Inaugural Memories

From left: Dist. Prof. Gaven Martin, R.S.T. Minister Steve Maharey, Prof. Grant Guilford, & Dist. Prof. David Lambert.
Dist. Prof. Gaven Martin sets the institute in motion...
Dist. Prof. David Lambert, Prof. Grant Guilford, Sir Neil Waters, & Dist. Prof. Gaven Martin.
RSNZ Chief Executive Di McCarthy & Dist. Prof. David Lambert.
Massey University Council member Dr. Susan Baragwanath & Auckland Regional Registrar Andrea Davies.

Archived News

Professor Marti Anderson Elected RSNZ Fellow

Professor Marti Anderson has been elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand. RSNZ promotes, invests in, and celebrates excellence in people and ideas, for the benefit of all New Zealanders - RSNZ makes telling these stories a priority.

Launch of Exploratory Tandem Workshop Program

The New Zealand Institute for Advanced Study and the Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems (Dresden, Germany) launch the joint Exploratory Tandem Workshop Program on Nonlinear Physics at the Nanoscale, from 2014-2017.

1st Christmas Symposium: Physics of Complex Systems

The New Zealand Institute for Advanced Study hosts its first annual Christmas Symposium on the Physics of Complex Systems on Dec 20 2013. Invited speakers include Prof. Boris Altshuler (Columbia, NY USA), Prof. Howard Carmichael (Auckland), Prof. Blair Blakie (Otago) and Prof. MIchele Governale (Victoria).

Professor Gaven Martin Awarded Marsden Fund

In 2012 the Marsden Fund, administered by the Royal Society on behalf of the Government, awarded funding to Distinguished Professor Gaven Martin for the project entitled Modern Analysis and Geometry.

Dr. Oleksandr Fialko Awarded Marsden Fast-Start Fund

In 2012 the Marsden Fund, administered by the Royal Society on behalf of the Government, awarded Fast-Start funding to Dr. Oleksandr Fialko for the project entitled Understanding Quantum Thermodynamics with the Smallest Heat Engine.

Professor Thomas Pfeiffer Appointed in 2012

We warmly welcome Professor Thomas Pfeiffer, recently appointed as a professoriate researcher, in joining us at the New Zealand Institute for Advanced Study.

Professor Sergej Flach Appointed in 2012

We warmly welcome Professor Sergej Flach, recently appointed as a professoriate researcher, in joining us at the New Zealand Institute for Advanced Study.


The NZIAS sponsors the Fifth Asian Pacific Conference of Theoretical and Computational Chemistry (APCTCC-5), held in Rotorua, New Zealand, Dec. 9-13th 2011. This biennial international conference has sessions covering computational chemistry, encompassing cutting edge applications in drug discovery, materials science, and nanotechnology. More.

Professor Paul Rainey Featured on Kim Hill's Saturday Morning

Professor Paul Rainey has been interviewed by Kim Hill on her Radio New Zealand National programme Saturday Morning. He talks about bacteria, jazz, and his career in evolutionary biology. Earlier in the year, he also appeared on Our Changing World, where he explains why microbes hedge their bets and why the strategy may be an ancient evolutionary trait.

Paul Rainey Appointed to Max Planck Society

Professor Paul Rainey has been appointed a member of Germany's most prestigious academic institution, the Max Planck Society. Moreover, he has been assigned an External Scientific Member and Honorary Director of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology in Plön, Germany. This honour illustrates the high regard he holds internationally, and will result in regular research visits to Germany for approximately eight weeks each year. Read Full Article.

Professors Paul Rainey & Mick Roberts Awarded Marsden Funds

In 2011 the Marsden Fund, administered by the Royal Society on behalf of the Government, awarded funding to Professor Paul Rainey for the project entitled Unraveling the Principles of Genetic Evolution, and to Professor Mick Roberts for the project entitled Predicting the Epidemic Curve.

Peter Schwerdtfeger receives 2011 Fukui Medal

Professor Peter Schwerdtfeger won the 2011 Fukui Medal for outstanding theoretical & computational chemistry in the Asia-Pacific region. The medal is named after Japanese chemist and co-recipient of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1981, Kenichi Fukui (1918-98). It was awarded to Professor Schwerdtfeger for his achievements in quantum chemistry, in particular for his deeper understanding of quantum relativistic effects. Read Full Article.

Professor Marti Anderson Appointed in 2011

We warmly welcome Professor Marti Anderson, recently appointed as a professoriate researcher, in joining us at the New Zealand Institute for Advanced Study.

Peter Schwerdtfeger & Paul Rainey Named Distinguished Professors

In 20**, Professors Peter Schwerdtfeger & Paul Rainey have been awarded the highest recognition Massey University bestows on professorial staff.

Peter Schwerdtfeger Wins Prestigious Humboldt Prize

Professor Peter Schwerdtfeger has received the prestigious Humboldt Research Award - given by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation in Bonn, Germany - for his fundamental work in the area theoretical chemistry. Professor Schwerdtfeger is invited to spend a period of up to a year in Germany, where he will contribute to research into heavy element chemistry and physics with his primary host Professor Gernot Frenking at the Philipps University in Marburg. Read Full Article.

Paul Rainey Awarded James Cook Research Fellowship

Professor Paul Rainey has been awarded the prestigious James Cook Research Fellowship. His research entitled Development as a Causal Process in Evolution will contribute to a better, more predictive theory of evolution. The fellowships are administered by the Royal Society of New Zealand on behalf of the Government; Professor Rainey is one of only four researchers to ever receive this honour! Read Full Article.

Professor Joachim Brand Appointed in 2010

We warmly welcome Professor Joachim Brand, recently appointed as a professoriate researcher, in joining us at the New Zealand Institute for Advanced Study.

Professor Gaven Martin Features in New Zealand Magazines; Receives Top US Lecture Call.

Articles about Gaven Martin have been published in two New Zealand magazines. He has been interviewed for Unlimited in February 2010, and featured in North and South in June 2010. Professor Gaven Martin was also invited to deliver the 2009 Taft Lectures at the University of Cincinnati, Ohio. He is the first academic from a New Zealand university to receive this honour. Over the course of two lectures, he talked about hyperbolic geometry and his research on conformal geometry.

Research Medals Awarded in 2009

Two members of the NZIAS have been awarded Research Awards by Massey University. Peter Schwerdtfeger was awarded the Individual Research Medal and, jointly, the College of Sciences' Individual Award. Meanwhile, Matthias Lein was awarded the Early Career Research Medal.

Nobel Laureate Sir Harold Kroto as Visiting Lecturer

Visiting Nobel Laureate Professor Sir Harold Kroto gave nanoscience a humorous, colourful twist with an image of a molecule that looks and behaves like a puppy during a public lecture attended by more than 200 people at the Albany campus of Massey University. Sir Harold Kroto is Massey's 2009 Sir Neil Waters Distinguished Lecturer.

Hector Medal Awarded in 2008

Professor Gaven Martin was awarded the 2008 Hector Medal in Mathematical and Information Sciences in recognition for his "deep and wide-ranging contributions to the theory of Kleinian groups, geometric function theory and other fundamental parts of modern mathematics, including the solution of a number of difficult and long-standing problems."

Third Marsden in a Row for Professor Schwerdtfeger!

In 2008, Professor Peter Schwerdtfeger was awarded a remarkable third Marsden Fund in succession, which denotes an exceptional recognition for a theoretician. He obtained NZD780k to study the project entitled The Variation of Fundamental Constants in Space-Time, together with Professor Victor Flambaum.

Professor Paul Rainey Elected RSNZ Fellow

Professor Marti Anderson has been elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand, in recognition for his contributions to evolution. He was also appointed the director of the Allan Wilson Centre for Molecular Ecology and Evolution, one of New Zealand's eight Centres of Research Excellence. He also obtained Marsden funding work NZD900k for the project entitled The Evolution of Multicellularity.

Lyle Medal Awarded in 2008

Professor Victor Flambaum was awarded the prestigious 2008 Australian Academia of Science's Lyle Medal, for recognition of his outstanding achievements in mathematics and physics.

Launch of the New Zealand Institute for Advanced Study

Massey University has launched the New Zealand Institute for Advanced Study, allowing elite scientists to pursue fundamental scholarship with the aim of driving New Zealand forward and potentially earning New Zealand's first Nobel Prize. Minister for Research, Science and Technology Steve Maharey spoke at the launch, noting the importance of fostering pure academic research and congratulating Massey for its foresight:

“Brilliant people in the right kind of environment exploring fundamental questions can achieve much. At the NZIAS, you have allowed yourself a space for understanding, allowing people to spend time with theoretical issues in the areas of excellence. It allows them to get on and do their work – I think that’s a very important part of what we’re trying to do in this country at the moment. We know that the next generation of science breakthroughs comes from collaboration, the cross-over of disciplines, and the Institute will go a long way to encouraging this outcome. This has been the case since the creation of the first Institute for Advanced Study, at Princeton in 1930. It is noted for hosting theoretical heavyweights such as John von Neumann and a certain Albert Einstein. The reputation of the Princeton Institute comes from combining the brilliance of people with an environment that allows them to explore fundamental questions. At the time von Neumann and Einstein worked there, few could have predicted how their pure theoretical ideas would be applied to computing, electronics, energy, astrophysics and engineering, and end up shaping social theory, economics and the study of human behaviour.”

Mr. Maharey continued to congratulate Massey on its achievements:

“I have opened and attended the opening of many new research facilities and facilities for the science system this year. Many of those have been associated with Massey in one way or another. Today’s event celebrates the opening of yet another Massey initiative, one that is unique. You are a university that has a reputation for being first, for being innovative, and for being different, and I think that is shown here today.”

Governing Chair Grant Guilford says NZIAS will be unlike any other academic institution in New Zealand:

“Most developed nations have such an institute, characterised by interdisciplinary clusters of elite scholars with the ambition and capability to lead mankind’s cultivation and generation of knowledge. For many hundreds of years science has been organised within disciplines &ndash for example ecologists working with ecologists or biologists collaborating with biologists. In institutes for advanced study, we break this traditional mould and bring together the top people from disparate fields to see what breakthroughs can arise – it’s a case of let’s put them together and see what happens. As well as enjoying the supportive and creative environment offered by the NZIAS to support their research, each will be able to mentor and develop the next generation of scholars so that New Zealand is best able to advance at a scientific and economic level.”

Professor Guilford, head of Massey’s Institute of Veterinary Animal and Biomedical Sciences, says the University’s history of foreseeing the challenges ahead enabled it to develop programmes recognised as critical to the economy, including agriculture, food and applied biological sciences; veterinary studies; engineering and technology, and finance:

“This culture of innovation makes Massey the natural home for a progressive organisation such as the NZIAS. Developing a world-leading science capability is consistent with Massey’s leadership of learning in New Zealand.”

The inaugural professoriate and their research teams are all working from the University’s Auckland campus. Associate and visiting academics will be selected to support the professoriate.

Professors Gaven Martin & Peter Schwerdtfeger Awarded Marsden Funds

In 2008 the Marsden Fund, administered by the Royal Society on behalf of the Government, awarded funding to Professor Gaven Martin for the project entitled Modern Analysis and Geometry, and to Professor Peter Schwerdtfeger for the project entitled Chemistry at Extreme Conditions: Materials at Ultra-high Pressures from First Principles Quantum Theoretical Methods.

Students Awarded at Gordon Research Conference

The 2007 Gordon Research Conference on Microbial Population Biology was held in Andover, New Hampshire, chaired by NZIAS Professor Paul Rainey. The meeting has a tradition of providing a forum for discussion of some of the most significant and often contentious issues in evolution and beyond. This year's meeting topics included evolutionary genetics, systems biology, symbiosis, and the evolutionary emergence of infectious disease. Three awards were given to younger researchers for outstanding contributions; two of these went to Massey University's Jenna Gallie, a FRST Bright Futures PhD student with Paul Rainey in NZIAS for her work on the evolutionary origins of a bistable genetic switch, and Wayne Patrick, a newly appointed lecturer in IMBS for his work on the origins of new enzymes.

Schwerdtfeger Named to RCS' 2008 Australasian Chemistry Lecturer

Professor Peter Schwerdtfeger was named to the Royal Chemistry Society of London's Australasian Chemistry Lectureship, administered by Chemistry Societies in Australia and New Zealand. This award funds travel for a lecture series across Australia and New Zealand; following that, a series of lectures in Bern, Davos, Villigen, Stuttgart, Duesseldorf and Marburg.

Are Protons Getting Lighter with Time?

Recent work by Professor Flambaum and colleagues has shown that the proton-to-electron mass ratio has not changed by more than 2.5 parts per million during the last 6 billion years. They used microwave spectra from the galaxy B0218+357, which is approximately 6 billion light years away from the Milky Way. These spectra include the famous ammonia transitions, used by Townes to build the first maser (Nobel Prize 1964). The frequency of these transitions appears to be extremely sensitive to the mass ratio in question. Comparison of ammonia lines with microwave lines of other molecules revealed no relative frequency shift. This places a stringent limit on the space-time variation of the proton-to-electron mass ratio.


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