The Rita and John Cornforth Medal for Research Excellence

Excellence in research
This medal recognises outstanding achievement in research at the University that contributes to the overall advancement of our communities.

To be eligible for the 2024 Alumni Awards, nominees must meet the following selection criteria:

  • Nominees must have completed their degree requirements or conferred/graduated in 2023 from the University of Sydney.
  • Nominees must have achieved a minimum credit average (65-74 mark range) during their award course at the University (any qualifications with pass/fail criteria excepted).
  • Nominees must demonstrate outstanding achievement in research at the University that contributes to the overall advancement of communities.

2023 winner

José-Miguel Bello y Villarino
Doctor of Philosophy (Law) '22

José-Miguel Bello y Villarino’s career was already well established when he decided to undertake a PhD in Law. He served as a member of the Diplomatic Corps of Spain and served in diplomatic postings in Eastern Europe, West Africa, South-East Asia and Central America. His last position before moving to Sydney was Deputy Head of Mission in Islamabad. 

His PhD research on corruption and international law is highly regarded by his peers and mentors. During his studies he was awarded a University Postgraduate Award (cat. 5), the Walter Reid scholarship and a Fulbright-Schuman scholarship for the exchange programme at Harvard Law School. His dissertation was praised as “a masterful combination of trenchant normative argument and level-headed practical recommendation”. Since graduating, he has taken up a contract at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision Making and Society, based at the Law School, conducting research on the governance of artificial intelligence. Jose-Miguel’s thought leadership, insight and generosity during his studies have distinguished him in the Law School, and we eagerly anticipate his future research contributions.  

About Rita and John Cornforth

Sir John Warcup ‘Kappa’ Cornforth AC CBE FRS (BSc ’38 MSc ’39 DSc ’77) and Lady Rita Cornforth (BSc ’37 MSc ’38) were among the most outstanding students of their respective years and had a profound influence on the study of penicillin during the war. John had been deaf since his teens, and Rita relayed speech to him by lip reading throughout their life together.

John won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry (with Vladimir Prelog) in 1975 for his work on the stereochemistry of enzyme-catalysed reactions. John was knighted in 1977 and awarded the Corday Morgan Medal in 1953, the Royal Medal in 1976 and the Copley Medal in 1982.