Prof Sue Nicolson honoured for her contribution in Zoology

Posted on August 23, 2010

The Society annually awards two medals, namely the Gold and the Stevenson-Hamilton Medal (Silver). The first award is given to a zoologist for outstanding achievements in the field of zoology, and the latter to amateur zoologists for exceptional contributions to the field. The first Gold Medal was awarded in 1971 and the first Stevenson-Hamilton Award in 1988.

Professor Nicolson has had an astonishing academic career in zoology for many years, and “considers the Gold Medal Award a great honour” in recognition of her worthwhile contribution to the field. Prof Nicolson completed her honours degree at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, and then received a Commonwealth Scholarship to do her PhD in insect physiology at Cambridge University.

In South Africa she worked in the Zoology Department at the University of Cape Town before moving to the University of Pretoria’s Department of Zoology and Entomology in 2003. This is a large department and one of the most productive in the University in terms of research and student training.

Prof Nicolson’s research has included the water balance of insects, such as Namib desert beetles, as well as more recent work on the physiological aspects of pollination biology – what a nectar diet means for sunbirds, and the nutrition of honeybees when they forage on sunflowers and aloes. Most of this work has been done in association with postgraduate students (12 MSc and 10 PhD graduates so far) and also postdoctoral fellows. She has published nearly 130 articles in journals and two recent books, one on insect physiology (which won the Bill Venter/Altron Literary Award in 2009), and one on nectar.

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