michael Corballis, Director of the Research Centre for Cognitive Neuroscience, University of Auckland, is awarded the 1999 Shorland in recognition of an outstanding personal contribution to research in cognitive neuroscience. Professor Corballis has published more that 100 papers in peer reviewed journals, has written numerous chapters in books and has published six books. He is well known and admired in New Zealand and has an outstanding reputation internationally. Cognitive neuroscience includes study of the mechanisms by which the brain forms representations of the outside world, stores information as memories, and programmes movements. Professor Corballis is particularly well known for his work on the brain mechanisms that underlie perception, imagery, memory and language. Much of his work focuses especially on brain asymmetry for these functions, and with the way in which information is transmitted between the hemispheres of the brain. His current work in these areas is based in part on the study of people who have undergone the so-called "split brain" operation for the relief of intractable epilepsy. He has also embarked on a series of brain- imaging studies using high-density EEG recording in an attempt to further locate the brain mechanisms involved in high-level perception and imagery. He has also developed genetic and evolutionary models of handedness and brain asymmetry, as well as a theory that language evolved from manual gestures. Professor Corballis was Head of the Department of Psychology at the University of Auckland from 1980-1982 and 1991-92. He has been Director of the Research Centre for Cognitive Neuroscience since 1993. He was recently awarded and Honorary Doctorate of Science at Carlton University, Canada showing the high level of esteem in which his work is held in that country. He is in constant demand to visit institutions in various parts of the world. He is a Fellow of a number of learned societies, including the Royal Society of New Zealand.