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Entries Open for Prestigious Science Awards

19th November, 2007

Entries Open for Prestigious Science Awards

Entries into the 2008 MacDiarmid Young Scientists of the Year Awards – the most prestigious given to New Zealand’s emerging scientists and researchers – open today (Monday 19 November).

The awards recognise excellence in New Zealand’s young researchers, with top marks given to entries that combine brilliant, innovative research with the ability to communicate it in a way that attracts the interest of the next generation of potential scientists and researchers.

Award entrants have the chance to join a distinguished group of past winners of the MacDiarmid Young Scientist of the Year title, all of whom are at the cutting edge of scientific innovation in New Zealand.

This includes the 2007 winner, Jessie Jacobsen, who was honoured for research that could contribute to a cure for the fatal brain disorder Huntington’s disease and Claire French who won the title in 2006 for new cell identification technology that could help solve sex crimes.

More than $50.000 worth of prizes are available, with the overall Young Scientist of the Year winner receiving $10,000 prize money and a trip to the UK to attend the British Association’s annual Science Festival. The five category winners each receive $5,000 and category runner-up placings receive $2,500.

The awards are hosted by the Foundation for Research Science and Technology together with principal sponsor, Fisher & Paykel Appliances, and are decided through a rigorous three-stage judging process. This culminates in finalists presenting their research to a panel including some of New Zealand’s top scientists.

Foundation CEO Murray Bain says with science and research playing a crucial role in lifting New Zealand’s long term economic performance, the awards provide a vital showcase of innovation and vibrancy in the sector.

“Winners of these awards inspire the public with their research breakthroughs and, crucially, young people who are poised to make career choices.

“We are proud to be leading the way in encouraging young New Zealanders to contribute to advances in scientific research.”

Jessie Jacobsen says acting as an ambassador for science has been one of the most satisfying aspects of winning the title in 2007. “The stereotype of scientists as old, eccentric, socially awkward and having no life outside the lab is still around. It’s great to be able to show young people that plenty of scientists are not like that and that it is an exciting career choice.”

Jessie says her win has also opened plenty of doors.

“Some of them are directly related to my career but I’ve also met a huge range of journalists, photographers and business people. Winning the title serves many career opportunities to you on a plate.”

The competition is open to all post graduates undertaking research and postdoctoral researchers who have held a PhD for less than five years. There are five categories: Understanding Planet Earth, Science in our Communities, Advancing Human Health and Wellbeing, Future Science and Technologies and Adding Value to Nature. A special award will also be made for outstanding Masters’ level research.

Young scientists have until 14th March, 2008 to submit a summary of their research and academic achievements for the first judging stage. Winners will be announced at a gala function in Auckland in August, 2008.

The awards are named after one of New Zealand’s greatest scientists, the late Professor Alan MacDiarmid, who won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 2000 for the discovery and development of conductive polymers.

Visit the website: http://www.frst.govt.nz/awards/macdiarmid.cfm

Previous winners:

2007: Jessie Jacobsen, Auckland, for research that could contribute to a cure for the fatal brain disorder Huntington’s disease

2006: Claire French, Auckland, for new cell identification technology that could help solve sex crimes;

2005: Jessica North, Otago, for her research into environmental contamination from leaky landfills using environmental forensics in the form of isotope fingerprinting;

2004: Andrew Rudge, Canterbury, for developing techniques to deliver exact amounts of sedative drugs for critically ill patients, potentially saving millions of dollars in drug costs.

About the Foundation
The Foundation for Research, Science and Technology invests over $460 million a year on behalf of the New Zealand Government, in research, science and technology. These investments are made to enhance the wealth and well being of New Zealanders.

ENDS

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