The Christmas Wrap

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 Rehm (MU), Paul Kruger (UoC)) and eight new Associate Investigators (Tim Woodfield (UoO), Margaret Brimble (UoA), Jianyong Jin (UoA), Kevin Smith (UoA), Zoran Zujovic (UoA), Ruth Knibbe (Callaghan Innovation), Shen Chong (Callaghan Innovation) and Michelle Dickinson (UoA)). We also welcomed a new Board member Wayne Ngata.

Our AMN-6 conference held in February in Auckland was the biggest to date, was superbly organised by Jadranka Travas-Sejdic (UoA) and her team, particularly Nicola Gaston (VUW) as Programme Chair. We once again welcomed a large number of international scientists to New Zealand and shared with them our research endeavours.  We used the conference to engage with the public including our very successful NanoArt exhibition, a sell-out public lecture given by Nobel Laureate Roald Hoffmann on Art and Science and also a sell-out schools event featuring Dan Nocerra, Don Eigler and Joanna Eisenberg. Somehow Jadranka pulled off a second hugely successful international conference last week – so huge year for her.

We have had over 50 PhD completions and submissions this year – quite phenomenal, congratulations to all of you we welcome you into our alumni and look forward to maintaining a strong association with you into the future. Well done also to the supervisors – always a special moment when one of our students complete their PhDs.

This year we said goodbye to Pablo Etchegoin.  Pablo was an exceptional scientist, and an inordinately warm, humorous and wonderfully cynical man. His contribution to the institute and to international science was substantial his work will have long term significant implications.

Sally Brooker (UoO), Alison Downard (UoC), Franck Natali (VUW) and Jeff Tallon (Callaghan Innovation) were successful in gaining Marsden Grants this year. Richard Blaikie (UoO) was awarded the Hector Medal, Jim Metson (UoA) became the Chief Science Advisor to MBIE and David Williams (UoA) was elected to the MBIE Science Board, well done to all of you.

We launched our range of professional development programmes and resources for early childhood and primary school teachers including Korero with Scientists; forums in which scientists and teachers explore science concepts and scientific thinking. We also held The Best 100 Science Experiments competition, where teachers submitted their best ever, no fail science experiments and demonstrations, from teachers, for teachers. These are examples of how we are beginning to realise several of our ambitious targets set in our strategic plan launched in December 2012.

The above are just a few of our biggest happenings this year, there have been many many more, the biggest of which has been the work completed as we developed our CoRE bid submitted two weeks ago. This was a true institute-wide effort, exemplifying in every way our values particularly collaboration, excellence and commitment.  

It is a privilege to lead the MacDiarmid Institute and to work so closely with many of you. I look forward to 2014; all of the planning and ground work that we have completed will see us begin to reap the benefits with tangible returns being delivered for the institute, our investigators, our partners, the wider science and innovation communities and New Zealand.

Have a wonderful Christmas and New Year break, the next Blog will be 31 January

All the best, warm wishes