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Each year the Department awards prizes and scholarships to promising Biochemistry students. Former staff, students, and their families have generously donated funding for these awards to encourage future researchers in biochemistry.

Lists of all prize recipients are available here


A photo of Professor Norman Edson.

Professor Norman Lowther Edson

Edson Prizes

Given to the students with the 'highest level of attainment in biochemistry' in the 300- and 400-level classes.

The Edson prizes were established in 1972 from donations by former colleagues and students of Norman Lowther Edson. Edson became the first Professor of Biochemistry at the University of Otago in 1944, and was head of the Department from 1949 to 1967. He was Hans Krebs's first PhD student, and continued research on metabolic pathways throughout his career.

A photo of Emeritus Professor George Petersen.

Emeritus Professor George Petersen

George Petersen Prize

Awarded to the student who has shown the greatest promise for original research in biochemistry in the 400-level class.

This prize was established in 2003 by the Department of Biochemistry in honour of Emeritus Professor George B. Petersen. He became Professor of Biochemistry and head of the Department in 1968, and continued in that position until 1990. DNA was the central theme in Prof. Petersen's research career. His DPhil work in Oxford helped in the development of DNA sequencing technologies, and he helped expand research in the Department into molecular biology and related areas.

A photo of Associate Professor Mervyn Smith.

Associate Professor Mervyn Smith

Mervyn Smith Prize

Awarded to the student with the 'highest level of attainment in biochemistry' in the first year MSc class.

Also established by the Department of Biochemistry in 2003, this prize is awarded in honour of Associate Professor Mervyn G. Smith, who served as head of the Department from 1991 until 1999. In his research career, Assoc. Prof. Smith investigated bacteriophage DNA and the use of adeno-associated viral vectors to transfect mammalian cells, and was the first in the department to focus on RNA research.


A photo of the Honourable Richard McCallum.

The Hon Richard McCallum

Marjorie McCallum Awards

Travel award: The Marjorie McCallum travel award was established in 1993 and enables PhD students from the Department to travel to workshops or other laboratories to enhance their research abilities.

MSc stipend: Scholarship funding is historically focused on PhD study, so the recent increase in numbers of MSc students means that the few MSc scholarships available are extremely competitive. Since 2016, the Department has made the Marjorie McCallum MSc award available to promising MSc students in order to support study at this level.

The Marjorie McCallum awards were funded by a gift to the University by the Honourable Richard McCallum of Blenheim. He made the donation in memory of his daughter Marjorie, who died in 1921 aged 24, while she was a medical student at the University of Otago. Richard McCallum was a barrister and politician, serving as Mayor of Blenheim (1901–1903) and MP for the Wairau electorate (1911-1922). He was particularly interested in providing education for young people.

A photo of Professor Joan (Jan) Mary Anderson.

Professor Joan (Jan) Mary Anderson

Joan Mary Anderson Award in Plant Biochemistry

This award provides a stipend to a student with a strong interest in plant biochemistry, and who shows greatest promise in contributing to plant science. The award is granted at the beginning of the 400-level year.

The award was established in 2017 and funded by a gift to the University by Professor Joan (Jan) Mary Anderson. Prof. Anderson was an internationally acclaimed plant biologist known for her investigation of photosynthesis. She studied organic chemistry at the University of Otago, obtaining a BSc and MSc with first class honours. She spent most of her working life in Canberra, Australia, and was elected to the Australian Academy of Science in 1987 and to the Royal Society of London in 1996. Professor Anderson died in 2015.

Read a memoir on Jan Anderson's life and research published by the Royal Society


The Elizabeth Jean Trotter Scholarship in Biomedical Sciences

The Elizabeth Jean Trotter Scholarship was created to support students who are enrolled in a Bachelor of Biomedical Sciences Honours programme at the University of Otago. These students may carry out their study within the Department of Biochemistry.

Read more about this scholarship here

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