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Te Tari Moromoroiti me te Ārai Mate

Student awards


The Department of Microbiology and Immunology offers several awards each year for students who excel in their study or research.

The Margaret di Menna Prize for the Research Paper of the Year by a Postgraduate Student

The Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Otago has a strong history or research and teaching. One way that we recognize postgraduate achievement is with an annual award to an MSc or PhD student who publishes the best research paper. 

The prize is named in honour of the late Margaret di Menna, in recognition of her research contribution and in particular her authorship of the first PhD by a woman at the University and, we believe, the first PhD on a microbiological theme. A copy of the thesis is on display within our Department foyer. The prize is judged by the Departmental Research Committee and has a value of $500.

2016 winner

Md Sainur Samad (PhD, Morales Lab)

Paper: Phylogenetic and functional potential links pH and N2O emissions in pasture soils. Md Sainur Samad, Ambarish Biswas, Lars R. Bakken, Timothy J. Clough, Cecile A. M. de Klein, Karl G. Richards, Gary J. Lanigan and Sergio E. Morales. Scientific Reports, 2016

Download the paper

2015 winner

This year, two papers were judged to be equal in their significance, with each of the lead authors receiving $250 of prize money.

Ron Dy (PhD, Fineran Lab)

Paper: A widespread bacteriophage abortive infection system functions through a Type IV toxin–antitoxin mechanism. Ron L. Dy, Rita Przybilski, Koen Semeijn, George P.C. Salmond and Peter C. Fineran (2014). Nucleic Acids Research, 2014, Vol. 42, No. 7

Download the paper

Chris Greening (PhD, Cook Lab)

Paper: Greening C, Berney M, Hards K, Cook GM*, Conrad R* (2014). A soil actinobacterium scavenges atmospheric H2 using two oxygen-dependent, membrane-associated [NiFe]-hydrogenases. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 111, 4257-4261.

Download the paper

The Margaret and John Loutit Prize for the Top-Ranked BSc student

This prize commemorates Margaret and John Loutit who began their association with the Department in 1955 – an association that continued for 35 years. Margaret was appointed to a full time lectureship in 1967. During their time in the Department both Margaret and John contributed greatly to the teaching, administration and research within the Department and within the wider University and Otago Polytechnic communities. John’s research involved genetics of Pseudomonads and he published the first report regarding genetic recombination in this genus. Margaret’s research involved microbial communities in soil and water and the role of bacteria in the passage of heavy metals through the food chain. A passionate teacher, Margaret was also highly regarded for her care and concern for the students.

The prize is awarded annually by the University Council on the recommendation of the Head of Department, Microbiology and Immunology to the student who completes a BSc (Bachelor of Science) in the year the prize is awarded and who obtains the best marks across four 300-level MICR papers (MICR360 excluded). This prize has a value of $500.

2016 winner

Aidan Fraser and Charles Wilson (joint recipients)

2015 winner

Nichaela Harbison-Price

The John Miles Prize for the Top-Ranked BSc(Hons) Student

This prize commemorate Professor John Miles, who was responsible for the establishment of the Microbiology Department at the University in 1955. He was affectionately known as the father of Microbiology for his work at the university, as president of the Royal Society, as a member of the Medical Research council and as a World Health Organisation expert committee on arthropod borne diseases. He headed the Department for 23 years, and in that time oversaw the design and construction of the building that houses the Department today. His primary research interest was viruses and arthropod-borne diseases such as Dengue fever and Ross River virus, which required him to travel extensively in particular in the Pacific but also to Europe, South America, the Antarctic and behind the iron curtail in Russia. He was awarded a CBE in 1971 in recognition of his work.

The prize is awarded annually by the University Council on the recommendation of the Head of Department, Microbiology and Immunology to the top ranked BSc(Hons) (Bachelor of Science with Honours) student in Microbiology - MICR490 (50% weighting) plus three other 400-level papers. The prize will be awarded for the first time in 2015. This prize has a value of $500.

2016 winner

Nichaela Harbison-Price

2015 winner

Brin Ryder

The Sandy Smith Microbiology Prize for the Top-Ranked Microbiology BMLSc student

This prize commemorates Professor John MB (Sandy) Smith, a long-serving member of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology. Sandy graduated from the University of Otago with a PhD in Microbiology in 1964. In 1967, he was appointed Senior Lecturer and he remained a member the Department until his death in 2007. Sandy made a significant contribution in the fields of mycology and antibiotic therapy research gaining several prestigious awards for his scientific contributions, including The Silver Science and Technology medal. Sandy is remembered for his iconic teaching style and significant contribution to the teaching of infectious diseases in Medicine. He was instrumental in the formation of the Bachelor of Medical Laboratory Science degree and continued to teach in the course until his death. Sandy is particularly remembered for his ability to nurture students and irrepressible sense of humour.

The prize is awarded annually by the Board of Studies for Medical Laboratory Science to the overall top ranked student in second and third year Microbiology papers (MELS 221, MELS 222 and MELS 306) and who is completing the Bachelor of Medical Laboratory Science degree. The prize will be awarded for the first time in 2015.