Upcoming Talks

March 2023
Mar 24
24 March 2023 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Presbyterian Community Centre, 94 Tenby Street
Wanaka, New Zealand

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 […]


Past Talks

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 […]

September 2022
Sep 30
30 September 2022 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Professor Nick Long, Paihau-Robinson Institute, Victoria University of Wellington. Nick will introduce us to the key projects of Wellington’s Paihau-Robinson Research Institute, including transformers, MRI systems and high-speed motors for […]

August 2022
Aug 26
26 August 2022 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

The talk will highlight the key aspects behind the phenomenal growth in Green hydrogen (hydrogen produced by splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen using renewable electricity) impacted by geopolitical and climate pressures driving a global shift in energy agendas.  The speaker will outline Fabrum's NZ developed  intellectual property and its impact internationally in developments spanning the future of aviation much of it underpinned by cryogenics, the storage of substances at very low temperatures, typically below -150C.

July 2022
Jul 29
29 July 2022 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Speaker: Professor Keith Gordon, Department of Chemistry, University of Otago.

Vibrational spectroscopy is a potent method of analysing molecular structure within small volumes and at fast timescales.  In this presentation I will try to cover off three related but distinct areas of interest.

Firstly, I will discuss how using a suite of spectroscopic methods, and by studying a series of complexes (metal-based donor-acceptor systems) in which parameters are carefully controlled,1 it is possible to develop design principles for excited state properties such that one can enhance electronic absorption and increase excited state lifetimes.2  Useful properties in both solar cells3 and photocatalysis.  The understanding of how these properties, both ground and excited state, are modulated by driving force and effective conjugation is not straightforward.

Secondly, the use of computational chemistry in modelling properties of compounds has become ubiquitous in modern chemistry.  However these do not always predict molecular behaviour effectively and unpicking the extent of deviation between theory and experiment reveals some interesting problems in our reliance on computational methods.4 Our studies on the spectroscopy of donor-acceptor and π, π* systems highlight these issues.5

Finally, our experimental development, originally aimed at understanding ground and excited state properties of metal complexes and other donor-acceptor systems, has provided us with tools that are amenable to analytical spectroscopy.  These are critical techniques that can add value to products in New Zealand. I will outline some of these  in the study of primary produce and pharmaceuticals.  More recently we have used low-frequency Raman spectroscopy6 to evaluate crystallinity (and order in general) in structures as varied as solar cell polymers7 to active pharmaceutical ingredients.8 Our studies in these areas will also be described.

June 2022
Jun 17
17 June 2022 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Speaker: Dr Doug Sutton, University of Auckland (Retired).

This paper summarises research over the last fifty years which has clarified what we now know about:

The  original discovery of the Chatham Islands,
The indigenous development there of Moriori population, culture and society,
The nature of Moriori society as it was prior to new arrivals,
The demographic, environmental, social and cultural impacts of rediscovery by sealers and whalers, and the enduring occupation of the islands by new settlers.
The condition of Moriori by 1870.

It reviews the Moriori struggle for survival which was set in motion by the herculean efforts and tactical genius of Hirawanu Tapu (1824-1900) and codified, a hundred years after his death, by settlement with the Crown.

May 2022
May 20
20 May 2022 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Speaker: Dr Michael Price, Victoria University of Wellington.

Solar panels that convert light directly into electricity have come a long way since the discovery of the photovoltaic effect in 1839. Now, silicon-based solar panels are widespread, efficient, and cheaper than ever. However, for the world to meet its climate targets, we will need to generate a lot more solar power than we currently do – by 2030 we need to increase generation to at least ten times more than 2020 levels. New solar technologies could help us greatly in this energy transition. So what does the future of solar power look like?

In this talk I will give a brief history of solar technology. I will describe how solar panels currently work, and give an overview of where today’s cutting-edge physics, chemistry and materials science will lead us in the next few years. I will show how the work I am doing at Victoria University of Wellington will lead to the next generation of new solar panel materials, and talk about the creative ways materials scientists and device physicists will utilise our findings to create more tools for getting to a zero carbon future.

May 13
13 May 2022 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm


Since its establishment more than 30 years ago, the NASA Balloon Program has provided high-altitude scientific balloon platforms for scientific and technological investigations, including fundamental scientific discoveries that contribute to our understanding of the Earth, the solar system, and the universe. Balloons have been used for decades to conduct scientific studies. They can be launched from locations across the globe and are a low-cost method to carry payloads with instruments that conduct scientific observations. Recent developments in balloon design have allowed greatly extended flight durations, the current NASA target being 100 days aloft. Since 2017 Wanaka Airport has been a launch site, one of only seven world wide, uniquely positioned to capture the southern skies along latitude 45 south. This talk will describe both the balloon design and some of the science payloads carried and proposed.