Now open: the Boyle Medal for Scientific Excellence 2014

The campaign starts here. The prize? Ireland’s premier scientific award, and €20,000

The 2011 winner, Margaret Murnane, selected for her work on advanced laser technology. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

The 2011 winner, Margaret Murnane, selected for her work on advanced laser technology. Photograph: Cyril Byrne


The 2014 campaign to find the 39th recipient of the RDS/ Irish Times Boyle Medal for Scientific Excellence has opened, and third-level institutions and companies are invited to submit applications for suitable candidates. The 2014 laureate will receive Ireland’s premier scientific award, and a cash prize of €20,000.

Some of Ireland’s most distinguished scientists have received the award over the 115 years since the first Boyle Medal presentation in 1899. In that inaugural year the recipient was George Johnstone Stoney, the scientist who named the electron.

It was awarded for a century by the RDS, before The Irish Times became a partner in the Boyle Medal’s centenary year of 1999. Now the search is on for the 2014 recipient: a working scientist from any higher education institution or research-driven company working anywhere on the island of Ireland. Irish citizenship is not a condition so long as candidates are based and pursue their research in Ireland.

Candidates for the medal may not nominate themselves but must be nominated by the president or head of a college, school or research institute; by the managing director or head of research and development of a company; or by the secretary of a professional body.

Nominations are considered in the strictest of confidence, and no details of nominees are released at any stage.

Peer assessment is used to identify a shortlist of three to five candidates, and an external peer will conduct a separate assessment of the pool of candidates. The shortlisted nominees are then assessed by an international panel of up to five scientific peers, who will select the Boyle Medal laureate.

Initial judging takes place in May and the Laureate will be announced before the end of October. A conferral event will take place in late November when the Boyle Medal laureate will deliver a lecture describing their work.

The 2011 laureate was Prof Margaret Murnane, based at the University of Colorado in Boulder. She was selected for her work on advanced laser technology. In 2009 Prof Luke O’Neill of Trinity College Dublin was awarded the medal for his studies of the human immune system.

The RDS and The Irish Times share a common interest in promoting a better public understanding of science. Both are also committed to supporting the pursuit of research here, given its central role in strengthening Ireland’s economic development.

“The RDS has a long- standing history of recognising excellence in scientific endeavour and is committed to awarding the Boyle Medal to scientists whose research is of exceptional merit,” says Matt Dempsey, the president of the RDS. “We are delighted to continue our partnership with The Irish Times to announce the call for nominations for Ireland’s oldest and most distinguished award for science.”

The Irish Times supports the Boyle Medal programme as an acknowledgment of the critical importance of science within Irish society, and especially research,” says Irish Times Editor Kevin O’Sullivan. “It complements our commitment to covering science extensively with a team of specialist reporters and columnists, led by Science Editor Dick Ahlstrom.”

Nomination forms are available at and these must be received no later than 5pm on Monday, April 7

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