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Dr Bridget Stocker wins Easterfield Medal - in recognition of significant research by an emerging chemist

17 November 2011, Our People

Being awarded the Royal Society of Chemistry Easterfield Medal at the 2011 New Zealand Research Honours Dinner is a fitting end to what has been an incredible year for Dr Bridget Stocker.

Dr Stocker currently leads the Immunoglycomics research team at the Malaghan Institute, and has an adjunct position with Victoria University of Wellington. She has presented her scientific research at numerous international conferences and to community groups, has published more than 30 peer-reviewed articles, and has featured on Radio New Zealand National on several occasions.

Earlier this year Dr Stocker was invited to present a public seminar as part of the 2011 Royal Society of New Zealand Marie Curie Lecture series. She also appeared on the cover of a special issue of the international European Journal of Organic Chemistry dedicated to leading international 'Women in Chemistry' and was the recent recipient of the 2011 Royal Society of New Zealand Manhire Prize for Creative Science Writing.

The Easterfield Medal is given in honour of the late Sir Thomas Hill Easterfield, who was well known for his contribution in the field of chemistry. The medal recognises quality and original chemistry research undertaken in New Zealand by individuals within 10 years of their formal training.

"I am very honoured to receive this award," says Dr Stocker. "It isn't easy establishing a research career in New Zealand, constantly being at the mercy of limited funding, and it is nice that the award recognises this."

Dr Stocker was the top graduating Victoria University of Wellington BSc(Hons) student in 2000, and continued on at the University for her PhD, focusing on the total synthesis of several anticancer agents. Following a brief period as a lecturer, Dr Stocker was awarded a FRST Bright Futures Post-Doctoral Fellowship in 2004 and spent two years at the prestigious Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich, where she completed the first total syntheses of several complex mycobacterial glycans. In 2006, Dr Stocker returned to New Zealand and established an Immunoglycomics research programme at the Malaghan Institute in collaboration with partner Dr Mattie Timmer, a Senior Lecturer from Victoria University's School of Chemical and Physical Sciences.

"I am really proud of the work that we are doing here in Wellington and what we have achieved over the past few years," she says. "It has been challenging at times, but the highs definitely outweigh the lows."

Dr Stocker specialises in synthetic chemistry, with a particular interest in understanding the role of carbohydrates in immune responses. In addition to an impressive publication record, Dr Stocker has patented a novel 'protecting-group-free' strategy that her research group uses to synthesise novel glycolipids for the treatment of diseases such as cancer, asthma and tuberculosis.

"2011 has been a really intense year for me and my research team," says Dr Stocker. "We have all worked really hard and have faced some significant obstacles along the way."

"As I say to my students however, it is important to follow your goals and take people's criticism in an intelligent and constructive way. But don't forget that it is just their opinion. Do what you believe is right and always give your very best - if you believe in what you are doing, then all the hard work is worth it in the end."

Dr Stocker will receive her medal at the annual conference of the New Zealand Institute of Chemistry in Hamilton later this month. As part of the award, Dr Stocker will present a two-week lecture series in the United Kingdom in 2012 or 2013.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Please contact Dr Bridget Stocker on 04 499 6914 ext 813 or bstocker@malaghan.org.nz for more information.

RELATED LINKS

Link to the Royal Society of New Zealand website to read a media release on the outcomes of the 2011 NZ Research Honours Awards Evening

Read more about Dr Stocker’s other major win at the 2011 NZ Research Honours Awards Evening – the Manhire Prize for Creative Science Writing

For more information

Dr Bridget Stocker Senior Lecturer - Chemistry at Victoria University of Wellington and Malaghan Immunoglycomics Research Associate
Em.
bridget.stocker@vuw.ac.nz
Ph.
04 463 6481

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