Early Career Prizes

Early Career Prizes

Life Sciences Early Career Prize. The RSE/Patrick Neill Medal

Dr Patrick Neill (1776 - 1851) was a distinguished Scottish Naturalist and Fellow of the RSE.  He was born in Edinburgh and spent his life in the city.  He became the head of the large printing firm of Neill & Co but early in his career he devoted his spare time to natural history, especially botany and horticulture.  Dr Neill was the first secretary of the Wernerian Natural History Society and the Caledonian Horticultural Society, holding the latter post for forty years. His “Tour through Orkney and Shetland,” appeared in 1806, a work which gave rise to much discussion, owing to its exposure of the then prevalent misery.  He was also the author of the article “Gardening” in the seventh edition of the “Encyclopædia Britannica,” which, subsequently published under the title of “The Flower, Fruit, and Kitchen Garden,” and ran through several editions.  Edinburgh is indebted to Neill for the scheme of the West Princes Street gardens. In 1820 that portion of the north loch was drained, and five acres of ground were laid out and planted with seventy-seven thousand trees and shrubs under his direction; it was also due to his public spirit that several antiquities were preserved when on the point of being demolished.  In 1851 Dr Neill left a charitable bequest to the RSE and he is botanically commemorated by the rosaceous genus Neillia.

The 2016 winner of the RSE/Patrick Neill Medal is Dr Asier Unciti-Broceta, PI/Group Leader, Cancer Research UK Edinburgh Centre, MRC Institute of Genetics & Molecular Medicine, University of Edinburgh, for his outstanding research work in biomedical technologies and innovative therapeutics through multi-disciplinary collaboration.

The 2015 winner of the RSE/Patrick Neill Medal is Dr Tiziana Lembo, University of Glasgow Research Fellow, Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine, University of Glasgow, for her outstanding research work in the field of Veterinary medicine and her breadth of expertise in this field and in data analysis, zoonotic disease and public and animal health in the developing world.


Physical, Engineering and Informatic Sciences Early Career Prize. The RSE/Sir Thomas Makdougall Brisbane Medal

Sir Thomas Makdougall Brisbane (1773 - 1860) was the fourth President of the RSE and held office for twenty-eight years, from 1832 to 1860.  He was a British soldier, colonial Governor and astronomer.  Born near Largs in Ayrshire, and educated in astronomy and mathematics at the University of Edinburgh, he joined the British Army and had a distinguished career in Flanders, the West Indies, Spain and North America.  He served under the Duke of Wellington and was promoted to Major General.  In 1821, on the recommendation of Wellington, Brisbane was appointed Governor of New South Wales, a post he held until 1825. While Governor he tackled the many problems of a rapidly growing and expanding colony. He worked to improve the land grants system and to reform the currency.

The 2016 winner of the RSE/Sir Thomas Makdougall Brisbane Medal is Dr Malcolm Macdonald, Reader of Space Technology, Department of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering, University of Strathclyde, for his outstanding research work in the development and application of space mission systems to challenge conventional ideas and advance new concepts in the exploration and exploitation of space.  Dr Macdonald is a member of the RSE Young Academy of Scotland.

The 2015 winner of the RSE/Sir Thomas Makdougall Brisbane Medal is Dr Stefan Hild, Reader in Experimental Physics, School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Glasgow, for his outstanding research work in physics and his international profile in this field.  Dr Hild is a member of the RSE Young Academy of Scotland.


Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences Early Career Prize. The RSE/Thomas Reid Medal

Thomas Reid (1710 - 1796) was a Scottish Philosopher who founded the Scottish School of Common Sense and played an integral role in the Scottish Enlightenment.  He was a contemporary of David Hume and was awarded a Professorship at King’s College, University of Aberdeen, and later the Professorship of Moral Philosophy at the University of Glasgow.

The 2016 winner of the RSE/Thomas Reid Medal is Dr Nasar Meer, Reader in Comparative Social Policy and Citizenship, Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences, University of Strathclyde, for his ground-breaking research work on Muslim identities, race equality and nationalism, in addition to his outstanding record in media and public engagement.

There was no 2015 winner of the RSE/Thomas Reid Medal.


Business, Public Service and Public Engagement Early Career Prize. The RSE/Henry Duncan Medal

The Reverend Henry Duncan (1774 – 1846) was the founder of the Trustee Savings Bank.  The son of a Church of Scotland Minister, he was born at Lochrutton, near Dumfries.   Henry Duncan studied at the University of St Andrews until, at the age of sixteen, his father sent him to Liverpool to study banking.  Three years later he abandoned the commercial world to study for the Ministry at the Universities of Glasgow and Edinburgh.  This highly educated man with a flair for business could have succeeded in any field he chose.  Instead, he devoted his life to helping the poorest in the land.  When he was ordained as Minister of Ruthwell Church in 1799, the Rev Henry Duncan immediately set about helping his starving parishioners. He brought flax for women to spin in their cottages and employed men to turn his 50 acre glebe into a model farm or to work on the roads.  He organised their food supply by reviving the languishing Friendly Society and importing grain through his brothers in Liverpool.  In 1800 he persuaded the Earl of Mansfield to donate a derelict cottage to the Friendly Society.  From this cottage he distributed food to the parishioners and it was in this cottage in 1810 that he was to launch the savings bank movement which spread to 109 organisations in 92 countries.

The 2016 winner of the RSE/Henry Duncan Medal is Mr Adam Purvis, Founder and Director, Power of Youth, Edinburgh, for his outstanding work in promoting entrepreneurship across the globe to build a better world through business.

The 2015 winner of the RSE/Henry Duncan Medal is Dr Martyn Pickersgill, Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellow in Biomedical Ethics, Centre for Population Health Sciences, University of Edinburgh, for his outstanding research work and leadership potential in medical sociology, science and technology studies and empirical bioethics and for his commitment to public engagement and the advancement of social sciences.  Dr Pickersgill is an Inaugural Member of the RSE Young Academy of Scotland.


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