Postgraduate Symposium 2022

Our Postgraduate Symposium 2022 was held on 30 August 2022. It was well attended and we were fortunate to have two alumni, Sinemobong Essien and Eldon Tate as guest speakers.

Winners for best oral presentation, poster, microscopy image, nominated students were:

Best Oral Presentations


Judith Glasson (Crystallin Clear: Improving Bioengineered Corneal Stromal Materials)


Isaac Severinsen (A digitalisation dilemma: Unexciting industrial data)

Best Poster Presentations


Qun Chen (Protein nanofiber-based cell scaffolds)


Dilieka Weerakoon (selection of a suitable urea removal technology for dairy processing water: a multi criteria decision making analysis)

Best microscopy image

1st Best image: Judith Glasson

2nd Best image: Wen Zhang



Year IV Dinner 2022

The 4th Year dinner was held on 24 November at La Zeppa in Freeman’s Bay. It is an annual highlight for the year. Congratulations to our graduating class for making it through a very tough four years!

Year IV Prizes:

Regan Ding – 1st Prize – Materials Research Excellence

Zachariah Stewart – 2nd Prize – Materials Research Excellence

Sophie Wai – 1st Prize – Process Research Excellence

Yasmin Sue – 2nd Prize – Process Research Excellence

Andrew Cox – 1st Equal – Best Presentation (Materials)

Holly Marx – 1st Equal – Best Presentation (Materials)

Kein Shuen Tan – 1st Equal – Best Presentation (Process)

Ryan Tan – 1st Equal – Best Presentation (Process)





Careers Evening 2022

The Careers Evening is where our undergraduate students (mostly year three students) hear from industry speakers about life in the ‘real world’.

The idea is to provide some insight, for the students, into the journeys speakers have had from university to their current positions.

We hope to not only inform students of how things could play out for them as chemical and materials engineering graduates, but also inspire them by inviting leaders and role models to speak.

As we target the Year three students (although Year 2s and 4s are invited too), the goal is also for students to get some ideas on where to apply for student internships.

This year the careers evening was held on 14 September (Wednesday), 6pm to 8pm, at the University’s Business School, 8 Grafton Road.

Five invited speakers took turns to address and speak to the audience followed by discussions over food and drink. The students found this session extremely valuable, and we thank our invited speakers for their time out of their busy schedules.



Seminar by Invited Speaker, Dr Daniel Fitzpatrick

On 5 December 2022, the department organised a seminar by alumni Dr Daniel Fitzpatrick. Daniel completed a BE (Hons) in Chemical and Materials Engineering in 2012. In his final year he was awarded a Woolf Fisher Scholarship to cover a PhD programme at the University of Cambridge, which he began in 2013. His thesis research aligned with the intersection of chemical engineering and organic synthesis and focused on how engineering principles could be applied to pharmaceutical development to speed up what are typically laborious processes. For his PhD, in 2017, he was awarded the outstanding thesis prize for his work. During his postgraduate studies in 2014, Daniel also founded a company to commercialise software he had written to help meet data management needs in the lab. Over the eight years since, it has grown to have customers in 111 countries, including well-known multinational pharmaceutical firms, materials research companies and universities.

For his talk, Daniel covered his journey from the University of Auckland to Cambridge, some of the research he conducted in the UK and how it led to a full-time self-employed job a few years later. He also covered some of the unexpected challenges that arose by having one foot in each of the academic and business worlds. Speaking to mostly postgraduate students in the department, Daniel’s presentation was an inspiring account of a highly motivated and productive individual, and we wish him continued success.



Mānawa Mai Open Day 2022

Mānawa Mai Open Day 2022 was held on Saturday 27 August. The crowds were back! For our department we had our displays as well as enthusiastic staff and students telling the public all about chemical and materials engineering.

One of our displays was a specially made pop-corn machine that could demonstrate how a fluidised bed reactor worked. With the fluidised bed of hot air and corn, the dynamic ‘flow’ of popped corn is not only easily visualised but comes out tasty! Another tasty treat for visitors was candy floss, where we installed a candy floss maker as a representation of continuous fibre production (such as those made from polyester resins using a spinerette technique) common in industry to produce everyday materials.

Above: CHEMMAT lecturer Dr Shan Yi (facing) explaining the concept of a fluidised bed reactor via a popcorn making machine shown in the background


Above: Associate Professor Ashton Partridge explaining how novel materials are taken through to large scale mass production (example solar roofing shown here), students making popcorn, and more student volunteers on standby to interact with visitors and tell them more about chemical and materials engineering


Above: Prize winner, Anastasia Connor

Congratulations to Anastasia Connor who travelled up from Taupo to attend Open Day. She correctly answered our quiz and her name was drawn from a full box of entries to win a pair of wireless headphones.


Some of the questions asked by future students and their parents were around unravelling the mystery of what chemical engineering was. (One of the challenges for chemical engineers, in many cases, is to describe what chemical engineering is!)  To try to address this, some of the examples we gave included this one. The making of penicillin for the masses. Starting the story with World War One where the highest cause of death was from infections and disease.

Then in 1928 there was the discovery of Penicillium genus fungus by Alexander Fleming.

While the discovery was exciting, the question was how to get that plate of mould ‘juice’ to the masses. Enter Pfizer and a whole bunch of chemical engineers, including Margaret Hutchinson Rousseau, credited for designing the first commercial penicillin production plant in the 1940s.

And following that, in the unfortunate event that was World War II, infection was no longer a leading cause of death. By 1944, 100 billion units of penicillin per month was being produced.


Seminar – Dr Reece Oosterbeek

Dr Reece Oosterbeek was a graduate of our department completing his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees, before working on laser micromachining as a Research Engineer at the Photon Factory. In 2016 he was awarded a Woolf Fisher Scholarship to undertake his PhD at the University of Cambridge, where he studied at the Department of Materials Science and Metallurgy as a member of Trinity College. After completing his PhD Reece joined Imperial College London in 2020 to develop additively manufactured titanium lattice materials for orthopaedic implants.

On 20 April 2022, Reece was part of the Biomechanics Group at Imperial College London, and during his visit to Auckland he kindly took some time to give a research seminar to the department.

Reece gave a seminar on using materials science and engineering to develop improved medical implant materials. He spoke on ideas on the design and optimisation of the mechanical behaviour of architected lattices and metamaterials, which were made possible by additive manufacturing. Reece also presented some work in bioresorbable materials and controlling their structure and mechanics during degradation, as well as combining these techniques with additively manufactured lattices.

Reece is currently a Departmental Lecturer in the Solid Mechanics and Materials Engineering Group (Department of Engineering Science) at the University of Oxford. We are indeed pleased to see the incredible progress and success of Reece and wish him continued success!



Visit by Professor Zhanfeng Cui

On 4 November we were delighted to host Professor Zhanfeng Cui Head of Department, Chemical Engineering University of Oxford. Prof Cui is the Donald Pollock Professor of Chemical Engineering; University of Oxford since the Chair was established in 2000. He is the Founding Director of the Oxford Centre for Tissue Engineering and Bioprocessing and Founding Director of the Oxford Suzhou Centre for Advanced Research (OSCAR).



Engenuity Day

Above: Presentation by CHEMMAT’s Deputy Head (Academic) Associate Professor Meng Wai Woo on Chemical Engineering specialisation, pathways and possible careers.

Engenuity Day, held on Thursday, 14 July, was attended by 195 female students (Years 11-13) from 48 different schools across four regions in New Zealand.

Below: Year 11-13 students participated in a hands-on activity by CHEMMAT’s Dr Filicia Wicaksana and her Part IV students (Sophia Wei and Yasmin Sue) on how to transform dirty water to clean water with membrane technology.

Below: A fun and edible activity by CHEMMAT’s Dr Jenny Malmstrom and Dr Anais Chalard on processing chocolate into noodles by pressure using a custom-made extruder built by CHEMMAT Senior Technician, Raymond Hoffmann.

Below: CHEMMAT’s Dr Thomas Loho and Senior Technician Peter Martin demonstrated cross-linking in hydrogels for use in cartilage replacement and food items.

Photo credits: Yasmin Sue and Women in Engineering, University of Auckland


Research & Teaching workshop

We held our annual research & teaching workshop at Old Government House on Friday, 15 July 2022.

We employed the professional services of Mark Buntzen from The Distillery for the workshop, to facilitate discussions rather than have presentations. The objective was to focus on our strengths, strategies, sunrise areas, and how to support early career academics.

In addition, we had a presenter from UniServices, and Associate Professor Mark Jones from NZ Product Accelerator led a panel discussion. Also CHEMMAT’s Associate Professor Jenny Malmstrom spoke about the proposed research centres.

The teaching workshop was held in the afternoon.


Equity workshop for staff

Photo: Dr Guillermo Merelo, presenter

The CHEMMAT Equity committee organised a workshop on equity/bias on Tuesday, 6 September 2022. The workshop was facilitated by Dr Guillermo Merelo, Associate Director, Staff Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, from the University Human Resources, covering “Inclusivity and the self” and how to build healthy interactions.

Above: Morning tea before the workshop.

Photo from left: CHEMMAT Head of Department, Professor Ashvin Thambyah, Dr Guillermo Merelo



Postgraduate Writing Bootcamp

CHEMMAT’s Dr Tarek Kollmetz

A Postgraduate writing workshop fully run by students was held on Monday 21 and Tuesday 22 February.

The hosts were postgraduate students from the Domigan lab group and their chosen theme was on Traditional thesis versus Paper-based thesis.

We received valuable information from our guest speakers, former  PhD students, Dr Tarek Kollmetz who recently submitted a traditional thesis, and Dr Navid Taghavi who submitted a paper-based thesis.

The workshop was run in-person as well as online, and the attendees that were on campus enjoyed a delicious pizza lunch. 🤗 Special thanks to Saeid, Kerryn, and all members of the Domigan lab group for your help and support!

Written by Heiana Agnieray, CHEMMAT PhD student


Master of Engineering Studies – Sustainable Resource Recovery mini graduation celebration

CHEMMAT students Adelle Roda, Nersichka Thathiah, Elen Liew, Susanne Mathews


On Friday, 4 February, the first batch of Master of Engineering Studies – Sustainable Resource Recovery students celebrated their successful completion of their study despite their challenging year.

The Department celebrated their achievement with their supervisors and senior CHEMMAT staff, including Head of Department Professor Ashvin Thambyah, Associate Professor Saeid Baroutian, Associate Professor Wai Woo, Dr Laura Domigan and Dr Filicia Wicaksana.

We wish them the best in their future studies and in their engineering careers!


Cultural luncheon

Photo: CHEMMAT PhD student, Qijia (Lilly) Peng

On Thursday, 11 August we held a cultural lunch for our Postgraduate students.

Students and staff were asked to bring in a dish to share from their culture. They were also invited to dress in their traditional dress if they wanted to.

We really enjoyed seeing Lilly Peng in her Chinese traditional costume!

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