Category Archives: Careers

Opportunity for Chemists to Attend ACS Meeting

Join a select group of Ph.D. students and postdoctoral researchers from around the world this August 5-14 to help shape the future of chemical information! During this all-expense-paid trip, you’ll get to exchange ideas with CAS scientists and learn about the latest research advances at the248th ACS National Meeting & Exposition in San Francisco, CA.

Apply for the 2014 SciFinder Future Leaders in Chemistry program by Sunday, March 30 at

Science Media SAVVY workshop report from Lisa Strover, MESA-Sponsored Attendee

Last month, courtesy of a scholarship from MESA to cover registration, I was fortunate enough to attend the Science Media Centre’s SAVVY workshop in Auckland. Twelve researchers, including myself, participated in the two-day long media skills workshop, and initially I have to say I felt a bit out of my depth when meeting my cohort; the participants had a broad range of prior experience with the media (nearly all more than myself), came from a wide range of disciplines and research institutions, and ranged from PhD students and early to mid-career researchers, to professors and Heads of Department. The diversity of the group however was a definite asset, and it was somewhat reassuring to know that I wasn’t the only one who felt out of my comfort zone – even the most experienced of the workshop participants seemed to have a few nerves during on-camera practice interviews.


Auckland SAVVY participants on the Breakfast couch inside TVNZ Studio 4 [reproduced from here]

Over two days, we each developed media pitches on our own research, which we presented to a panel of journalists on the second day. Despite my suspicions being confirmed that materials science is somewhat harder to sell to the media and the public than some other fields of science, SAVVY was definitely a valuable experience. The focus was very much on media skills, and as such a fair portion of the workshop was devoted to learning about how the media works; this included a visit to TVNZ and a media Q&A panel with journalists from both television and print media. Many of the skills developed, however, were more general communication skills, and as such are definitely applicable to any form of science communication. At this point I’d like to share a few pieces of advice I picked up over the workshop. These aren’t necessarily key take-home messages from SAVVY, but they’re tidbits that really resonated with me.


1. When talking to the media, you are talking to the sofa people.

The sofa people being your average people who sit on the sofa in the evening and channel surf. The point is, that when talking about your science, you need to think about who your audience is and find a way to engage with them. It’s not actually the interviewer that you are speaking to – it’s the public who are going to watch that interview.


2.  ‘Eliminate the latinate’ or ‘cut the crap’.

Avoid jargon. This one seems obvious, but what didn’t occur to me is that the ‘jargon’ is not necessarily just niche scientific terms, but can just be overly complicated language. The way we’re trained to communicate as scientists means that we regularly use a lot of ‘big words’ (eg. utilise, generate, parameters, propagate, phenomenon) when a simpler expression (eg. use, make, limits, spread, event) would do just as well, and probably make us sound a lot less pretentious.


3.  Beware the tyranny of precision.

I work with conducting polymers. I hate referring to my polymers as ‘plastics’ when trying to explain my research to a non-science person… it’s just so imprecise! But sometimes you just have to sacrifice precision or your audience will tune out after three words because they don’t understand what you’re talking about. I know, it’s hard to do.


So that’s it from me. Many thanks go to MESA and to the Science Media Centre for giving me the opportunity to attend SAVVY. Thanks in particular to the workshop facilitators, Michael Brown, Peter Griffin and Dacia Herbulock, whose advice and feedback was invaluable. I would highly recommend SAVVY to anyone in working in science who ever talks to anyone outside their field. Which, apart from some reclusive mathematicians, is pretty much everyone.

Lisa Strover is a PhD student in the Travas-Sedjic group at the University of Auckland. Find out more about the SAVVY workshop here.

NZAS: Do Emerging Scientists have a Future in New Zealand?

Do Emerging Scientists have a Future in New Zealand? The New Zealand Association of Scientists is hosting a one-day conference at Rutherford House in Wellington, on 16 April. The conference will focus on early career scientists.

The conference is targeted at emerging scientists, their existing and potential employers, future emerging scientists, policy makers and politicians.

MC: Prof Shaun Hendy, President NZAS

Confirmed speakers to date:

  • Professor Richard Blaikie, Deputy Vice-Chancellor University of Otago;
  • Phil O’Reilly, BusinessNZ;
  • Dr Warren Smart, Ministry of Education;
  • Hans van der Voorn, IZON;
  • Dr Mark Stagg, RSNZ;
  • Dr Melanie Massaro, University of Canterbury;
  • Dr Debbie Hay, University of Auckland
  • Dr Richard Furneaux, IRL

Sessions include: The State of the Nation (Government, Universities, CRIs); Policy, Statistics and Fellowships; The Emerging Scientists; Industry Perspective; Panel Discussion
Registrations open 1 March 2012, with special discounted rates available for students.

A full programme is available at

Experimental Physics Workshop #1

MESA is pleased to announce our first experimental physics workshop at long last! It’s at Victoria University of Wellington in

Laby 201 and starts at 5:30pm on Wednesday the 14th December.

This workshop will be run by new committee member, Alex Barker, and will involve a simple build followed by a discussion about future projects, builds and and topics for the experimental workshops to take. So come along and help us plan for 2012!

We have strictly limited numbers and there will be a cost associated with the parts needed for the build, so if you’re interested please visit the website and register ASAP (by clicking the link below)

for more information visit the registration page which will be kept up to date with the latest information, and don’t forget to follow MESA via twitter @MESAmacdiarmid for all our future experimental physics workshops and more!

Energy Light Ltd Innovation Internship

Energy Light Ltd / Flare Lighting Ltd, 1/44 Curries Road, Woolston, Christchurch is a company run by two very capable entrepreneurial people Ralph Booth & Nelson Duder. This $6 / $7 million company employing around 15 achieved number 3 in the Deloitte Fast 50 for 2010 year, with an average growth rate of 1081% over the past 3 years. The company manufacture high energy efficient high bay lighting products (a viable alternative to metal halide lighting for commercial and industrial applications)with sales across New Zealand and into Australia. They dominate this niche in New Zealand with 60% – 70% market share. NOTE – this company is not to be confused with “Energy Mad Ltd” another high-flying Christchurch company who are company working their way through a public share offer. Energy Light Ltd is working on a number of exciting commercial R&D projects for new high end light development, increasingly in the LED and optics domains. The company have received funding under the Ministry of Science and Innovation Internship programme for students studying engineering, technology and science, under the 100 additional interns across the Canterbury region, as part of their E.Q. support package for businesses in Christchurch. See attached job advertisement placed on the New Zealand UniCareer Hub. For more information, contact

MacDiarmid Research Commercialization Fellowships

Dear MacDiarmid Students and Postdocs, 

A new and exciting initiative is being planned by the MacDiarmid Institute: a business development program offering "MacDiarmid Research Commercialization Fellowships". This will be a fantastic opportunity to gain valuable entrepreneurship and commercialization experience, complementing your technical skills. To register your interest, please fill out the following form: 
Essentially, the program will involve students and postdocs in short-term projects that evaluate and develop the commercialization potential of MacDiarmid research. These fellowships will provide a unique opportunity to work at the intersection of science and business development. The fellows will work with a mentor to, for example, examine the market for a product or make a preliminary assessment of commercial potential.
The Institute will extend your scholarship or contract in proportion to the time spent as a commercialization fellow, so that neither you nor your supervisor loses out by participating in the program. There are going to be two types of fellowships, for preliminary assessments (around 10 days, spread out over a month) and for in-depth assessments (fulltime over a 3 month period).
To register initial interest from potential participants, fill out the following form: Please do fill out as many of the fields as possible. (If you have any form-related questions or technical difficulties, contact Cosmin Laslau.)
Thank you for your interest,


Post-Doc position in Organic semiconductors: transport properties & electronic devices

Position: 2 year post-doc position at the Department of Physics, University of  Bologna, Italy 

Field(s): experimental characterization of opto-electronic properties, organic semiconductors, electronic transport, photophysical properties,
Starting date: any time between November 2011 and March 2012  
Contact: Dr.Beatrice Fraboni 
Phone: +39 051 2095806   
Address: Dr.Beatrice Fraboni, Dipartimento di Fisica, Universita’ di Bologna, viale Berti Pichat 6/2 Bologna 40127 Italy
Job description:
The group of experimental semiconductor physics (PHOS) in the Department of Physics of the University of Bologna is specialized in the characterization of the charge transport properties of inorganic and organic semiconductors (bulk materials, nanostructures and devices), with a special focus on the role of defective states. 
The fellow will have access to the following facilities for  
- photophysics characterization: optical absorption (UV-IR), photocurrent spectroscopy, photo-induced current transient spectroscopy (PICTS), surface photo-voltage spectroscopy (SPV) 
- electrical transport characterization : FET characterization, current-voltage and capacitance-voltage analyses (as a function of temperature down to 10K) 
- scanning probe microscopy (AFM, Current-AFM, Kelvin probe) 
- deep level analyses: deep level transient spectroscopy (DLTS) 
- Scanning electron microscope  
- Synchrotron radiation beam time at ELETTRA for polarized IR analyses and for focussed X-ray characterization 
The recruited fellow will investigate the charge transport properties of organic semiconducting materials (thin films and solution-grown single crystals) grown and deposited by collaborating institutions that will work in close contact with the fellow.
The main scientific challenges are: 
1) investigate the charge transport properties of organic thin films and single crystals at a fundamental level. Correlate the anisotropic molecular structure of molecular semiconducting crystals to their macroscopic electronic transport behaviour 
2) characterize the optoelectronic response of organic semiconductors and implement novel organic devices (transistors and sensors)
A wider range of goals is easily envisaged and it is open to the fellow’s own interest and availability.
Prerequisites: The ideal candidate has recently obtained a Ph.D. in either physics, materials science, electronic engineering or related disciplines. The candidate should have a strong background in semiconductor physics and organic electronics. Qualified candidates have skills in electrical characterization Practical laboratory experience in the fabrication of organic semiconductors devices (e.g. OTFTs) is preferably requested. The ideal candidate is highly motivated, enthusiastic, is fluent in English and possesses good interpersonal skills.