United Nations In A Lab

  It’s become commonplace to describe a multi-national group as a veritable United Nations, but in the case of the Magnetic Resonance Physics Group based at Victoria University the cliché holds true. With all the PhD candidates coming from overseas, and academic colleagues visiting from the US, UK, Germany, Sweden, Israel, Mexico, Japan and Australia, MacDiarmid Associate Investigator Dr Petrik Galvosas leads a very cosmopolitan group. Dr Galvosas came to Victoria’s School of Chemical and Physical Sciences to take up a position as Senior Research Fellow from the Universityof Leipzig in 2009. Petrik is interested in NMR instrumentation and advanced NMR methods for porous media research. His most recent achievement (as accepted for Physical Review E) was the application of a new MRI method which produces images of closed pores on an unprecedented resolution. Petrik particularly enjoys the opportunity to explore areas that are new to him, but traditionally undertaken by the NMR physics group, such as soft matter research. Coming to New Zealandwas an easy decision for Petrik– then-group director Sir Paul Callaghan made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. If the world-leading research wasn’t attraction enough, the appeal of New Zealand’s lifestyle and natural environment persuaded him to make the move. Advances in information and communications technology have allowed Petrik to remain connected with collaborators and students thousands of miles away. During his time in New Zealand Petrik continued to supervise PhD students back in Germany, the last one finishing a year ago. And he says it is easy to get colleagues to visit. However, maintaining a personal touch with international collaborators occasionally requires Petrik to travel abroad. He recently spent two weeks in Brazil before returning to New Zealand to make a presentation at the recent AMN6 Conference in Auckland. The visits are often reciprocated. Petrik says New Zealand’s natural charms can be very persuasive. “New Zealand has the additional advantage of being pretty, so everyone is more than happy to combine a business trip with a…holiday in New Zealand.” One thing which Petrik has noticed, as someone relatively new to the New Zealand research scene, has been a surprising distinction made between local and international publications in terms of the quality of the research outputs. Does the distinction, he wonders, reflect New Zealand having been an isolated country, locked away from the rest of the world? If so, it’s a belief which no longer holds true, as Petrik himself so clearly demonstrates.