University of Auckland: Siouxsie Wiles wins ‘critic and conscience’ award

A charitable trust, the Gama Foundation, sponsors the awards, intended to encourage academics and universites to engage in public debate on important issues.

“It is an honour to be a recipient of the Critic and Conscience Prize,” Dr Wiles said in a press release. “I’d like to thank the Gama Foundation for sponsoring the award. I’m so grateful for that sponsorship and will be using the prize money to support a research project in my lab aimed at understanding what makes bacteria more infectious.”

A second award went to Professor Alexander Gillespie, of the University of Waikato, for his commentaries on legal issues.

Professor Pat Walsh, an award judge, said that for universities to meet their statutory obligation to be critic and conscience of society, academic staff needed to lift their heads above the parapet and engage in the cut and thrust of public debate.

“And it is an obligation, not an elective,” he said in the awards press release. “Over the past year, Dr Wiles has been particularly prominent in helping lead the fightback against COVID-19 and against vaccine misinformation.”

Each recipient receives a framed certificate and $50,000 to aid their work.

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