Upcoming Talks

September 2023
Sep 29
29 September 2023 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Presbyterian Community Centre, 94 Tenby Street
Wanaka, New Zealand

Professor David Wiltshire, University of Canterbury Sixty years ago New Zealander Roy Kerr helped revolutionize physics when he discovered the solution to Einstein's equations defining space around a rotating star […]


Past Talks

August 2023
Aug 18
18 August 2023 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Professor Delwyn Moller (University of Auckland) Imagine if domestic flights crossing our skies each day were not only taking people places but also gathering vast amounts of critical environmental data […]

Aug 11
11 August 2023 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Associate Professor Anna Garden and Dr Emilia Nowak, MacDiarmid Institute. The MacDiarmid Institute is a network of leading researchers from around the country united in a common goal: to create […]

July 2023
Jul 28
28 July 2023 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Dr Shaun Wilkinson, CEO Wilderlab High-throughput DNA sequencing technologies make it possible to survey entire biological communities with as little as a single cup of water. The commercialization of environmental […]

June 2023
Jun 30
30 June 2023 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Professor Angus McIntosh, University of Canterbury In his talk, Angus will traverse the range of issues associated with climate change that confront our freshwater ecosystems. He'll talk about the challenges […]

May 2023
May 26
26 May 2023 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Genomics has promised to transform medicine and medical practice but for the average New Zealander the evidence for this might seem lacking. My talk will address the technologies that have […]

April 2023
Apr 28
28 April 2023 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Professor Murray Thomson, University of Otago Elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand in 2022, Professor Murray Thomson is a prolific researcher in dental epidemiology and health […]

March 2023
Mar 24
24 March 2023 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Professor Barbara Barratt, AgResearch and University of Otago Biological control is a natural phenomenon, but pest management using natural enemies has been manipulated by man for over 3000 years, with […]

February 2023
Feb 24
24 February 2023 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Speaker: Dr Nic Rawlence, University of Otago. Aotearoa New Zealand has been described as the closest thing to studying life on another planet. Yet the animals that survived the arrival […]

November 2022
Nov 18
18 November 2022 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Speaker: Emeritus Professor Colin Townsend, University of Otago

You may not be surprised to learn that if New Zealand’s rivers were to be placed end to end they would total 9,471 km in length. But did you know that the streams that feed those rivers total more than 400,000 km! Did you know that the beds of such streams that have been reached by the introduced brown trout tend to be more slippery than those still occupied by native fish? Or that an ancient whitebait species became ‘landlocked’ into headwater streams of the South Island and evolved into 12 or more new non-migratory species? Or that streams whose beds are disturbed at an intermediate rate have a higher biodiversity than streams turned over by more frequent spates or not disturbed at all? Or which of the human-caused impairments (nitrogen, sediment, water abstraction, increased temperature) is most harmful to stream ecosystems? Well nor did I - until my research team started work three decades ago.

October 2022
Oct 14
14 October 2022 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Associate Professor Arend Merrie MB ChB, PhD, FRACS, MInstD Arend trained in General Surgery in New Zealand gaining his Fellowship and a PhD on colorectal cancer in 2001. Following this […]


Watching snow (melt?) from space

Friday 22 April at 6.00pm 2022, at the Presbyterian Community Centre, 91 Tenby Street, Wanaka. Dr Todd Redpath, School of Geography and School of Surveying, University of Otago, University of Otago. Seasonal snow plays an important role in Aotearoa New Zealand. Many of us enjoy skiing on it in the winter, but it also acts as a substantial reservoir of freshwater and performs important functions within the climate system. Snow is highly dynamic in time and space: once it settles on the ground it can be eroded and transported by the wind then re-deposited elsewhere, while rates of metamorphism and

Smoke, mirrors and aerosol: Bioengineering Healthier Lungs

Friday 25 February at 6.00pm 2022, at the Presbyterian Community Centre, 91 Tenby Street, Wanaka. Dr Kelly Suzanne Burrowes, Auckland Bioengineering Institute, University of Auckland. The lungs are continuously exposed to the environment via the air (and other things) we breathe, making them susceptible to damage. As a result, respiratory diseases present a huge burden on society and their prevalence continues to rise. We are developing new methods to measure and understand lung function using computational modelling and development of new imaging methods. This talk will focus on a few different projects aimed at addressing the harm caused by cigarette

Ian Taylor: The life of New Zealand’s great innovator

Friday 14 January at 6.00pm 2022, at the Presbyterian Community Centre, 91 Tenby Street, Wanaka. Sir Ian Taylor, ‘One of New Zealand’s foremost technology innovators’. Note: Vaccine passes are required and will be checked at the door. Masks are encouraged. Sir Ian was named New Zealand Innovator of the Year in 2019 and received his knighthood in the 2021 New Year’s Honours. Based in Dunedin, his company Animation Research has spent the past three decades converting dry data into captivating visuals, particularly for major international sports events including America’s Cup regattas. The story of how he went from his childhood

How bacteria protect themselves from viruses and how we might use this knowledge to overcome antibiotic-resistant superbugs.

Friday 19 November at 6.00pm 2021, at the Presbyterian Community Centre, 91 Tenby Street, Wanaka. Dr Simon Jackson, Senior Research Fellow, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Te Tari Moromoroiti me te Ārai Mate, University of Otago, Te Whare Wānanga o Otāgo Cost: $5 per person. Bacteria are found in almost all environments on earth and play essential roles in the function of ecosystems. However, bacteria are under constant threat from viruses known as bacteriophages — originating from the Greek meaning “to devour bacteria”. These bacteriophages outnumber bacteria by ten to one, infecting more than 1025 bacteria per second globally. To

Science for a Sustainable Future

Friday 12 November at 6.00pm 2021, at the Presbyterian Community Centre, 91 Tenby Street, Wanaka. MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials & Nanotechnology – 2021 Regional Lecture Series. Looking forward: zero Carbon, zero waste, low energy computing and sustainable resource use. Associate Professor Carla Meledandri – Principal Investigator with the MacDiarmid Institute and an Associate Professor in Chemistry at the University of Otago. Her current research involves the use of colloidal and surface chemistry techniques to develop new functional nanoscale materials for a broad range of applications, from dentistry to energy storage. Dr Anna Garden – Principal Investigator with the MacDiarmid

Communicating Science Through Film

Friday 6 August at 6.00pm, at the Presbyterian Community Centre, 91 Tenby Street, Wanaka. Max Quinn, Polar Film Maker Max will take the audience on an illustrated talk through his television career which began 53 years ago, He will emphasise the roll Science and the Natural World has played in his working life and describe how he has attempted to portray complex science issues to a television audience. Max Quinn has been involved in television production for over 50 years. He cut his professional teeth as a cine cameraman for the NZBC in news, current affairs, and documentaries. He then

Active faults and earthquake hazard in Otago

Friday 23 July at 6.00pm, at the Presbyterian Community Centre, 91 Tenby Street, Wanaka. Professor Mark Stirling, Inaugural Chair of Earthquake Science, University of Otago. Cost – $5 Otago is a region of few historical earthquakes, but with abundant evidence for major prehistoric earthquakes on the geologically active faults. The region’s distinctive Range and Basin topography is a consequence of long-term activity on these faults. Fault studies effectively began back in the days of “Think-Big” inspired hydroelectric power developments, and this was followed by intermittent research and consulting efforts over the years. Most recently, regional fault studies have been undertaken

Aurora chasing around and above New Zealand

Friday 28 May 2021 at 6.00pm, at the Presbyterian Community Centre, 91 Tenby Street, Wanaka. Dr Ian Griffin, Director of Otago Museum, Dunedin. Cost: $5 per person. Since first observing the southern lights a week after he moved to Dunedin seven years ago, Ian Griffin has become obsessed with the aurora australis. On clear nights he can be found on the back bays of the Otago Peninsula trying to experience the aurora’s subtle glow. Ian’s fascination with the southern lights has led to a number of adventures. These include being cautioned for speeding by an unsympathetic police officer during the

The successful Covid-19 response in Aotearoa: What it teaches us about science-led decision making

Download a PDF of presentation (7.5MB) Thursday 15 April at 6.00pm, at the Presbyterian Community Centre, 91 Tenby Street, Wanaka. Professor / Ahorangi Michael Baker. Department of Public Health/Te Tari Hauora Tūmatanui. University of Otago, Wellington/Te Whare Wānanga o Otāgo ki Te Whanga-nui-a-Tara. Cost – $5 per person. This presentation will cover key aspects of the New Zealand response to the Covid-19 pandemic. It will include a discussion of how the pandemic threat was assessed, the range of response options, why New Zealand chose an elimination strategy, and the impact of that choice. Michael will also talk about the importance

“Six Minutes of Terror” – the challenges and rewards of landing robotic spacecraft on Mars.

Friday 12 February 2021 at 6.00pm, at the Presbyterian Community Centre, 91 Tenby Street, Wanaka. Dr Brian Pollard. Cost – $5 per person. Robotic landing on Mars has long been viewed as one of the most challenging engineering endeavours in space exploration. The sequence from entry into Mars’ atmosphere to landing takes about 6 minutes, but with a 20 minute radio signal delay, there no possibility of ground intervention; each lander must safely navigate to the surface on its own.  Mars presents unique challenges, from extreme heating in the atmosphere, parachutes designed for the thin Martian atmosphere, novel methods to touch down softly

Electric Vehicles

Friday 6 November at 6.00pm, at the Presbyterian Community Centre, 91 Tenby Street, Wanaka. Oana Jones, Full Dome producer at Otago Museum. Cost – $5 per person. New Zealand is in a unique position for the adoption of electric cars. With a lot of cheap imports, a majority of our power generation from renewable sources, and a national network of electric vehicle charging infrastructure, EVs are becoming more and more of a popular option for motorists. In this talk, Oana will explore electric cars from a performance, environmental and financial point of view. Members of the local EV community will

Materials – Fact or Fiction

MacDiarmid Institute Regional Lecture Series 2020 Materials Fact or Fiction – Wanaka. Friday 23rd October, 6pm, at the Presbyterian Community Hall, 91 Tenby Street, Wanaka. In order to accommodate any further changes in alert levels due to COVID, this year’s showcase will be in a digital format, with the option to either attend in person at EIT should that be possible and your preference, or to dial in from your own device. Please register here if you wish to dial in and we will send you the appropriate link to do so. Baakonite – a composite metal alloy from Star


Friday 16 October at 6.00pm, at the Presbyterian Community Centre, 91 Tenby Street, Wanaka. Associate Professor James Scott, University of Otago, Geoscience Society of New Zealand President’s Lecture. Cost – $5 per person. Mars, fourth planet from the Sun, will be visited by three missions in February 2021. I will talk about what already known about the planet and we know it, and what is hoped to be found with the latest missions. Furthermore, although there have been no return missions from Mars, we do have Martian rocks on Earth available for study. How is this possible? I will bring

Achieving win-win outcomes for native biodiversity and pastoral farming

Friday 4 September at 6.00pm, at the Presbyterian Community Centre, 91 Tenby Street, Wanaka. Prof David Norton, School of Forestry, University of Canterbury. Cost – $5 per person. In order to comply with the Alert Level 2 requirements for our upcoming talk, we need to restrict attendance to no more than 100 people. To avoid turning people away at the door, we are asking people to please RSVP in advance to secure a spot . Please do not RSVP until you are sure you can attend. We would also like to encourage all guests to arrive early in order to

Wellbeing Policy: Past, Present, Future

Friday 7 August at 6.00pm, at the Presbyterian Community Centre, 91 Tenby Street, Wanaka. Professor Arthur Grimes, Chair of Wellbeing and Public Policy School of Government, Victoria University of Wellington. Cost – $5 per person. The New Zealand government has placed great store on a “wellbeing approach to policy”. In this talk I review antecedents of this approach stretching back to the enlightenment (and before). I then examine two modern approaches to wellbeing policy – based on concepts of subjective wellbeing and on capabilities. I explore the application of these ideas across a range of the social sciences including economics,

Expect the unexpected! Adventures in the icy world of quantum physics.

Friday 3 July at 6.00pm, at the Presbyterian Community Centre, 91 Tenby Street, Wanaka. Prof Joachim Brand, New Zealand Institute for Advanced Study, Massey University. Cost – $5 per person. As temperatures fall, one might expect the physical world to become boring and lifeless. But realising ultra-cold temperatures in the laboratory, experimentalists can observe, manipulate and harness phenomena of quantum physics that are otherwise hidden in the microscopic structure of matter. In this talk I will introduce you to the physics of superfluids and show how laser-cooled atomic gases may hold the key to understand physical phenomena like high-temperature superconductivity,

Exploring the “dark matter” in cancer – towards a new therapeutic approach

Friday 24 April 6.00pm – 7pm. Online webinar (including question time) via Zoom. Connection details will be emailed to our branch members and anyone else who requests them – please email Dr Sarah Diermeier, Department of Biochemistry, University of Otago. No cost. The past decades have seen striking progress in cancer diagnostics and treatment. Due to early detection and targeted treatments, cancer survival rates have increased significantly. However, the most aggressive types of cancer remain hard to tackle. The main cause of death in many cancer patients is due to the spread of tumours to distant organs, a process

Random walks in Climate Science at Bodeker Scientific

Friday 6 March at 6.00pm, at the Presbyterian Community Centre, 91 Tenby Street, Wanaka. Professor Greg Bodeker, Adjunct Professor at the Climate Change Research Institute. Cost – $5 per person. Link to Presentation Climate change remains the defining issue of our time. This presentation will provide a brief overview of the latest developments in climate science before diving into detail on a few of the climate change projects underway at Bodeker Scientific. These will include: 1) EWERAM: As greenhouse gases continue to accumulate in Earth’s atmosphere, the resultant warming of the climate system changes the nature of extreme weather events

Our Lakes’ Health: Past, Present and Future

Friday 7 February at 6.00pm, at the Presbyterian Community Centre, 91 Tenby Street, Wanaka. Drs Marcus Vandergoes (GNS Science) & Susie Wood (Cawthron Institute) and the Lakes380 team. Cost – $5 per person. The health of our lakes is central to New Zealand’s environmental, economic and cultural wellbeing. Yet we cannot robustly assess the water quality or ecological health of our 3,800 (> 1 ha) lakes because over 95% of them are not monitored. Even for the few lakes that are monitored, datasets are short (

Alpine fault earthquake: Ground shaking and impacts

Tuesday 10 December at 6.00pm, at the Presbyterian Community Centre, 91 Tenby Street, Wanaka. Professor Brendon Bradley, College of Engineering, University of Canterbury/Director of QuakeCoRE. Cost – FREE – Everyone Welcome. Link to view presentation slides: Link to Simulation Atlas: What could an Alpine Fault earthquake feel like and how is world leading research in earthquake resilience helping us prepare? “We can’t predict when an earthquake will hit but we can predict how strong the ground shaking will be at certain geographic locations,” Professor Brendon Bradley says. His award-winning research is being used to set new international building