Jim Metson – Access to the Tool Kit

Jim Metson’s into materials – particularly surface science with a key focus on metal oxides and applications for the aluminium industry. He’s an associate director of the Light Materials Research Centre at the University of Auckland, and Deputy Dean of Science. Jim characterises his early career as “we’re doing what we do until we figure out what we really want to do.” He describes himself as someone who “never ‘got into science,’ but rather never got out of it”, completing a PhD in Chemistry at Victoria University in 1980. His postdoctoral position at Surface
Science Western, University of Western Ontario, Canada, opened his eyes to the kind of big questions you can ask when well-resourced. He decided had done his PhD all wrong – but using the skills he’d developed, he began to forge a path in the area of metal oxide surface science. Returning to New Zealand to take up a position at the University of Auckland in 1985, Jim remains convinced that it was access to the world class facilities and teams that enabled him to finally figure out what it was that he wanted to do, and that we need to ensure our scientists have similar access. He sees that the science community in New Zealand has changed – that the CoRE funding model, which allowed for shared CAPEX, has provided staff and students with the kind of kit they’ve not necessarily been able to access before, and he’s excited by the technological advances that make it more and more possible for New Zealand scientists to be involved in international collaborations. For Jim, the scientific challenges we face, and the best tools to use to face them, will keep on changing and developing, and we need to be responsive to that. In a very Kiwi way, he says “we need access to the tool kit,” to make sure we get this right.