General news

Prof Eason, Thomson Medal acceptance speech.
12 October 2017

Thomson Medal latest accolade in string of successes for Cawthron Institute

Cawthron Institute Chief Executive Professor Charles Eason CRSNZ has been awarded the Thomson Medal by the Royal Society Te Apārangi. The Thomson Medal is awarded for outstanding contributions to the organisation, support, and application of science or technology in New Zealand and was awarded to Professor Eason for outstanding leadership in his research career and for his achievements as head of the Cawthron Institute.

Professor Eason has been in leadership roles at the Cawthron Institute since 2003, first as a board director, and then as Chief Executive and Research Director from 2012, leading more than 200 scientists. 

Under his leadership as Chief Executive, new funding has been secured and new buildings and laboratories built, including the world’s largest mussel hatchery, funded by Sanford Ltd, which opened in the Cawthron Aquaculture Park in 2015. These new facilities are allowing Cawthron to build on its expertise in aquaculture breeding, seafood safety, nutraceuticals, and coastal and freshwater ecology.

Dr Lincoln MacKenzie, Nelson Mayor Rachel Reese and Prof Charles Eason at the EnviroTech Wing opening ceremony

The medal selection committee said Professor Eason’s ability to link scientific innovation with commercial experience has had a global impact in the areas of chemical toxicity, pest control, food safety, aquaculture, drug development and environmental protection. As a leader at Cawthron, they noted his skill in developing and consolidating staff capabilities, infrastructure and financial viability.

Professor Eason says he very much appreciated receiving the Thomson Medal and was grateful to the Cawthron Board for its decision to have a practising and publishing scientist as Chief Executive. He is also grateful for the science leadership mentoring he has received.

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Professor Eason’s award is the latest accolade in a string of successes for the Cawthron Institute’s researchers this year.

In addition to Professor Eason’s achievement, Cawthron’s Dr Lesley Rhodes has received two awards this year, firstly being named as a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (CNZOM) and secondly being awarded the inaugural MPI Food Safety Award in July.

Dr Tim Harwood received the “Future Development Award” at the Seafood Industry Conference in Wellington in August following a nomination by Cathy Webb from Seafood NZ. This award recognised Cawthron’s position at the forefront of marine science and, in particular, its development and implementation of analytical methods for the detection of paralytic shellfish toxins.

Dr Zoë Hilton was also the recipient of the Sam Wilson Trophy Award (Cultured Shellfish/Pacific oysters) presented to the woman who has made the biggest contribution to the oyster industry in the past year.

“I am inspired by the down-to-earth researchers we have at the Cawthron Institute who get stuck in and get stuff done,” says Professor Eason. “Our people have a real vivacity and the ability to link fundamental research through to real-world outcomes. I am proud to work with them to achieve results that make a real difference for New Zealand.”