RSE Henry Duncan Medal

The RSE Henry Duncan Medal recognises exceptional achievements in business, public service and public engagement by an early career researcher. This award meets with the Society’s strategic objective of increasing public understanding of science and the arts and humanities. The awardees are required to have a Scottish connection but can be based anywhere in the world.

Early career researcher is defined as “a researcher with a minimum of two years postdoctoral work experience and no more than ten years postdoctoral work experience” (i.e. research fellows to lecturers in their first academic posts are eligible). For those not based in academia ‘early career’ is defined as “individuals who have demonstrated outstanding ability in their work and professional practice within thirteen years of graduation.”


  • Nominations can only be made by Fellows of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.
  • Nominations can be made via the new online system through the member area.
  • Along with the nomination form you are required to upload a CV and publication list for the candidate as well as two references.
  • Full guidance notes can be found in the member area.
  • RSE Medals Referee Form


The Reverend Henry Duncan (1774 – 1846) was the founder of the Trustee Savings Bank. The son of a Church of Scotland Minister, he was born at Lochrutton, near Dumfries. Henry Duncan studied at the University of St Andrews until, at the age of sixteen, his father sent him to Liverpool to study banking. Three years later he abandoned the commercial world to study for the Ministry at the Universities of Glasgow and Edinburgh. This highly educated man with a flair for business could have succeeded in any field he chose. Instead, he devoted his life to helping the poorest in the land. When he was ordained as Minister of Ruthwell Church in 1799, the Rev Henry Duncan immediately set about helping his starving parishioners. He brought flax for women to spin in their cottages and employed men to turn his 50 acre glebe into a model farm or to work on the roads. He organised their food supply by reviving the languishing Friendly Society and importing grain through his brothers in Liverpool. In 1800 he persuaded the Earl of Mansfield to donate a derelict cottage to the Friendly Society. From this cottage he distributed food to the parishioners and it was in this cottage in 1810 that he was to launch the savings bank movement which spread to 109 organisations in 92 countries.


YearName(s)Institution Awarded
2021No award made.
2020No award made.
2019No award made.
2018Dr Theodore KoutmeridisSenior Lecturer in Economics, Adam Smith Business School, University of Glasgowfor their outstanding work in the field of economics where he combines a clear mastery of the microeconomic methodology, a keen instinct for its empirical applications and a deep commitment to engagement activities.
2017Mr Mike Welch OBECEO and Founder of, Peeblesfor their outstanding business leadership. He took his start-up company to sales of over £60m and has since sold his company to Michelin in a deal estimated to be worth £100m.
2016Mr Adam PurvisFounder and Director, Power of Youth, Edinburghfor their outstanding work in promoting entrepreneurship across the globe to build a better world through business.
2015Dr Martyn PickersgillWellcome Trust Senior Research Fellow in Biomedical Ethics, Centre for Population Health Sciences, University of Edinburghfor their outstanding research work and leadership potential in medical sociology, science and technology studies and empirical bioethics and for his commitment to public engagement and the advancement of social sciences. Dr Pickersgill is an Inaugural Member of the RSE Young Academy of Scotland.
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