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Research Awards

Leith river run

University of Otago Distinguished Research Medal

Professor Keith Gordon is the 2021 recipient of the University of Otago Distinguished Research Medal.

Professor Gordon has demonstrated outstanding research performance across basic and applied research, and has made significant contributions to the research environment. Working in several areas, Professor Gordon’s research focuses on the use of light as a tool for the study of materials and for the systematic design of new materials for beneficial applications in areas such as organic solar cells or light emitting diodes.

The University of Otago Distinguished Research Medal award aims to promote research at Otago and to give recognition to outstanding performance of individual researchers or research teams. A medal commemorating the award will be presented to each recipient at a public lecture given by the recipient. Up to two such awards may be given in any one year. 

Any academic staff member of the University of Otago who holds an appointment at the level of Research Fellow, Lecturer, Senior Research Fellow, Senior Lecturer, Associate Professor, Professor or Professorial Research Fellow, or a team comprising such individuals may be eligible.

The basis for selection will be outstanding scholarly achievement, including the discovery and dissemination of new knowledge, the development of innovative technology, or the development of concepts that lead to significant advances in activities of the University.

Past recipients of the University of Otago Distinguished Research Medal

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The Rowheath Trust Award and Carl Smith Medal

Professor Benjamin Schontal and Associate Professor John Shaver are the 2021 winners of the Rowheath Trust Award and Carl Smith Medal.

Working in several South Asian languages, Professor Schontal has challenged existing paradigms within comparative law, Buddhist Studies and Asian Studies and pioneered a new methodology of constitutional microhistory that has since been taken up by many scholars in these fields.

Associate Professor Shaver is an evolutionary anthropologist who studies religious belief and ritual from a cross-cultural, interdisciplinary approach. He has published in pre-eminent, high impact journals in anthropology, biology, neuroscience, religion, psychology and general science.

The late Sir Carl Smith was a prominent Dunedin businessman and member of the University Council who set up the Rowheath Trust to support the University’s work.

The Rowheath Trust Award aims to promote research at the University of Otago and to give recognition to outstanding research performance of Early Career Staff. Any staff member of the University of Otago who has been on the staff of this University for a period of at least two years and who has held a career research appointment for less than a combined total of ten years at this and other research institutes may be eligible.

The basis for selection will be outstanding scholarly achievement, including the discovery and dissemination of new knowledge, the development of innovative technology, or scholarship for an emerging researcher.

Past recipients of The Rowheath Trust Award and Carl Smith Medal

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Early Career Awards for Distinction in Research

Six up-and-coming University of Otago staff have been announced as the 2021 recipients of Early Career Awards for Distinction in Research.

Dr Sarah Diermeier (Department of Biochemistry); Dr Christina Ergler (School of Geography); Dr Michael Garratt (Department of Anatomy); Dr Anna High (Faculty of Law); Dr Charlotte King (Department of Anatomy); Dr Meredith Peddie (Department of Human Nutrition) have been selected for the award on the basis of their outstanding research achievements.

Early Career Awards for Distinction in Research recognize outstanding research achievements by early career staff. Full-time academic staff who have held an appointment as Senior Lecturer, Lecturer, Senior Clinical Lecturer, Clinical Lecturer, Research Fellow or Senior Research Fellow at the University of Otago 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 the Awards. An Award may not be made to any one individual on more than one occasion.

The basis for selection will be outstanding research achievement, with emphasis being given to achievement during the nominee’s appointment at the University of Otago.

Nominations are to be submitted to the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research & Enterprise) through the nominee’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor. Nominations should be accompanied by a supporting statement that describes the nature and impact of the nominee’s distinguished research achievements, plus a curriculum vitae.

Past recipients of Early Career Awards for Distinction in Research

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Research Group Award

The University of Otago Research Group Award was not awarded in 2021.

The University of Otago Research Group Award recognises outstanding research performance at a high international level by a research group led from the University of Otago.

The basis for selection is outstanding scholarly achievement that enhances the understanding, development and well-being of individuals and society including the discovery and dissemination of new knowledge, the development of innovative technology, or the development of concepts that lead to significant advances. The award recognises achievement during the previous five years.

Past recipients of the Research Group Award

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The University of Otago Arts Fellowships

The University of Otago recognises the importance of providing authors, dancers, artists, and composers with financial support and resources to enable them to explore their creative talents. The Arts Fellowships cater for a wide variety of artistic styles that reflect the diversity of writing, art, composing and dance in New Zealand.

The University offers the following Fellowships:

  • The Robert Burns Fellowship
  • The Caroline Plummer Fellowship in Community Dance
  • The Frances Hodgkins Fellowship
  • The Mozart Fellowship
  • University of Otago College of Education Writer in Residence

Further information can be found on the Otago Fellows website.

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Divisional and Departmental Awards

Internal funding of research occurs both at the Divisional and Departmental level. Please contact your Divisional Office directly for further information.