Recent Award Winners

The Royal Society of New South Wales has long recognised distinguished achievements in various fields of knowledge through its Awards. Some are amongst the oldest in Australia while others are more recent. In this year, 2023, the Society has broadened and streamlined its Awards portfolio to recognise recent and evolving fields and disciplines, and emerging as well as established research stars. From 2023 onwards, the Society Awards are made in two main classes reflecting the Society’s history: Career Excellence Medals and Discipline Awards and Medals; with additional Awards, Scholarships, and Citations, including Internal Awards for distinguished service to the Society and community.

Winners from past years are listed on the Past Awards page of this website. 

Awards Winners 2023

The Awards for 2023 were announced at the 1318th Ordinary General Meeting of the Society, held on Wednesday, 29 November 2023. 

Listed below are the winners, together with links to information about the awards and their recipients

RSNSW Career Excellence Awards

RSNSW James Cook Medal — Scientia Professor Helen Christensen AO FASSA FAHMS
RSNSW Edgeworth David Medal — Professor Qilin Wang FRSN
RSNSW Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Scholars Medal — Aunty Frances Bodkin
RSNSW Ida Browne Early Career Medal — Dr Brendan Nuen

RSNSW Discipline Awards and Lectureships

RSNSW Clarke Medal and Lecture in Earth Sciences — Professor Moninya Roughan FRSN
RSNSW Walter Burfitt Award in Medical and Veterinary Sciences and Technology — Professor Maria Kavallaris AM FRSN FAHMS
RSNSW Award in the Social and Behavioural Sciences — Scientia Professor Kaarin Anstey FRSN FASSA FAHMS
RSNSW Award in the History and Philosophy of Science — Professor Hans Pols FRSN FAHA FASSA

RSNSW Scholarships, Early Career, and Student Awards

RSNSW Bicentennial Postgraduate Scholarships
  —Ms Sasha Bailey (University of Sydney)
  —Mr Jaydon McKinnon (University of Wollongong)

RSNSW Bicentennial Early Career Research and Service Citations
  —Dr Jacinta Martin (University of Newcastle)
  —Dr Abhimanu Pandey (Australian National University)
  —Dr Shoujin Wang (University of Technology Sydney)

RSNSW Jak Kelly Award
  —Mr Jamie Alvarado-Montes (Macquarie University)

RSNSW Service Awards

RSNSW Medal — Ms Judith Wheeldon AM FRSN

RSNSW Citation — Mr Jason Antony MRSN

RSNSW James Cook Medal
Scientia Professor Helen Cristensen AO FASSA FAHMS

Helen ChristensenThe James Cook Medal is awarded for the most meritorious lifetime contributions to knowledge and society in Australia or its territories made by an individual and conducted mainly in New South Wales. The recipient may be resident in Australia or elsewhere. The James Cook Medal was established by the Council in 1943 following a donation made by Henry Ferdinand Halloran to celebrate his 50 years as a member of the Society and it has been awarded periodically since 1947. In 2023, the Council determined to award it annually.

Helen Christensen, from the Black Dog Institute, UNSW Sydney, is a highly innovative scientist who has achieved an unparalleled level of impact on internet-mediated mental health both in Australia and worldwide. She is internationally recognised as founding the use of digital and online technology to deliver evidence-based prevention and intervention therapy for common mental illnesses. Her groundbreaking contributions have spawned a vast international research effort that incorporates academia, business, clinics, and community, not only leading the research field internationally but greatly improving the lives of many, many Australians living with mental illness.

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RSNSW Edgeworth David Medal
Professor Qilin Wang FRSN

Qilin WangThe Edgeworth David Medal is awarded for the most meritorious contributions to knowledge and society in Australia or its territories, conducted mainly in New South Wales by an individual who is from 5–15 years post-PhD or equivalent on 1 January of the year of the award. The recipient may be resident in Australia or elsewhere. The Edgeworth David Medal was established by Council in 1943 in honour of Sir T. W. Edgeworth David FRS, who compiled the first comprehensive record of the geology of Australia, and following a donation made by Henry Ferdinand Halloran to celebrate his 50 years as a member of the Society. It has been periodically awarded since 1948 and in 2023, the Council determined to award it annually.

Qilin Wang, from the University of Technology Sydney, has achieved international recognition for his contributions to sustainable wastewater treatment and wastewater-based epidemiology. His patented technology can convert wastewater treatment plants into carbon-neutral energy generators by ingeniously harnessing a waste by-product on-site. In addition to this energy innovation, Professor Wang's technology significantly reduces the environmental impact of wastewater treatment by effectively preventing pollution — including antibiotic resistance genes, pathogens, nitrogen, microplastics, and ‘forever chemicals’ – from entering the environment while minimising waste production and land usage.

Furthermore, Professor Wang has pioneered the development of an accurate prediction tool that can forecast hospital admissions due to COVID-19 up to four weeks in advance, relying on wastewater-based epidemiology. His outstanding contributions have been recognised through numerous research and industry awards, including a Eureka Prize for Outstanding Early Career Researcher, a Eureka Prize for Applied Environment Research, an Australian Research Leader in Water Supply & Treatment, a NSW Young Tall Poppy, a Prime Minister’s Prize Finalist, a MIT Technology Review Innovator, and Australia’s Most Innovative Engineer. He secured a tenured full professorship only seven years after PhD completion, a German Humboldt Fellowship for Experienced Researcher, an ARC DECRA Fellowship only six months after his PhD completion, and an ARC Future Fellowship—Level 2 only five years after PhD completion.

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RSNSW Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Scholars Medal
Aunty Frances Bodkin

Aunty Francis BodkinThe Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Scholars Medal is awarded for the most meritorious contributions to knowledge and society made by scholars identifying as Australian Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander and conducted mainly in New South Wales. Recipients may be resident in Australia or elsewhere. The Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Scholars Medal was established by the Council in 2023 to reflect the full scope of the Society’s values.

Aunty Frances Bodkin, of Western Sydney University, has made significant contributions to Aboriginal knowledge across multiple disciplines, including medicine, linguistics, the environment, and psychology. Since her first publication in 1986 on native and exotic plants in Australia, Aunty Fran has contributed to 36 different works spanning fields of knowledge such as native flora and fauna, environmental sustainability, Dream time and Ancestral knowledge, climate, D'harawal Language, medicine, and psychology. Her D'harawal Pharmacopeia consists of 1,885 pages of native plants prevalent in D'harawal Country (the Sydney region), their medical uses, and associations with other native plants. Aunty Fran has dedicated herself to teaching others in higher education, schools, and community organisations, and to documenting her knowledge in literature for future generations. Without the contributions of Aunty Fran, undoubtedly a significant amount of Indigenous cultural knowledge would have been lost.

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RSNSW Ida Browne Early Career Medal
Dr Brendon Neuen

Brendon NeuenThe Ida Browne Early Career Award recognises the most meritorious contributions to knowledge and society in Australia or its territories by an individual from 0–5 years post-PhD or equivalent on 1 January of the year of the award and conducted mainly in New South Wales. The recipient may be resident in Australia or elsewhere. The Ida Browne Medal was established by the Council in 2023 in honour of Ida Browne DSc, a palaeontologist and the first woman President of the Royal Society of NSW, serving from 1953–1954.

Brendon Neuen is a Nephrologist and Director of the Kidney Trials Unit at Royal North Shore Hospital, and a Senior Research Fellow at The George Institute for Global Health, UNSW Sydney. He is widely recognised for his expertise in cardio-renal-metabolic medicine. Dr Neuen established the SGLT2 Meta-Analysis Cardio-Renal Trialists' Consortium, bringing together data on more than 90,000 patients to better understand the effects of this class of medicines on different types of patients. His work has directly informed more than 25 major international and national guidelines, position papers, and scientific statements that provide optimal care for people with type 2 diabetes and kidney disease.

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RSNSW Clarke Medal and Lecture in Earth Sciences
Professor Moninya Roughan FRSN

Moninya RoughanThe Clarke Medal and Lecture is awarded for distinguished research in any area of the sciences affecting the planet, excluding Medicine and Veterinary Science, and Agricultural and Environmental Science, and conducted mainly in New South Wales. Recipients may be resident in Australia or elsewhere. The Medal honours Rev. William Branwhite Clarke, a geologist, and a significant figure in the history of the Royal Society of NSW, who served for a decade as a highly influential Senior Vice-President of the Society (noting that in the early years, the Governor of NSW was the President of the Society).

Moninya Roughan, from UNSW Sydney, is an outstanding oceanographer and authority on the dynamics of the East Australian Current, ocean observing and prediction systems, and their application to understanding western boundary currents and continental shelf processes. She currently leads the Coastal and Regional Oceanography Lab at UNSW – where she has made important, far-reaching contributions to our understanding of continental shelf processes and western boundary current warming through the use of new technologies. An internationally acknowledged leader in her field, she is also dedicated to the training of the next generation of scientific leaders.

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RSNSW Walter Burfitt Award in Medical and Veterinary Sciences and Technologies
Professor Maria Kavallaris AM FRSN FAHMS

Maria KavallarisThe Walter Burfitt Award recognises distinguished research in any area of the Medical and Veterinary Sciences and Technologies, conducted mainly in New South Wales. Recipients may be resident in Australia or elsewhere. The Walter Burfitt Award honours the life and work of Walter F. Burfitt BA MB ChM BSc, an eminent Sydney surgeon in the early twentieth century. It was established as a prize with generous support from Dr Burfitt and his wife, and was first awarded in 1929.

Maria Kavallaris, from the Children’s Cancer Institute of UNSW Sydney, is an exceptional cancer research leader, innovator, mentor, and role model who has made seminal discoveries on mechanisms of clinical drug resistance and tumour aggressiveness in childhood and adult cancers. Recognised as a world leader in cancer and microtubules, her discoveries have led to both patents and industry partnerships for the development of cancer therapeutics. Crucially, in complement to her exceptional research record, Professor Kavallaris has made outstanding contributions to NSW and Australia via highly influential medical research advocacy and mentoring the next generation of Australian cancer research leaders.

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RSNSW Award in the Social and Behavioural Sciences
Scientia Professor Kaarin Anstey FRSN FASSA FAHMS

Kaarin AnsteyThis award recognises distinguished research in any area of the Social and Behavioural Sciences including Psychology, Economics, Management, and related disciplines, conducted mainly in New South Wales. Recipients may be resident in Australia or elsewhere. This Award was established by the RSNSW Council in 2023 to reflect the full scope of the Society’s founding values.

Kaarin Anstey, from Neuroscience Research Australia of UNSW Sydney, is a world leader in cognitive ageing and dementia risk reduction. Her program of research has contributed greatly to the evidence base on dementia prevention through the identification and quantification of risk factors for dementia, the development of risk assessment tools, and the implementation of interventions. Moreover, her work has directly informed public policy and guidelines, both within Australia and globally, particularly in her collaboration with the World Health Organization. As a consequence, she has made an important, sustained, positive impact on the lives of tens of thousands of people in Australia and around the world.

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RSNSW Award in the History and Philosophy of Science
Professor Hans Pols FRSN FAHA FASSA

Hans PolsThis Award recognises distinguished research in the History and Philosophy of Science conducted mainly in New South Wales. Recipients may be resident in Australia or elsewhere. The Royal Society of NSW History and Philosophy of Science Award was established by the Council in 2013 to reflect the founding values of the Society and was first awarded in 2014.

Hans Pols, from the University of Sydney, is the preeminent historian of science and medicine in Indonesia and Southeast Asia and a leading international scholar of the development of global neurosciences. His principal work, Nurturing Indonesia: Medicine and Decolonisation in the Dutch East Indies, transforms our understanding of the connections of scientific research with nationalism and decolonisation at the same time as it makes key contributions to the global history of science. His groundbreaking studies in the history of twentieth-century psychiatry are exemplars of science historiography, illuminating contemporary predicaments and showing how scientific insight is shaped by and shapes national projects and global concerns.

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RSNSW Bicentennial Postgraduate Scholarships

The RSNSW Bicentennial Postgraduate Scholarships are awarded each year to recognise outstanding achievements by young researchers in any academic field. Applicants must have completed an undergraduate degree within NSW or the ACT and must on 1 January of the year of nomination be enrolled as research students in the first or second year of their first higher degree at a university or other research institution in NSW or the ACT.

For 2023, two RSNSW Scholarships have been awarded:

  • Ms Sasha Bailey — PhD Candidate, University of Sydney
  • Mr Jayden McKinnon — PhD Candidate, University of Wollongong

 

Sasha Bailey Ms Sasha Bailey is a second-year PhD and research assistant in the Matilda Centre for Research in Mental Health and Substance Use at the University of Sydney, having previously completed a BA in Philosophy and a Master Of Public Health, also at the University of Sydney. Since commencing her PhD in March 2022, she has received 19 awards/prizes and has published two journal articles as a first author with a further 12 first-author publications under review. In addition to her research program, Sasha holds a number of leadership and governance roles in the Matilda Centre and the wider LGBTQA+ community.

The focus of Sasha’s research is on improving the understanding and prevention of mental ill-health and substance use among gender and sexuality-diverse (LGBTQA+) young people in Australia and internationally. Using data from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children, she has produced Australia’s first-ever population-level, nationally representative estimates of the number of LGBTQA+ young people affected by mental ill-health, substance use, victimisation, and discrimination, within Australia, identifying just how much an LGBTQA+ affirming school climate can protect and buffer against the mental ill-health effects of victimisation and discrimination. Her research is complemented by her active advocacy for improved LGBTQA+ public health action, with her nominators noting that she is called upon routinely by senior executives at the University to deliver speeches about LGBTQA+ visibility at the University.

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Jayden McKinnon Mr Jayden McKinnon is a PhD student in the Molecular Horizons Research Institute and the School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences at the University of Wollongong following his BMedSc (Hons) degree studies at UoW. His PhD studies are in the field of mass spectroscopy imaging, the aim of which is the development of innovative methods for the detection of metabolites in tissues.

Now in his second year of his PhD, he has achieved a first-author paper in the journal, Analytical Methods. In addition, he has been recognised through two significant awards at the University of Wollongong Higher Degree Research Symposium – the Student Choice Award for Best Oral Presentation and the Best Oral Presentation Award. In addition to his research studies, Jayden has also taken on academic and scientific leadership positions, notably as the Vice President of the Medical and Health Sciences Association at the University of Wollongong from 2018-2020, and currently as a student representative on the board of the Australian and New Zealand Society for Mass Spectrometry.

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RSNSW Bicentennial Early Career Research and Service Citations

The RSNSW Bicentennial Early Career Research and Service Citations are awarded each year to recognise outstanding contributions to research and service to the academic and wider community. Applicants must on 1 January of the year of nomination be no more than 5 years after the award of their PhD or equivalent by a university or other research institution in NSW or the ACT.

For 2023, three RSNSW Early Career Citations have been awarded:

  • Dr Jacinta Martin — University of Newcastle
  • Dr Abhimanu Pandey — Australian National University
  • Dr Shoujin Wang — University of Technology Sydney

 

Jacinta Martin Since 2021, Dr Jacinta Martin has been a Lecturer and postdoctoral researcher in the University of Newcastle (UoN) College of Engineering, Science and Environment and the Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI) Infertility and Reproduction Research Program. She works with a multidisciplinary group of researchers using human and animal models to characterise the processes of gamete maturation — the process by which oocytes and spermatozoa are formed. The goal of her research is to improve the understanding of factors that lead to infertility and pregnancy loss in women.

After graduating from UoN with a PhD in 2019, Jacinta has established a strong academic record that includes 24 research articles and nearly $1 million in research funding. During her PhD, Jacinta received the "Best HDR Publication Award" in 2016 and 2018 and received a number of travel grants that allowed to to present her work at major international meetings. Following her PhD, she undertook post-doctoral research at the McGill University Health Centre in Montreal, Canada from 2019–2021. Dr Martin's academic career extends beyond her personal research performance into the development of her discipline. She has served the Society for the Study of Reproduction (USA) on the Board of Directors as their trainee representative and has had significant professional roles at McGill University, HMRI, and the University of Newcastle as a facilitator, chair, adjudicator, and committee member.

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Abhimanu PandeyDr Abhimanu Pandey is a postdoctoral researcher at the John Curtin School of Medical Research (JCSMR) at the Australian National University, following the completion of his PhD at JCSMR in 2022 and undergraduate studies in India prior to that. He works in the research group of Professor Si Ming Man FRSN which studies innate immunity and inflammasomes. At the time of the application for this award, he has 15 peer-reviewed publications, nine of which were generated during his PhD, and has been awarded three early career research grants. In his research, he has identified a novel biomarker for bowel cancer that can sense DNA and inhibit the development and progression of bowel inflammation and cancer. The identification of precise structural locations within the immune protein that are druggable, using small molecule drugs, is expected to be transformational in the improvement of treatment outcomes in patients with inflammation and cancer.

In addition to his research profile, Dr Pandey has demonstrated leadership within his profession. Within JCSMR, he organised the first School HDR Student Conference in 2022, while within the wider University, he volunteers and raises funds for the Multiple Sclerosis Mega Swim event, and serves as a mentor for undergraduate science students. Externally, he is a reviewer for five international research journals.

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Shoujin WangDr Shoujin Wang is a Lecturer in Data Science at the University of Technology Sydney, following the completion of his PhD at UTS in 2019. His research interests are in data mining, machine learning, recommender systems, and fake news mitigation, and in the past five years, he has authored 60 publications that have received 2,400 citations. His research record includes a number of IEEE awards and a growing research grant profile.

His research activities have a range of real-world applications and impacts, notably his pioneering work on fake news mitigation via recommendation that is helping to mitigate disinformation on the web. His work addresses challenges faced across a range of sectors including infrastructure, banking, accounting, and agriculture, and involves collaborators that include EY, Sydney Water, Suncorp, and Agriweb. His work with Sydney Water has led to a novel prediction model that automatically and effectively provides early detection of water quality issues in reservoir catchments.

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RSNSW Jak Kelly Award

The RSNSW Jak Kelly Award recognises excellence in postgraduate research in physics annually. The winner is selected from presenters at each year’s Australian Institute of Physics NSW Branch Postgraduate Awards, as advised to the Awards Committee of the Royal Society of NSW. This Award honours the life of Jak Kelly (1928-2012), Professor and Head of Physics at the University of NSW (1985-1989), Honorary Professor at the University of Sydney (2004), and President of the Royal Society of NSW (2005-2006). It was first awarded in 2010.

For 2023, the Jak Kelly Award goes to Mr Jamie  Andres Alvarado-Montes of Macquarie University.

Jamie Andres Alvarado-Montes Mr Jamie Andres Alvarado-Montes, originally from Colombia, is a PhD candidate in the School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences at Macquarie University. His research focusses on the planetary sciences, with an emphasis on extrasolar planets, moons, rings, asteroids, and comets. His award-winning presentation at the 2023 Australian Institute of Physics NSW Postgraduate Awards was titled “Tidal Evolution and Detectability of Close-in Extrasolar Systems”. In this talk, he discussed how close-in planetary systems, composed of giant bodies, can help us test tidal models and work as a probe to constrain the interior structure of stars and planets and showed how tidal interactions affect the evolution of planetary systems. He concluded by noting that despite the plethora of exoplanets discovered to date, none of them have the same characteristics as those of our unique solar system and that research, such as his, can provide a better understanding of how features of our solar system, yet to be discovered around other stars, may eventually be detected through improved models of planetary tidal evolution.

RSNSW Service Awards

Royal Society of NSW Medal
Ms Judith Wheeldon AM FRSN

Judith WheeldonThe Royal Society of New South Wales Medal recognises an individual who has made meritorious contributions to the advancement of knowledge in any field and also to the Society’s administration, organisation, and endeavours. The RSNSW Medal was first awarded in 1884, revived in 1943, and has been awarded periodically thereafter.

Judith Wheeldon is first mentioned in the annual report of the RSNSW in 2013, being one of four panellists in the Society’s third Forum at the Powerhouse Museum. Elected as a Fellow of the Society and Councillor in 2014, there began a continuous and meritorious involvement with the Society for the next decade. Her Fellowship citation reads “Judith Wheeldon is recognised for eminent and long-standing service to Australian secondary education at senior levels and for service to professional organisations.”

Judith was elected to the RSNSW Council as a member in 2014 and as Vice-President in 2015, a position she held until her retirement in 2023. In addition, she served as a member of the Fellows, Nominations, Membership, Events, Voice and Outreach, Community Engagement, and Fundraising Committees. Her contributions to the Society are typified by her work to establish strong relationships with other organisations including the State Library of NSW, the Sydney Mechanics School of Arts, and Government House in Sydney where she established the series “Ideas@theHouse.”

Judith’s impact in the wider community is as a leader in education and the arts. She is a recognised innovator in the education of girls through her roles as principal or headmistress of four schools including Abbotsleigh and Queenwood. As a director on the Australian Learning and Teaching Council, Judith contributed to the management and planning of teaching across Australia and was a Trustee of the Museum of Applied Arts and Science (Powerhouse Museum). She was honoured as a Member of the Order of Australia in 2006 in “Recognition of contribution to Australian public life, specifically in education leadership and pro bono work in the community.”

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Royal Society of NSW Citation
Mr Jason Antony MRSN

Jason AntonyThe Royal Society of New South Wales Citations recognise individuals who have made significant contributions to the Society, but who have not been recognised in any other way. The RSNSW Citation was first awarded in 2019.

Jason Antony MRSN has been indispensable in the production of fifteen issues of the Journal & Proceedings of the Royal Society since 2016 and as editor (and producer) of 28 issues of the Bulletin from 2020 to 2023. To appear, publications — both on-line and printed — require knowledge, skills, and effort. Providing all of these, Jason has contributed hugely to the improved presentation and appeal of both publications, important for the Society’s outreach, heritage, and communications. This Citation is a measure of his value and continuing importance to the Society.

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Nominations

These prestigious awards for excellence in science, technology, philosophy, and the arts, awarded by Australia's oldest learned society, recognise outstanding achievements. The Society's portfolio of awards has been entirely revamped in 2023 to provide greater breadth, to recognise recent and evolving disciplines, and emerging as well as established research stars.  Information about the new structure and portfolio of awards is provided on the main awards page

Winners of the 2023 awards will be announced at the 1318th Ordinary General Meeting of the Society to be held on 29 November 2023 and will be publish on the website shortly thereafter.

Winners of awards in previous years, and information about the awards program prior to 2023, may be found on the Past Awards page of this website.

Nominations for the 2024 Awards will open on 1 July 2024, with information about the new awards and how to apply available from the Awards menu on this website.

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