Early Career Prizes

Funding area: Prizes & Medals

Early Career Prize-winners will receive a medal which will be presented on the occasion of the lecture delivered by the Senior Prize-winner. The early career prize-winner will normally be resident in Scotland. In academia an “early career researcher” is defined as “a researcher with a minimum of two years postdoctoral work experience and no more than ten years postdoctoral work experience” (ie research fellows to lecturers in their first academic posts are eligible). For those not based in academia “early career” is defined as “individuals who have demonstrated outstanding ability in their work and professional practice within thirteen years of graduation.”

Early Career Prizes are available in Life Sciences; Physical, Engineering and Informatic Sciences; Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences; Business, Public Service and Public Engagement.

Nomination and Guidance Forms will be available here in early December 2017.

Fund deadline

January 12, 2018 5:00 pm

Available Prizes


Dr Patrick Neill (1776 – 1851) was a distinguished Scottish Naturalist and Fellow of the RSE. He was born in Edinburgh and spent his life in the city. He became the head of the large printing firm of Neill & Co but early in his career he devoted his spare time to natural history, especially botany and horticulture. Dr Neill was the first secretary of the Wernerian Natural History Society and the Caledonian Horticultural Society, holding the latter post for forty years. His “Tour through Orkney and Shetland,” appeared in 1806, a work which gave rise to much discussion, owing to its exposure of the then prevalent misery. He was also the author of the article “Gardening” in the seventh edition of the “Encyclopædia Britannica,” which, subsequently published under the title of “The Flower, Fruit, and Kitchen Garden,” and ran through several editions. Edinburgh is indebted to Neill for the scheme of the West Princes Street gardens. In 1820 that portion of the north loch was drained, and five acres of ground were laid out and planted with seventy-seven thousand trees and shrubs under his direction; it was also due to his public spirit that several antiquities were preserved when on the point of being demolished. In 1851 Dr Neill left a charitable bequest to the RSE and he is botanically commemorated by the rosaceous genus Neillia.

2017
Dr James Chalmers, Discovery Fellow and Honorary Consultant Physician, Division of Molecular and Clinical Medicine, University of Dundee, was awarded the RSE/Patrick Neill Medal for his outstanding research work on respiratory infections and his expertise in bronchiectasis.

2016
Dr Asier Unciti-Broceta, PI/Group Leader, Cancer Research UK Edinburgh Centre, MRC Institute of Genetics & Molecular Medicine, University of Edinburgh, was awarded the RSE/Patrick Neill Medal for his outstanding research work in biomedical technologies and innovative therapeutics through multi-disciplinary collaboration.

2015
Dr Tiziana Lembo, University of Glasgow Research Fellow, Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine, University of Glasgow, was awarded the RSE/Patrick Neill Medal for her outstanding research work in the field of Veterinary medicine and her breadth of expertise in this field and in data analysis, zoonotic disease and public and animal health in the developing world.


Sir Thomas Makdougall Brisbane (1773 – 1860) was the fourth President of the RSE and held office for twenty-eight years, from 1832 to 1860. He was a British soldier, colonial Governor and astronomer. Born near Largs in Ayrshire, and educated in astronomy and mathematics at the University of Edinburgh, he joined the British Army and had a distinguished career in Flanders, the West Indies, Spain and North America. He served under the Duke of Wellington and was promoted to Major General. In 1821, on the recommendation of Wellington, Brisbane was appointed Governor of New South Wales, a post he held until 1825. While Governor he tackled the many problems of a rapidly growing and expanding colony. He worked to improve the land grants system and to reform the currency.

2017
Dr Stephen Brusatte, Chancellor’s Fellow in Vertebrate Palaeontology, School of Geosciences, University of Edinburgh, was awarded the RSE/Sir Thomas Makdougall Brisbane Medal for his outstanding research work in the field of palaeontology and particularly his work on preserving Scotland’s fossil heritage and the impact that is having through his huge public engagement portfolio.

2016
Dr Malcolm Macdonald, Reader of Space Technology, Department of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering, University of Strathclyde, was awarded the RSE/Sir Thomas Makdougall Brisbane Medal for his outstanding research work in the development and application of space mission systems to challenge conventional ideas and advance new concepts in the exploration and exploitation of space. Dr Macdonald is a member of the RSE Young Academy of Scotland.

2015
Dr Stefan Hild, Reader in Experimental Physics, School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Glasgow, was awarded the RSE/Sir Thomas Makdougall Brisbane Medal for his outstanding research work in physics and his international profile in this field. Dr Hild is a member of the RSE Young Academy of Scotland.


Thomas Reid (1710 – 1796) was a Scottish Philosopher who founded the Scottish School of Common Sense and played an integral role in the Scottish Enlightenment. He was a contemporary of David Hume and was awarded a Professorship at King’s College, University of Aberdeen, and later the Professorship of Moral Philosophy at the University of Glasgow.

2017
Dr Mirko Canevaro, Chancellor’s Fellow in Classics, School of History, Classics & Archaeology, University of Edinburgh, was awarded the RSE/Thomas Reid Medal for his outstanding research work on ancient Greek politics and law.

2016
Dr Nasar Meer, Reader in Comparative Social Policy and Citizenship, Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences, University of Strathclyde, was awarded the RSE/Thomas Reid Medal for his ground-breaking research work on Muslim identities, race equality and nationalism, in addition to his outstanding record in media and public engagement.

2015
No RSE/Thomas Reid Medal was awarded this year.


The Reverend Henry Duncan (1774 – 1846) was the founder of the Trustee Savings Bank. The son of a Church of Scotland Minister, he was born at Lochrutton, near Dumfries. Henry Duncan studied at the University of St Andrews until, at the age of sixteen, his father sent him to Liverpool to study banking. Three years later he abandoned the commercial world to study for the Ministry at the Universities of Glasgow and Edinburgh. This highly educated man with a flair for business could have succeeded in any field he chose. Instead, he devoted his life to helping the poorest in the land. When he was ordained as Minister of Ruthwell Church in 1799, the Rev Henry Duncan immediately set about helping his starving parishioners. He brought flax for women to spin in their cottages and employed men to turn his 50 acre glebe into a model farm or to work on the roads. He organised their food supply by reviving the languishing Friendly Society and importing grain through his brothers in Liverpool. In 1800 he persuaded the Earl of Mansfield to donate a derelict cottage to the Friendly Society. From this cottage he distributed food to the parishioners and it was in this cottage in 1810 that he was to launch the savings bank movement which spread to 109 organisations in 92 countries.

2017
Mr Mike Welch OBE, CEO and Founder of Blackcircles.com, Peebles, was awarded the RSE/Henry Duncan Medal for his outstanding business leadership. He took his start-up company to sales of over £60m and has since sold his company to Michelin in a deal estimated to be worth £100m.

2016
Mr Adam Purvis, Founder and Director, Power of Youth, Edinburgh, was awarded the RSE/Henry Duncan Medal for his outstanding work in promoting entrepreneurship across the globe to build a better world through business.

2015
Dr Martyn Pickersgill, Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellow in Biomedical Ethics, Centre for Population Health Sciences, University of Edinburgh, was awarded the RSE/Henry Duncan Medal for his outstanding research work and leadership potential in medical sociology, science and technology studies and empirical bioethics and for his commitment to public engagement and the advancement of social sciences. Dr Pickersgill is an Inaugural Member of the RSE Young Academy of Scotland.


The Cormack Postgraduate Prize is awarded annually to recognise and reward the most outstanding postgraduate student contribution to astronomical research in Scotland.

The Prize of £200 will be awarded for the best astronomical research, accepted for publication with the nominated student the prime author of the paper.

Nominations should comprise a copy of the paper and a formal statement from his/her supervisor providing (in the case of multi-author papers) an indication of the student’s contribution and a brief statement of the relevance of the paper in its specialist context, but not a letter of praise for the paper.

Please note that only one paper may be nominated for any one student, though there is no limit on the number of students nominated per institution. No student may be awarded the Prize on more than one occasion. Most of the research involved must normally have been carried out while the nominee was still a postgraduate student and the paper submitted no later than one year after award of the PhD. The research must have been carried out at a Scottish University.

Nominations for the 2017/18 Prize are currently closed. The prize-winner will be decided when the Cormack Bequest Committee meet in April 2017.