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Divisional Awards

About the 2016 Awards of Excellence

The Division of Sciences held its second Awards celebration on Friday 2 December 2016, with a suite of awards acknowledging the excellent work done in many different areas of university life and work: research, teaching, community engagement, technical and administrative support.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Harlene Hayne presented Award recipients with beautiful sculptures of art, created by Anne Ryan from the Glassblowing Unit, in the shape of a neuron, and attached to handcrafted rimu, recycled from the Department of Chemistry.

In her closing speech, Prof Hayne made special mention with regards Professor Keith Hunter's long-term service to the University, and in particular as Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Sciences). Prof Hunter, who is retiring at the end of 2016, initiated the inaugural Division of Sciences Excellence Awards in 2015.

Congratulations to all nominees for 2016, and in particular, recipients of each award.

Research awards

Jon WatersResearcher of the Year 

The Researcher of the Year Award recognises outstanding research performance by a Principal Investigator within the Division of Sciences. Recognition will focus on scientific impact of research outputs over the course of 2016 - 2017.

2016 Recipient: Professor Jon Waters (Zoology)


Nic RawlenceEarly-Career Researcher of the Year

The Early-Career Researcher of the Year Award recognises outstanding research performance by an emerging researcher within the Division of Sciences. Academic staff (e.g. Lecturers, Research Fellows) who have held an appointment for a period of at least two years, and who have held an academic appointment for less than a combined total of six years at this and other universities, are eligible for this Award. Recognition will focus on scientific impact of research outputs over the course of 2016 - 2017.

2016 recipient: Dr Nic Rawlence (Zoology)


James Crowley for Crowley GroupResearch Group of the Year

The Researcher Group of the Year Award recognises outstanding performance by a collaborative research team within the Division of Sciences. Recognition will focus on scientific impact of research outputs over the course of 2016 - 2017.

2016 Recipient: Crowley Group (Chemistry)


Michael Colombo and Damian ScarfBest Research Paper - academic staff 

The Best Research Paper Award recognises outstanding scholarship associated with a single research paper (first published online in 2016) led by an Academic staff member within the Division of Sciences.

2016 Recipient: Professor Michael Colombo and Dr Damian Scarf (Psychology)


Ryan ThomasBest Research Paper - postgraduate student 

The Best Research Paper Award recognises outstanding scholarship associated with a single research paper (first published online in 2016 - 2017) by a postgraduate student within the Division of Sciences.

Recipients for 2016 - Ryan Thomas (Physics)


Engagement awards

Carla Meledandri

Industry Links Award

The Industry Links Award recognises outstanding commercialisation outcomes of a researcher’s invention and/or exceptional R&D collaborations between a researcher and Industry. Any research staff in the Division of Sciences whose invention was made at the University of Otago and commercialised may be eligible. Selection will be made on the basis of the nominal value of the commercialisation or R&D project and its likely impact on society (e.g., number of people affected by the invention).

Recipient for 2016 - Dr Carla Meledandri (Chemistry)


Sandra MandicCommunity Engagement Award - academic staff

The Community Engagement Award gives recognition to engagement with and service to the general public, whether locally, nationally or internationally.
Any academic staff member in the Division of Sciences who has met the research and teaching performance expectations, but excelled beyond expectation in the area of community engagement may be nominated for this Award. Abby Smith for Chris Hepburn

Engagement recognition will focus on initiative and impact of community.

Recipients for 2016 - Dr Sandra Mandic (Physical Education, Sport and Exercise Sciences), top; - award accepted by Elaine Hargreaves and Dr Chris Hepburn (Marine Science) - award accepted by Abby Smith, bottom.


Steve Cutler

Community Engagement Award - general staff 

The Community Engagement Award gives recognition to engagement with and service to the general public, whether locally, nationally or internationally. Any general staff member in the Division of Sciences who has excelled beyond expectation in the area of community engagement may be nominated for this Award. Engagement recognition will focus on leadership, initiative and impact of community engagement.

Recipient for 2016 - Steve Cutler (Marine Science)


Teaching awards

Niels Kjaergaard

Senior Teacher of the Year 

The Senior Teacher of the Year Award recognises sustained outstanding tertiary teaching by a staff member within the Division of Sciences. Recognition will focus on demonstrated commitment and creativity in the delivery of high-quality teaching that engages students and results in exceptional learning experiences.

David McMorran

Academic staff members who have held an appointment for a period of more than six years at this and other universities are eligible for this Award.

Recipients for 2016 - Associate Professor Niels Kjaergaard (Physics) top; and Dr David McMorran (Chemistry) bottom.


Abby Smith for Will RaymentEarly-Career Teacher of the Year 

This award recognises outstanding tertiary teaching by an emerging teacher within the Division of Sciences. Recognition will focus on distinction in the delivery of high-quality teaching that engages students and results in exceptional learning experiences.

Academic staff members who have held an appointment for a period of at least two years, and who have held an academic appointment for less than a combined total of six years at this and other universities, are eligible for this Award

Recipient for 2016 - Dr Will Rayment (Marine Science) Photo: Award accepted by Abby Smith


Mick StrackInnovation in Māori or Pacific Islands Course Content

This award recognises new initiatives to include Māori and Pacific content in a sustained way in the teaching of sciences.

Any member of teaching staff within the Division of Sciences, including Teaching fellows, Professional Practice Fellows and postgraduate students involved in teaching blocks of courses, is eligible for this award.

Recipients for 2016 - Dr Mick Strack (Surveying)


Support staff

Cathy BennettOutstanding Technical Support Award 

This Award recognises technical staff members who have made an outstanding contribution to the Division of Sciences. Criteria for selection centre around workmanship, and both aptitude and attitude of the staff member.

Any member of general staff in the Division of Sciences who holds an appointment to provide technical support for the Division or one of its Departments is eligible for the Award.

Recipient for 2016 - Cathy Bennett (Chemistry)


Kath McGilbertOutstanding Administrative Support Award 

This award recognises administrative staff whose work has made an outstanding contribution to the smooth running of teaching, research and Divisional business. Criteria will focus on sustained excellence, innovation and initiative.

The Award is available to anyone working as a general staff member for .5 FTE or higher.

Recipient for 2016 - Kath McGilbert (Botany)


Keith Gordon for David LarsenOutstanding Student Support Award - advising and mentoring

This award recognises the work of any staff member within the Division of Sciences – academic or general staff – who has provided exceptional student advice and support throughout the year.

Recipient for 2016 - Professor David Larsen (Chemistry) - Award accepted by Keith Gordon


Rob BallaghSpecial Award for Distinguished Service

Professor Rob Ballagh (Physics)


2015 Division of Sciences Excellence award