Manawatu branch covers Taranaki, Wanganui, Manawatu, Hawkes Bay, Gisborne, and the area north of a line from Otaki to Cape Turnagain.

Manawatu Branch Committee

ChairCatherine Whitby
SecretaryJustin Bendall
TreasurerAshley Way
Council DelegateVyacheslav Filichev
Chem. Ed. Group RepresentativeNessha Wise
Branch EditorJoel Cornelio
Committee Member(s)Ashley Way
Kevin Barnes
Barry Scott
Sebastian Blackwood
Nigel Kerr
Student Representative(s)Rebecca Severinsen


Welcome to the Annual Report of the Manawatu Branch of the New Zealand Institute of Chemistry for 2018

In sad news, Emeritus Professor Andrew Brodie passed away in August. Many branch members have fond memories of how chemistry at Massey flourished under his guidance. Andrew served in many roles, including as President of the NZIC in 2004. In 2007 he was awarded the NZIC Prize for Excellence in Research in Chemical Sciences with Eric Ainscough. Andrew was also awarded the 2007 New Zealand Science and Technology Medal in recognition of his exceptional efforts to promote science.

I thank the members who served on the Branch Committee this year. NZIC is a volunteer-led organisation and we depend on their time, energy and goodwill.

Members of the 2018 committee were: Justin Bendall (Secretary and Principal Research Scientist in Chemistry at Fonterra), David Shillington (Treasurer and Senior Lecturer at UCOL), Rebecca Severinsen (Student Representative and PhD student at Massey University), Ashley Way (Account Manager, Thermo Fisher Scientific), Kevin Barnes, Barry Scott (Sales Specialist, Scientific Instrumentation, DKSH) and Nigel Kerr (Science teacher, Fielding High School). My thanks also to Sebastian Blackwood who served until he moved to Australia in July.

Special mention goes to two committee members who contributed throughout the year:

  • Joel Cornelio (Branch editor and PhD student at Massey) wrote about the branch news for Chemistry in New Zealand. He also coordinated submissions of articles by our branch for the January 2019 issue. My thanks to the students who submitted articles:
    • Maulik Mungalpara and Joel Cornelio “Arranging the elements creatively: alternative forms of the periodic table”
    • Joel Cornelio “Luminescence in metal-organic frameworks: origin and applications”
    • Rebecca Severinsen and Paul G. Plieger “Catalytic coordination cages”
    • Sidney S. Woodhouse and Paul G. Plieger, “Defective dicubane review”
  • Nessha Wise (Chem. Ed. Group Representative and Tutor in Chemistry at Massey) organised for groups of year 12 and 13 high school students to visit the chemistry labs at Massey. Our branch provided the funds for the students to have lunch during their visits. A total of 93 students and 11 teachers from 7 schools in the region visited us during 2018.

I would like to acknowledge the many years of service of Paul Plieger (Council Representative and Assoc. Prof. at Massey) on our committee. Paul is a strong supporter of NZIC and has served in many roles, including as National President in 2016. His achievements include leading the modernisation of the NZIC website. Paul is stepping back from his role on our committee to focus on his leadership role in the Institute of Fundamental Sciences at Massey. On behalf of the branch, I thank him for his contributions and hope we will see him at our events in 2019.

Our branch held a series of great events for 2018. Highlights were:

  • 11th of April – Paul Plieger arranged for NZIC President James Crowley to give a public seminar during his visit to Massey. James delivered a talk on “Rise of the Nano-machines: Mechanically Interlocked Molecules and Synthetic Molecular Machines”.
  • 18th April – Rebecca Severinsen ran the Student Evening. 20 people attended the evening. The following prizes were awarded:
    • Sam Powick and Brodie Matheson were jointly awarded the NZIC Prize for the Top 300 Level Chemistry Student at Massey University in 2017
    • Daisy Wilkes was awarded the NZIC Prize for the top Level 6 UCOL student
    • Sidney Wodehouse was awarded an NZIC Travel Grant
  • 1st June – Paul Plieger held an end of semester party for our second year undergraduate chemistry students. Our class of 30 chemistry students enjoyed the pizza and soft drinks kindly provided by NZIC.
  • 27th June – I attended the 2018 Student Research Symposium at Massey University and awarded the following prizes:
    • Maulik Mungalpara was awarded the Runner-up Prize for his presentation on “New routes to planar chiral phosphorus ligands and their use in asymmetric catalysis”
    • Sidney Woodhouse was awarded the Prize for the Best Chemistry Presentation to for her presentation on “Designer ligands for new magnetic materials”
  • 1st of August – I organised the local launch of Scientific Sleuthing – Chemical Discoveries Made in New Zealand. 64 people came to hear Robert Norris and David Illingworth describe their discovery of spreadable butter at the Palmerston North Library. We sold 12 copies of the book thanks to their entertaining seminar! Special mentions go to Simon Hall (Deputy Pro Vice Chancellor at Massey) who acted as master of ceremonies, and Leonie Etheridge (PhD student at Massey) and David Shillington who sold the books.
  • 3rd August – I was one of the judges at the Fonterra Manawatu Science and Technology Fair. It was a pleasure to award three prizes funded by our branch:
    • Highly commended: Christopher Dewhurst of Palmerston North Boys High School for his project titled “Ricing to the challenge”
    • First place: Finn Martin and Junius Ong of Palmerston North Boys High School for their project titled “Vitafresh Hot or not”
  • 21st August, Barry Scott ran a joint event with Craig Ross of the Manawatu Branch of the Royal Society. 27 people attended to hear Justin Bendall give an insightful talk about chemical analysis for food safety at the Palmerston North Library.
  • 18th October – I organised an end of semester party for our second year undergraduate chemistry students. Our class of 40 chemistry and food technology students enjoyed the pizza and soft drinks kindly provided by NZIC.
  • 27th November – Paul Plieger organised for Horst Puschmann (co-author of the Olex2 crystallographic package) to run a workshop on using the software at Massey. 15 people attended the public lecture given by Horst that evening at Massey.

Catherine P. Whitby

Manawatu Branch Chair