MESA 2014 3 Day Photovoltaics Boot Camp

Attention MacDiarmid Institute students, postdocs and investigators, it’s that time of year again!
MESA is thrilled to announce the third annual and now famous 3 day (4 including return Sunday morning) intensive research bootcamp. This year we are attacking all things photovoltaic and moving things south! Over three nights (Nov 6th – 9th) in the beautiful and remote Cragieburn Educational Center, 100 km from Christchurch we will gather together 5 world class researchers to put you through your solar cell paces for what is shaping up to be our biggest event to date. An international first for MESA, it gives us great  pleasure to confirm Dr Attila Mozer from the University of Wollongong, Australia will also be among the speakers. See the attached flyer for details.
Fresh recruits can enlist online via the mesa website very soon, which they must do by the 19th of October at the absolute latest. However, we are limited to 20 recruits in total, which means positions may run out before then. First in first served!
You can also apply directly by filling out the form here
The event is free to attend and includes food, lodging and transport from Christchurch. In general, we expect attendees to approach their supervisors to fund travel to and from Christchurch, although there are a strictly limited number of scholarships available for people who are unable to otherwise secure travel funding.
Check out the flyer and website, and email or with any inquiries. This is going to be an engaging, challenging, rewarding and very fun event in a beautiful location. Apply now, this is one event not to be missed!
-The MESA Committee
PV bootcamp

Print Your Experiment – MESA 3D Printing Workshop

3D Printing Workshop

MESA’s 3D Printing workshop will be held next Thursday (29th May) in conjunction with Masters students from VUW School of Design.

The goal of the workshop is to expose Science to Design and Design to Science. Here we will get to see the whole process of 3D printing,from start to finish while working with the School of Design’s talented students.
In the morning, Masters students will come to SCPS to discuss your experimental issues, convey your design ideas and hopefully sketch up a quick solution. In the afternoon, we will head down to the School of Design where the Masters students will draw up the sketches using 3D drawing software.
Ideally attendees will have a (not too complex!) experimental (or theoretical, if you are that way inclined) problem they need solved that could be achievable through 3D printing.
The workshop will start at 10.30am at SCPS (room TBC) and finish around 4pm at the Te Aro campus.
The following week attendees will return to the School of Design to see how their projects turned out and meet up with Masters students for a debrief over refreshments.
Places are limited so for more info or to register please RSVP to ASAP.
Printing our way to the future,
The MESA Committee.

MacDiarmid Institute Science Commercialisation Workshop

mesaworkshopTuesday 3rd June

9:30 – 3:30 pm

Venue: Victoria University of Wellington AM 411

The MacDiarmid Institute unarguably comprises of the nation’s shinning lights in nanotechnology and advanced materials. We increasingly see cross discipline teams, within the MacDiarmid Institute, being established to draw together complementary expertise which when combined opens up opportunities which would remain untapped without such collaboration. As science experts we readily seek out collaborations to advance science whilst satisfying our thirst to understand the world around us on the macro and micro scales. The MacDiarmid Institute is committed to passing on the significant scientific knowledge and expertise through delivery of exemplar PhD training which includes workshops and boot camps in science commercialisation.

When students select their PhD they tend to identify an area of interest without considering where their research fits in a real world application. Supervisors are the first point of call to develop scientific skills and knowledge. However, supervisors have varying levels of commercialisation experience and may not be the most ideal person to provide commercialisation training due to lack of experience.  Those supervisors who have commercialisation experience simply do not always have time to develop commercial opportunities in addition to their traditional PI or AI responsibilities. The focus of the workshop is to work with PhD students and post docs so they identify the commercial applications of their research in the long and short term and to use the MacDiarmid Institute Commercialisation programme as part of their training.

Who should attend? This workshop would suit PhD students and Post Docs with little or no commercialisation experience but all are welcome. Please RSVP by 27th May and note any special dietary requirements.
This workshop is also planned for Auckland 10th June and Canterbury 17th June, details to follow.

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.

MacDiarmid Student and Postdoc Symposium 2012

The 8th MacDiarmid Student and Postdoc Symposium will be held at University of Canterbury 22-23 November 2012.

The theme this year is Mind the Gap – Future Proofing your Skillset.
Registration is open to all students and postdocs whose supervisor is a MacDiarmid Investigator whether funded or unfunded.
We will pay for one night’s accommodation and meals during the symposium. You will also get a MacDiarmid t-shirt!

All students and postdocs, who are not already presenting oral contributions, must present a poster. The poster should be A1 sized and clearly describe your research to your target audience. You may choose at least one of the following target audiences:
(a) Outreach for school kids aged 15-18 yrs old,

(b) Informing the media & public,

(c) Lobbying government and policy makers to make some change,

(d) Obtaining funding for a commercial enterprise.

The posters will be judged according to best presentation and prizes will be awarded at the end of conference.
To register please go to our website:

Registration closes Friday 9 November.