Filled Roles


There was a surprise waiting for those attending the post-doc symposium at Massey. After – in some cases – learning and even rehearsing their oral presentations – some attendees were initially horrified to find that they’d be giving someone else’s presentation…

Some might call Bill Williams sadistic. Others would say he just has a warped sense of humour. And still others would pat him on the back and say, “Good call – you never know when you might need to give someone else’s presen­tation at short notice.”

But at the conven­or’s announcement that the oral presenta­tions on the Tuesday would be divided up amongst the symposium attendees, with names and topics drawn at random – there were visible signs of anguish.

Bill Williams played it down and tried to make everyone relaxed about the concept. Hey, at least they’d have almost 24 hours to prepare, what’s the worry?

The worry is that the work you’ve been doing for the past year or more is going to be presented by someone who’s not been involved in it, and who probably doesn’t even work in the same field. Concern was tangible.

But then for every action there’s an equal and opposite reaction, and so those who were initially panicking about having all their hard work pre­sented by someone else quickly realised that they themselves would also be presenting someone else’s work. More worry!

Not that they were thrown into the deep end entirely; Bill gave those swap­ping presentations time to meet and dis­cuss, and view each other’s Powerpoints. Some elected to skip the afternoon’s team building wall-climbing challenge to overcome their own obstacles: ab­sorbing facts and data for the next day.

So, perhaps it was no surprise that the oral presentations, even given by “strangers” to the subjects, were still very competent. Each was about 15 minutes’ long, with a few minutes allo­cated for questions. And the originator of each presentation was also given a chance to comment on it, and fill in any holes.

Chito Kendrick was first, presenting Megan Halse’s and Paul Callaghan’s work on Challenges and Opportunities for Nuclear Magnetic resonance (NMR) in Ultra-low Fields.

Meghan commented she was im­pressed with Chito’s presentation, saying he did “a good job on the main points”.

The roles were reversed and Megan presented Kendrick et al’s Self Catalytic GaN Nanowires by Plasma-Assisted Molecular Beam Epitaxy. This was two years’ work compressed into 15 min­utes, but again the presentation was well executed.

Oral Two saw Geoff Willmott present David Garrett’s Slides and Roundabouts: the history of the slip boundary condition, to which David commented, “I couldn’t have done it better myself.”

And so the orals continued. If Lord Rutherford was there he would have been pleased, since it was he who once said, “If you can’t explain it to the cleaner then you don’t understand it yourself.”


Left: Geoff Willmott – presented David Garrett’s Slides and Roundabouts: the history of the slip boundary condition








Left: Chito Kendrick was first up pre­senting Megan Halse’s and Paul Callaghan’s work