Professor Ken MacKenzie

Emeritus Investigator

Phone: 04 463 5885

Fax:+64 4 4635237

Postal Address:

School of Chemical and Physical Sciences
Victoria University of Wellington
PO Box 600
Wellington 6140

Ken MacKenzie was born Wellington and is an Alumnus of Victoria University of Wellington, from which he graduated PhD in solid state chemistry in 1967 and was awarded the degree of DSc in 1976 for his contributions to the high-temperature solid state chemistry of minerals-based materials.  He was a founding Principal Investigator of the MacDiarmid Institute.

 

For more than 50 years he has initiated and actively researched all the major classes of ceramic materials, including traditional clay-based ceramics, cements, glasses, electronic ceramics, engineering and aerospace ceramics, bioceramics, and, for the last 20 years, environmentally friendly materials (inorganic polymers and materials with structures mimicking nature). These materials play a vital role in improving every aspect of people’s lives, their health, their means of communication and entertainment, their housing and the purity of their water supplies. They also have the potential to improve and protect the quality of the environment and reduce the carbon footprint of human activity. Over a long period, Professor MacKenzie’s development of these types of ceramic materials has underpinned the major developments in the production of technical ceramic materials in New Zealand, including the highly successful commercial production of SiAlON engineering ceramics by Pyrotek New Zealand and the development of ecologically-friendly concrete. At his induction in 2007 as an Academician of the Science Division of the World Academy of Ceramics he was described by the Academy President as “the international face of New Zealand ceramic materials research”.

 

After a three-year Post-Doctoral period in the UK with Prof. James White at the Department of Ceramics, University of Sheffield, he returned to a position in NZ with DSIR Chemistry Division in the Physical Chemistry Section, of which he became Section head in 1978. From 1976-78 he was seconded from the NZ Government to the Materials and Energy Centre, Tehran, Iran, as a Visiting Research Professor, to establish a ceramics research group. At other times he has spent periods as a Visiting Research Professor at the Chemistry Department, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada (1991), Distinguished Visitor at the Faculty of Engineering, Hokkaido University, Japan (1995), Visiting Research Fellow at the Materials Division, German Aerospace Centre, Bonn (1998), Visiting Professor at the Department of Metallurgy and Ceramics Science, Tokyo Institute of Technology, Japan (2005), and as a Distinguished Professorial Visitor, Department of Energy, Environment and Materials, King Mongut’s University, Bangkok, Thailand (2016).

 

At the heart of Professor MacKenzie’s materials research career is his longstanding contribution to development multinuclear solid state nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy and its application to inorganic materials by probing their constituent atoms at their deepest level. This work was continued when in 1998 he was awarded a 2-year Royal Society of New Zealand James Cook Research Fellowship to the Department of Materials, University of Oxford University, UK. There he and Professor Mark Smith of Warwick University wrote an authoritative textbook on Multinuclear Solid State NMR of Inorganic Materials which continues to be consulted by researchers today.

 

In 2002, Ken MacKenzie joined the Academic staff of the School of Chemical and Physical Sciences at Victoria University of Wellington, being promoted to full Professor in 2006. In this capacity he has trained and mentored some of New Zealand’s leading materials scientists. His research group also regularly hosted and trained many overseas scientists and students, particularly from less-developed countries including Iran, Cameroon and Thailand. He is a past chairman of the Wellington Branch of the NZ Institute of Chemistry, and chaired the 2011 Fellowship panel of the Royal Society of New Zealand. He has regularly represented New Zealand on the organizing committees of international conferences and continues to be an advisory board member and reviewer for more than 12 international journals. As an acknowledged authority in the field of solid-state NMR spectroscopy he continues to be regularly consulted by colleagues in both developed and less-developed countries, including USA, Japan, Germany, UK, Thailand, Iran, Cameroon and Mongolia, reflecting the truly international nature of his research. His work has been published in more than 350 research papers in many high-impact peer-reviewed materials science journals, including an early-career paper in “Nature” and in 10 book chapters. He has regularly represented New Zealand in the area of materials science by presenting more than 80 invited plenary lectures to international conferences. He has also made his research in materials science accessible to the NZ public by talks to social groups, service clubs, teachers and school groups and other organizations, through radio and TV interviews, and in an article in the NZ Geographic magazine.

 

Professor MacKenzie’s contributions to materials chemistry over a long period have been recognized by a number of prestigious medals and prizes:

 

NZ Institute of Chemistry Easterfield Medal (1976)

Ministerial Award for Excellence in Technological Development (1989)

Shell Prize for Industrial and Applied Chemistry (1990)

ICI Medal for Excellence in Chemical Research (1990)

Royal Society of NZ Medal for Excellence in Science and Technology (1997)

NZ Association of Scientists Shorland Medal for Basic or Applied Research (2003)

Royal Society of NZ Hector Medal (2003).

Elected Fellow of the New Zealand Institute of Chemistry (1983)

Awarded a Royal Society of New Zealand James Cook Research Fellowship to Oxford University (1998-2000)

Elected Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand (2002)

Elected Academician of the World Academy of Ceramics (2007)

 

Research Interests

Advanced inorganic materials, solid state chemistry, solid-state NMR spectroscopy

Development and structure of novel advanced inorganic materials for applications as catalysts, engineering and structural ceramics, electroceramics, bioceramics and ecologically-friendly materials for remediation of pollution. Investigation of these materials by X-ray diffraction, thermal analysis, electron microscopy, Mossbauer spectroscopy and solid-state NMR.

His principal area of research for the last 14 years has been in the development and study of new inorganic polymers for environmental protection applications and other novel applications. He is expert in a number of experimental techniques, but particularly solid-state multinuclear magnetic resonance, about which he has written an authorative textbook.

 

Associated Content

Jan
25

AMN9 Wellington 10-14 February 2019

This year’s AMN9 conference will take place in Wellington. Read more at the official AMN9 website.

Materialise: a science quest – the game

The world’s energy use is increasing dramatically. About 8% of the world’s electricity is used for computing, and that amount is growing rapidly, as we want our computers to do more for us. We need to do two things: create ways to generate more energy without damaging the environment create computers that still can run amazing […]

Materialise: a science quest

The MacDiarmid Institute is leading a conversation about materials science and its contribution to a future New Zealand that is environmentally and economically sustainable.  As a way to broaden this conversation and include future users and creators of materials technology, we’ve created a game aimed at school students.    In this quest-style game, players meet […]

Sep
25

Materialise: a sustainable future

                            Registrations are now closed. If you require any further information about this event email carol.wheatley@vuw.ac.nz.  Play the game ‘Materialise: a science quest’ here Watch our alumni videos here

Commercialisation Manager at the MacDiarmid Institute for Advance Materials and Nanotechnology

The MacDiarmid Institute is a Centre of Research Excellence (CoRE) and is hosted by Victoria University of Wellington. The MacDiarmid Institute has researchers based in seven partner organisations – University of Auckland, Massey University, University of Canterbury, University of Otago, Victoria University of Wellington, GNS Science and Callaghan Innovation. The Commercialisation Manager may be based […]

Jul
13

Penny Brothers: Exploring surface patterning

Story by Kate Hannah Professor Penny Brothers is as proud and enthusiastic talking about her family as she is her science – her screensaver is a beautiful shot of her climbing Mt Aspiring with her son Tristan. She tells me, with some pleasure, that she’s delighted to be the incoming President of both the New […]

Jul
13

Stuart Wimbush: From materials to systems

Story by Ruth Beran Commercialising high temperature superconductors is what the 25 scientists and engineers at the Robinson Research Institute (RRI) do best. Formerly part of IRL, and called the Superconductivity and Energy Team, the RRI is now part of Victoria University of Wellington. The Robinson Research Institute was named after the late Dr Bill […]

Jul
10

Public Lecture Series: The Energy Revolution

The age of fossil fuels is coming to an end.  Global warming from their burning is undeniable.  But when will tomorrow begin? Will there be a long transition period, with a mish-mash of renewables while we learn to harness the sun’s energy efficiently, as plants have been doing for 3.5 billion years?  Is there even enough sunlight […]

Jul
10

Nick White: Inspiring alumnus

MacDiarmid Institute alumnus, Dr Nick White was born in the UK, but grew up in New Zealand.  He completed his BSc(Hons) at the University of Otago, and PhD at the University of Oxford.  From 2013–2015, Nick was a Killam Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of British Columbia.  He was appointed as a lecturer at […]

Jul
10

Harry Warring: Meet 2015’s MESA Chair

Story by Emma Timewell Harry Warring, The new Chair of the MacDiarmid Emerging Research Association (MESA) likes spin. Spintronics to be precise – the use of an electron’s spin as well as its charge for the development of new materials. Materials used in electronics rely on the charge of electrons within the material, but the […]

Jul
10

Luke Liu: Metal-Organic Frameworks

Story by Emma Timewell Luke Liu builds molecular sponges—known as metal-organic frameworks, or MOFs, these molecular sponges have the potential to store and separate industrial compounds such as hydrogen, methane and carbon dioxide with high efficiency. The energy required to separate these compounds using current methods is high—for example, about a third of the power […]

Jul
10

Matthew Cowan: Silver ions to the rescue!

Story by Margo White We’re often told that obliging industry to significantly reduce energy consumption and energy-related emissions would be bad for business and the economy. There may be some truth in that, but it also seems apparent that if there was the political and economic will, there would be the scientific ways. Consider, for […]

Mar
24

Editorial By Professor Kate McGrath

There is a lot I could focus on in this editorial; the enormous success of our 7th International conference, AMN7, thanks to the hard work of Shane Telfer and his team; the calibre of our speakers at the conference with topics from threads of electric charge to creating complex molecular architectures as MOFs; and the […]