Professor Christine Winterbourn, 2011 winner of the Royal Society of New Zealand Rutherford Medal, presents the annual Rutherford Lecture on her work on how free radicals are generated in the body as part of normal biological processes. She also talks about some of her applied work with premature babies and touches on antioxidants for health.
The inaugural MacDiarmid Medal was presented to Dr Gary Evans of Industrial Research Ltd on 16 November 2011. Dr Evans is a chemist who have pioneered the design and synthesis of new pharmaceuticals for the treatment of major diseases. The medal is named after Nobel Prize winner Professor Alan MacDiarmid who was a New Zealander.
New Zealand’s top science and technology honour, the Rutherford Medal, was awarded in 2011 to the first woman in the medal’s 20-year history. Biochemist Professor Christine Winterbourn from the University of Otago, Christchurch, won it for her work on free radicals spanning four decades. The medal is awarded by the Royal Society of New Zealand and includes a cash prize of $100,000 from the Government.
The inaugural Callaghan Medal for science communication was awarded in 2011 to Professor Sir Peter Gluckman, the PM’s Chief Science Advisor, and recognises his achievement in science communication, particularly raising public awareness of the value of science to human progress. The medal is named after Professor Sir Paul Callaghan, who is regarded as a consummate science communicator.
The Mysterious Maya: an ancient American civilisation
Professor Norman Hammond
Fellow of the British Academy and Archaeology Correspondent for The Times, London
The Maya created one of the New World’s most surprising and accomplished civilizations in the tropical forest of Central America and Yucatan. Over a period of 2500 years, ending with the Spanish Conquest in the 16th century, they moved from simple villages of maize farmers to great cities with impressive temples and palaces, adorned with sculptures and paintings praising their divine kings. Inscriptions in Maya hieroglyphics recorded history and the passage of time, precise to the day; the Great Cycle of the Maya calendar will end on December 23rd, 2012. Most of the cities were abandoned, afflicted by overpopulation, warfare and drought, by AD 900, but Maya culture, and the Maya people, have survived into the 21st century.