Dr Thompson wins NZ Chemistry Award

By Kristan Mouat and John Lewis (ODT) | Posted: Tuesday September 15, 2020

Congratulations to our Head of Science, Dr Murray Thompson whose excellent work has been recognised with a national award.

In September, Dr Thompson was advised that he had been awarded a top NZ Award for Chemistry educators.

The sciPAD Denis Hogan award for Chemical Education recognises excellence in teaching chemistry. The award is made to a person who has made an important contribution to Chemical Education in New Zealand.   

One teacher in New Zealand is selected and the award is decided by the NZ Institute of Chemists. 

Dr Thompson is passionate about all things science and chemistry in particular. He takes the Dunedin-wide Scholarship Chemistry classes, and has trained Chemistry trainee teachers for the past 10 years. He's the President of the Otago Science Teachers Assn and the Co-Chair of the National Chemistry Teachers Association. Dr Thompson is part of the NZ Science and Chemistry subject expert group - advising NZQA on NCEA standards. He's run national Chemistry Teacher conferences and our students regularly win the Otago Yr 13 Chemistry quizzes.

See the Otago Daily Times article by John Lewis below:

Logan Park science teacher rapt to receive national award 

Creating coloured fire is one thing, but creating sparks in the minds of chemistry pupils is "the best thing" for Murray Thompson.

So it is not surprising the Logan Park High School head of science has just been awarded the prestigious New Zealand Institute of Chemistry (NZIC) sciPAD Denis Hogan Award for excellence in chemistry education.

Dr Thompson was both pleased and humble about the award.

"It’s awesome. I’m proud of it.

"But it’s about all the people who work with me as well. I don’t think any of these things are won by one person — they’re won by the team.

"I’ve had a wonderful group of people working around me, both at school and as part of the wider chemistry teaching community.

"I’ve organised lots of things like chemistry conferences, but you never do those things by yourself. I’m a born loud-mouth, so I get to be out the front."

When he finished his chemistry degree, he had the option of going into the research field, but instead he chose to teach.

"Research can be quite isolating. I wanted to be around people.

"It’s much more fun watching kids learn about chemistry — the joy in their faces."

Dr Thompson takes the Dunedin-wide New Zealand Scholarship chemistry classes, he has trained chemistry trainee teachers for the past 10 years, he is the Otago Science Teachers’ Association president, the National Chemistry Teachers’ Association co-chairman, he runs national chemistry teacher conferences, and he is part of the New Zealand Science and Chemistry subject expert group which advises the Ministry of Education and the New Zealand Qualifications Authority on NCEA standards.

Dr Thompson was one of four award winners in the annual NZIC awards.

University of Otago chemistry student Lynn Lisboa won the JEOL Brian Halton Award — a new award — for the best paper in the field of chemistry, published by a New Zealand university student.

Prof Justin Hodgkiss and Dr Kai Chen, of Victoria University of Wellington, won the NZIC prize for industrial and applied chemistry; and the premier prize — the Maurice Wilkins Centre prize for chemical science — was awarded to University of Auckland Associate Prof Geoff Waterhouse for excellence in chemistry which has a great impact in the field.


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