Australian oceanographer Trevor McDougall has received one of the world's top science honours, just four months after being told by CSIRO his research had no role in the science agency's future.
Professor McDougall, one of Australia's most-awarded scientists for his work on ocean physics and climate change, has been elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of London.
The society, established in 1660, advises the British government and is one of the world's oldest, most prestigious scientific academies. Fellows are elected for life, on the basis of their global contribution to scientific excellence.
Professor McDougall, who lives in Hobart, is one of the few Australian scientists to be elected to its ranks of elite high-achievers. Other recipients have included Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking.
Professor McDougall is regarded as one of the world's leading ocean scientists for his work on ocean mixing. He was made redundant by CSIRO late last year, less than six months after he became the first Australian to receive the peer-nominated Prince Albert medal for ocean research. He received the medal for his breakthrough research on ocean thermodynamics, which created new world standards for measuring the properties of
The Royal Society's award citation recognises Professor McDougall's ''outstanding work on important and fundamental problems of ocean dynamics.'' His recent work in redefining the thermodynamics of seawater ''strengthens even further the brilliant and unique contributions'' he had made to oceanic science, the citation said.
Professor McDougall was not available for comment, but a former CSIRO research colleague described the award as ''the top of the tops, and as good as it gets.''
The award was announced by the Royal Society of London last night It coincides with the University of NSW announcing Professor McDougall will join its school of mathematics.
''We are delighted to have someone of Trevor's calibre join us,'' the university's dean of science, Professor Merlin Crossley, said.
''We know he will make a major contribution to UNSW and be an inspirational presence.''
In a written statement acknowledging his appointment, Professor McDougall said fundamental research into ocean physics ''is recognised as a crucial missing link'' in the ability to improve the accuracy of climate modelling.
Earlier this year, more than 160 of the world's top oceans and climate scientists signed a letter emailed to CSIRO chief executive Megan Clark, protesting against Professor McDougall's dismissal.