Professor Bill Williams

Professor Bill Williams

Principal Investigator

Phone: 06 356 9099 x84645

Postal Address:

Institute of Fundamental Sciences
Massey University
Private Bag 11 222
Palmerston North 4442

Bill Williams obtained an Honours degree in Physics with Astrophysics from Leeds University, UK and then undertook a PhD in NMR relaxation behaviour at the Open University. He went on to spend a number of years as a Postdoctoral Fellow in The Chemistry Department at York University, UK, working on various aspects of biological polymers. Subsequently he spent 4 years with Unilever Research, before returning to academia in March 2003, with a position in The Institute of Fundamental Sciences at Massey University, NZ, where he is working on biophysics and soft-matter. (


Bill is a fellow and currently secretary of the New Zealand Institute of Physics (NZIoP), and is the New Zealand representative in the International Union of Pure Applied Biophysics (IUPAB) He was an invited participant at the Soft Meets Biology Gordon Research Conference in 2009, and was the Theme leader for the Soft Materials Theme of The MacDiarmid Institute from 2006 to 2011. He was an invited speaker at the 2010 International Hydrocolloids Conference, Co-chair and organiser of a Pectin Symposium at Pacifichem, and was recently invited to give the prestigious Pilnik Lecture at the 2011 Hydrocolloids conference in Wageningen.


He is also leading the PGP FSD Project Real-Time Measurement of Particle-Particle Formation and Growth Kinetics


Associated Content


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 […]


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.     […]

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 […]


Commitment and Collegiality

These plans will be the basis for a joint meeting between the Board and the Science Executive at the end of July. They define what we are doing now and what we intend to do, forming the basis for our rebidding proposal. The meeting was great and showed to me yet again how amazing the […]

Molecular basis of the properties soft materials: (Callaghan, McGrath, Williams(B), Hendy)

Uniquely powerful state-of-the-art experimental tools built on pioneering research in rheo-NMR, the amalgamation of nuclear magnetic resonance and its capacity for molecular insight, with rheology, the science of mechanical deformation, provide the opportunity to monitor molecular properties and macroscopic consequences concurrently. Furthermore, recently developed diffusion-correlation, -exchange and -spectral-analysis methods have proven powerful in measuring bilayer […]

Nano- and micro- fluidics and porous media (Callaghan, Hendy, Williams (B))

These methods will be combined with rapid micro-imaging based on rapid scan echo planar techniques, in order to investigate spatial heterogeneity. Additionally, combined spin-relaxation and gradient diffusion methods will be developed to investigate molecular dynamics using multi-dimensional NMR based on novel inverse Fourier and inverse Laplace methods.  Flow in nanochannels is also being studied using […]

Biomimetic materials (McGrath, Williams(B))

Nature controls the precipitation of inorganic materials to high precision and, in doing so, manipulates their growth such that the final materials have superior physical (e.g. strength) and chemical properties (e.g. resistance to corrosion) as compared with similar mineral or synthetically grown materials. Investigations are underway into using soft interactions and traits inherent in soft […]


Outreach – Institute Investigators visit Nelson College for Girls

While in Nelson for AMN-7 the MacDiarmid Institute’s seventh international conference for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology, three of the Institute’s Investigators visited Nelson College for Girls to share with the Year 12 and 13 students their passion and enthusiasm for science. Senior science students from Nelson College for Boys also attended the presentations.   Fibonacci [...]

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 […]

Reviewing the Situation with Pablo Hernandez

Breaking out of the relatively sheltered environment of academia and into the fast-paced life of a commercial startup can be a bit daunting, but the MacDiarmid Institute’s PhD intern Pablo Hernandez has taken it in his stride. Earlier this year Pablo shifted from the Biophysics and Soft Matter Group in Palmerston North to spend three […]

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 […]

Portals into Other Worlds

  Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. Hidden in six locations around New Zealand are over twenty portals into other worlds. Unlike Narnia or Middle Earth, these worlds are real, although you would have to shrink around a hundred million times to enter them. At this scale, an orange would loom the size of a […]

A Spirit of Collaboration

  In 2003, the MacDiarmid Institute was given a 10 million dollar grant from the Government’s education budget to spend on new equipment. It was a shower of rain after drought. Researchers finally had access to world class facilities and the Institute flourished. In four years the number of papers published more than tripled and […]

Filled Roles

  There was a surprise waiting for those attending the post-doc symposium at Massey. After – in some cases – learning and even rehearsing their oral presentations – some attendees were initially horrified to find that they’d be giving someone else’s presentation… Some might call Bill Williams sadistic. Others would say he just has a […]

Mechanical Magic – Nature’s ‘Smart’ Materials

  From plants growing and flowering, to animals breathing and moving around, to DNA unwinding as it gets transcribed and copied, nature is a beehive of constant mechanical action. Many of the activities that occur in the natural world simply do not seem possible in things that are not alive – take fruit ripening, for […]