2022 UC Medallists:

Inspiring Stories of Excellence

One of the ways we celebrate the amazing mahi happening across the University is through the UC Medals, which are awarded by the UC Council to recognise sustained excellence in the categories of research, teaching and innovation.

In 2022, there were two winners of the UC Research Medal, one winner of the UC Teaching Medal and two UC Innovation Medal winners. All five received their medals at Pō Whakamānawa, a ceremony celebrating excellence, on 2 November.

Congratulations to our winners. You inspire your students, your colleagues, and your communities with your expertise, dedication, and passion for your work. Thank you!

2022 UC Research Medals

Professor Elissa Cameron, School of Biological Sciences

Professor Elissa Cameron is an international expert in mammal behaviour with research that spans meerkats and giraffes in South Africa, Tasmanian devils in Australia and Kaimanawa wild horses in New Zealand.

She was Director of the Mammal Research Institute at the University of Pretoria in South Africa from 2006 until 2010 and also worked at the University of Tasmania, in Australia for five years. She was part of the Tasmanian Devil Programme Steering Group from 2012 to 2018 and serves on several international committees including being co-chair of the International Union for Conservation of Nature Species Survival Commission Giraffe and Okapi Specialist Group, a globally significant role.

Professor Cameron has combined world-leading research with real-world impacts for the conservation of threatened species, and she is currently contributing to a Species Survival Plan for giraffe and okapi.

She has written over 100 scholarly publications, mentored junior researchers and postgraduate students, and been a strong advocate for diversity and equity in science.

Read more here

Professor Misko Cubrinovski, Department of Civil and Natural Resources Engineering

Professor Misko Cubrinovski is known internationally for his research and his extraordinary community impact in earthquake geotechnical engineering. His career has already spanned nearly 40 years across Europe, Japan, and Aotearoa New Zealand.

Professor Cubrinovski currently serves as the chair of the Technical Committee on Earthquake Geotechnical Engineering and his research expertise following the 2010-2011 Canterbury earthquakes has had a profound impact on the lives of everyday New Zealanders.

He received the highest award from the New Zealand Geotechnical Society in 2018 in recognition of the national contribution of his research.

Professor Cubrinovski led national and international activities related to earthquake-induced liquefaction in the Canterbury region, and in Wellington following the 2016 Kaikōura earthquake.

He has been described by his colleagues as a rare individual whose research activities have had worldwide impact, both technically and through his leadership in encouraging international collaboration.

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2022 UC Teaching Medal

Associate Professor Heather Purdie, School of Earth and Environment

Associate Professor Heather Purdie is a field-based physical geographer and glaciologist whose teaching is consistently rated highly by students for her innovative experiential approach to learning, as well as her empathy and adaptability.

She has been acknowledged nationally with an Ako Aotearoa Teaching Excellence Award and a New Zealand Geographical Society Presidents Teaching Award, and is recognised internationally as a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. Associate Professor Purdie’s teaching integrates te reo Māori and mātauranga Māori into learning and includes kaupapa Māori in learning outcomes and assessment tasks.   

Associate Professor Purdie’s teaching philosophy centres on ‘bringing the outside in’ as she strives to connect students to the environment. She believes Geography is about relationships between te tāngata me te whenua (people and land) and aims to ignite this connection for students, while also helping students to develop their bicultural competence and confidence, social skills and analytical capabilities.

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2022 UC Innovation Medal

Professor Ann Brower, School of Earth and Environment

Internationally renowned for her research, teaching and activism in environmental decision making and resource management, Professor Brower’s work has been the primary catalyst behind changes in legislation, leading to a positive outcome for land biodiversity in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Her passion for problem-solving and the environment led her to spend over 15 years investigating New Zealand’s land tenure review process and the sale of South Island High Country land, and eventually resulted in the 2022 Crown Pastoral Land Reform Act. This Act will help protect 1.2 million hectares of High Country land, about 5% of the country’s landmass.

Professor Brower, who studied at Yale and came to New Zealand as a Fulbright Scholar, has a proven record of research and teaching that spans social equity, conservation, politics, and engineering. She has also consistently ensured that her research findings are widely disseminated and acted upon.

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Te Kāhui-a-Te-Rū-Rangahau research team, School of Teacher Education

Te Kāhui-a-Te-Rū-Rangahau is a research team made up of Professor Angus Hikairo Macfarlane (Ngāti Rangiwewehi, Ngāti Whakaue), Dr Matiu Tai Rātima (Te Whakatōhea, Ngāti Pūkeko), Dr Te Hurinui Karaka-Clarke (Te Arawa, Ngāi Tahu), and Jennifer Smith (Ngāti Whātua, Ngāpuhi).

The medal recognises the significant impact this group has had on Aotearoa New Zealand through the creation of a research-based series of guides that provide accessible, practical and flexible strategies to help kaiako (teachers) become more culturally responsive.

The research-based series of books encourage teachers to rethink their relationships with students and whānau, to place manaakitanga at the centre of the learning environment, and to balance caring with assertiveness.

The guides have sold more than 5000 copies in print and eBook, but the true measure of their success lies in how they have led to improvements in teaching, and in learning for young Māori students.  

  • Thank you to kaiako and ākonga from Ilam School, the University of Canterbury Te Kaupeka Oranga/Faculty of Health ākonga, and Pūkenga Tracy Clelland for the footage used in this video.


Read more here

Celebrating more excellence

New Emeritus Professors were:

Emeritus Professors Rob Hughes, Phil Bones, Maan Alkaisi, Dave Kelly, Keith Alexander, David Norton and Alison Downard.

Professor Emeritus/Emerita is an honorary title presented to a person in recognition of academic service to the University. The title is awarded by the UC Council and endures for the life of the recipient.