The Marsden Medal is awarded for a lifetime of outstanding service to the cause or profession of science, in recognition of service rendered to the cause or profession of science in the widest connotation of the phrase.
Marsden Medal 2015
This year's Marsden Medal was awarded to Dr Mike Andrews. Dr Andrews has been a practising experimental physicist for more than 40 years, having trained academically in wave propagation, plasma physics, and vacuum techniques. This vocationally broad educational background led to over thirty years devoted to transfer of applied research to New Zealand industry, through the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR) and then Industrial Research Limited (IRL), Lower Hutt. His major impact has been developing acoustic grading tools useful in production forestry, and producing ‘Hitman’, an acoustic tester now used world-wide to assess log quality and which provides New Zealand industry with benefits worth over $20 million each year via early identification of tree properties and appropriate end use. He has also demonstrated a practical concern to encourage the growth of basic scientific understanding in the wider community.
Marsden Medal 2014
The 2014 Marsden Medal is awarded jointly to two equally deserving scientists.
Professor Mick Clout is Professor of Conservation Ecology at the University of Auckland. He is a vertebrate ecologist and has worked on a range of invasive mammals and threatened native birds, first with the DSIR and then DOC, before joining the University of Auckland in 1993. He established the Invasive Species Specialist Group of the Species Survival Commission of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (SSC/IUCN) and led it for 15 years, and has also served as chair of the Kakapo Scientific & Technical Advisory Committee since 1995 and the Biosecurity Ministerial Advisory Committee since 2005. His primary research speciality is the ecology and behaviour of vertebrates, but he has broad interests in applications of ecological science to national and international problems in conservation and biodiversity management. He has been honoured with the Sir Peter Scott Award for Conservation Merit (2008), the Charles Fleming Award for Environmental Achievement (2007), and the NZ Ecological Society Award for Ecological Excellence (2007). In 2010 he was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand. Mick has served his discipline with distinction and the cause of conservation in New Zealand with great zeal and effect.
Professor Keith Hunter of the University of Otago is a recognised leader and innovator in environmental and chemical oceanography. His research is characterised by the application of fundamental chemistry to the investigation of oceanographic systems and the role of trace elements and, recently, CO2 in ecological and biogeochemical processes. He has co-authored over 140 publications, including papers in Nature and Science, and his research has been supported by many Marsden and FRST research grants. His close collaboration with NIWA scientists has resulted in the establishment of a joint Research Centre in Chemical Oceanography. In recognition of his contribution to New Zealand and international science, he was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand, elected as a member of the American Geophysical Union, invited to chair international working groups, and was awarded the Prime Minister’s Science Prize in 2011 and the University of Otago Distinguished Research Medal. Keith has held significant administrative positions for the Royal Society and the University of Otago and is currently Pro-Vice Chancellor (Sciences) at Otago.
Marsden Medal 2013
The New Zealand Association of Scientists Marsden Medal for 2013 is awarded to Professor Barry Scott of Massey University. After seminal work on the Rhizobium-legume nitrogen-fixing symbiosis (reported in Nature in 1979), Professor Scott turned his attention to the fungal endophyte-perennial ryegrass symbiosis that is important to New Zealand agriculture. The identification of the endophyte genes and biochemical pathways responsible for the bioprotective metabolites unique to this symbiosis led to the development of PCR diagnostic assays to field-test the metabolite potential of different endophyte strains. Scott and his group then established that fungal synthesis of reactive oxygen species is essential for this symbiosis (reported in two papers in Plant Cell in 2006). The first transcriptome analysis of a fungal-plant association elucidated factors distinguishing a fungal symbiont from a pathogen (published in Plant Physiology in 2010). Professor Scott has also given exemplary service to science, including inter alia: the founding Board of ERMA; active participation in the public debates on Genetic Engineering; the Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy Science Expert Panel; the founding Board (and convenor in 1992) of Queenstown Molecular Biology Meeting Inc. – now an international meeting of ever- increasing scope; Head of the Institute of Molecular BioSciences at Massey University; the current Board of NZ Genomics Ltd; member and current chair of the Committee overseeing the international Asilomar Fungal Genetics Conference; current editorial boards of Molecular Microbiology and Molecular Plant Pathology. In both the practice of and service to science, nationally and internationally, Professor Scott has made over time the outstanding contributions that fully merit the award of the Marsden Medal.
Marsden Medal 2012
The award of the 2012 Marsden Medal for Professor Lionel Carter recognises an outstanding 40 year research career as a practising geoscientist with significant contributions to marine geology, palaeoceanography, physical oceanography and applied marine geology. Quite simply our present knowledge of the undersea extent of the New Zealand continent and its interaction with water masses and currents that originate in the Antarctic and tropical Pacific would not exist without Lionel’s research career.
His research has transformed our knowledge of the interaction between climate, topography and ocean circulation with important implications for understanding the processes that have formed New Zealand’s undersea exclusive economic zone. Lionel has been a dedicated communicator of science and demonstrator of its practical applications. He has been involved in the production 17 charts including the international award-winning Undersea New Zealand, New Zealand Region Bathymetry and Ocean Circulation, New Zealand. He is a passionate public communicator disseminating scientific results via the media, talks to the public and policymakers on the oceans and the impacts of climate change as well as popular articles.
Marsden Medal 2011
The New Zealand Association of Scientists Marsden Medal for 2011 is awarded to Professor Geoffrey B. Jameson in recognition of his sustained record of leadership and service to New Zealand science and his outstanding contribution to the chemical sciences.
Professor Jameson is a member of the Institute of Fundamental Sciences at Massey University and has provided a leadership role in the development of capability in synchrotron science and access to the Australian Synchrotron for the New Zealand science community. His continuing service to the facility is having positive outcomes for many areas of science in New Zealand.
As Director of Massey University’s Centre for Structural Biology, he has provided leadership in a range of areas from materials science to understanding fundamental enzymatic processes. His leading of the bid for the high-field 700-MHz NMR spectrometer provided the Centre with the best NMR facility in NZ for the benefit of the country’s scientific research community in structural biology and metabolomics.
Professor Jameson’s reputation in the technique of X-ray crystallography, especially his ability to solve very difficult problems, has meant he is extensively called upon for assistance by the chemical community both in NZ and overseas. Furthermore, his own research contributions are wide ranging and widely cited, and his approach has led to important new insights into chemical and biological systems.
Professor Jameson is Massey University Professor of Structural Chemistry and Biology; Director of the Centre for Structural Biology (Chemistry and Biophysics group); awarded the Massey University Research Medal (2010).
Marsden Medal 2010
The Marsden Medal for 2010 is awarded to Professor Brian Robinson, Otago University Professor Robinson has served the Chemistry Department of Otago University for over 40 years, and taken a very active role in all areas. Although his core research area has been organometallic chemistry, he has continued to be very innovative in examining new areas. His publications have been widely cited in the scientific literature; his work has been appreciated internationally. In addition to the normal roles in teaching, mentoring and research he has served as Head of Department for 10 years, and his service role has been extensive in several areas such as quality assurance and academic audits, controlling chemical hazards, safety, and commercial developments. In all this Brian has maintained an innovative approach to new areas of chemistry – he has served science extremely well.
Marsden Medal 2009
The Marsden Medal for 2009 is awarded to Dr F J Davey FRSNZ, Researcher Emeritus, Geological and Nuclear Sciences. Dr Fred Davey is a marine geophysicist who has made an outstanding contribution to our knowledge of the geological structure and evolution of the New Zealand region and the Antarctic during the past forty years. This contribution has been through his very successful leadership and organization of national and international research projects and through his participation in national and international science committees. His research projects have resulted in internationally recognised contributions to a wide range of earth science research. Dr Davey has made a significant contribution to research nationally as Director of Geophysics Division, DSIR, as General Manager - Research for GNS Science, and as Chairman of the RSNZ Committee on Antarctic Sciences. Internationally he has contributed as elected Secretary and Vice-President of the ICSU Scientific Committee on Antarctic Science (SCAR), on which he has represented New Zealand in various roles for over thirty years. He was elected a Fellow of the RSNZ in 1991, and awards include a RSNZ Science and Technology Silver Medal, and the New Zealand Antarctic Medal. Dr Davey set up the first comprehensive marine geophysical capability in New Zealand in the 1970s, and documented the broad geological structure of the New Zealand continental plateau. Subsequently, he used advanced seismic techniques to study the structure and deformation of the plate boundary through New Zealand, and led major international collaborative investigations in the South Island and North Islands which defined the style of deformation in the crust and upper mantle and the role of fluids in deformation occurring at plate boundary collision zones, and provided basic information for quantifying resources and hazards of these regions. In Antarctica, his internationally collaborative research focused on understanding the structure and tectonic history of the Ross Sea region and its glacial history. This discovered the major sedimentary basins in the Ross Sea, and documented their complex history of rifting and the onset and development of the Antarctic ice sheet in the region.
Marsden Medal 2008
The New Zealand Association of Scientists' Marsden Medal is awarded in recognition of an outstanding contribution to the cause or profession of science in New Zealand. The recipient of the medal for 2008 was Dr. Yeap Foo, Senior Research Scientist of Industrial Research Ltd., Gracefield, Upper Hutt. Dr Foo has worked as an organic chemist, originally in the Chemistry Division of DSIR and later in the CRI, Industrial Research Ltd (IRL), since 1971. He has made important advances both in the very difficult chemistry of complex plant tannins and on understanding the biological roles of these compounds. He has developed a wide range of techniques in order to identify the chemical structures of many complex tannins and related compounds, for which the chemical structures had earlier been considered to be "intractable". The natural products have come from a wide range of plants, including native trees, Indian medicinal plants, and cranberries. On the biological side, he has shown the health benefits for many of these compounds in the diet, developed better ways for using some of the compounds industrially, and has been active in understanding the specific biological effects of some of the compounds against viruses and in cellular biochemistry. During his career Dr Foo has made a major contribution to the chemistry of natural products in New Zealand.
Marsden Medal 2007
The recipient of the medal for 2007 was Professor Ailsa Goulding, Professorial Research Fellow at the University of Otago Department of Medical and Surgical Sciences, for her sustained leadership and personal contribution to research on bone density, osteoporosis, and the role of obesity and nutrition in children's health. Professor Goulding's work is widely recognised and has resulted in national and international collaborations and consultation on public nutritional and health issues. She also regularly supervises students in postgraduate studies and has incorporated a steady steam of enthusiastic young investigators into her team. Professor Goulding and her group were the first to publish data that showed that children with forearm fractures had low bone density. She then showed that obese children do not have adequate bone structure to support their increased weight and that they are at increased risk of fractures. Professor Goulding's group has also demonstrated the deleterious effect of avoidance of milk during childhood. This avoidance is associated with poor skeletal development and obesity. Another dietary factor that they have shown to be important in bone loss is high salt intake which leads to urinary loss of calcium. All of this ground-breaking work was built on a solid foundation of earlier results from animals to show the effects of corticosteroids, oestrogen and salt intake on bone. Professor Goulding's demonstration of linkages between nutrition, obesity, bone development, and childhood fractures has generated considerable media interest at national and international levels. Her work has done a lot to promote the role of science in addressing practical health issues.
Marsden Medal 2006
The recipient of this medal for 2006 was Dr Tim Haskell of Industrial Research Limited, Wellington. Dr Tim Haskell has conceptualised, initiated and led a number of novel research programmes over a 35 year period and is an outstanding advocate for science in New Zealand. Dr Haskell's scientific interests have covered a broad range of areas from solar heating, to IT, novel optical devices and Antarctic sea ice formation and decay. He developed the test procedures and equipment for the testing of the base isolators installed in Te Papa - one of the largest commercial contracts undertaken by IRL. His outstanding leadership and work with the Antarctic Research Programme has spanned nearly 30 years, during which time he has kept together a team of researchers from the universities of Auckland and Otago, Victoria University of Wellington, IRL, and NIWA, as well as a number of overseas institutions. One of Tim's most significant leadership roles integrated signal processing, communications, optics and synthetic organic chemistry into an applied research programme. This work arises from collaboration between IRL, the universities of Auckland and Otago, as well as interactions with a number of commercial companies. The team is developing "all-optical" infrastructure components such as routers, switches, laser sources and amplifiers, for optical networks. Without his initiative, this integration of diverse skills would not have happened. Hitherto unknown materials and techniques have been discovered which it is expected will eventually lead to new industries for New Zealand. In the mid 70s he was instrumental in developing hardware for the DSIR computer communications network. This has led to the creation of one of New Zealand's most successful communications research and development companies. He was awarded a Royal Society Science and Technology Medal in 1996 and has chaired the Environmental Assessment and Review Panel advising the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade on Antarctic environmental matters. He has also served on the Marsden Fund Physical Sciences Panel and provides advice to the US National Science Foundation on logistics matters relating to sea ice in McMurdo Sound. In education he has been directly involved with around 20 post graduate students in both optics and Antarctic research, as well as a number of undergraduate projects. He is an author on approximately 100 publications as well as numerous industry reports.
Marsden Medal 2005
The recipient of this medal for 2005 is Dr Kevin Tate of Landcare Research, Palmerston North. Dr Tate's contribution to, and leadership of, research into ecosystem processes and climate change, has spanned four decades. He has demonstrated an outstanding ability to span the spectrum from soil biochemistry research to national carbon inventories and budgets and has made an internationally recognised contribution to these fields. Since the early 1990s Kevin has lead a team that has made guiding contributions to climate change science in New Zealand. These contributions include the creation of New Zealand?s first terrestrial carbon terrestrial carbon inventory, the first terrestrial carbon budget, and he had a longstanding role in the National Science Strategy Committee for Climate Change. He has played a critical role at Landcare Research in unifying research on the mitigation of terrestrial greenhouse gasses and stands out uniquely as a science leader who has been able to inform the Government on climate change policy. These leadership activities are underpinned by his research work (in earlier days) that improved our knowledge of the biochemistry of organic matter and of soil micro-organisms. This involved the development of methods to analyze soil organic matter composition, one of which was published in the prestigious journal Nature and the first successful attempt to measure the health of the microbial population in soil. In addition to his excellence in research, Kevin has been an active promoter of science and technology through education, community and social activities. He has invested much time in young scientists and has advanced the careers of many. Some of the scientists he mentored and advised have become research leaders in New Zealand and overseas. Kevin has carried out the majority of his research in New Zealand, based at the former DSIR Land Resources, and at Landcare Research. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand, and is honoured internationally as an outstanding scientist of great stature in climate change research.
Marsden Medal 2004
The recipient of the 2004 medal was Professor Peter Barrett, Director of the Antarctic Research Centre at Victoria University of Wellington. Professor Barrett's research and teaching career spans 40 years. He has made an outstanding contribution to New Zealand and international science as an educator, researcher, inspirational leader and mentor to young scientists. His contributions to Antarctic research include the discovery of the first fossil remains of four-legged animals that clinched the Gondwana link between Antarctica, South America, Africa, India, Australia and New Zealand. He was chief scientist on several drilling projects in McMurdo Sound that show that the Antarctic ice sheet was much warmer and less stable 20-30 million years ago and fluctuated with the cyclical changes in the earth's orbiting of the sun (Milankovitch Cycle). In addition to his Antarctic research, he has published fundamental papers on sedimentary deposits , one of which is the basis for discussion of the shape of rock particles, and the environmental forces that shape them, in a widely used textbook. No less important, as an educator he has supervised 20 PhD students and 15 MSc students. Many of his students have themselves progressed to notable careers both in New Zealand and overseas, as teachers and in industry. He has been mentor and advisor to a team of younger New Zealand and international scientists seeking to promote the integration of geological and geophysical data with modelling of ice sheets, oceans and climate to understand the evolution of Antarctic climate. He was awarded a Polar Medal in 1985 and elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand in 1993. In 2001 he received the Premio Internazionale Felice Ippolito, an international prize awarded by the Italian Academy of Humanities and Sciences, in recognition of his services to Antarctic Geosciences.
Marsden Medal 2003
The recipient of this medal for 2003 was Emeritus Professor Roger Green of the Anthropology Department at the University of Auckland. During his long and distinguished career in Pacific archaeology and cultural history, Professor Green has had a profound influence in determining the course of New Zealand archaeology. His contributions to research in Polynesian prehistory form a significant part of our knowledge of the peoples of the Pacific. No less important, his encouragement and support for many students and young archaeologists, his work as a "clearing house" for information and unpublished material and his generosity in discussing his and others' work, notably through wide-ranging correspondence, are testaments to his dedication to his profession. As a graduate student at Harvard University in 1958, Professor Green was awarded a Fullbright Fellowship which allowed him to spend several months in Hawaii, Auckland and French Polynesia. It was during this time that his interest in the Pacific was sparked. He subsequently spent the six years from 1961-67 at Auckland University, followed by three years at the Bishop Museum in Honolulu. In 1970 Professor Green returned to New Zealand to take up a position at the Auckland Museum, and in 1973 he was appointed to a Personal Chair at Auckland University, where he is now Professor Emeritus. Professor Green was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand in 1975, a member of the United States National Academy of Sciences in 1984, and in 1992 he was awarded the Hector Memorial Medal for his contribution to human sciences in New Zealand.
Marsden Medal 2002
Dr Howard Wearing, HortResearch, was awarded the 2002 Marsden Medal for his outstanding service to entomology and horticultural science in the service of industry. Dr Wearing has made a large contribution to New Zealand society, and especially to the horticultural industry, since the 1960s. His personal drive and vision for developing multi-skilled research teams to tackle large and difficult problems has resulted in a range of success stories of international importance. One of his most significant career achievements was to gain access to Japan for cherries and other fruit. This entailed an effective blend of science leadership and country-to-country negotiations over 11 years. Six DSIR Divisions were involved in this project. Dr Wearing's recent leadership in the area of organic and sustainable production systems for apples has had an immense influence. His scientific integrity and rigour has added significantly to the quality of work on this subject. His programme "Biological Orchard Production Systems" which ran from 1992-2000 has seen the first exports of organic apples from New Zealand, yet another innovation with an important future. His science leadership has been sustained over a wide range of projects throughout his career. He organised New Zealand's first OECD conference in 1994 on the "Ecological Implications of Transgenic Plants" a subject that has become highly topical recently. His strong interest in Integrated Pest Management and the reduction of pesticides usage lead to a role as co-organiser of an international workshop on the subject in 1982. His leadership skills were recognised by DSIR through his elevation to Deputy Director of DSIR Entomology Division. His quiet, modest, but strong leadership style successfully recruited many young scientists to the team, spread over a number of locations around New Zealand. This legacy is evident from the substantial contributions that HortResearch entomologists have made to both basic and applied areas of science. His interest in management training of scientists was ahead of its time and has ensured he best possible return on government investment in science. Dr Wearing is the author of more than 100 scientific publications and 40 other articles, and. he has supervised and examined an impressive range of MSc and PhD projects for various New Zealand Universities. His lifetime of outstanding service to science in New Zealand makes him a worthy candidate for the prestigious Marsden Medal.
Marsden Medal 2001
Dr Ian Speden, of the Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences, was awarded the 2001 Marsden Medal for his service both to earth sciences, and science in general. Dr Speden has made a specialist contribution to knowledge of New Zealand fossils of age 65-250 million years and interpretation of the sedimentary strata in which they are found. His work on the East Coast led to a better understanding of the regional geology and of continental drift during the Cretaceous. This was recognised by the award of the prestigious McKay Hammer for 1975-76, and subsequent Fellowship of the Royal Society of New Zealand. His long-term interest in applying geology to practical problems led to many interdisciplinary studies of erosion, land-use planning and sustainability as well as natural hazard identification. This resulted in 110 published papers and maps. Publications such as "Land Alone Endures" and "Natural Hazards of New Zealand" were seminal in developing ideas ultimately expressed in the Resource Management Act. Dr Speden's interests extend to other areas, and his direct, well-reasoned opinions shaped the course of work in areas removed from his primary expertise - for example in petroleum exploration and coal geology. His growing reputation attracted a number of students, and he was a mentor and de facto supervisor to a number of Auckland University MSc and PhD students. There could have been no better model for and aspiring geologist to follow: Dr Speden has always preferred a team approach to that of an isolated scientist. He was appointed Director of NZ Geological Survey in late 1984 to which later was added the Geophysics Division. His style was vigorous and enthusiastic and led to many innovations. The last days of DSIR were a trying environment with reduced funding and redundancy rounds but his skilled handling ensured the survival of most of the vital core capability. Dr Speden has been involved in a number of external organisations and interdisciplinary working groups both nationally and internationally. He has been president of the Geological Society of New Zealand, served on the Ross Dependency Research Committee, contributed to the work of the Royal Society both as a councillor and Honorary Treasurer. He is still vice president of the International Union of Geological Sciences. After graduating MSc from the University of Otago with first class honours, Dr Speden joined the New Zealand Geological Survey, D.S.I.R. He went on to obtain a PhD from Yale University in 1965, later returning to the NZ Geological Survey. He retired in 1994 from the Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences but is continuing his work there as a research associate and mentor.
Marsden Medal 2000
This year, David Penny, Professor of Theoretical Biology, Massey University was awarded the 2000 Medal for his outstanding service to science, not only in New Zealand but also on the world stage. Professor Penny's contributions to New Zealand science are extensive. He has supervised many students who have gone on to independent research careers; currently he is supervising seven PhD and MSc students. He prompted Massey University and other institutions to review policies underpinning teaching and research and he has nurtured a national community of scientists committed to a rigorous understanding of our indigenous environment. In the 1970s Professor Penny was one of the first researchers to appreciate that the accumulating databases of genetic information on all forms of life could be used in the pursuit "big questions" such as what is the origin of life, how has evolution occurred, and what is the relationship between species and communities? During the ensuing 30 years he and his colleagues developed rigorous mathematical techniques and computer programmes to analyse DNA sequences and construct evolutionary trees. They developed new insights that support the idea that humans evolved in and then migrated from Africa and that the first forms of life were based on the simpler RNA molecule rather than DNA. He has recently co-authored a paper, published in the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, that provides compelling DNA-based evidence that the Maori migration to New Zealand included between 50 and 100 females. This important finding is entirely consistent with Maori oral history of a planned migration rather than an accidental event in which a few canoes containing just a few women were blown randomly to Aotearoa. David Penny has extensive international recognition and consequently he has an extensive network of collaborators throughout the world. He has Associate Fellowships at Merton College, Oxford, and Darwin College Cambridge. He is Past President of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution, and has ongoing work with groups in Japan, USA, Britain, and Sweden. Currently he is developing a new project with colleagues at the Fiji School of Medicine to unravel the origins and distribution of hepatitis throughout Polynesia. Over many years he has been a passionate advocate in the science policy arena, in New Zealand and abroad. Last year he participated in the BBC series "Beyond 2000" which reviewed the changing attitude to Great Apes based on growing awareness of their mental abilities. Ernest Marsden's name is linked to many prestigious activities of the New Zealand science scene. It is fitting that the Marsden Medal should be awarded to a successful applicant for Marsden Grants. Since this Fund was established in 1995 David Penny has been awarded five grants, including a recent award for a three-year study into new ideas and applications of molecular phylogeny. David Penny was born in Taumarunui and obtained his undergraduate training in Chemistry and Botany at the University of Canterbury. He then proceeded to the University of Yale to complete a Ph.D. in Biology (Biochemistry) in 1961. Since 1966 he has been a member of the staff of Massey University, was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand in 1990 and appointed to a personal chair in Theoretical Biology in 1992.
Marsden Medal 1999
This year, Graeme Wake, Professor of Applied Mathematics at the University of Canterbury, was awarded the Medal in recognition of the significant role he has played in fostering the sharing and utilisation of mathematical knowledge within New Zealand. Professor Wake was a foundation member of the New Zealand Mathematics Society in 1974 and is currently President and a Fellow of that society. He was instrumental in expanding the Australian Industrial and Applied Mathematics grouping to include New Zealand and has been the only New Zealand President of this Australasian grouping of applied mathematicians. He has been one of the most successful academics in mentoring of students, and directing their research into applicable areas. Professor Wake has also played a pivotal role in establishing and enlarging cross-disciplinary applied mathematical research in New Zealand. His research relates to many real world problems. His early work allowed prediction of when wool bales and wood chips would spontaneously burst into flames. This was extended to consider many biological problems, such as: when do algal blooms occur? what are the best ways to fence grazing animals in paddocks? how do epidemics develop? how does cell division influence growth? and how do stoats impact kiwi populations? He has a PhD and DSc from Victoria University of Wellington, and has held chairs in Applied Mathematics at Massey University, Auckland University and currently at Canterbury University where he is also Dean of Postgraduate Studies.
Marsden Medal 1998
This year it is awarded to Dr Rodger Sparks, Manager of the Radiocarbon (AMS) Section in the Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences, Lower Hutt. Rodger has demonstrated one of the strengths of New Zealand science - ingenuity in the face of financial constraints. A second-hand Van de Graaf particle accelerator was obtained from the Australian National University and set up in Lower Hutt as the basis for building one of the world's first accelerator mass spectrometry systems (AMS). Rodger's skills as a nuclear scientist and accelerator technologist were central to this achievement. New Zealand was one of the first countries to have an operational AMS system. The AMS system enabled Rodger to greatly increase the sensitivity of carbon dating so that only very small samples were required and the method could be applied in a wide range of scientific disciplines. A key to Rodger's approach was to ensure the system was versatile enough to suit the needs of many scientific groups in New Zealand. It was used to measure carbon-14 in atmospheric methane and helped to change thinking on the role of fossil fuels in the emission of methane to the atmosphere, a significant factor in global warming. Since that time the AMS facility has been used to measure rare, naturally occurring isotopes generated by cosmic rays, which are used for dating purposes by geologists and hydrologists. Rodger has shown a remarkable ability to provide an efficient client focused service to scientists in other disciplines. His section has built up an international reputation as one of the world's premier AMS facilities with strong links to research programmes in fields as diverse as: oceanography, atmospheric sciences, paleoclimatic studies, geology, anthropology, art history and authentication. Rodger has developed and maintains a world class AMS facility which has given many New Zealand scientists the opportunity to achieve results ahead of the rest of the world.
Marsden Medal 1997
This year, the medal was awarded to Dr. Jennifer Hartley of Hawkes Bay. Dr Hartley is one of a determined and dedicated band of scientists who work throughout their careers with single-minded determination and who perhaps never really receive the rewards they deserve. Jennifer in particular worked long and hard in serving the farming industry by developing practical means of controlling weeds, and by finding new ways of assessing the impacts those weeds were having on animal production. She deliberately published few of the results of her work in international journals. Instead, she published only in New Zealand farming periodicals and in local journals read only by New Zealand scientists and extension officers. She insisted, and still insists, that she was paid by the New Zealand government to help New Zealand's agriculture, and she could do this best by publishing the very practical results of her work in places where farmers could find out about it. She also devoted a large part of her life to science itself, by promoting and encouraging the developments of the New Zealand Plant Protection Society and by working in, and presiding over, her local branch of the Royal Society. Dr Jennifer Hartley arrived at MAF, Ruakura in December 1970 and the following August took over the Secretaryship of the New Zealand Weed and Pest Control Society, which has now become the New Zealand Plant Protection Society. She remained Secretary of the Society for 14 years. In August 1973 she also took on the duties of Editor of the Proceedings of the Society's annual conference. Not only did she edit these Proceedings, but she also organised their printing and did much of the proof-reading, often in her own time. During her time as Editor of the Proceedings, she successfully improved the standard of the papers presented at the Conference and in the Proceedings. In doing so, she succeeded in making the Conference and its Proceedings acceptable as a contribution to New Zealand science. She introduced a set of formal rules for authors and ensured that all papers were within the prescribed length. Without her efforts, the Society would not have become as successful as it has. Following her stint as Secretary and Editor for the Society, she subsequently became Society Vice-President for two years, then President for two years and remained as Immediate Past President for a further two years. She served as a member of the Society's Executive Committee from 1971 until 1994. In addition to her duties as Secretary, Editor, Executive Committee Member and President, Dr Hartley also organised the resetting and reprinting of one of the Society's publications - Standard Common Names for Weeds in New Zealand. When the Society started a Scholarship Fund, Dr Hartley made a substantial personal donation to start it. She was made a Life Member of the Society in 1990. Dr Hartley has also served science in other areas. In her professional career in New Zealand, Dr Hartley was a scientist with MAF, and then with AgResearch. In this capacity she did some outstanding and innovative work in assessing the effects of pasture weeds on animal production and also on the effects of animals in controlling weeds. She became the first woman President of the Hawkes Bay Royal Society in the 120 years of its existence. She also served as secretary of the Hawkes Bay branch of the NZIAS for four years. Since her retirement, Dr Hartley has continued to serve science in New Zealand by, for example, carrying out some research on new crops, and by contributing to a guide for fruit-growers put out by ENZA.