Up-and-coming University of Otago chemical oceanographer
Dr Rob Middag has won an award for leading young scientists, in
A Dutch-born lecturer in the Otago chemistry department, Dr
Middag (30) has won the environmental science category of the
2014 Heineken Young Scientists Awards.
Every two years, members of the Royal Netherlands Academy of
Arts and Sciences select five young researchers who have
excelled in their disciplines.
Dr Middag's award reflected his research into trace metals in
the world's oceans, a university spokesman said.
The award includes 10,000 ($NZ16,000) and will be presented
to him in the Netherlands, in October.
Dr Middag gained his PhD in the Netherlands and joined the
Otago staff in late 2012.
He had been attracted to join the Otago department because of
its ''world class'' research, and felt ''very honoured'' to
receive the award.
And it provided ''great recognition'' of previous work and a
''tremendous stimulation to keep pursuing excellence in this
exciting field of science'', he said.
He is part of the Niwa-University of Otago joint research
centre for oceanography, which is based in the Otago
In late 2011, that centre won the $500,000 top award in the
Prime Minister's science prizes, for some of its cutting-edge
Mr Middag's field expeditions, including a recent voyage in
the Mediterranean Sea, had greatly increased the global body
of data on oceanic trace elements in just a few years, the
His research at the university was of global significance
because many trace elements were essential nutrients for
marine life, including in the growth of phytoplankton,
microscopic unicellular plants that form the basis of the
ocean food web.