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Victoria scientist wins prestigious international prize

22 August 2011

Victoria scientist wins prestigious international prize

A Victoria University scientist has become the first in the Southern Hemisphere to win a prestigious international prize for outstanding PhD research in the nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) field.

Dr Mark Hunter, a Research Fellow in the School of Chemical and Physical Sciences, has been awarded the 2011 Raymond Andrew Prize for his doctoral research into using NMR to measure the properties of flow.

The prize is awarded annually by the Ampere group which is made up of leading European scientists and laboratories focusing on NMR research. The 33-year-old researcher was presented with the award on Sunday 21 August at the Euromar magnetic resonance conference in Frankfurt.

He is the second Victoria University scientist to take the stage at the annual Euromar conference. Dr Hunter’s PhD supervisor and eminent New Zealand scientist Professor Sir Paul Callaghan, received the Ampere Prize in 2004 for his research into the use of NMR to study complex fluids. Professor Callaghan remains the first scientist outside Europe to be awarded the honour.

Dr Hunter’s research field is the use of NMR to measure properties of flow in porous materials. He is focused on finding techniques to measure dispersion—the way liquid flows and is diffused—through samples that you can’t see inside such as rocks or wood.

Over the past two decades, new theories have been developed on how to accurately predict dispersion but there has been no way to measure a key quantity, called the nonlocal dispersion tensor.

“For years before I started my PhD research I noticed that many scientific papers had a clause saying you would need to know the nonlocal dispersion tensor to come up with a full measurement. We set out to develop techniques to do that.”

The project was successful and Dr Hunter and his colleagues have developed techniques that work both in experiments and in numerical simulation.

He says winning the Raymond Andrew Prize is both a personal honour and brings further international recognition for the NMR work being carried out at Victoria. It also offers an opportunity to present his findings to an international audience as Dr Hunter will give a presentation on his research at the Euromar conference.

Dr Hunter, who received his PhD at the end of 2010, was part of the Victoria University Magnetic Resonance Innovation team that received the 2010 Prime Minister’s Science Prize.

ENDS

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