MacDiarmid Institute’s Seventh International Conference Huge Success

MacDiarmid Institute’s Seventh International Conference Huge Success

This past week we have been in Nelson hosting our seventh international conference, attended by over 500 delegates and superbly organised by our Principal Investigator Shane Telfer (Massey University) and his team. In addition to the hundreds of science presentations we have been involved in a range of outreach activities during the week. This tradition of ensuring that we capture the opportunity of combining leading national and international researchers, with emerging researchers, with the public and school children began right from our very first conference which was held in Wellington in 2003. Three Nobel Laureates Alan MacDiarmid, Alan Heeger and Hideki Shirakawa came to AMN1 and they embraced the idea of being involved in public talks and inspiring the future generations as well as engaging more traditionally in a science conference setting with a twist; a conference that brought together chemists and physicists and engineers and biologists in a relaxed and collegial environment where interaction was a primary goal. This week was no different.

First AMN-7 plenary speaker, Prof Michael Graetzel

First AMN-7 plenary speaker, Prof Michael Graetzel

The vibe at the conference was one of inclusiveness and engagement, something that our conferences are now famous for. First time attendees are always surprised by this and by the incredible calibre of the research being presented and our ability to attract some many delegates and in particular so many well known international researchers. But this is now our norm; this is the reputational pull of the MacDiarmid Institute and its researchers. As part of the conference we opened our third nanoart exhibition. The exhibition was opened on Monday at the Nelson Provincial Museum. 50 images, primarily obtained by our emerging researchers are on display until 8 March. These images capture not only amazing science data but are visually spectacular. The confluence of science and art is at a peak in the museum.  If you happen to be in Nelson over the next few weeks do drop into the Museum. Thank you to Professor Simon Brown (PI @ UoC) and Glenda Lewis for organising this exhibition with the Nelson Science Society (in particular Nigel Costly and Andrew Hamilton) and the museum.

Winning image by Andrew Chan School of Chemical Sciences, the University of Auckland. This image resembles a rib cage but is actually the intricate vein system of the Green Bottle Fly (Lucillia sericata).  Insect vascular systems may serve as blueprints for the design of bio-inspired microfluidic systems for lab-on-a-chip devices.

Winning image by Andrew Chan
School of Chemical Sciences, the University of Auckland

Nearly all of the images were or still are for sale with all monies going to the Brook Waimarama Sanctuary to support their development of the sanctuary and in particular the fence to allow for a predator free zone to be created. So far we have raised over $2500 between the auction on the open night and the donations at the public lecture, superbly delivered by Dr Michelle Dickinson (AI, UoA). Michelle is the current recipient of the Prime Minister’s Science Communicators Award. She attracted over 400 local Nelsonians to her public talk where she explored science fiction vs science facts from Harry Potter to Iron Man. The crowd were enthralled and Michelle was still answering questions for over an hour after the official even had finished. Of course the conference is a success because of our delegates. Thank you to all the delegates for supporting our conference, in particular our six plenary speakers. Michael Graetzel, Jeff Long, Colin Nuckolls, Hideo Hosono, Jadranka Travas-Sejdic and Laurens Molenkamp. We look forward to welcoming people in Queenstown for AMN8 in 2017. Thank you to Professor Paul Kruger for agreeing to be the Chair of our next conference.   I guess if you are in to cricket the next while is going to be awesome for you all.   Enjoy. Kate