The Erskine Singers need more members!

The Erskine Singers started as a small group based in the Erskine building.  In the last few years the group has grown considerably and we have performed at many UC events.

Directed by Jan Evans-Freeman, who has significant experience in music performing and teaching, the choir rehearse on Thursdays at 5pm in the John Britten building.

Due to some recent departures the choir are a little short of members this year and would love to hear from anyone interested in joining.

We try and sing everything in at least three part harmony so the ability to read music is valuable, though not essential. We have performed a range of music from opera choruses to arrangements of more modern songs.

We plan to start rehearsing for 2019 from Thursday 7 March.

If you would like to know more or are interested in joining us please email Jan on

Celebrate Pride at the TEU Rainbow Te Kahukura BBQ

Whether you’re part of the Rainbow Te Kahukura whanau or you’re an ally, we invite you to celebrate Pride Week with the Tertiary Education Union (TEU).

  • Where: C-block lawn
  • When: Monday 4 March, 12 – 2pm

We’re celebrating Pride with a TEU Rainbow Te Kahukura Pride BBQ (vegetarian and vegan options available), plus a fun “guess how many jellybeans are in our rainbow jar” competition.

All LGBTQIA+ staff and postgraduates, allies and supporters and Non-TEU members are welcome.

The BBQ helps increase the visibility of our Rainbow community on campus so if you’re LGBTQIA+, we encourage you to wear a rainbow pin or similar item (scarf, tie, t-shirt etc.) to make your identity visible to colleagues and students (as long as you feel safe and comfortable doing so, of course). 

Let’s show off just how diverse our community is here at UC.

A note for allies: while we appreciate your support, we request that you don’t wear a rainbow flag or other LGBTQIA+ symbols – please respect that these symbols belong to our community and are watered down if they are worn by allies, no matter how good your intent. If you want to make your support visible, Google ‘ally symbols’ for images you can wear instead.

See you at the BBQ!

Erskine Programme Visitor Profile – Dr Thomas Bennett

Erskine Programme Visitor, Dr Thomas Bennett
Erskine Programme Visitor, Dr Thomas Bennett

Dr Thomas Bennett is visiting UC from Cambridge University and will be teaching in the School of Physical and Chemical Sciences | Te Kura Matū.

Where have you come from, and what do you teach?
I am a Royal Society University Research Fellow, based in the Department of Materials Science and Metallurgy, in the University of Cambridge where I lead a group of around 10 PhD students and Post-Doctoral Researchers.

I am perhaps most well known in the field for my work on glasses, or disordered materials. Prior to 2015, only 3 categories were known:

  • inorganic (window glass)
  • organic (amorphous polymers)
  • metallic (used for surgical instruments and golf clubs).

The group discovered a 4th category, which incorporates elements and molecules from across the periodic table, and much of our research concentrates possible applications in next generation display technologies, protective coatings and communications equipment. A second strand involves looking at the fundamental synthesis, properties and applications of porous materials. These materials can be thought of as tiny ‘sponges’ or ‘sieves’ capable of separating and storing greenhouse gas molecules such as CO2, radioactive substances or drug molecules. They find applications as H2 storage tanks for H2 in cars, as additives in fruit packaging which prevent over-ripening, and as water harvesting devices for desert locations.

 What interested you in the Erskine Programme/why did you want to come to UC?
I am always keen to expand my international experience, and to learn from different institutions in order to transport knowledge on best practice back to the University of Cambridge and to my group there.

I am particularly keen on utilising research skills from across the world to solve truly global problems, and Aotearoa New Zealand in general has a rich history in innovation in fundamental science.

UC has an exchange scheme with Cambridge, hosted by Prof. Paul Kruger, I am really grateful for the opportunity to come here.

 What have you been doing at UC?
I have just started a lecture course on porous materials, and am particularly excited about being able to factor in latest research in the area.

The quality of both undergraduate and graduate students is high, and I am looking forward to working with them to produce an academic review of an unexplored area of the field, which we will aim to publish in an international scientific journal. 

Outside of the 15 hours of the week spent holding face-to-face and group meetings with members of my fantastic team back In the UK, I’ve met numerous students in the broad area of physical sciences here, and discussed some fascinating research taking place. My door is always open and I’m enjoying not only teaching, but also learning from students.

 What have you most enjoyed about your time here at UC/Ōtautahi Christchurch?
Outside of academia, I am an extremely keen tramper – most weekends you will find my partner, Helena and I walking on a mountainside, wading in a river, or in backcountry hut with a packet of squiggles, playing cards and meeting other trampers!

I’ve been to Aotearoa New Zealand several times before, though personal favourites this time around have been the Greenstone Caples track, Salisbury Lodge in the Kahurangi and the Mount Somers circuit. Evidently, working and living in Ōtautahi Christchurch is very different to spending a few weeks in the backcountry, and I am really enjoying learning much more about Kiwi culture whilst here.

Electric scooters: Scourge or delight?

Electric Scooter
Electric Scooter

Electric scooters have become a hot topic in Aotearoa New Zealand cities over the last few months. Whether you’ve used a scooter or not, UC researchers urge you to complete their Electric Scooters in NZ Cities survey.

Dr Helen Fitt from UC’s Department of Geography | Te Tari Mātai Matawhenua says “we are trying to get a broad range of perspectives on scooter use as part of a wider project on the impacts of emerging transport technologies. Compared to more established modes of transport, there has been little systematic research exploring scooter use. This makes it difficult to assess the potential social, health, and environmental impacts of scooter use.  Without this data, it will be challenging to establish evidence-based views and policy.”

Anonymous survey data will later be made publicly available helping to fill the data gaps that currently exist.

The researchers add “we really want to hear from you regardless of whether you think scooters are an urban scourge, an absolute delight, or something in between. Please feel free to share the survey link widely. We would love to hear from people all over Aotearoa New Zealand and with all sorts of different views”.

Survey link:

Aotearoa New Zealand Three Rs award research grant extended until 14 April 2019

In July 2018, the National Animal Ethics Advisory Committee (NAEAC) launched 2 biennial awards to celebrate achievement in the development and implementation of the Three Rs. 

The Three Rs are considered the guiding principles for animal research, testing, and teaching. They are:

REPLACEMENT – Replacing animals with non-animal alternatives.

REDUCTION – Using as few animals as necessary.

REFINEMENT – The way experiments are carried out should be refined to reduce pain or suffering as much as possible, for example, by using painkillers, or the most advanced scientific methods.

Applications for the Aotearoa New Zealand John Schofield Three Rs implementation award closed on 5 October 2018.  However, the deadline for grant has been extended.

On offer (to an individual, group or institution within New Zealand) is a $50,000 research grant, which will provide funding for research specifically targeted at developing ways to replace, reduce, or refine the use of animals in research, testing, and teaching.

Applications for the Aotearoa New Zealand John Schofield Three Rs implementation close on 14 April 2019. 

To apply, visit the MPI website