The high quality of work and contribution of 19 researchers and teams across the faculties and institutes at the University of Auckland has been acknowledged in the 2019 Research Excellence Awards.

Left to right: Andrew Barrie, Marston Conder, Jichao Zhao, Marian Showell, Vanessa Jordan, Lynn Sadler and Cindy Farquhar

Held at Old Government House at the University of Auckland on Tuesday, 7 May, the theme of the 2019 awards was The future world of work: Te ao mahi ā mua.

Professor Jim Metson, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research, said the theme highlighted how research shapes and responds to the disruptive technologies affecting the world of work. Artificial intelligence, automation and robotics already have a significant impact on jobs, skills and wages and this would accelerate.

“Our theme also reflects the University’s commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development goals, specifically Goal 9 which seeks to promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation and resilient infrastructure.

“Addressing the development goals is a major undertaking and cannot be achieved without harnessing expertise across a steadily widening range of disciplines,” said Professor Metson.

The awards recognise excellence at four stages in the careers of researchers: from the best doctoral theses, leadership and achievement in early career researchers, through to the outstanding achievements of some of our most senior researchers. The awards also acknowledge the significant contribution of the University to research in industry and society.

UniServices Chief Executive Andy Shenk said: “This year we congratulate the winners of the Vice-Chancellor’s Commercialisation Medals for their leading work in the use of robotics to help make people’s lives more productive and more fulfilling, in the use of new technologies that make buildings safer in earthquakes, and in the combination of sensors and in-dwelling medical devices for a wide range of applications in health and wellbeing. We look forward to their next ground-breaking projects.”

The University of Auckland 2019 Research Excellence Awards winners are:

Best Doctoral Theses

  • Yvonne Anderson, Liggins Institute
  • Emma Davison, Chemical Sciences
  • Rachel Low, Science
  • Jacqualine Robinson, FMHS
  • Julie Spray, FMHS
Left to right: Jacqualine Robinson, Yvonne Anderson, Emma Davison, Julie Spray

Early Career Research Excellence Awards

  • Ivanhoe Leung, Science
  • Anna Boswell, Arts
  • Christopher McKinlay, Liggins
  • David Moreau, Science
  • Katrina Poppe, FMHS
  • Xuyun Zhang, Engineering
Left to right: Katrina Poppe, David Moreau, Ivanhoe Leung, Christopher McKinlay, Anna Boswell, Xuyun Zhang

Vice-Chancellor Commercialisation Medals

  • Bruce MacDonald, Engineering
  • Pierre Quenneville, Engineering
  • David Budgett and Simon Malpas (jointly), Auckland Bioengineering Institute
Left to right: Simon Malpas (Auckland Bioengineering Institute), Pierre Quenneville (Engineering), Bruce MacDonald (Engineering)

Research Excellence Medals


  • Marston Conder, Science
  • Jichao Zhao, Auckland Bioengineering Institute


  • Andrew Barrie, Creative Arts and Industries and Takaharu Tezuka of Tokyo City University
  • Cynthia Farquhar, Marian Showell, Vanessa Jordan, Lynn Sadler, Jane Marjoribanks, Helen Nagels and Sarah Lensen, FMHS
Left to right: Andrew Barrie, Marston Conder, Jichao Zhao, Marian Showell, Vanessa Jordan, Lynn Sadler and Cynthia Farquhar

About the University of Auckland’s Research Excellence Awards

The annual University of Auckland Research Excellence Awards recognise the outstanding contributions made by researchers from those beginning their career to those whose work has earned them national and global standing.

The awards are:

Research Excellence Medals

Four medals are presented annually, up to two for individuals and up to two for teams, who have made an outstanding contribution to one or more disciplines. Along with the medal, an individual winner receives $5000 and winning teams $10,000. The award is judged and supported by the University Research Committee.

The Vice-Chancellor’s Commercialisation Medals

The awards, sponsored by UniServices, the University of Auckland’s commercialisation company, recognise the work of researchers who have made significant impact through sponsored research and commercialisation that has had a significant impact to industry or society.

Early Career Research Excellence Awards

Six awards, each of $25,000, acknowledge early career researchers who have shown excellence in their research and leadership potential. The award is judged and supported by the University Research Committee.

The Vice-Chancellor’s Prize for Best Doctoral Thesis

The award, which comes with $6000 for each winner is made to the five most exceptional theses completed in the previous year. Criteria are that the thesis is highly original, shows exceptional academic and intellectual achievement and is significant in its field. The five are chosen from a longlist of up to 20 theses submitted from across the university.