A University of Victoria student whose research could result in a cheap, effective way of removing toxic pollutants from vehicle emissions is the 2009 MacDiarmid Young Scientist of the Year.
The annual awards are named after the late Professor Alan MacDiarmid, the New Zealand-born, Nobel Prize-winning scientist.
John Watt's studies involve the growth of small nanoparticles of a precious metal called palladium which removes toxic gases from a car's exhaust system.
Foundation chief executive Murray Bain says the 27-year-old PhD student's research is receiving global recognition from the scientific community.
The Minister of Research, Science and Technology, Wayne Mapp, presented the award at a function in Auckland on Thursday night.
Amy Whitehead from the University of Canterbury is the runner-up, for her research on conservation strategies to help save the threatened native whio, or blue duck.