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2016 Prime Minister’s Science Prizes awarded

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Five inspirational individuals have been awarded the Prime Minister’s Science Prizes for 2016.

The awardees include an exceptional young physicist, the co-leader of a 45-year-long study, a leading science writer, an earthquake impacts researcher and the first ever primary school teacher to win the prize.

The five winners were announced today at an award ceremony held at Parliament.

2016 Prime Minister's Science Prize

The top honour of winning the 2016 Prime Minister's Science Prize goes to Prof. Richie Poulton, of the University of Otago, along with key team members for the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Research Study.

The Dunedin Study, now approaching its 45th year, is investigating the lives of about 1,000 children in Dunedin born from April 1972 to March 1973 and its findings have already shaped health and social policies both in New Zealand and overseas.

 Richie Poulton

The Prime Minister’s Future Scientist Prize                         

The winner of this prize is Catherine Pot for her work in investigating the van der Pauw method – used in experimental semiconductor physics in many university labs – and improving the technique so that it can be more widely applied.

Catherine was 17 when she carried out her research at Onslow College in Wellington. This year she has started studying Physics and Mathematics at Victoria University of Wellington and the prize money will help pay for her studies.

 Catherine Pot

The Prime Minister’s MacDiarmid Emerging Scientist Prize

This prize goes to Prof. Brendon Bradley, 30, from the University of Canterbury for his sophisticated seismic hazard analysis and assessment modelling, and pioneering ground motion simulation to identify and mitigate earthquake impacts.

Brendon’s research is already being used to set new building design codes in Christchurch and internationally, where emphasis is being placed on more robust designs.

 Brendon Bradley

The Prime Minister’s Science Teacher Prize

This prize’s recipient this year is Dianne Christenson at Koraunui Primary School in Lower Hutt for her outstanding achievement in teaching science.

Dianne is the curriculum leader for science at her school and is the first primary school teacher to receive this coveted award since the Prizes were introduced in 2009.

 Dianne Christenson

The Prime Minister’s Science Communication Prize

Dr Rebecca Priestley, Senior Lecturer in the Science in Society Group at Victoria University of Wellington, has received this prize for her work as a well-known writer of science books and articles.

Rebecca’s latest book is Dispatches from Continent Seven: an anthology of Antarctic science and she is a regular columnist in the Listener. Her previous works have won the Royal Society of New Zealand Science Book Prize and the LIANZA Elsie Locke Nonfiction Award.

 Rebecca Priestley

Read more about the winners on the Prime Minister's Science Prizes website (external link)