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View recipients of the Rutherford Medal.

The New Zealand Science and Technology Gold Medal was renamed the Rutherford Medal in 2000 and all previous gold medals are now referred to as the Rutherford Medal.

Latest recipient

The 2018 Rutherford Medal was awarded to Professor Rod Downey FRSNZ for his pre-eminent revolutionary research into computability, including development of the theory of parameterised complexity and the algorithmic study of randomness.

Previous recipients


Professor Colin Wilson FRS FRSNZ (for his research showing how large volcanoes behave before and during explosive eruptions, including those that created Lake Taupo, expanding our understanding of volcanoes and the hazards they pose)


Michael Corballis FRSNZ (for foundational research on the nature and evolution of the human mind, including cerebral asymmetries, handedness, mental imagery, language, and mental time travel)


Ian Reid FRSNZ (for his seminal contributions to the understanding and treatment of metabolic bone diseases such as osteoporosis and Paget’s Disease)


Peter Schwerdtfeger FRSNZ (for his world-leading contribution to fundamental aspects of chemical and physical phenomena in atoms, molecules and condensed matter)


Dame Anne Salmond FRSNZ (for her eminent work on Māori social structures and interactions with the European world, and on European exploration and engagement in the Pacific)


Margaret Brimble CNZM FRSNZ (for her world-leading contributions to the synthesis of bioactive natural products, including a new drug for traumatic brain injury funded by the US army. Professor Brimble was also awarded the 2012 Hector Medal and the 2012 MacDiarmid Medal)


Christine Winterbourn FRSNZ (for her outstanding achievements and discoveries in free radical biology which have established her as a leading world authority in this field)


Warren Tate FRSNZ (for his outstanding achievements in molecular biology and molecular neuroscience)


Peter Hunter FRS FRSNZ (for his revolutionary approach to modelling the human body)


David Parry FRSNZ (for his world-leading research on fibrous proteins which has led to major advances in understanding the structure of hair and the working of muscles and connective tissue)


Richard Faull ONZM FRSNZ (for his ground-breaking work in understanding the human brain. He has a passion and enthusiasm to ensure that his research is world class and that it engages and benefits the whole community)


Edward Baker FRSNZ (for his internationally recognised and  pioneering work in  structural biology, and as a key player in the development of a vibrant biotechnology culture in New Zealand)


Paul Callaghan PCNZM FRS FRSNZ (for world-leading research in development of new Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) methods that have significant impacts in physics, chemistry, biology and medicine)


David Penny CNZM FRSNZ (in recognition of his distinguished contributions in theoretical biology, molecular evolution, analysis of DNA information)


George Petersen ONZM FRSNZ (for his exceptional contribution in pioneering methods for sequencing DNA and nurturing the development of DNA research in New Zealand)


Jeffrey Tallon FRSNZ (for his wide-ranging internationally recognised achievements in the discovery, design, physical characterisation, understanding and application of high-temperature superconductors)


Peter Gluckman CNZM FRS FRSNZ


Alan MacDiarmid ONZ FRS Hon FRSNZ


David Vere-Jones FRSNZ (for his outstanding contributions to research and education in probability, statistics and the mathematical sciences, and for services to the statistical and mathematical communities both within New Zealand and internationally)


William Robinson FRSNZ (for his internationally recognised research in Materials Science leading to the development of seismic isolation dampers, and through them for his contribution to mitigating hazards to human life and construction)


Thomas (John) Walker (for his internationally recognised and pioneering research in soil science, and for his substantial contribution to public awareness, knowledge and understanding of the behaviour of soils)


No award


William Denny ONZM FRSNZ and the Auckland Cancer Research Laboratory (for sustained innovation in the development of new anticancer drugs, and the formation in Auckland of a leading international academic centre in anticancer drug development, to provide opportunities for research-based teaching and student training)


Ian Axford Hon FRSNZ (for his excellent contribution to fundamental research which has led to a deeper understanding of the nature of planetary magnetospheres, comets, interplanetary space, the behaviour of interstellar gas and the origin of cosmic rays).


Roy Kerr FRSNZ (for his outstanding discoveries in the extra-terrestrial world of black holes)


DSIR Group Award


Vaughan Jones DCNZM Hon FRSNZ (for his international reputation in topology)