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Victoria researcher awarded prestigious fellowship


30 September 2014


Victoria researcher awarded prestigious fellowship

A Victoria University of Wellington researcher is among a small group of leading New Zealand scientists to receive Rutherford Discovery Fellowships.

Dr Jonathan Halpert, a lecturer in Victoria’s School of Chemical and Physical Sciences and an associate investigator at the MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology, has received funding of up to $800,000 over five years to support his research into solar cells and LEDs or light-emitting diodes.

The Fellowships, announced by Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce, support and foster the development of future leaders in the New Zealand science and innovation system by encouraging their career development and enabling them to establish a solid track record for future research.

With demand increasing globally for renewable energy technology, Dr Halpert plans to use his fellowship to develop new materials to increase the efficiency of solar power. In addition, he aims to improve the understanding of how materials function at the nanoscale.

“In doing so, I hope to be able to make major discoveries in a fast moving and high impact field. This research programme will eventually help mark New Zealand as a great place to do world-class technology research and as a leader in the global research community,” he says.

Professor Mike Wilson, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Dean of Science at Victoria, says the funding is a mark of great distinction for Dr Halpert and confirmation of the strength of research capability at Victoria University.

Professor Kathryn McGrath, Director of the MacDiarmid Institute, praised Dr Halpert’s accomplishment. “His work, which focuses on fabricating new devices that make use of the unique characteristics of nanoparticles, will be significantly enhanced during the five year tenure of his Fellowship,” she says.

Dr Halpert joins five other MacDiarmid Institute investigators to be awarded a Rutherford Discovery Fellowship in the five-year history of the scheme. He follows in the footsteps of Dr Eric Le Ru (Victoria University of Wellington), Dr Martin Allen (University of Canterbury), Dr Tim Woodfield (University of Otago), Dr Justin Hodgkiss (Victoria University of Wellington) and Dr Geoff Wilmott (the University of Auckland).

Professor McGrath says this is a wonderful national recognition of the calibre of the MacDiarmid Institute’s emerging researchers.

Funding for Rutherford Discovery Fellowships is administered by the Royal Society of New Zealand on behalf of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

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