13 Nov 2013

Auckland professors win top science prize

6:31 am on 13 November 2013

Two Auckland scientists have won New Zealand's top science prize despite being told their idea for transferring electricity without cables is crazy and impossible.

John Boys, left, and Grant Covic.

John Boys, left, and Grant Covic. Photo: SUPPLIED

The Prime Minister's Science Prizes, which recognise and reward scientific achievement, were presented at a ceremony in Wellington on Tuesday.

University of Auckland professors Grant Covic and John Boys won the top prize for their work in pioneering Inductive Power Transfer technology in the early 1990s.

The technology is now used worldwide, with 70% of cellphone chips and LCD screens manufactured on it.

The professors say the prize is validation of their work and is not only amazing for them, but also reiterates to other scientists that science is important in New Zealand.

They say the $500,000 prize will help them with their next vision - electric cars that recharge while being driven.

In other awards, Auckland microbiologist Siouxsie Wiles won the Science Media Communication Prize for her communication skills in science.

Manurewa High School's head of physics Fenella Colyer won the Science Teacher Prize.

The winner of the MacDiarmid Emerging Scientist Prize was Dr Ben O'Brien, a scientist who developed a small, soft, stretchy sensor that can measure movement of the human body to transmit the information to a smartphone app.

The Future Science Prize was awarded to 18-year-old Blenheim student Thomas Morgan for his study on levels of Vitamin D in oyster mushrooms.