The medal, bearing the words "For a Thesis on Chemical Research", is designed to give recognition of outstanding achievement in chemistry and to promote chemical communication.
The Board of the RACI awards the Cornforth Medal in honour of the work of Sir John Cornforth AC CBE FRS – an Australian-British chemist who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1975.
The medal is awarded to the candidate who is judged to have completed the most outstanding PhD thesis in a branch of chemistry, chemical science or chemical technology under the auspices of an Australian University; and whose degree has been approved, but not necessarily conferred, in the previous 13 months.
The award requires nomination by the deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) of an Australian University of person holding the equivalent office at the University. The nominated candidate is required to be a current member for a minimum of one year.
There is only one medal awarded each year, and if the committee considers that none of the theses submitted reach an appropriate standard, no award will be made.