Tag Archives: chemistry

UC Arts Digital Lab launches QuakeStudies 2.0

The UC Arts Digital Lab launched a new and improved UC QuakeStudies earthquake research repository last week (www.quakestudies.canterbury.ac.nz).  

QuakeStudies, UC’s major contribution to the CEISMIC Canterbury Earthquakes Digital Archive (www.ceismic.org.nz/about), contains photographs, documents, videos, audio recordings, media articles, and other material relating to the 2010/2011 Canterbury earthquakes. 

Each item in the repository is accompanied by high-quality human-curated metadata such as descriptions, geolocations, and dates and times, offering rich datasets for researchers from a range of disciplines to draw on.

The project to update the QuakeStudies online platform was undertaken by the UC Arts Digital Lab in collaboration with local open source technologists Catalyst IT. The new QuakeStudies platform, built on the Islandora digital repository system, boasts enhanced searchability, improved document viewing tools, and a cleaner, more user-friendly layout offering greater navigability.

The launch event was held in the UC Arts City Location in the Arts Centre’s old Chemistry building, and was attended by representatives of the CEISMIC consortium from Christchurch City Council, Canterbury Museum and Christchurch City Libraries, contributors to the archive such as the All Right? campaign, and UC researchers keen to hear how the new QuakeStudies can assist them in their research.

The Arts Digital Lab hopes researchers will find the new platform easier to search for, view, and download content that is of interest to them. Additionally, much of the content housed in QuakeStudies has been released under Creative Commons licenses, making it easier for researchers to reuse content in their own work.

Researchers interested in exploring the breadth of content in QuakeStudies are encouraged to discuss their needs with Arts Digital Lab staff.  With around 150,000 items in the repository, of which 12,000 are available only to approved researchers, the Lab team can help guide you to the content that will be most useful for your research.

Six years on from the initial launch of QuakeStudies in 2012 the repository is still going strong, and it continues to grow and receive new content. This new upgrade ensures that the ongoing preservation of digital archival materials relating to the earthquakes will continue long into the future.

Explore the collections at www.quakestudies.canterbury.ac.nz/

Development of video-based presentations for the new RSIC labs

The University Learning and Teaching Committee has recently awarded $5000 to Sarah Masters and Jan Wikaira to develop a suite of video-based presentations to introduce key laboratory skills to 100-Level Chemistry students.

The grant is a collaborative effort with Rob Stowell of Learning Technologies Support, as part of initiatives to make the most of the new labs in the Rutherford Science and Innovation Centre (RSIC) building that will open next year.

The aim is to ensure consistency and quality of the laboratory demonstration talks that introduce key skills to the undergraduate students. The videos will take advantage of the new big screen technology that will be available in the teaching laboratories of the new RSIC when it opens in mid-2017. Many 100L students have not had much previous experience in a chemistry laboratory, and in the current environment it is sometimes hard for students to hear and see the introductory presentations. Using the latest screen technology in the new RSIC building will enable the Department of Chemistry to deliver clear, consistent laboratory overviews and to provide close-up demonstrations of skills, enhancing the learning experience for the students.

Demystifying what Chemistry postgrads do

Recently a group of undergraduates got to try their lab coats on for size in the inaugural Chemistry Research Buddy Week. Dr Sarah Masters reflects on what made it so successful.

We worked with ChemSoc President, Nic Bason, to give students the opportunity to find out what Chemistry postgrads do, how they do it and why they take the research steps they do. Our intention was to demystify the process and open eyes to the possibilities that exist in research.

During the week, the undergrads spent part of, or a whole day, shadowing a postgrad in the Department of Chemistry to see what they do in their day-to-day research life. Not only were they planning and doing experiments, analysing the results, and trying to work out what it all meant, but they also got involved in outreach activities that happened to be running that week, and checked out the tea room.

A total of 27 undergraduate students took part with 18 postgrads (from 400L to PhD) involved as buddies. Chemical specialties ranged from environmental science through organic and inorganic synthesis to chemical modelling and mathematical applications. In general, the undergraduate students spent between 4 to 7 hours shadowing their research buddy, participating in the research labs, group meetings, and seminars, as well as coming to the communal tea room for lunch and other breaks.

Reports from the undergraduate students indicate that they really enjoyed the opportunity to be part of the department, to find out more about what postgraduate study means and to talk first-hand with students engaged in Honours, Masters and Doctoral study. Many indicated that it had helped to clarify their thinking about postgraduate study in Chemistry, and that they had enjoyed it so much that they would like more opportunities to take part, with several buddy weeks a year! The postgraduate students echoed this sentiment, with lots of positive ideas about how to take the initiative forward to 2017 and beyond.

Sarah Masters

Royal Society of New Zealand 2015 Rutherford Lecture

Going super heavy: the end of the periodic table of elements Wednesday 26 August, 6pm, C1 lecture theatre, University of Canterbury

This year’s Rutherford Lecture will be delivered by Distinguished Professor Peter Schwerdtfeger (Massey University), a leading chemist and physicist who was awarded the Royal Society of New Zealand’s 2014 Rutherford Medal.

The first periodic table of elements, proposed in 1869, was compiled by arranging the elements in ascending order of atomic weight, grouped by chemical properties. At that time, it was not known how high in atomic weight the elements could go before becoming unstable and decaying. The last decade has seen the production of new elements up to nuclear charge 118 – just how heavy can elements go and what can chemists do with such exotic elements? Where does the periodic table end?

The lecture is free and open to the public but, to ensure a seat, you should register online. You can also find more information here.