New role for Prof Richard Blaikie

New role for Prof Richard Blaikie

Professor Richard Blaikie, current Director of the MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology, has been appointed as the University of Otago’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Enterprise).

 Professor Blaikie will step down as Director of the Institute in July and take up the new position in December and will be replaced by Professor Kathryn McGrath, who is currently a Principal Investigator in the MacDiarmid Institute at Victoria University of Wellington.

After graduating with a first class honours degree in Physics from the University of Otago in 1988, Professor Blaikie was a Rutherford Memorial Scholar at the University of Cambridge, where he received his PhD in Physics in 1992. He also spent a year as a visiting scientist at the Hitachi Cambridge Laboratory. He returned to New Zealand to take up a position at the University of Canterbury in 1993.

He was the Deputy Director of the MacDiarmid Institute from 2002, succeeding Sir Paul Callaghan as Director in 2008. Professor Blaikie has seen the Institute go from strength to strength. The MacDiarmid Institute’s citation impact factor shows that it is now the leading materials science research institute in Australasia. It is now ranked just below leading research Institutes in the US, including MIT and Cornell. During Professor Blaikie’s tenure the Institute held its largest conference ever, AMN-5, in Wellington in February 2011, attracting nearly 500 delegates from New Zealand and overseas.

Internationally, he is perhaps best known for his scientific work on the negative refraction of light and its use in fabricating tiny electrical circuits. Professor Blaikie’s group was the first in the world to demonstrate the use of a thin silver lens to form sub-wavelength patterns on a silicon wafer. This is important because other methods for doing this are prohibitively slow and expensive and his work may eventually pave the way for faster, smaller electronic circuits.

As well as formerly sitting on the Marsden Fund Council, Professor Blaikie is a foundation member of the Science Board recently established by the New Zealand Government. He was awarded the T K Sidey Medal by the Royal Society of New Zealand in 2001, and was a Fulbright Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the same year.

Otago Vice-Chancellor Professor David Skegg says he is delighted to announce Professor Blaikie’s appointment. “Richard Blaikie was chosen from an exceptionally strong field of candidates from within and outside the University. I believe that he will be an ideal person to lead Otago’s activities in research and commercialisation.”

Professor Blaikie’s appointment as Deputy Vice-Chancellor also comes with a Chair in Physics. This will ensure that he is able to continue making strong contributions to MacDiarmid Institute research programmes.