Tag Archives: Erskine Fellows

ERSKINE PROGRAMME VISITOR PROFILE

Associate Professor Christopher Johnson has joined us from the University of Wisconsin in the USA.

Christopher and his family enjoying Aotearoa New Zealand

Where you have come from and what do you teach?
I am on the faculty of computer science at the University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire. I regularly teach courses on programming languages, game development, and web design. At UC, I am teaching a 400-level course on mobile app development. In this course we write software that integrates into daily life. Our apps sense the physical world through various sensors, manage our media, and keep us connected to friends.

What interested you in the Erskine Programme/Why did you want to come to UC?
My wife and I have four sons. The oldest is 10 and the youngest is 3. Before they became too entrenched in life back home, we wanted them to see how much larger the world is. A retired colleague of mine is a former Erskine Fellow, and I regularly read the blogs he kept during his several visits. Because of him, applying to be an Erskine Fellow seemed like a natural thing to do.

What have you been doing at UC?
Like many folks on sabbatical, I have been amazed at how I can make even a single course occupy my time and attention. I suppose this is what happens when you enjoy your field. I have also been able to devote some time to several projects designed to facilitate “computational making.” These projects embed computer science concepts in the context of constructing 3D models or 2D sketches that can be submitted to 3D printers and laser cutters. My hope is use these tools to empower users of makerspaces to fabricate their own objects while learning about math and computer science.

What have you most enjoyed about your time here at UC/Christchurch?
My department has been a very welcoming community. Every day my colleagues congregate in the tea room and share the stuff of life. A small group meets daily at lunch to complete a cryptic crossword. They have taken me under their wing, helping me put R before E and S instead of Z. My family and I have gotten out on the trails as much as possible to soak up the beauty. During term break we made it down to Milford Sounds. On a trip to Hinewai Reserve in Akaroa, we learned that our two youngest sons get carsick. Each Saturday my oldest son and I run Parkrun in North Hagley Park and come home by way of the Riccarton Bush market. We will miss this community.

 

ERSKINE PROGRAMME ARRIVALS FOR APRIL

The Erskine Programme would like to welcome the following Visiting Erskine Fellows to the University:

  • Professor Hezy Ram from Ram Energy Inc, Israel, arrived 25 April and will be teaching in the Department of Mechanical Engineering
  • Professor Duncan James from Fordham University, USA, arrived 26 April and will be teaching in the Department of Economics and Finance
  • Associate Professor Karen Green from the University of Melbourne, Australia, arrived 27 April and will be teaching in the Department of Psychology
  • Associate Professor Vinaya Channapatna Manchaiah from Lamar University, USA, arrived 28 April and will be teaching in the Department of Communication Disorders
  • Associate Professor Harry Nelson from the University of British Columbia, Canada, arrived 28 April and will be teaching in the School of Forestry

We wish all our visitors and their families the very best for their stay.

Erskine Programme Arrivals for March

The Erskine Programme would like to welcome the following  Visiting Erskine Fellows to UC:

  • Professor David Boje and Emeritus Professor Grace Rosile from New Mexico State University, USA arrived 1 March and will be teaching in the Department of Management, Marketing and Entrepreneurship (Joint Fellowship);
  • Professor Peter Kotanen from the University of Toronto Mississauga, Canada arrived 3 March and will be teaching in the School of Biological Sciences;
  • Associate Professor Anna Mitchell from the University of Oxford, UK arrived 4 March and will be teaching in the Department of Psychology;
  • Professor Glen Van Brummelen from Quest University, Canada will arrive 9 March and will be teaching in the School of Mathematics and Statistics; and
  • Emeritus Professor Victor Gosbell from the University of Wollongong, Australia will arrive 11 March and will be teaching in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

We wish all our visitors and their families the very best for their stay.

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.

Erskine Programme Arrivals this Week

The Erskine Programme would like to announce the arrival of the following Visiting Fellows to UC:

16 February: 

  • Emeritus Professor Colin Ballantyne from the University of St. Andrews, UK will be teaching in the Department of Geography,
  • Assistant Professor Rosmarie Friemann from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden will be teaching in the School of Biological Sciences (Biochemistry),
  • Professor Alexander Dmitriev from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden will be teaching in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering,
  • Professor Sara Fabrikant from the University of Zurich, Switzerland will be teaching in the Department of Geography,
  • Professor Gary Libecap from the University of California, USA will be teaching in the Department of Economics and Finance.

20 February:

  • Professor Mark Distefano from the University of Minnesota, USA will be teaching in the School of Physical and Chemical Sciences,
  • Professor Bodo Rosenhahn from Leibniz University of Hannover, Germany will be teaching in the Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering.

23 February:

  • Professor Cameron Graham from York University, Canada will be teaching in the Department of Accounting and Information Systems, and
  • Professor Michael Delichatsios from the University of Ulster, UK will be teaching in the Department of Civil and Natural Resources Engineering.

We hope our new and returning visitors to UC, and their families, enjoy their visit.