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University of Otago Faculty of Law dean Prof Mark Henaghan, Prof Paul Trebilco, Dr Nick Mortimer, and Prof Richard McDowell have been named as fellows of the Royal Society of New Zealand.
The society also named 12 other fellows from elsewhere in the country, and an honorary fellow, in the latest annual announcement.
A society spokesman said Prof Henaghan was ''New Zealand's leading family law scholar'' and had had a ''major impact on the judicial system, legislative reform and legal practice'' in this country.
Prof Trebilco, of the department of theology and religion, had made original contributions in three main areas, including Jewish communities in Asia Minor; and early Christians in the city of Ephesus, modern-day Turkey.
Prof McDowell, of AgResearch, Invermay, and Lincoln University, was an international authority on the management of contaminant losses from agricultural land and their impact in freshwater, particularly phosphorus.
Dr Mortimer, of GNS Science, Dunedin, is a geologist who has played a key role in exploring, revealing and promoting the continent of Zealandia.
The foundation for this had been his multifaceted work on the older crystalline rocks of on-land New Zealand, including their relationships with Australia and the Antarctic.
The fellowships recognised ''international distinction in research and scholarship'', society organisers said.