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Zillman Medal


The Zillman Medal (formerly the Distinguished Research Award)

This is an award for distinguished contributions to research over an extended period. There are many ways in which members may contribute to the Society. A distinguished research contribution is one of the important paths. This award is intended to give recognition to the fact that learned societies will never flourish without the dedicated effort of a significant number of its members who contribute willingly and over time to the Society’s goals. Accordingly, recognition of a long and substantial learned research contribution together with a record of contribution to the Society through the promotion of its aims is the intention of this award. This award is aimed at scientists in their mature years who have carried out most of their research in Australia, and have made a significant contribution with a record of innovative and transformative research. The Award comprises a medal but will not include a cash component. It is offered every second (odd) year.

The award is named in honour of the distinguished contributions of Dr John William Zillman AO FAA FTSE to Australian and international meteorology and science. John Zillman was born in Brisbane in 1939. He joined the Australian Bureau of Meteorology in 1957 and served in operational, research, and management roles in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne, retiring from the Public Service and from the Bureau in 2005.  He was the Bureau’s Assistant Director Research from 1974-1978.  He served as Director of the Bureau from 1978 to 2003. He is now an honorary senior adviser at The Bureau.

John chaired the Australian Branch of the Royal Meteorological Society (1977-78) and the Victorian Divisions of ANZAAS (1983-84) and the Australian Institute of Physics (1985-86).  He was President of the Royal Society of Victoria (1993-1994).  He was elected to Fellowship of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE) in 1980 and (by special election) to Fellowship of the Australian Academy of Science (AAS) in 2006. He served as Honorary Secretary (1990-1994), Vice President (1995-98) and President (2003-06) of ATSE and President (2005-06) of the Australian National Academies Forum (NAF).  John led Academy and joint Academies initiatives on natural disasters, climate change, oceans, space science and Earth observation.

John Zillman has been deeply involved in international meteorology and other international scientific activities.  From 1974 to 1978, he coordinated preparations for Australian participation in the 1979 Global Weather Experiment.  He was Permanent Representative of Australia with the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) from 1978 to 2004 and was an elected member of the WMO Executive Council from 1979 to 2004.  He was First Vice President of WMO from 1987 to 1995 and President of WMO from 1995 to 2003.  He served on Australian delegations to the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, the Assembly and Executive Council of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) from 1990 to 1999 and the General Conference of UNESCO from 1999 to 2007.  He led Australia delegations to seven quadrennial World Meteorological Congresses (1979-2003), the 1993 Intergovernmental Meeting on the World Climate Programme, the 1999 Budapest World Conference on Science and the 2003, 2004 and 2005 Ministerial Earth Observation Summits.  He was Principal Delegate of Australia to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and Southwest Pacific member of the IPCC Bureau from 1994 to 2004.  He chaired the international Steering Committee for the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) from 2006-09 and the International Organising Committee for the 2009 World Climate Conference-3.  He received the WMO’s 50thIMO (International Meteorological Organization) Prize in 2005.

Dr Zillman has published more than 200 scientific and policy papers and delivered approximately 1000 major scientific presentations, speeches and addresses.  He has served on a wide range of national committees and advisory bodies including the Australian Marine Sciences and Technologies Advisory Committee (AMSTAC) (1981-85), the Antarctic Science Advisory Committee (ASAC) (1985-88), the Coordinating Committee on Science and Technology (CCST) (1989-2003), the Australian Space Council (1993-96), the National Commission for UNESCO (2002-08) and the Prime Minister’s Science, Engineering and Innovation Council (PMSEIC) (2003-06) as well as on the Standing Committees of Commonwealth-State Ministerial Councils for Primary Industries, Environment and Water Resources.


2015: Michael Reeder, Monash University
2019: Neville Nicholls, Monash University


The nomination must address the selection criteria below, include a CV, and no more than three letters of reference that also address the selection criteria. Nominators should be aware of the AMOS Code of Conduct, which promotes diversity of membership and discipline when making nominations. The Awards Sub-Committee has limited ability to seek additional information and therefore nomination documents must be complete and provide a full and fair account of each candidate.


  1. Nominees for this Medal will be assessed on their research record, rather than their contributions through leadership and/or mentoring. The Morton Medal has been constructed specifically to celebrate achievements relating to leadership and/or mentoring
  2. Nominees for this Medal will be assessed on their research contributions over their entire career, rather than for a single specific research contribution, or for over a short period. Other AMOS awards focus on research performance over shorter periods of time
  3. Equal weight will be given to all of the Selection Criteria
  4. This Medal will be awarded every odd year.
  5. See the main Awards page for other eligibility requirements.

Selection criteria

  1. Evidence of a substantial contribution to scholarship through long term achievement in research carried out mainly in Australia,
  2. Innovative and transformative achievements in research over a nominee’s entire career which have made a substantial contribution to the understanding of sciences relevant to the Society, and in the scholarly published literature,
  3. Evidence of service to the promotion of the AMOS mission.  This could include a period of service on AMOS Council as a Member or Office Bearer, and/or service on and promotion of AMOS through Centre Committees and Centre activities, and / or contribution to AMOS activities including organisation of the National Conferences, and /or editorial support for the Society’s journal, preparation of AMOS position papers etc for public or political dissemination or outreach etc.

Sub-committee for this Medal:

Matthew Wheeler (Chair)
Lisa Alexander
Julie Arblaster
James Risbey

Awards Committee Contact:

For further information on these aspects of the society’s activities please contact the Chair of the Awards Committee:
Dr Beth Ebert
Chair, AMOS Awards Committee

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