Shaun Hendy

Professor Shaun Hendy

Associate Investigator

Phone: 09 923 9936

Postal Address:

Department of Physics
University of Auckland
Private Bag 92019
Auckland 1142


Shaun Hendy is Director of the Te Pūnaha Matatini, a Centre of Research Excellence, and a Professor of Physics at the University of Auckland. Shaun has a PhD in physics from the University of Alberta in Canada and a BSc(Hons) in mathematical physics from Massey University. 

He has a wide range of research interests, including computational physics, nanoscience, complex systems and innovation. 

In 2010, Shaun was awarded the New Zealand Association of Scientists Research Medal and a Massey University Distinguished Young Alumni Award.  In 2012 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand for his research on nanotechnology, and in 2013 he was awarded ANZIAM’s E. O. Tuck medal for research in applied mathematics.

Shaun blogs, writes for Unlimited Magazine and has a regular slot on Radio New Zealand Nights as physics correspondent.  In 2012, Shaun was awarded the Callaghan Medal by the Royal Society of New Zealand and the Prime Minister’s Science Media Communication Prize for his achievements as a science communicator. His first book, Get Off the Grass, co-authored with the late Sir Paul Callaghan, was published in August 2013.


Research Interests

Shaun uses methods from theoretical and computational physics to study the properties of materials at the atomic scale.  He is interested in how fluids flow over complex surfaces like those on leaves or Gore-Tex.  He also studies the properties of nanomaterials like carbon nanotubes and nanoparticles.  Finally, he also uses methods from physics and mathematics to study how innovation works, particularly how it can be affected by collaboration and distance.


Associated Content


Our new Emeritus Investigators

Quiet week this week, no controversy, think I did enough of that last time. This week it is time to shine the light on others. But first THANK YOU to the huge number of people I know and don’t know who contacted me and thanked me for speaking out on issues that they believe need […]


‘Nanogirl’ wins science communication award

This year’s Prime Minister’s Science Prize for Science Communication has been awarded to Dr Michelle Dickinson, capping off a prize-winning year for the University of Auckland engineering lecturer. Dr Dickinson, a senior lecturer in Chemical & Materials Engineering in the Faculty of Engineering and Associate Investigator of The MacDiarmid Institute, was also named Science Communicator of […]


The Christmas Wrap

We’ve had another big year. We welcomed two new Deputy Directors Profs David Williams (UoA) and Alison Downard (UoC) (Shaun Hendy stepping down at the end of last year and Simon Brown at mid year). We also welcomed six new Principal Investigators (Natalie Plank (VUW), Cather Simpson (UoA), John Kennedy (GNS), Duncan McGillivray (UoA), Bernd […]


Get Off The Grass!

  In “Get Off The Grass!” (Auckland University Press) Shaun Hendy and Paul Callaghan take a quantitative look at how innovation works both in New Zealand and around the world. They show that economic geography plays a key role in determining rates of innovation and productivity. If New Zealand is to grow its economy more rapidly […]


Nature Of Science – Meet Our Scientists

  Bill, Alex, Cather, Maan, Shaun and Sandy work at The MacDiarmid Institute. They all do science for a living, but have very different jobs and persepectives. One thing they all have in common is their passion for science. Click on a scientist’s name to watch their video, or watch the whole playlist here.     […]


Get off the Grass Launched

On Thursday 15th August, more than two hundred people turned up at Victoria University of Wellington to see the launch of Get Off the Grass, a book that was co-written by the late Sir Paul Callaghan and MacDiarmid Institute investigator, Professor Shaun Hendy. At the launch Victoria University’s Deputy Vice Chancellor, Neil Quigley, spoke about the […]


Get off the Grass!

The book is the follow up on Paul’s 2009 book “Wool to Weta” Transforming New Zealand’s Culture and Economy, both published by Auckland University Press.  In the few years prior to Paul’s death he began to explore the ideals of New Zealand and its economy and the place that science had in working to define […]


Pounamu : Exploring a science savvy New Zealand in 2023

Media Release Monday August 12 – Media Release: Pounamu: exploring a science savvy New Zealand in 2023 Date: August 29 12.00pm – August 30 12.00pm Location: Anywhere with an internet connection Issued by: The MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology, StratEDGY Strategic Foresight Mātini māmano ka rapa te whai By many, by thousands, the work (project) will be […]


Professor Nicola Spaldin – Cosmic strings

Story by MacDiarmid Institute Principal Investigator Shaun Hendy What do the origins of the early universe have to do with materials science? More than you might think, according to Nicola Spaldin and her colleagues at the ETH in Zurich, Switzerland. Spaldin has found an unusual material that mimics aspects of the way the universe might […]


Videos – Meet our scientists

During AMN-7 the Science Media Centre “SAVVY Express” team offered our Investigators and students targeted 15 minute sessions to practice speaking about their research on-camera, with feedback and training from a professional interviewer. The result is a series of seventeen interesting 90 second videos all of which are now available to watch via SMC’s Youtube channel, or you can […]

OPINION: A small, advanced economy?

  I BORROW this title from a Statistics New Zealand commentary, which points out that in terms of the title we are probably not so advanced, despite a regular programme of government-to-government meetings with these economies with which we might like to be compared. As Shaun Hendy and Paul Callaghan’s 2013 book Get off the […]

Inspired by science

  In collaboration with educators from across the sector TheWaterGenie, a water management system that will allow households using rainwater tanks to better manage their use, has been working on a range of resources and projects that will further encourage an understanding of, and passion for science in the wider community.  THE LEARNING HUB on The MacDiarmid […]

The New Zealand Paradox

  What can we do to lift prosperity in New Zealand? The tools and concepts needed to answer this question have their origins in statistical physics. This is a problem tailor made for physicists and mathematicians at Industrial Research Ltd. Professor Shaun Hendy explains. Nanotechnologists sometimes trace the origins of their field back to a 1959 […]

Changing Phase

Richard Bowles first met Shaun Hendy (now the Deputy Director of the MacDiarmid Institute) when they did a summer internship together at Industrial Research Limited in 1994. The two young scientists went their separate ways, doing very different things, but met again at a conference in Los Angeles not that long ago, and realised that […]


An MIT student’s “summer” project at MacDiarmid shows researchers are collaborating more as the Institute grows. Visiting researcher Virginia Nicholson is an undergraduate student in physics and maths at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). She first visited New Zealand when she was 12 years old, and has been searching for a reason to return ever […]

Himmelbjergegnens Natur-og Idrætsefterskole

As a PhD student in my first year at Victoria University of Wellington, my research is primarily focused on modeling the melting of small gallium clusters (30-55 atoms). I recently had the pleasure of embarking on a two-continent, monthplus journey as part of my PhD professional development. I started the journey visiting our experimental counterparts […]