Connecting Stargazing, Nanotechnology and the Future in NZ

7:30 PM, Thursday 26 June, Holt Planetarium, Chambers St, Napier

Elf Eldridge, Victoria University of Wellington

Elf_EldridgeThe Hawke’s Bay branch, in collaboration with Victoria University of Wellington, hosted a visit to Hawke’s Bay by Elf Eldridge, a Senior Tutor at the School of Engineering and Computer Science at Victoria University.

Elf is currently doing a PhD with the MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology, where he is using a device called the qNano, produced by a Christchurch-based company, to look at the characteristics of tiny invisible particles that can be found everywhere in nature (similar to viruses and bacteria). In his role at Victoria, Elf’s time is split between visiting schools and working with students and teachers to encourage more students to consider engineering and computer science as a career, and supporting currently enrolled students with their studies.

Elf’s talk gave a broad introduction to the field of nanotechnology, what it is, why it’s important and how a number of New Zealand researchers are leading their field in (literally!) understanding the tiny. He discussed his own research around the detection of nanoparticles in a variety of different media and how that relates to environmental and health concerns. Elf also tackled some of the bigger questions that commonly haunt the area, including “What about Grey Goo?” and “Why are New Zealand taxpayers funding research into this field?”. Finally, Elf provided a glimpse into some of the pressing issues around being a science PhD student in New Zealand, and relate how institutes like MacDiarmid are attempting to address these and to make New Zealand a place where talent wants to live.

The Branch thanks Elf and Victoria University for his presentation, and also for his three days spent exciting students in local schools and promoting science and technology careers.