Woodward medals celebrate outstanding research

January 12 / 78

By Silvia Dropulich

An Australian Laureate Fellow working in the areas of climate change adaptation and pest control, an ARC Federation Fellow recognised as a world-leading investigator in the field of fluid dynamics, and a senior lecturer in Spanish have won the University’s prestigious Woodward Medal.

The University of Melbourne’s 2011 Woodward Medal in Science and Technology and the 2011 Woodward Medal in Humanities and Social Sciences were announced late last year.
The Woodward Medals, presented each year by the University, recognise staff for research considered to have made the most significant contribution in their field during the previous three years.
Professor Ary Hoffmann, from the Departments of Genetics and Zoology, and Professor Ivan Marusic from the Department of Mechanical Engineering, have been awarded the 2011 Woodward Medal in Science and Technology.

Dr Vicente Pérez de León from the Department of Spanish at the School of Languages and Linguistics was awarded the 2011 Woodward Medal in Humanities and Social Sciences.

The text that Dr Pérez de León submitted in support of his application was Cervantes y el cuarto misterio (Cervantes and the Fourth Mystery) (Alcalá de Henares, 2010). In this book Dr Pérez de León establishes a direct connection between Renaissance sacred art style trompe l’oeils and Cervantes’ narrative. In both cases of artistic representations, he believes that there is a natural and collective sense of self-awareness in arte receptors, which can be oriented to create a deep transcendental self-transformation. This book, one of the few generical critical studies of all of Cervantes’ narrative, combines a rich multidisciplinary approach in order to present a unifying concept for the understanding of Cervantes' artistic principles in our times.
“The book connects science both in the Renaissance and in the 21st century,” Dr Pérez de León said.

“It is the most challenging, complex and extensive critical work I’ve written in my career.

“I am honoured to have received the Woodward Medal, which recognises my research work, and will also have a positive effect on the School of Languages and Linguistics.”
Professor Ivan Marusic was awarded the 2011 Woodward Medal in Science and Technology for his contribution to knowledge about turbulence, which has been published in the prestigious journal Science. He said it was an honour to receive the medal.
“The recognition is greatly appreciated, both for my group and the engineering sciences, which have a strong tradition in Australia,”  Professor Marusic said.
Professor Ary Hoffmann was also awarded the 2011 Woodward Medal in Science and Technology for his contributions to the renowned journals Science and Functional Ecology.  Professor Hoffman said he was delighted to be awarded the medal.
“The work in Science paints a clear picture about fundamental genetic limits to expected evolutionary responses imposed by genetics,” Professor Hoffmann explained.
“The work has already been well cited and has triggered widespread interest from researchers keen to establish whether there are genetic limits in a range of other organisms including corals and lizards.”
The work in Functional Ecology showed that widespread species can lack adaptive potential for some traits, including adaptation to high temperature, critical for dealing with future climate change.

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