The 2023 Royal Australian Chemical Institute (RACI) national awards include three UNSW Sydney recipients: Dr Lauren Macreadie is a joint winner of the Rennie Memorial Medal, Emeritus Professor Bryn Hibbert AM has received the Leighton Memorial Medal and alumna Dr Diana Zhang, the Postgraduate Student Travel Award.

The RACI national awards recognise exceptional individuals who have “reshaped the world of chemistry with their ground-breaking contributions, dedication and innovation”.

UNSW Dean of Science Professor Sven Rogge said he was excited for the recipients of these distinguished awards.

“I congratulate these exceptional UNSW chemists across all career stages who have been recognised by the RACI this year. It is validation of their outstanding and important work and their contribution to the UNSW Science community.”

Rennie Memorial Medal

Dr Macreadie has been named a joint winner of the prestigious Rennie Memorial Medal which recognises a chemist who has had an impact in less than eight years of experience post PhD. She is a UNSW Scientia Fellow and an Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Early Career Researcher (DECRA) Fellow.

Lauren Macreadie

Dr Lauren Macreadie.

The Rennie Memorial Medal is regarded by many as the premier award offered annually by RACI to an early career researcher. Previous UNSW winners include Emeritus Professor David Black, Associate Professor Neeraj Sharma and Emeritus Professor Margaret Harding, former UNSW Pro Vice-Chancellor Research.

Dr Macreadie investigates how porous materials can be used to solve our key energy questions around hydrogen storage, transport and generation.

Leighton Memorial Award

Brynn Hibbert

Emeritus Professor Brynn Hibbert. Photo: UNSW.

Prof. Hibbert has been awarded the 2023 Leighton Memorial Medal, which recognises eminent services to chemistry in Australia. He is a retired analytical chemist and Honorary Dean of Emeriti at UNSW. He is the past president of the Royal Society of NSW and, in 2018, he became a member of the Order of Australia (AM) for “significant service to science in the discipline of chemistry, to professional societies and to sport through illicit drug profiling”.

Prof. Hibbert’s research focuses on measuring the chemical world, including contributions to naming new elements and the International System of Units through his involvement with the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC). He has been recognised for his work as ‘high impact’ on society by ARC’s Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) assessment 2019.

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From 1987 until his retirement in 2013, Prof. Hibbert occupied the Chair of Analytical Chemistry at UNSW. For the past 14 years, he has dedicated his time to editing the 2023 edition of the IUPAC Orange Book.

Postgraduate Student Travel Award

Dr Zhang has received the 2023 RACI Postgraduate Student Travel Award. She is a 2023 NSW Young Woman of the Year Finalist, an award-winning scholar, STEM ambassador and professional musician. She recently completed her PhD at UNSW, was a UNSW Scientia PhD scholar and visited Boston University as a Fulbright Scholar in 2021.

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Diana Zhang

Alumna Dr Diana Zhang.

“I feel very privileged to have received the RACI Postgraduate Student Travel Award. This award will enable me the opportunity to present my PhD and Fulbright research to the international chemistry community on the use of AI and chemical analysis to detect early signs of Parkinson's disease,” Dr Zhang said.

“As a STEM ambassador and a Board Director of Science & Technology Australia, I've been a strong advocate for promoting women in STEM and increasing support for postgraduate students. As a recipient of the RACI Postgraduate Student Travel Award, I look forward to continuing my outreach activities with RACI-affiliated schools.”