Prof Greg Cook at work in the University of Otago
microbiology department yesterday. Photo by Craig Baxter.
The recipient of the University of Otago's highest
distinction, the Distinguished Research Medal, is keen to share
the honour around.
''Obviously, I'm delighted, but my delight comes from that
fact that it's a reflection of all the hard work done at
Otago University by 50 postgraduate students over 15 years,''
department of microbiology and immunology Prof Greg Cook said
''That work has given us international recognition and
reflects both the quality of the postgraduates and the
quality of mentoring here.
''I've had great mentors, too. A little bit of the medal goes
to the late Sandy Smith, who mentored me.''
The medal reflected the work of colleagues, students and the
philosophy of the department, he said.
''It's an incredible collegial environment here.
"Science is a team effort and a collaborative environment. If
you don't have the support of colleagues, you're never going
to get there,'' Prof Cook (48) said.
''I'm very proud to be the first microbiology recipient of
"Internal gongs are hard to get, because you're judged
hardest by your colleagues. If you can get their recognition,
then you've really achieved something,'' he said.
''It's recognition that we're doing some really good stuff
here and that's a nice feeling.''
The medal is awarded annually for outstanding scholarly
achievement, or the development of concepts that lead to
University vice-chancellor Prof Harlene Hayne said Prof Cook
was an energetic researcher at the forefront of his
His work held great promise for tackling the growing threat
of widespread antibiotic resistance.
''In addition to his many scholarly accomplishments, he has
also proven to be a strong leader in this university's
research effort through nurturing the development of dozens
of postgraduate students,'' Prof Hayne said.
Prof Cook joined the Otago department of microbiology and
immunology in 1998 as a lecturer, after studying overseas,
and was made a full professor in 2009.
His pioneering work on micro-organisms able to survive in
extreme environments has earned him international
recognition. In 2011, his research on extremophile bacteria
survival in harsh conditions led to a bacterium found in
Utah's Great Salt Lake, Amphibacillus cookii, being
named in his honour.
He has collaborated with world-leading microbiologists and
bacterial geneticists and was appointed Otago School of
Medical Sciences associate dean of research last year.
Last year, he was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of New
Zealand and was awarded the Otago School of Medical Sciences
distinguished research award.
He will receive the medal at a public lecture in the Castle
lecture theatre on October 16.