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February 2017

RACI national awards: celebrating contributions in chemistry

2017 national awards

One of the most important roles of the RACI is recognition and promotion of the contributions and achievements of members. Applying or nominating others for an award is a significant way to be involved in the Institute, particularly in its centenary year. It’s an opportunity to reflect on and be recognised for contributions to and achievements in chemical science by colleagues and other RACI members, particularly in the centenary year. For early-career chemists, it’s the chance to be supported to travel for professional development. It’s an impressive addition to your resumé, too.

Read about this year’s national award winners on page 28 and find out more about the awards below. After that, apply or nominate someone for a 2017 award!


Applied Research Award

The Medal shall be awarded annually to a full member (MRACI and above) of the RACI who, in the opinion of the Board of the RACI, has contributed significantly towards the development of, or innovation through, applied research, or in industrial fields. This contribution shall be judged on evidence submitted to the adjudicating panel.



There are a considerable number of chemists – members of the RACI – who make substantial contributions to chemistry, and, especially to the progress of the profession over a period of many years. To provide recognition of these contributions, the RACI has initiated an award entitled The RACI Citation.


Cornforth Medal

The Board of the RACI awards the Cornforth Medal, a bronze relief medal bearing the words ‘For a Thesis on Chemical Research’ commemorating the work of Sir John Cornforth AC, CBE, FRS. The medal is designed to give recognition of outstanding achievement in chemistry and to promote chemical communication.


Distinguished Contribution to Economic Advancement – Weickhardt Medal

This Award shall be made every year to a full member (MRACI and above) of the RACI who, in the opinion of the judging committee, has contributed significantly towards the economic advancement of the Australian economy through work in the chemistry area. The Award shall consist of a medal, named the Weickhardt Medal.


Distinguished Fellowship

Inaugurated in 1996, a Distinguished Fellowship is the recognition of highly distinguished contributions to the profession in academia, government or industry and the RACI and is awarded on, or very close to, retirement from the candidate’s principal professional role. Distinguished Fellowships do not carry financial or postnominal implications. Rarely would there be more than three Distinguished Fellowships awarded per year.


Fensham Medal for Outstanding Contribution to Chemical Education

The RACI introduced the Fensham Medal for Outstanding Contribution to Chemical Education to recognise outstanding contributions to the teaching of chemistry and science in general over an extended period. It is intended that the Fensham Medal be the most senior award for education in the Institute.


H.G. Smith Memorial Award

The H.G. Smith Medal shall be awarded annually to a member of the RACI who, in the opinion of the RACI Board, has contributed most to the development of some branch of chemical science; this contribution will be judged by research work published or accepted for publication during the ten years, or equivalent relative to opportunity, immediately preceding the award.


Leighton Memorial Medal

The Leighton Memorial Medal commemorates the distinguished career of A.E. Leighton. The Award was established in 1965 through the generosity of his daughter, Miss Anne Leighton. It is the RACI’s most prestigious medal. A.E. Leighton CMG, FRIC, FRACI MIChemE, died in 1961 after a distinguished career as a chemist, technologist and administrator, in which he had served Australia’s interests in both war and peace.


Masson Memorial Award

This Award has been established as a memorial to the late Sir David Orme Masson, Founder of the RACI. The award is open to any financial member of the RACI or to any financial student of the RACI, who has attained the academic qualification of BSc or its equivalent, and who is eligible to proceed for a further year’s study of chemistry at BSc Honours level, at either a university or other approved institution in Australia.


MRACI Post Graduate Student Travel Bursary

The RACI has introduced the Graduate Student Travel Bursary to assist Post Graduate Student members of the Institute to travel professionally from their home institution.

2017 is the RACI centenary year and to emphasise the importance of our 100 years, the award will be modified.  For the 2017 Bursary criteria, check the RACI website


RACI Chemistry Educator of the Year Award

This award has been established by the RACI for academics whose primary activity is teaching in the chemistry discipline. The award is designed to encourage developing teachers, and is open to tutors, lecturers and senior lecturers (academic levels A, B and C) teaching in undergraduate or postgraduate university courses.


Rennie Memorial Medal

This medal is awarded by the RACI for excellence in research in Chemical Science.


How and where to nominate

You can apply for some of these awards yourself; others require nomination.

See or email for more information about the requirements for nominations for each award. All national awards except the Post Graduate Student Travel Bursary (closing date 30 April) close on 31 August. Winners are notified by 30 September. Visit for Division-based awards, and Branch websites (listed at for Branch awards.

Award names: remembering distinguished chemists

Professor David Orme Masson, standing in the chemistry theatre at the University of Melbourne. Professor Masson was Professor of Chemistry and founder of the Melbourne University Chemical Society and its first President, 1904–24. (Colin Sach collection; photo by Kricheldorf, 1913)

Many RACI awards and medals have been named after distinguished Australian chemists, including founding member of the Institute Sir David Orme Masson (pictured). Find out more about their contributions to chemistry in the Encyclopedia of Australian Science ( and in the biographical memoirs of the Australian Academy of Science (

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