Jef Neve Spirit Control on tour

Jef Neve Spirit Control on tour

It’s not everyday in Christchurch that you have the opportunity to experience world class jazz music. However, this October you get the opportunity to indulge in world-class live music when NCRE hosts Jef Neve and The Piano.

In recent years, Jef Neve has grown into one of Belgium’s most famous jazz musicians. His album Spirit Control got to the top 10 of the Belgian pop chart in the first week of its release – unheard of for a jazz artist. But is it still jazz? And if so, does it matter?

Neve is someone who does not think in boxes, and approaches each project with an open mind, which has resulted in exciting collaborations that cannot be captured in one genre. From Toots Thielemans to Jonathan Jeremiah, José James to Jamie Cullum, and  Dutch rapper Typhoon to Gabriel Rios and Kobe Proesmans, every time the exchange of ideas has produced musical fireworks.

This time round, there is a remarkable duet with American pop musician Sam Sparro called Caterpillar. Again, not an obvious combination, but you can hear both artists almost literally step out of their comfort zones and (maybe for that very reason) create a result that is as surprising as it is successful. “I like a taste of everything, and it’s not in my nature to rule out any cooperation in advance. I’m open to experimentation. Often it’s the very thing that enriches my music” says Neve.

As Mary James of the London Jazz News describes, “Neve writes beautiful tunes that hang around in your head and send you back to replay this album again and again, so satisfying is his virtuosity and eloquency of feeling. This is a truly beautiful personal album of many layers and subtle colours from the master of emotional intensity truly at ease with himself.”

Jef Neve will be bringing music from his new album, Spirit Control, to The Piano on Thursday 12 October at 8pm. Tickets can be purchased via Eventfinder here>


Cascading Hazards – watch 3rd place Thesis-in-Three video

Each year, the Dean of Postgraduate Research at UC sponsors and organises the Thesis in Three competition for postgraduate students. PhD and Masters students give a three-minute presentation to describe their thesis research with only a single presentation slide permitted. The top three students from each college round go on to compete in the UC final.

At the UC final,  Jess McHale (Science) took third place.  Watch her presentation (video: 3 min 08 seconds) here on Cascading Hazards – the idea that one hazard triggers another, which triggers another.

Erskine visitor arrivals this week

The Erskine Programme would like to welcome back to UC three visitors this week – all our Erskine Visitors this week have previously visited UC as Erskine Fellows.

Professor Richard Law from the University of York, UK arrived on the 24  September. Professor Law will be teaching in the School of Mathematics and Statistics.

Professor Ilsa Schwarz from the University of Tennessee, USA will arrive on the 27 September, and will be teaching in the School of Health Sciences.

Also arriving this week on the 29 September, is Associate Professor James Murphy. Professor Murphy is visiting UC from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, Australia and will be teaching in the School of Biological Sciences.

We hope all our Visiting Fellows and their families enjoy their time back at UC.


Treasury University Challenge – last chance to apply 

Do you know students who want a chance to have your say on real-life policy issues currently facing New Zealand? Submissions for the Treasury University Challenge close on Sunday 1 October!

This is the last week  to get your submission together, which you can present as either:

  • an essay of up to 2,000 words (excluding references)
  • a video presentation of up to 5 minutes, or
  • an A3 poster

The top five submissions will be awarded study grants of up to $2,000 and the chance to spend a day in Wellington on 23 November. This ‘finals day’ will include a panel discussion with staff from a variety of teams, a social activity with the 2017 Treasury interns and a prize giving ceremony.

This is a fantastic way to learn more about working in the public sector.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us at  You can also find more information at

How to make the most of a science fair – be a judge

On Saturday 9 September, I was invited along with a bunch of my student peers to be a judge on the Canterbury Westlands Schools’ Science and Technology Fair 2017 at Ara Institute. Over 200 students enthusiastically presented their work on a variety of topics which, honestly, blew my mind!

Not having previous experience in judging a school science exhibition did not deter me. In fact, the very astute Tamsin Laird, outreach coordinator for the College of Science, made me talk about my background in journalism in a judges meeting to highlight my interest in and the relevance of science communication in today’s world. Because what better event than a science fair to think about changing the world?

Here’s why I thoroughly enjoyed judging the science fair:

  1. It took me back to a time (erm, decades ago) when I was a school student and exhibiting science projects to my peers and my teachers. Even if it wasn’t on such a large scale as the one at Ara, the butterflies in the stomach were unmistakable, as was the friendly competition among students! For the first time as an adult, I saw parents being apprehensive (but supportive) about the results of the competition!
  2. I went in without any preset expectations, but I had a set of guidelines and a very able school physics and chemistry teacher for a co-judge (judges were paired to check exhibits). The thoroughness of some students amazed me, but the cherry on the cake was understanding what motivated them to choose their topics.
  3. Many of the students took everyday problems they faced or witnessed around them to construct a hypothesis which they went on to prove or disprove. I wouldn’t be surprised if (hypothesis idea for next year!) a chunk of mankind’s discoveries were made similarly: by just observing or thinking about something that one witnessed. Imagine this: at one point, Lord Rayleigh must have just looked at the sky and wondered why it was blue. And then actually managed to find why! Our young padawans are on the right track.
  4. Young students are keenly observing the world around us. They left no stone unturned when it came to choosing a topic: right from things we take for granted (does a cat have a paw preference like humans are right and left handed?) to unmasking the veracity of an advertisement (do garlic supplements boost your health?) to the surprising finding (to me) that duck poo actually contains a host of e coli!

The scientific method may be methodical and some may say, almost contained, in its frame of hypothesis/observation — measurement — experiment — testing — modification and more experiments and testing in the over 400 years that it has existed for. However, for the lack of “better” methods, science continues to be the most effective tool we have developed and used to propel our species in understanding ourselves and our environment the best we can.

Giving young students an encouraging push towards science can mean a different and maybe positive history for our future generations. Go on then, introduce someone young to the marvellous world of science!

Written by Sneha Johari