Simon Hall – Passive Student, Active Scientist

  Simon Hall, specialist in the use of electrochemistry for energy storage applications at Massey University, describes himself as having been a “passive student.” He was born into a family that valued science, with his father having completed a chemistry MSc at Victoria University a few years behind Alan MacDiarmid. Simon’s father worked in industry with New Zealand Forest Products, so science and technology were common topics of conversation at the dinner table. Simon started studying towards a Bachelor of Engineering. He spent some time over the summer looking at his dad’s work, and noticed that there were a lot of engineering and science grads working in industry, and thought the science grads “looked happier.” They seemed to be “intrinsically interested in answering the whys”, so he swapped to a BSc. His early work in electrochemistry has led to a focus on its utility in constructing energy storage applications. In 2003, together with former PhD student Michael Liu, and encouraged by his research on rechargeable zinc electrodes, he formed the companies Anzode Inc (USA) and Anzode Ltd. (NZ). Between 2003 and 2007, he took a leave of absence from Massey University to be Chief Science Officer at Anzode. A further company, Synthodics Ltd., based on research supported by Simon’s PI allocation from the MacDiarmid Institute, was formed in 2011. With research that is now seeking to empower the next generation of clean technology, Simon’s claim to have been a passive student needs to be revised. For the last 15 years, he’s been actively applying materials science to what can be seen as the biggest issue of our time – the question of clean energy. It’s in the potential – the solution looking for a problem – that the benefit of MacDiarmid Institute research to society will be realised. Simon’s convinced that the great science that is done by MacDiarmid Institute scientists will inevitably lead to more and more opportunities for applications with societal benefit – and that this is the space he’ll be working in.