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Exciting New Awards Announced

Media Statement 12 March 2004

Exciting New Awards Announced

New Zealand Nobel Prize winner, Professor Alan MacDiarmid is to lend his name to a new series of annual Awards designed to honour this country’s top up-and-coming scientists and researchers.

The Foundation for Research, Science and Technology has just revealed that it is inaugurating the MacDiarmid Young Scientists of the Year Awards in association with Fisher and Paykel Appliances who’ll be the major sponsor of the new Awards.

Chief Executive of the Foundation, Gowan Pickering says the winners of the new Awards will be announced at a gala dinner to be held in Auckland in June at which the special guest will be Professor MacDiarmid. Mr Pickering says two major features of the new Awards will be their high national and international profile and more substantial prizes, with the overall winner receiving a trip to Washington DC to join the winners of a similar competition organised by the prestigious American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). The new Awards replace the FiRST Scholarship Awards that have run for a number of years.

“The MacDiarmid Young Scientists of the Year Awards are designed to publicly celebrate the achievements of New Zealand’s future leaders in science and to encourage others to follow in their footsteps,” says Mr Pickering.

“It is important to celebrate our successes – as companies and as individual researchers and scientists. The Awards demonstrate that research and science plays a strong role in innovation here in New Zealand and for New Zealand to be connected globally, it is important to encourage new blood and innovation to keep the sector vital and contemporary.

“Science communication is an important aspect of the Awards. To build strong and fruitful business partnerships globally our future science leaders must be excellent communicators and this competition fosters this. The Awards will also provide a forum where up-and-coming researchers and scientists and prospective employers – be they business, research or learning institutions – can meet and discuss future opportunities as well as developing life-long networks,” says Mr Pickering.

Professor MacDiarmid believes the greatest limitation to human achievement – be it a person, country or nation – is the human mind. “If you believe it can’t be done, it will never be done. If you believe it can be done, then it might be done. Only trying can tell!”

He says he grew up in a poor family in New Zealand during the Great Depression and the opportunities available to participants in the MacDiarmid Young Scientists of the Year Awards are considerably greater than were his own. “These brilliant young scientists can go to the top, encouraged by the generosity of the donors of this remarkable, far-sighted Awards programme which sets an example to the entire world.”

Fisher & Paykel Appliances say they are delighted to be associated with the MacDiarmid Young Scientists of the Year Awards. “Being associated with one of New Zealand’s foremost scientists Professor MacDiarmid is a great honour in itself but the role of science in helping to improve New Zealand’s place in our global society is of great importance to us,” says Christian Gianni, General Manager – Engineering, at Fisher & Paykel Appliances.

“Challenging the boundaries of technology is the only way that we as a company and nation can continue to compete on the world stage. By supporting these prestigious awards Fisher & Paykel Appliances believes that it can give opportunities to young scientists to further advance their skills in the interests of all New Zealanders,” says Mr Gianni.

The Foundation is grateful for the support of Fisher & Paykel Appliances and the other valued sponsors who are also supporting these new Awards. These include the MacDiarmid Centre at Victoria University, Auckland University, Pulse Data International, Crop and Food Research, Landcare Research, Te Puni Kokiri, the National Business Review, Waikato University, NZ Bio, BTI Travel and ION Automotive.

The Awards are open to all fellows and scholars who are current recipients of a scholarship administered by the Foundation. Fellows and scholars will be eligible to enter a poster highlighting their research in one of eight new categories. The new Awards structure recognises the diversity of New Zealand’s research, science and technology sector, our core areas of expertise such as primary and agri-tech sectors, and the development in growth areas such as the creative industries and niche manufacturing.

NB: The new Awards are named after one of New Zealand’s greatest scientists –Professor Alan MacDiarmid, who won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 2000 for the discovery and development of conductive polymers. Professor MacDiarmid was born in the Wairarapa and educated in the Hutt Valley and at Victoria University. He is currently the Blanchard Professor of Chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania, USA and the James Von Ehr Professor of Chemistry and Physics at the University of Texas at Dallas, USA.

ENDS

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