Internationally recognised chemist Professor Andrew Holmes has been awarded the 2012 Royal Medal – the only Australian in 10 years to receive the award.

Three Royal Medals, also known as the Queen’s Medals, are awarded annually for the most important contributions in the physical, biological and applied or interdisciplinary sciences. Former recipients include Charles Darwin, Francis Crick and Suzanne Cory.

Professor Holmes is a CSIRO Fellow, University of Melbourne Laureate Professor of Chemistry at the Bio21 Institute and a Distinguished Research Fellow at the Imperial College London.

CSIRO Fellow and Royal Medal recipient, Professor Andrew Holmes

He is recognised for his contributions at the interface of the materials and biological sciences that will lead to outcomes that will benefit society. He played a pioneering role in the field of applied organic electronic materials.

In the late 1980’s he established a collaboration with University of Cambridge physicists that in 1990 led to the discovery of light emitting polymers. Professor Holmes led the Chemistry team in that collaboration for 14 years. These polymers have applications in solid state (LED) lighting, flat panel displays, transistors and solar cells.

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

Professor Holmes said it was an honour to receive this award and be recognised in the area of organic electronic materials and for collaboration with cell biologists.

“It’s exciting to work in polymer chemistry, an area that 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,” Professor Holmes said.

Dr Calum Drummond, Executive of CSIRO’s Manufacturing, Materials and Minerals Group 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.

The Mini-Labo printer allows you to print polymer-based solar cells on plastic. The printer is owned by the VICOSC Consortium and housed at CSIRO Clayton.

“CSIRO greatly values the role that Professor Holmes 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 congratulated 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 Professor Holmes’ commitment and recognition of an outstanding career,” he said.

The Royal Medals were founded by His Majesty King George IV in 1825 and are awarded annually by Her Majesty The Queen on the recommendation of the Council of the Royal Society. Professor Holmes will be presented with the Medal at the Royal Society’s Anniversary Day meeting in November 2012.

In addition to his current appointments, Professor Holmes is a Director and Innovation Fellow of VESKI (Victorian Endowment for Science, Knowledge and Innovation) and Foreign Secretary of the Australian Academy of Science.