High impact research awarded with Woodward medals

October 16 / 187

Each year the University of Melbourne honours two staff members whose research has made the most significant contribution to knowledge in the three years prior to the award, in a field of science and technology, and humanities and social sciences.

These awards, the Woodward Medals, are named for former University Chancellor Sir Edward Woodward and Lady Woodward.

Medallists for 2016 were announced recently, and will be awarded at a graduation ceremony later this year.

The 2016 Woodward Medal in Humanities and Social Sciences was awarded to Associate Professor Margaret Young, of the Melbourne Law School, for her book Trading Fish, Saving Fish: The Interaction between Regimes in International Law (Cambridge University Press, 2011). 

The book aims to reshape current theoretical and structural questions about international law while addressing urgent questions of environmental sustainability. 

To explore responses to the crisis in fisheries sustainability, it examines the interaction between multiple international law regimes, such as the World Trade Organisation, the Food and Agriculture Organisation, and the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. At the same time, it engages in sophisticated analysis of how different fields in the fragmented international legal order interact. The book has led to greater understanding of the fragmentation of international law into specialised regimes and shaped a future interdisciplinary research agenda addressing global problems that traverse such regimes. The book, original in concept, thorough in research and beautifully written, has been awarded the Junior Scholarship Prize of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). It has been widely cited, highly influential in terms of both scholarship and the practice of international law, and resulted in numerous invitations, including to deliver lectures at the Hague Academy of International Law in 2016. 

Associate Professor Stephen Leslie from the School of Mathematics and Statistics and the School of Biosciences, and a member of the Centre for Systems Genomics, was awarded the 2016 Woodward Medal in Science and Technology for his research into the fine-scale genetic structure of the British population.

Associate Professor Leslie is recognised for his study using newly developed statistical approaches to reveal at unprecedented levels of detail the subtle genetic differences between peoples from different regions of the British Isles. The study was reported in the journal Nature and marks the first such analysis of fine-scale genetic differences and their historical origins in a human population. 

The work provides new insights into the movement of people from Europe into the British Isles, and provides a methodology that is readily extended to analyses in other populations, with important consequences for our understanding of historical movements of human populations, as well as implications for the design of genetic studies into the stratification of disease prevalence in such populations.

More information on the Woodward Medals.

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