New Principal Investigators

The MacDiarmid Institute proudly welcomes eight new principal investigators.

Pauline Harris

Dr Pauline Harris is a lecturer in the Faculty of Science at Victoria University of Wellington, where she lectures in the Science and Society programme on science communication, science in everyday life and the importance of energy in society.

She has a PhD in astrophysics from Canterbury University, where she investigated gamma ray bursts as possible sites for high energy neutrino production. Dr Harris has since been the Chairperson of the Society of Māori Astronomy Research and Traditions (SMART), where she applied her physics expertise to the collation and the revitalization of Māori astronomical star lore.

As a Principal Investigator on the Marsden funded project “Ngā Takahuringā ō te ao: The effect of climate change on traditional Māori calendars”, Dr Harris has significant experience and expertise in how to build bridges between Mātauranga Māori and currently topical areas of scientific research

Derek Kawiti

Derek has a dual background as an academic at the Victoria University of Wellington – where he holds a Senior Lectureship, and as an architectural practitioner as director of a multidisciplinary practice – CILOARC.

Derek holds a bachelor’s degree in architecture from the University of Auckland and a Masters of Architecture from the Architectural Association – Design Research Lab in London. He has more than 14 years’ experience in both commercial and domestic scale architecture having worked in both New Zealand and international practice environments including London, the Caribbean and Italy.

With a background in advanced parametric design methods, he is heavily involved in generative digital modelling, digital heritage and ‘low’ and ‘high’ tech’ digital fabrication with which he founded the collaborative research lab – SITUA (Site of Indigenous Technologies Understanding Alliance) with Iwi, Ngāi Tāmanuhiri – of Muriwai, Gisborne and more recently with New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute of Te Puia, Rotorua.

Derek also works as a cultural design advisor for Fletcher building ltd and is a trustee for the Miramar Bid (Business Investment Development). He has worked with Auckland Transport on their New Electric Rail Station Design and has advised architectural practices such as JASMAX, Warren and Mahony on various project bid cultural design strategy. In 2017 he was appointed as an Associate to the Senior Management Team at Peddle Thorp Architects, in Auckland.

Volker Nock

Volker Nock is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Co-Director and Principal Investigator of the Biomolecular Interactions Centre at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand. He holds a Dipl.-Ing. degree in Microsystem Technology from the University of Freiburg, Germany, and a Ph.D. degree in Electrical and Electronic Engineering from the University of Canterbury. From 2009 to 2012 he was a MacDiarmid Institute and Marsden Research Fellow. Since 2012 he has been an Associate Investigator of the MacDiarmid Institute and MedTech CoREs. His research interests include micro- and nanofabrication, surface patterning and the application of microfluidics to Lab-on-a-Chip devices. He applies engineering technologies to study how biomolecules interact in plants and animals. Knowledge gained as part of this helps to increase our understanding of how biological systems function when healthy or diseased, enabling us to develop new treatments for plant and animal diseases.

Jenny Malmstrom

Jenny Malmström is a senior lecturer at the Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering at the University of Auckland. She holds a MSc (bioengineering) from Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden and a Ph.D. (nanoscience) from the University of Aarhus, Denmark (2010). She moved to New Zealand in 2010 and joined the University of Auckland as a postdoctoral researcher at the School of Chemical Sciences. Her research is interdisciplinary and focusses on engineering surfaces for applications as advanced materials and biointerfaces. Her research group has expertise in characterising and understanding the interactions between soft matter (biomolecules, cells, polymers) and surfaces. The group is currently applying this this detailed understanding to emerging and exciting areas such as the creation of new magnetic materials, to create ordered functional patterns of proteins and to help understand and control cellular behaviour.

Simon Granville

Simon is an experimental materials physicist and NZ expert in thin film magnetic materials.  His field is spin-electronics, or spintronics, where he investigates the advanced magnetic materials needed to bring about a future generation of energy-efficient, ultra-high-speed and high-performance computer memory and logic that uses the magnetism, or “spin”, of electrons. Simon was one of the first MacDiarmid PhD students in 2003, and after a post-doc at EPFL in Switzerland, he returned to NZ and rejoined the MacDiarmid Institute in 2011 as an Investigator. Simon collaborates enthusiastically across the institute and internationally, particularly where magnetic materials are involved.

Simon is a Senior Scientist at the Robinson Research Institute, Victoria University of Wellington, where he co-manages the most advanced magnetic materials lab in New Zealand, hosting several pieces of MacDiarmid Institute equipment. He is also an avid field hockey player, fan of Doctor Who and pro wrestling, and turn-based strategy gamer.

Craig Rofe

 I have always been interested in physics as a way to explain the deep workings of the world and was given an amazing opportunity in working alongside Sir Paul Callaghan as his PhD student. He would always comment that he envied how I had Māori whakapapa and wished he was part of this rich connection to Aotearoa. I thought at the time that this was ironic given that I revered him for his connection with a knowledge system that had made him so well known throughout the world. I now, however, understand his ideas and find myself living and researching in the field of Mātauranga Māori (Māori knowledge) and education. I would like all New Zealanders to value our unique culture that connects our people to this whenua (land).
The MacDiamid institute has given me support in engaging students and community with both science and Māori knowledge.

Nigel Lucas

Associate Professor Nigel Lucas obtained his BSc(Hons) and PhD from the Australian National University working on the synthesis and photophysical properties of organometallic materials. Following postdoctoral research at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research, Germany as an Alexander von Humboldt Research Fellow, he returned to Australia in 2005 to take up an Australian Research Council Postdoctoral Fellowship at The University of Sydney. In 2008 he moved to the Department of Chemistry, University of Otago.

Nigel’s research interests span the synthesis, structure and properties of carbon-rich molecular materials, supramolecular chemistry and self-assembly, organometallic chemistry and catalysis, and crystallography. His group has expertise in the designed synthesis of polyaromatic molecules with well-defined architectures that tend to be photoactive and can be tuned through rational modification of their structure. Flat “nanographenes” have a strong propensity for face-to-face stacking, thereby providing a robust mechanism for their assembly into ordered solids, often with high porosity. Characterisation of the new materials is enabled through collaborations within the Institute and internationally.

John Kennedy

Dr. John Kennedy is a Principal Scientist, Team Leader, Ion Beam Physics and Nanotechnology at National Isotope Centre, GNS Science. Dr. Kennedy is a materials scientist focussed on condensed matter research and nuclear instrumentation and has pursued wide range of research projects related to application of ion implantation and ion beam analysis technique for characterising thin films, nanotechnology, advanced materials, biology, environmental and agricultural samples. He is currently investigating metal and metal oxide nanoparticle growth and their structural, electrical, optical and magnetic properties, metallic nanoclusters and multiferroics nanostructures. He has published more than 200 journal papers demonstrating ion implantation into polymers, semiconductors, superconductors, nanostructures and 20 international patent applications. John’ interest in applying his materials science to industrial projects has led him to be leader in the Product Accelerator, Inductive Power Transfer and Titanium Technologies of New Zealand.