Entries for the 2018 Prime Minister’s Science Prizes are now open, with New Zealand’s most talented established and emerging scientists, science teachers and science communicators able to apply for awards worth a combined value of $1 million across five categories.

The New Zealand Government introduced The Prime Minister’s Science Prizes in 2009 as a way of raising the profile and prestige of science among New Zealanders and to increase its profile as a key contributor to economic wealth and to highlight its role in solving future challenges through innovation.

The major prize, worth $500,000, is presented to an individual or team whose research has had significant impact in New Zealand or internationally. Previous winners have been recognised for research in areas ranging from health to climate change to new energy technologies.

In 2017, the Prime Minister’s Science Prize was awarded to the research team that helped the New Zealand kiwifruit industry claw its way back from the brink of destruction after the discovery of a vine-killing disease. The multi-disciplinary team, led by Plant & Food Research CEO Dr Bruce Campbell, was awarded the prize for its rapid and successful response to Psa (Pseudomonas syringae pv. actinidiae).

Dr Campbell says winning this prestigious prize will “help to accelerate the strong positioning of New Zealand internationally as the pre-eminent area for ensuring food security.”

“The prize money will be invested in developing the next generation of science technologies to protect plants against biosecurity threats and help us to attract world-leading international collaborators with expertise from the human medical, animal and plant disease fields.”

Other prize categories include the MacDiarmid Emerging Scientist prize, worth $200,000, which is open to outstanding scientists who have completed their PhD in the previous eight years, and the Prime Minister’s $150,000 Science Teacher Prize. Last year that prize was won by Sarah Johns from Nelson College for Girls.

Sarah Johns receiving her prize from the Prime Minister at Parliament on 13 February 2018

Sarah says: “Winning the Prime Minister Science Teacher Prize is humbling, because I work alongside a lot of fantastic teachers and I really love what I do. It hovers between a hobby and career, so I’m grateful for the affirmation of the processes I use to fuel the teaching and learning that occurs in partnership with my students. I’m really proud of my work and passionate about it, so I feel honoured by the recognition.”

In addition, nominations are being sought for the Prime Minister’s Science Communication Prize, worth $100,000 and the Prime Minister’s Future Scientist Prize, worth $50,000.

Entries close for all but the Prime Minister’s Future Scientist Prize on Wednesday 5 September 2018. The Future Scientist Prizes closes on 30 October 2018.





The Prime Minister’s Science Prize categories are:

The Prime Minister’s Science Prize, $500,000

This will be awarded to an individual or team for a transformative scientific discovery or achievement, which has had a significant economic, health, social and/or environmental impact in the last five years on New Zealand or internationally

The Prime Minister’s MacDiarmid Emerging Scientist Prize, $200,000

This will be awarded to an outstanding emerging scientist who has had their PhD conferred, within the past eight years (i.e. from 1 January 2010 onwards)

The Prime Minister’s Science Teacher Prize, $150,000

This will be awarded to a registered teacher who has been teaching science, mathematics, technology, pūtaiao, hangarau or pāngarau learning areas of the New Zealand curriculum to school-age children in a primary, intermediate or secondary New Zealand registered school.

The Prime Minister’s Science Communication Prize, $100,000

This will be awarded to a practising scientist who can demonstrate an interest, passion and aptitude for science communication and public engagement, or to a person who has developed expertise in public engagement with, or communication of, complex scientific or technological information to the public or science community.

The Prime Minister’s Future Scientist Prize, $50,000 tertiary scholarship

This will be awarded to a Year 12 or Year 13 student for outstanding achievement in carrying out a practical and innovative science, mathematics, technology or engineering project.

To find out more and to lodge entries visit:


or contact:      

The Prime Minister’s Science Prizes Secretariat
Royal Society Te Apārangi

Tel 04 470 5762

Email: pmscienceprizes@tcc.co.nz