Roger Slack Award

Roger Slack Award

The Roger Slack Award in Plant Biology is made annually by the Society to one of its members in recognition of an outstanding contribution to the study of plant biology. The first award was made in 2001, and was originally given the working title ‘The Outstanding Physiologist Award’.

In 2007 the award was renamed after Dr Roger Slack in recognition of his outstanding contribution as a plant biologist and biochemist in New Zealand, his role in the discovery of C4 photosynthesis (also known as the Hatch Slack Pathway), and his contribution as an early member of our society.  Roger was working with Marshall Hatch at the Colonial Sugar Refining Company in Brisbane when the pair provided the first description (Hatch and Slack 1966) of the photosynthetic pathway now known to operate in many tropical grasses, in which CO2 is first combined into 4-carbon acids before entering the 3-carbon PCR cycle.  In 1970 Roger was the recipient of the Goldacre Award from our sister society the Australian Society of Plant Scientists, an award that also recognises outstanding research by a society member, and later, together with Hal Hatch, the Charles F. Kettering Award of the American Society of Plant Physiologists and the Rank Prize for Nutrition. During the same year he joined the Plant Physiology Division of the DSIR where he soon began a collaborative study with Grattan Roughan, latterly of HortResearch, Mt Albert, and others, into the mechanisms of polyunsaturated fatty acid formation in plants, initially in leaves then also in oil seeds. This work established the key role of phosphatidyl choline in the endoplasmic reticulum in the formation of linolenic acid and largely explained how the characteristic acyl composition of the different plant lipids is determined. During the 1970’s Roger was a founding member of our society, as well as a member of the Biochemical Society.  He has also been elected Fellow of the Royal Society of London (one of only around 40 New Zealand scientists to receive this honour), and the Royal Society of New Zealand.  Roger retired from Crop and Food Research in the year 2000 and spent his retirement in Palmerston North. He passed away in October 2016.

  • Eligibility for the award alternates. Every third year, the award is open only to members who are within 10 years of completing their PhD. This is followed by two years when all members become eligible regardless of the time since their PhD. The change from an alternating 2 year cycle to an alternating 3 year cycle was agreed at the 2017 AGM, and 2019 will be open to members within 10 years of completing their PhD for the first time under the new cycle.
  • The award is made on the merit of original research in one area, the findings of which have been published, or accepted for publication, in the five years preceding the year of the Award.
  • Applications or nominations should be forwarded to the Secretary.  The Award is made after deliberation by the Society council, and consists of a medal, a certificate, a plenary address at the Society’s annual conference, financial support (if necessary) to attend the conference, and the opportunity to prepare a review manuscript for the journal Functional Plant Biology.  Further details are given below in the ‘rules of the award’.


2018 Professor Paula Jameson, cytokinin in seed and forage development

2017 Dr Kimberley Snowden, hormone receptors for strigalactones

2016 Dr Cate Macinnis-Ng, plant climate interactions

2015 Dr Andrew Allan, transcriptional regulation

2014 Dr Nick Albert, biosynthesis of flavonoid pigments

2013 Associate Professor Richard Macknight, genetic control of flowering time

2012 Dr David Chagné, fruit tree genomics

2011 Dr Kevin Davies, production and function of plant pigments

2009 Professor Matthew Turnbull, plant carbon and nitrogen physiology

2008 Dr Tina Summerfield, cyanobacterial physiology

2007 Associate Professor Kevin Gould, anthocyanin function in plants

2006 Dr Margaret Barbour, stable isotopes and plant carbon-water dynamics

2005 Dr Julian Eaton-Rye, photosynthesis in plant and cyanobacterial systems

2004 Dr Ralph Bungard, evolution and photosynthetic biology of parasitic plants

2003 Professor Peter Bannister, physiological ecology of New Zealand native plants

2002 Dr Andrew Allan, plant signal transduction and stress tolerance

2001 Dr Peter Minchin and Dr Michael Thorpe, the study of phloem transport using 11C as a tracer


The Award

1.1 The Award will be made on the merit of original research in one area, the findings of which have been published, or accepted for publication, in the five years preceding the year of the Award. More than one paper may be submitted, but these should clearly be related to one theme. The candidate need not be the sole author, but it should be evident that they have played a major role in both the design and execution of the work. Review papers are not considered.

1.2 The work presented shall be in any branch of Plant Biology. The Award shall not be made for work carried out under supervision while the applicant was a candidate for a research degree.

1.3 The work need not have been carried out in New Zealand.

1.4 The award will normally be made annually, with eligibility criteria for the Candidate alternating as spelt out in 2.2 below.

1.5 The Award will consist of a medal and certificate. The Awardee will be invited and funded by the Society to present their work in a lecture at the Society’s Annual Conference in the year of the Award, and to provide text for subsequent publication as a refereed contribution (usually a review article) to the journal Functional Plant Biology.

The Candidate

2.1 A person may apply for the Award or a nomination may be made on their behalf.

2.2 The eligibility criteria for the Award shall differ every third year, when only candidates who have been employed in science for no more than ten cumulative years since completion of their highest academic qualification are eligible. All members are eligible in the other years.

2.3 A candidate must be a current member of the Society and have had five years residence in New Zealand while working or studying towards a tertiary degree.

2.4 A joint application from, or nomination of, two or more persons, each fulfilling all requirements, will be considered; but see clause 1.2 above.

2.5 Candidates are not restricted as to the number of occasions on which they apply, or are nominated, for the Award.


3.1 Application for the Award will be made to the Secretary of the Society by the specified time, normally three months before the Annual Conference at which the Award is to be announced.

3.2 Each application shall include:

3.2.1 a citation limited to 100 words, for use should the candidate be successful;

3.2.2 a one page statement describing the merits of the applicant’s work;

3.2.3 four copies of each of the papers forming the basis of the application;

3.2.4 a brief CV, which justifies the candidate’s eligibility.

3.3 The Secretary of the Society shall maintain a register of the current year’s applications. Those assessing applications shall not be told whether they have originated as nominations or direct applications.

3.4 The Award will be made by the Society on the recommendation of its Council. The Council may appoint a sub-committee, which will normally include the President, to facilitate assessment of applications and shall co-opt expert assessors from New Zealand or overseas as required.

3.5 The Council reserves the right not to make an award in any particular year or to make exceptions to these regulations should the need arise.