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The recipients, selected for "outstanding research achievement" are immunologist Dr Sarah Young, physiologist Dr Rebecca Campbell, and historian Dr Angela Wanhalla, all of Dunedin, as well as rheumatologist Dr Lisa Stamp, of Otago's Christchurch campus.
Prof Harlene Hayne, the university deputy vice-chancellor, research and enterprise, announced the awards on Wednesday.
Dr Young, who is a senior research fellow in the microbiology and immunology department, was "really delighted" to receive the award.
The recipients also receive $5000 each to support their research and scholarly development.
She gained an Otago PhD in 2000 and plans to use her $5000 to attend the World Congress of Immunology in Japan next August.
"The university really tries hard to support young staff," she added.
Last year Dr Young was also awarded the Health Research Council's prestigious Sir Charles Hercus Fellowship.
Her research focuses on the use of virus-like particles as vaccines and therapies against cancer.
In recent years, she has gained more than $5 million in research grants.
Born near Los Angeles, in the United States, Dr Campbell has been an active researcher in the Otago physiology department since completing a PhD at Oregon Health Sciences University in 2002.
This year, all four of the Otago early career award winners were women and this showed how supportive the university was to women in research, Dr Campbell said.
Last year she also received the Otago School of Medical Sciences Emerging Researcher Award, and in April this year she was appointed as a lecturer in physiology.
Her research into the neural regulation of the brain cells that are critical for driving fertility had fundamentally changed the way the neuroendocrine field viewed the central regulation of reproductive function, university officials said.
Her research had resulted in several articles in leading journals, including Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and she had helped build strong research collaborations within Otago's interdepartmental Centre for Neuroendocrinology, and overseas.
Dr Wanhalla was last year also awarded Otago University's Rowheath Trust and Carl Smith Medal for research excellence.
Of Ngai Tahu descent, she grew up in the small Canterbury town of Rolleston.
She was appointed as a history lecturer at Otago in 2005 and has published widely in international journals on comparative Aboriginal history.
After completing her PhD in history at Canterbury University in 2004, she held a Canada Research Chair as Post-doctoral Fellow in Native-Newcomer Relations at the University of Saskatchewan, where she developed an interest in comparative approaches to Aboriginal and colonial history.
Dr Stamp is a senior lecturer at Otago University's Christchurch campus, where she teaches undergraduate medical students and is a consultant rheumatologist at Christchurch Hospital.
After completing undergraduate medical studies at Otago, she undertook advanced training in rheumatology, and also gained a PhD from the University of Adelaide.
Her research interests have included the individualisation of drug treatments in rheumatic conditions (mainly gout and rheumatoid arthritis) and the role of interleukin-17 and other pro-inflammatory mediators in rheumatoid arthritis.