Upcoming Talks

July 2024
Jul 26
26 July 2024 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Presbyterian Community Centre, 94 Tenby Street
Wanaka, New Zealand

Professor Emeritus Philippa Gander, Massey University Philippa will explore how the circadian body clock modifies the functioning of our brain and body across the day/night cycle and programmes us for […]


Past Talks

June 2024
Jun 07
07 June 2024 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Dr Samuel Mehr (University of Auckland) Music - what is it, how does it work, and why does it exist? Henry Wadsworth Longfellow famously described music as "the universal language […]

May 2024
May 31
31 May 2024 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Dr Tim Payn, SCION Everything that can be made with fossil-based materials today can be made from a tree tomorrow. Forests are wonderful things, providing a huge range of products […]

April 2024
Apr 26
26 April 2024 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Professor Stephen Henry, Kode Biotech Ltd Steve’s early studies were of glycolipids (which can hop into cells and label them) before he switched to creating synthetic analogues. The work evolved […]

March 2024
Mar 22
22 March 2024 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

DO YOU HAVE A HEALTHY MIND? The philosophy of mental health Professor Simon Keller, Victoria University of Wellington Mental health is an increasingly prominent consideration in society but what is […]

February 2024
Feb 23
23 February 2024 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Professor Cliff Abraham, University of Otago Alzheimer’s disease treatment is one of neurology’s greatest challenges. Although drug therapies have been available for over 30 years, they’ve only been able to […]

December 2023
Dec 01
01 December 2023 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Associate Professor Karen Pollard, University of Canterbury and Director of Mount John Observatory Stars are key components of galaxies: they are hosts for families of planets; they create the chemical […]

November 2023
Nov 24
24 November 2023 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Professor James Higham, Griffith University, Brisbane, and University of Otago There has been much said about the impact of COVID-19 on tourism in New Zealand, and the need for a ‘new’ […]

October 2023
Oct 27
27 October 2023 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

All cellular organisms in the world are vulnerable to infection by viruses. We have seen this impact our lives in the past few years with the coronavirus pandemic. Bacteria are […]

September 2023
Sep 29
29 September 2023 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

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 […]

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 […]


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