The graduate research programme at Canterbury offers an exceptional opportunity to talented students who are preparing themselves for careers in Astronomy, Chemistry or Physics.

Graduate training at Canterbury is aimed toward developing within each student the ability to do creative scientific research. The most important facet of the programme for a research student is his or her own original research project. 

The opportunities for research are favourable and a research environment is encouraged by all staff, most of whom dedicate a large portion of their time to research and are concerned to ensure that the standing of the School is recognised in the international scientific community.

Our teaching and research areas are diverse and we boast many international links, offering research students an extensive network and career opportunities.

  • Sally Gaw - Aspects of environmental chemistry, including fate of contaminants in the environment and human exposure to contaminants.
  • Brett Robinson - Biowaste research, trace elements in the environment, soil chemistry, environmental remediation, Rhizosphere research, Soil-plant interactions.
  • Ian Shaw - Toxicology and environmental chemistry, including mechanisms of toxicity, particularly the impact of environmental contaminants on humans.

Currently astronomy is undergoing huge expansion as we can now view the Universe at all wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum. Satellites can get above the atmosphere to detect gamma rays and on the ground huge telescope arrays many kilometres across make exciting discoveries with radio waves. Electronic detectors, known as CCDs have replaced photography for optical observations in astronomy, and this data has led to new advances in our knowledge of the Universe.

  • Antony Fairbanks - Organic synthesis, carbohydrate chemistry,
  • Timothy Allison - Native mass spectrometry, membrane proteins, enzymes, structural biology
  • Jodie Johnston -

The condensed matter group is interested in the properties of materials from millimetre size right down to the scale where quantum behaviour of the atoms becomes important. At these small dimensions, on the scale of nanometres, materials take on new physical properties and thus present the opportunity for new science and applications. This is the field of Nanotechnology.


The main focus of this group is to examine how the climate has changed in response to man-made changes associated with ozone depletion and greenhouse gases. This is done by gathering new fundamental knowledge on processes in the atmosphere. To achieve this goal requires a combination of observations, from satellites, ground based instruments at field sites in New Zealand and Antarctica and climate modelling.

CMS - CERN's Compact Muon Solenoid detector - a general-purpose particle physics detector built at one of the four interaction points of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) proton collider. The universities of Canterbury and Auckland have been members of the CERN CMS collaboration since December 2003 when a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the New Zealand government and CERN (the European Organisation for Nuclear Research).

  • Owen Curnow - Ionic liquids based on amino-stabilised cyclopropenium cations: synthesis, properties and applications.
  • Alison Downard- Surfacechemistry, electrochemistry and nanotechnology.
  • Vladimir Golovko - Inorganic and materials chemistry for applications in catalysis and nanotechnology, including bio-nanotechnology.
  • Deborah Crittenden - Theoretical and computational chemistry.
  • Sarah Masters Gas-phase molecular structure.
  • Greg Russell- Modelling of all aspects of free-radical polymerization kinetics; synthesis of novel emulsion polymers.
  • Bryce Williamson - Molecular spectroscopy, matrix-isolation and magnetic circular dichroism.
  • Antony Fairbanks- Synthetic organic chemistry, carbohydrate chemistry, and applications of carbohydrates in biology and medicine (glycobiology). Research techniques primarily involve organic synthesis, together with biocatalysis and other aspects of chemical biology.
  • Christopher Fitchett– synthesis of new and interesting organic molecules, particularly focusing on colossal aromatic molecules.
  • Richard Hartshorn - Aspects of bio-inorganic chemistry, including the reactivity of chelated ligands, ligand construction on metal ions and the synthesis of metal ion based hypoxic cell selective anti-cancer agents.
  • Paul Kruger - Inorganic supramolecular chemistry. Interests are centred in supramolecular chemistry, and involve the design, synthesis and characterization of metal complexes incorporating organic and coordination chemistries.
  • Jan Wikaira - Inorganic synthetic chemistry with particular emphasis on materials with interesting magnetic properties. Aspects of bio-inorganic chemistry, particularly the synthesis and characterisation of macrocylic complexes that may act as mimics of the active sites of enzymes. X-ray Crystallography: Small molecule crystallography. Structure determination and refinement. Wood Technology: The application of crystallographic techniques to the determination of tensile strength in timber

Research Centres

BIC logo on grey

Biomolecular Interaction Centre

The Biomolecular Interaction Centre (BIC) is a multi-disciplinary research centre dedicated to the study of molecular interactions critical to biological function. Understanding these interactions is central to a range of fundamental sciences, new treatments for disease and a wide range of highly functional products.

Centre for Atmospheric Research

Centre for Atmospheric Research

The Centre for Atmospheric Research aims to coordinate UC research and teaching concerned with atmospheric science and to promote high-quality atmospheric research. It fosters national and international collaborative links and increases public awareness and education about atmospheric processes.

Hear from our researchers