Professor Juliet Gerrard

Emeritus Investigator

Phone: +64 9 923 5264


Postal Address:


School of Biological Sciences
Thomas Building (Research)
Building 110
3a Symonds Street
Auckland Central 1010

Juliet has pioneered the integration of biology with materials science within the Institute. Her seminal contributions include the use of ‘molecular lego’ to make nanomaterials by controlling the aggregation of proteins, and significant commercialisation activity, such as have resulted in the formation of Hi-Aspect. Her contributions to the research environment have been massive, including a highly successful stint as Chair of the Marsden Fund Council; too successful, in the sense that it has led to her current appointment as the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor, a role that obliges her to step down as a Principal Investigator in the Institute. We anticipate, however, continuing many productive conversations with her in her new role!


Research Interests

Juliet’s research is interdisciplinary and highly collaborative, cutting across biochemistry, chemistry, health, agricultural and food science and biomaterial design. It also incorporates a full spectrum of applied and fundamental research.   

At present, the major focus is the understanding of the higher order protein assembly. This research has potential application in the design of novel therapeutic agents (by disrupting assembly), the improvement of food, and in the assembly of novel materials, e.g. from higher order quaternary complexes or amyloid fibrils.





Associated Content

AMN8 Outreach

680 secondary school students came along to hear and be inspired by David Leigh in Christchurch. Professor Leigh also appeared on RadioNZ and was featured in an article about molecular machines by TheSpinoff. An enthusiastic crowd of 200 people turned up to listen to Henry Snaith and Justin Hodgkiss at the Royal Society in Wanaka. […]


Electronic devices assembled by protein building blocks

Electronic devices assembled by protein building blocks Hodgkiss, Gerrard, Plank, et al Natural proteins have evolved amino acid sequences that adhere to each other with exceptional strength and specificity. In a highlight publication this month,1 a team of biologists, chemists, and physicists exploited such sequences to encode the assembly of electronic devices from hybrid materials. […]


Protein Nano-LEGO

“We are really interested in making things smaller these days,” says PhD student Amy Yewdall from the University of Canterbury. “And we’re thinking of proteins as a nanomaterial that we can use as building blocks for future machines, so you’ve got nanomachines that we can make, or biosensors.” In particular, Amy is working with proteins called […]


MacDiarmid Institute Refunded: Thank you and congratulations

With the news that we have been successful in gaining funding through to the end of 2020 I get to be a bit self-indulgent this week and focus on thanking people for their participation and support during the past year or so as we developed the strategy for the bid. Many people have played very […]


The Bid is Gone – YAY – let the doing begin!

Eight months of living and breathing the MacDiarmid Institute Centre of Research Excellence funding proposal to come down to a click of the mouse. Where were the trumpets, the marching band, the ticker tape parade?! Shouldn’t such a momentous occasion be marked with an explosion of lights and fanfare rather than the soft snoring sound […]


Fish Eyes Used to Detect Disease

University of Canterbury researchers (lead byThe MacDiarmid Institute’s Juliet Gerrard) are using discarded fish eyes to help develop sensors that will detect health problems in humans. SOURCE: The Press Read More

Bottom-Up Soft Engineering

In the spirit of traditional condensed matter physics, this Objective focuses on understanding how the macroscopic properties of soft materials emerge from the chemical composition of, and the interactions between, the molecular components. We study the organisation of proteins into higher order assemblies, building on our successful manufacture of protein nanotubes (fibrils) from readily available […]


3 Investigators Made RSNZ Fellows

The three Principal Investigators, with ties to four of our seven partner institutes, are currently or have previously been members of our Science Executive, and all make a significant contribution to the leadership and direction of the MacDiarmid Institute. Professor Shaun Hendy – Industrial Research Limited, Victoria University of Wellington Professor Juliet Gerrard – University […]

Bridging The Gap

‘Big, brave ideas’ inspired by biology are helping New Zealand advance towards a science-based economy.  Professor Juliet Gerrard is leading the MacDiarmid Institute’s work on Functional Nanostructures. The Director of the Biomolecular Interaction Centre at Canterbury University, she says it provides a bridge between the physical sciences for which the Institute is known and biology […]

From trash to treasure

There are thousands of different types of proteins— probably millions—collectively capable of carrying out a huge number of complex processes, and yet they are all made out of just 20 building blocks.    ANTONY said it of Cleopatra—but the same could be said of proteins—‘custom cannot stale their infinite variety’. There are thousands of different […]

Looking in to the Middle Ground

When someone says they are studying soft materials, you may think of cuddly toys or velvet cushions, but to MacDiarmid researchers it means the long chains of molecules that make up cellulose fibres, dairy-based casein micelles and protein filaments in hair or food. These biomaterials form an intermediary hierarchy between the atomic and single molecule […]

A Culture of Commercialisation

In general, I see my role as being to facilitate commercialization activity in the Institute, and to build a culture of commercialisation.  I’m not going to be doing the commercialisation in the sense of starting companies and writing business plans but, hopefully, I can help put structures and networks in place to support people who want […]

Collaborating – a CoRE Issue

At first glance, there would seem to be little to connect a hi-tech nanotechnology-focused research centre with another concentrating on agri-foods, but look again.     Over the past three to four years, the MacDiarmid and the Riddet Institutes have worked together, sharing personnel and equipment to bring fundamental physical research on materials and structures […]

New Zealand – Taiwan Symposium on Bio-nanotechnologies and MacDiarmid Institute BioNanoNetwork (BNN) Meeting

The joint New Zealand – Taiwan Symposium on Bionanotechnologies and the MacDiarmid Institute BioNanoNetwork (BNN) annual meeting was held in April 2010 in Wellington and in Christchurch, organized by Richard Tilley and Maan Alkaisi. The symposium was sponsored by the NZ Ministry of Research, Science & Technology, National Science Council, Taiwan and the MacDiarmid Institute BioNanoNetwork. Dr […]


ID Event Name Duration Start Date
Functional Nanostructures – what’s it all about? 0 Days August 6, 2015