Category Archives: Staff Success

Extraordinary future for technology with UC beginnings

As a result of carbon fibre electrode technology initially developed by Associate Professor John Abrahamson, there will soon be a UC connection to hybrid vehicles manufactured internationally.

Prof Abrahamson tells us more about his technology and the work of local company, ArcActive who will be developing it with American partners with an eye to the future of sustainable vehicles.

Q1: What was the original technology?

The original technology revolved around processing fabric made of carbon fibre in such a way that it enhanced its usefulness for building electrodes.  Using processed carbon fabric in an electrode for a lead-acid battery enhanced the effective surface for producing and absorbing electrical current.

Q2:  What made you realise that there was commercial potential?

In 2008 we did an international trip talking to firms with a possible interest in our technology, and had keen interest from a battery maker who turned up to see us with senior business staff in the room.  We then checked out the battery use economics, which were promising.

We initially scoped out where the material could possibly have a use, and then did some initial experiments to give us a sense of the technical performance we could achieve. From this data, we arranged meetings with numerous companies in a variety of industries to discuss what we had, and gauge their interest.

From this visit, we identified a new way of using the material that opened up a new technical avenue to explore. This ultimately became the product and market that is the basis of the announced partnership. 

There are many things that need to be answered to know that you have something with commercial potential, which is why it has taken 10 years to go from initial idea to partnership:

  1. enhanced performance on a technical attribute that solves an unmet need,
  2. Intellectual Property: both Freedom to Operate and your own patents,
  3. consistency in performance,
  4. manufacturing techniques suited to high volume manufacturing settings,
  5. partners to manufacture the product,
  6. a supply chain that can deliver material in a timely/quality and cost appropriate way,
  7. a product cost that allows everyone to make money and still have the customer buy your product,
  8. an investment requirement that suits doing this work in New Zealand (i.e. is not particularly capital intensive).

So, it is a long and somewhat iterative process to ensure that what you have really does have commercial potential, but the starting point is ‘are we solving a major problem for someone?’.

The more important and difficult the problem is to solve, the better the chance you have – and there is no substitute for meeting potential customers to work this out.

The thing we have observed is that if you have the “market pain” and market size well established, investors will be tolerant about technical risk – in their eyes, this becomes a risk worth taking.

Q3: What encouragement or advice would you give to other researchers / innovators / students who are wondering if their work has a commercial application?

Talk to possible commercial collaborators about the pain in the market, even though this may be risky.  Choose carefully who you talk to.

Q4: What was your reaction to news of the two-year commercial deal outlined in the NBR?

It is very pleasing from a number of viewpoints.  A major one is that use of our technology in the batteries of hybrid vehicles is likely to bring about a major reduction in the fuel used for transport, worldwide, and this deal is a significant step towards that result.

Professorial Lecture Series

Celebrating Fresh Thinking: Professorial Lecture Series

Join me in celebrating the very substantive contribution to academia made by Professor Mark Jermy and Professor Jane Maidment as part of the Professorial Lecture Series in 2018.

From jet fuel to blood: mechanical engineering helping forensic scientists


Fostering research literacy through community engagement

(further descriptions below)

Date:               Thursday, 7 June 2018, from 4.30 – 6.00 p.m.  

Location:        F3 Forestry Lecture Theatre

I encourage all staff and postgraduate students to attend this lecture, to actively support our new Professors, and take the opportunity to appreciate the fantastic research being undertaken in parts of the university we may be less familiar with.

Professor Ian Wright
Deputy Vice-Chancellor | Tumu Tuarua



From jet fuel to blood: mechanical engineering helping forensic scientists

Presented by:   Professor Mark Jermy, Department of Mechanical Engineering

Fluid mechanics, the behaviour of liquids and gases, is my speciality, and covers a multitude of sins. Working on fuel injectors before I came to UC taught me a lot about the mechanics of droplets, and how to measure their properties while they are in flight. This led in an unexpected direction after I came to UC, when a forensic scientist from ESR asked me if I could measure the properties of blood droplets.  Many fascinating projects on the fluid mechanics of bloodstain pattern analysis followed, as well as a course taught to forensic scientists around the world. Other work has included haemodynamics (the science of blood while it’s where it is supposed to be, inside the body), breathing therapies, cycling aerodynamics and geothermal power. PGR (moderate violence and graphic content).

Fostering research literacy through community engagement

Presented by:   Professor Jane Maidment, School of Language, Social and Political Science

Social work has a long history dating back to the early 1900’s of practicum education, now more commonly referred to as working integrated learning (WIL) or internship.

Early proponents of social work such as Mary Richmond and Jane Addams established the dual roles of social work as providing direct client intervention while promoting a social justice agenda. Since those early days the practicum component of social work education has traditionally provided students with opportunity for ‘hands on’ work with service users.

More recently the need to demonstrate evidence based intervention effectiveness has placed greater emphasis on the need for practitioner research literacy. Studies both here in New Zealand and internationally report low levels of social work graduate confidence in conducting research.

This presentation reports on two initiatives used to foster social work student research literacy while strengthening community engagement through authentic workplace learning. The nature of the teaching-research nexus is examined providing examples of resources developed to scaffold learning for both students and social work practitioners.



NSW State Library offering over $100,000 in paid research opportunities

The State Library of NSW is calling for applications for a range of prestigious research fellowships totalling over $100,000.

The new $20,000 Dr A M Hertzberg Fellowship joins the State Library’s suite of competitive fellowships that support research and teaching of Australian history and culture.

Offered over one year, the Dr A M Hertzberg Fellowship will support research into any aspect of the social, cultural and political history of industry and manufacturing in Australia, drawing on the State Library’s collection and relevant archives in other cultural institutions or companies.

The State Library’s fellowships program supports original research projects, undertaken by single researchers, which aim to challenge or provide new perspectives on Australia’s past.

All State Library fellows enjoy special access to the Library’s rich collection and expert curators and librarians, as well as an inspiring study space in the new Donald and Myfanwy Horne Room.

State Library of NSW Fellowships on offer over one year in 2018/19 are:

  • Dr A M Hertzberg Fellowship, $20,000
  • David Scott Mitchell Memorial Fellowship, $12,000
  • Merewether Scholarship, $12,000
  • CH Currey Fellowship, $20,000
  • Nancy Keesing Fellowship, $20,000
  • Australian Religious History Fellowship, $20,000

Applications for all State Library Fellowships close 5pm, Monday 16 July 2018.

For more information and to apply, visit


The UC team received third place in the Aotearoa Bike Challenge for the 500-1999 staff category in Christchurch.

Two of the staff who participated shared their experience:

Why I joined – Diana Hinterleitner

I signed up with Love to Ride Christchurch for the 2017 Aotearoa bike challenge and noted that UC did not have a registered team.  As I was wanting to make sure that my logged rides would count for something I set up UC and became the “Challenge Champion”, it was then up to me to encourage members of the UC staff to join up as well. 

The Aotearoa Bike Challenge ran from 1 – 28 February 2018, we currently have 115 out of 1764 staff registered within 35 different departments, we were still able to reach 3rd place for Christchurch.

It’s great to 

see progress when logging rides, for the challenge and also on an every day basis using automatic uploads via the Ride Report app.  Having recently purchased an E-bike (and not paying for car parking) I am now committed to commuting to work (20km round trip) by bike as much as possible. 

Grab life with both hands – Meg Twist

I am new to Christchurch, new to UC and new to cycling to work.  I made the decision to capture the freedom of my youth and attempt to cycle the 10km journey to and from work.

Encouraged by the wonderful Connie of Go Cycle Christchurch, and  a very bike-friendly work colleague, Dawn, the next logical step was to take part in the Aotearoa Bike Challenge. In such a large organisation like UC, it has given me contacts with other cyclists across campus.

Achieving small  goals like exceeding my previous weeks kilometres became ridiculously fun and addictive! I have saved money on petrol and increased my overall fitness. The website was user friendly and a great way  to check in to see how UC was faring against our competitors across the city. 

I am proud that UC came third in the competition, and encourage other UC staff to join next year.  It’s free and there are seriously good prizes on offer!

Angela Curl, Leigh Davidson,Johann Kissick, Sam Garmonsway,Lisa Beardsley,Diana Hinterleitner,Megan Twist,Margaret Ingram,Romy Forrer,Elizabeth Zou,Leonie Partridge, Felicity Watson, Alan Palmer