veski innovation fellow awarded a Royal Medal

10 July

Eight years after returning to Victoria as the inaugural veski innovation fellow, Professor Andrew Holmes AM has been honoured as one of only three recipients of the 2012 Royal Medal – making him the only Australian in ten years to receive the award.

Three Royal Medals, also known as the Queen’s Medals, are awarded annually by HM The Queen on the recommendation of the Council of the Royal Society for the most important contributions in the physical, biological and applied or interdisciplinary sciences.

Professor Holmes who became the inaugural veski innovation fellow in 2004 is also a member of the veski board of directors. In addition he is a CSIRO Fellow, a University of Melbourne Laureate Professor of Chemistry at the Bio21 Institute, a Distinguished Research Fellow at Imperial College in London, and the Foreign Secretary of the Australian Academy of Science.

The Royal Medal recognises his contributions at the interface of materials and biological science, leading to outcomes that will be beneficial to society. He played a pioneering role in the field of applied organic electronic materials. In the late 1980s he established a productive collaboration with University of Cambridge physicists that led to the discovery (in 1990) of light emitting polymers. Professor Holmes led the Chemistry team in that collaboration for fourteen years. These materials have applications in solid state lighting, flat panel displays, transistors and solar cells.

Professor Holmes now leads the Victorian Organic Solar Cells Consortium involving the University of Melbourne, CSIRO and Monash University with industrial partners aiming to deliver efficient flexible printed solar cells for low cost applications in electricity generation. The Consortium also benefits from a strong collaboration with the Imperial College Doctoral Training Centre in Plastic Electronics.

Professor Holmes will be presented with the Medal at the Royal Society’s Anniversary Day meeting in November 2012 and said he is honoured to receive the award and is still very excited to be working in polymer chemistry.

“It is an honour to receive this award and be recognised in the area of organic electronic materials and in our collaboration with cell biologists,” Professor Holmes said.

“It’s exciting to work in polymer chemistry, an area which can lead to a diverse range of applications from the development of more energy efficient products to the greater understanding of biological processes. Having a strong international collaboration at Imperial has also strengthened our opportunities abroad.”

veski chief executive officer Ms Julia Page said everyone at veski was delighted with the wonderful news and that veski believes the Medal is an appropriate recognition of Andrew’s exemplary career, which has spanned more than thirty years in England and Australia and included many groundbreaking discoveries.


“This is yet another well deserved recognition of Andrew’s work and further evidence of why veski, CSIRO and the University of Melbourne were fortunate to attract him back to Melbourne in 2004,” Ms Page said.


“Not only is this a defining moment in Andrew’s career, it’s also a defining moment for veski and is reflective of the quality of individuals we are able to recruit back to Victoria through our prestigious Fellowship program.”


“In the eight years since Andrew was awarded the inaugural veski Innovation Fellowship he has continued to play a significant role in Victoria’s scientific community and more recently as a member of the veski Board of Directors he is actively helping shape our organisation for the future.”

Dr Calum Drummond, Executive of the CSIRO’s Manufacturing, Materials and Minerals Group commenting on Professor Holmes’ achievement said: “I am delighted that the Royal Society has awarded Andrew this very prestigious medal in recognition of his immense contributions to materials chemistry and its application to energy efficient and sustainable products, as well as bio-related applications. 


“CSIRO greatly values the role that Andrew has played in bringing together university groups and CSIRO to conduct research in areas that have the potential to provide enormous economic, social and environmental benefit for Australia.


Bio21 Institute Director, Professor Tony Bacic offered his congratulations and commented on Professor Holmes’ exemplary career. 


“Professor Holmes’ commitment to interdisciplinary research, innovation and leadership has held him in high esteem amongst his peers, the University and the broader research community. This is a great honour and acknowledgement of Andrew’s commitment and recognition of an outstanding career.”


The Royal Medals, were founded by HM King George IV in 1825, and are awarded annually by HM The Queen on the recommendation of the Council of the Royal Society.

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