Victoria scientists receive national awards

Two researchers from Victoria University have been recognised with awards from the New Zealand Association of Scientists

Two researchers from Victoria University have been recognised with awards from the New Zealand Association of Scientists (NZAS) this week for their outstanding contributions to science.

Professor Lionel Carter from Victoria’s Antarctic Research Centre received the Marsden Medal in recognition of his lifetime of outstanding service to science, and Associate Professor Dr Eric Le Ru from the School of Chemical and Physical Sciences received the Research Medal, awarded for outstanding research published by a scientist under the age of 40.

The medals were presented by the Minister for Science and Innovation, Hon Steven Joyce, at a ceremony in Wellington on Tuesday evening.

Professor David Bibby, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Dean of the Faculty of Science at Victoria University, says he is delighted that the efforts of both scientists have been acknowledged by their peers.

“These medals represent some of the highest accolades for scientists in New Zealand, and are fitting tributes to the commitment and enthusiasm of both researchers.”

New Zealand Association of Scientist Citations

Professor Lionel Carter, Antarctic Research Centre—Marsden Medal

Professor Lionel Carter

The Marsden Medal is awarded for a lifetime of outstanding service to the cause or profession of science.

The award of the 2012 Marsden Medal for Professor Lionel Carter recognises his outstanding 40 year research career as a practicing geoscientist with significant contributions to marine geology, palaeoceanography, physical oceanography and applied marine geology.

In the citation, the NZAS noted that 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 the work of Professor Carter.

Professor Carter says he feels privileged to have been able to work collaboratively with talented, like-minded colleagues during his career and is pleased his research in the field of marine science has been recognised with a Marsden Medal.

“The value of marine science, like that of other disciplines, is inestimable. It provides knowledge on how the environment ‘ticks’—knowledge that is necessary to gauge how the ocean will behave in the future under climate change and a greater human presence offshore.”

Associate Professor Dr Eric Le Ru—Research Medal

Dr Eric Le Ru

The Research Medal is awarded for outstanding fundamental or applied research in the physical, natural or social sciences published by a scientist under the age of 40.

Dr Le Ru has made an enormous contribution to research in the multi-disciplinary fields of surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) and nano-plasmonics.

In particular, his work carried out over the last few years has had an exceptional international impact. It has resulted in the publication of a book and more than 50 papers, several of them in the most prestigious journals in physics and chemistry.

SERS uses nanoscale metallic objects to boost the sensitivity of Raman spectroscopy. Although discovered 30 years ago, its potential applications are only coming of age now thanks to recent advances in nanotechnology. Once the difficulties in understanding and implementing it are overcome, this technique has the potential to revolutionise analytical chemistry.

Dr Le Ru has made seminal contributions to both the theoretical understanding of the physical mechanisms responsible for SERS and to the development of new experimental methods to study it. His work has been at the forefront of the international research effort toward applying SERS to single-molecule detection and identification, arguably the ultimate goal of analytical chemistry.

Dr Eric Le Ru is an Associate Professor of Physics at Victoria, a Principal Investigator in the MacDiarmid Institute, and was awarded a Rutherford Discovery Fellowship in 2010.