What do we want to be known for?

What do we want to be known for?

Each member of the Science Executive answered the following:

What do we want to be known for?


  • the international and national science communities;
  • our current and prospective students and postdoctoral fellows;
  • the New Zealand Government and Ministries;
  • the New Zealand public; and
  • the New Zealand business/innovation/commercial sector.

The answers to this question became the basis for the planning session and from that we will develop the basis of our short to medium term Running Strategic Plan. 

Our impact and the real benefit that we as a Centre of Research Excellence afford across these five communities, in addition to what the existence of the MacDiarmid Institute, a Centre of Research Excellence creates on an individual and collective basis for the New Zealand science community were always pushing the discussion forward during the meeting. 

What should a CoRE be and how do we ensure that we are driving this and providing maximal outcomes were key discussion points.

Over the coming weeks, leading into the next Board meeting on Friday 9 March I will briefly outline some of the major outcomes from the meeting.  The first is Big Science.

The seed of the Big Science discussions was sown at the Annual Investigator Meeting held in Auckland in 2009 and built momentum through 2010 with working collaborations burgeoning in 2011.  The central tenet of Centres of Research Excellence is to ensure that within New Zealand there is a culture and environment, the purpose of which, is to support high-performance “tertiary-education based research that is collaborative, strategically focussed and creates significant knowledge transfer activities”.  The MacDiarmid Institute provides sound evidence for the old saying: the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, through its collaborative cross-institutional basis.  But we always question can we do more?  Be better? Create greater benefit?  Have a larger impact?  Ask harder science questions?

The Big Science concept was developed to give us both a framework within which we could address these questions and was also a critical consideration of what higher level collaborations could be nurtured and realised within the Institute.

Four Big Science themes were initiated:

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Electronics
  • Organic Photovoltaics
  • Top-down and Bottom-up

Initial funding support for these came through the 2011 competitive Postdoctoral Funding round.  These positions have now all been filled and momentum will be building in these areas.  To maintain and grow this we discussed yesterday the need to constantly reinvigorate this area of discussion.

This will be a target over the coming weeks and the discussion forums will be re-established.  The ability to host such discussion forums will be built into our website during phase II of the redevelopment (if you haven’t checked out our new website it is fantastic so make sure you do – http://macdiarmid.ac.nz/, huge credit to the work of Emily Sullivan and her team) but for now we will continue to use google groups.


AMN-6 planning is well advanced.  Our four keynote speakers are confirmed (see our website for details http://www.amn-6.com/) and we have several confirmed plenary speakers.  Our biannual conferences attract hundreds of international scientists to New Zealand providing the perfect opportunity for us to highlight our vibrant and cutting edge community of researchers to current and potential international and national collaborators.  This conference now has a strong international reputation for the quality and diversity of speakers and science presented with many international researchers targeting this conference as one of their must go tos.  We are also planning events in association with the conference working with the community to drive and build their thirst and curiosity for all things science. 

Have a great long weekend everyone,

Regards, Kate