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It has been a big day in Auckland for a select group of scientists, students and science communicators who between them have been awarded $1 million cash towards research or personal development as part of the Prime Minister’s inaugural science prizes.

Many will be glad to see Jeff Tallon and Bob Buckley rewarded for their work in the area of high temperature superconductors which, perhaps surprisingly, is a promising little industry for New Zealand largely thanks to the work going on in this area at IRL.

The other names are a lot less well known, but that is because they include a teacher, a science student, an emerging scientist and a science communicator.

These are incredibly generous awards by global standards so hopefully they will generate a lot of high-quality applications in the coming years as the awards mature.

Here’s the line-up of who collected what, but essentially it goes like this:

A team of scientists at the forefront of new global power technology, which is projected to be worth $200 million to the New Zealand economy by the end of this decade, receives the inaugural Prime Minister’s Science Prize.

Dr Jeff Tallon and Dr Bob Buckley have made a string of discoveries in the field of high temperature superconductors (HTS) and used them as a platform to establish world-leading export businesses in HTS products.

They have led Industrial Research Limited’s (IRL) superconductor research and commercialisation activity for 20 years. Drs Buckley and Tallon receive prize money of $500,000, with $400,000 going to IRL for continued development of HTS technology.

High-temperature superconductors allow the flow of electricity without loss of energy, and can provide significant cost savings in areas ranging from power transmission to manufacturing.

The other prizes include:

The Prime Minister’s 2009 Science Teacher Prize

The Prime Minister’s 2009 Science Teacher Prize has been awarded to Morrinsville College teacher, Dr Paul Lowe, for his creation of new teaching programmes which are turning science into a popular subject and improving learning attitudes among students. Dr Lowe receives $50,000 and Morrinsville College receives $100,000.

The Prime Minister’s 2009 Future Scientist Prize

The Prime Minister’s 2009 Future Scientist Prize has been presented to an 18-year-old student who has made ground breaking discoveries about the physics of light.  Stanley Roache, a former student from Onslow College in Wellington, wins a scholarship worth $50,000 to help pay for his tertiary studies.

The Prime Minister’s 2009 MacDiarmid Emerging Scientist Prize

The Prime Minister’s 2009 MacDiarmid Emerging Scientist prize goes to Victoria University of Wellington PhD candidate John Watt, who was also the winner of the 2009 MacDiarmid Scientist of the Year title. John’s prize is worth $150,000, with $100,000 to be used to further research and commercialise his world-leading research into the growth of nanoparticles to improve air quality by reducing toxic vehicle exhaust emissions.

The Prime Minister’s Science 2009 Communication Prize

The Prime Minister’s Science 2009 Communication Prize will give Elizabeth Connor, Wellington, the opportunity to help change New Zealander’s attitudes to science and encourage a greater understanding of the contribution science makes to the country. Her prize provides $150,000 to further develop her knowledge of science media communication.

Jeff Tallon, Bill Buckley, Elizabeth Connor, Prime Minister John Key, John Watt, Stanley Roache, Paul Lowe and Shaun Coffey

Jeff Tallon, Bob Buckley, Elizabeth Connor, Prime Minister John Key, John Watt, Stanley Roache, Paul Lowe and Sir Peter Gluckman

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