The Otago Branch covers the Otago and Southland Districts.

Otago Branch Committee

ChairAllan Gamble
SecretaryChristina McGraw
TreasurerCourtney Ennis
Council DelegateAllan Gamble
Chem. Ed. Group RepresentativeDave McMorran
Branch EditorAnna Garden
Committee Member(s)Andrea Vernall
Nigel Lucas
Early Career Representative(s)Habibeh Hashemi
Sara Miller

Otago Branch Chair’s Report for 2020

Allan Gamble


12 February: IUPAC Global Breakfast (Empowering Women in Chemistry) was held at the Otago staff club.

9 October: Chemistry Career Evening was co-sponsored by NZIC and Department of Chemistry. Undergraduates listened to Zoom talks by ex-Otago graduates who now work in chemical and government industries in New Zealand and Australia. The formal event concluded with pizza. Previously, this event was run every 2nd year. However, given the success of this year’s event, NZIC and the Department of Chemistry would like to host it again in 2021.

28 October: NZIC president Associate Professor Sarah Masters gave a presidential talk to a full house in Mellor 2.02. Her topic was “Resilience and Opportunity in Career Pathways”. Sarah also presented the Otago Branch National Award winners from 2019 and 2020 with their prizes. That evening, approximately 25 members of the Otago branch, including the national award winners from the Otago branch, were joined by NZIC President Sarah Masters for a dinner at Sila Turkish Restaurant.

Due to Covid, we did not hold a quiz night this year. However, we will hold it early in Semester 1, 2021 as a welcome-back event.

Sponsorship & Student Support

– We supported 10 prizes at the Aurora Otago Science and Technology Fair (3 – 9 August). As with previous years, there are fewer chemistry-related projects at year 9 onwards. We think this is a good opportunity to promote Chemistry to students, but would appreciate other ideas.

– Student prizes:

  • NZIC Prize for CHEM111: Mihnea Vlad
  • Inglis Prize (2019) for 300-level performance (non-Hons): Georgia Boyes
  • When the Department of Chemistry seeks permission to update the criteria of other scholarships, we will consider renaming the Inglis prize.
  • We usually run a student essay competition, but it was postponed this year due to the Covid-related pause on publishing Chemistry in New Zealand.

– Travel awards: we have not been able to award travel grants because of a hold on funding these at the national level.
– This year, the Otago branch had two winners of NZIC national-level awards: Murray Thomson (Education) and Lynn Lisboa (Best student paper)

Otago Branch Chair’s Report for 2019

Nigel T. Lucas


IUPAC Global Breakfast: Empowering Women in Chemistry, Department of Chemistry
(Tuesday 12 February, 2019)

Local event organised by Christina McGraw and Habibeh Hashemi, and supported by the branch.

Poster Evening, Department of Chemistry (Friday 12 April, 2019)

Co-hosted event with the Department of Chemistry Chem Club. An good selection of posters from graduate students, across a range of fields. The judging panel spoke to presenters with their posters and awarded the prize to Denise Chen for her poster “Optical Fibre pH Microsensor for Studying Ocean Acidification’s Impact on the Marine Environment”. A people’s choice award was also on offer, and went to Sam McIntyre.

4th NZIC Otago Chemistry Quiz, School of Pharmacy (Wednesday 7 August, 2019)

Following another successful NZIC Chemistry Quiz, the team “Periodic Table Dancers” were proclaimed the winners. Second place went to “The Product of a Misspent Tea Break (PMT)”, and in third place were the “Solvent Squad”. The “Beta-Carrot-Team” received the prize for best team name. Thanks to all those who helped organise and run the quiz this year, in particular, Andrea Vernall, Dave McMorran, Courtney Ennis, and Anna Garden.

Branch Dinner (Tuesday 29 October, 2019)

Members of the Otago branch were joined by NZIC President Sarah Masters for a dinner at Lone Star Restaurant.

NZIC2019 Conference, Christchurch (24-28 November 2019)

Large attendance by Otago branch members. Caitlin Casey-Stevens (left) represented the Otago branch for the Student Communicator prize with her talk on “Theoretical Investigation of the Structures of CuPd Nanoclusters”. Lynn Lisboa, Hannah Johnston (Chemistry) and Daniel Chong (Pharmacy) were awarded student poster prizes.

Sponsorship & Student Support

Aurora Otago Science & Technology Fair (5–11 August, 2019)

The branch continued to support this annual event through student prizes. Awarded to 10 students displaying projects with an underlying chemistry theme, a difficult job considering the high standard across the 268 entries from 28 schools. Awarded projects: Iron Content in Vegetables (Sophie Restall), What is the best way to remove oil from water? (Callum Attwell, William Leslie), Does an orange per day keep a cold away? (Cormac de la Harpe), Ice Ice Baby (Cody Labes, Joseph Combe), Making Paints out of Natural Resources (Danika Billington), Bad Apples (Becca More), The Battle of Bleach vs Fabric (Emily Wright), Withered away (Phoebe Jaquiery), To Freeze or Not to Freeze (Zoe McElrea), and Fantastic is Not Having Plastic (Kate AC, Mikayla Alter).

Otago & Southland High School Chemistry Quiz (25 September, 2019)

Almost 100 Year 12/13 students participated. First place: Taking the Tungsten (John McGlashan College).

Undergraduate Prizes

NZIC Prize for CHEM111: En Watanabe, John Voss

Inglis Prize for 300-level performance (non-Hons): TBA early 2020

Postgraduate Student Travel Awards (approved in 2019)

Lohitha Putha, Dan Ross, Alistair Richardson, Sandhya Singh, Aidan McKay, Denise Chen, Lynn Lisboa, Casey Bardsley, Siân Stables, Jordan Smith.

Other Items

Student Essay Competition

Judging completed by members of the committee.

David Rubin won first prize ($150) for his article “Celmisia, New Zealand’s alpine daisies: assessing a sticky situation to “trichome” up with some answers”, while Anna Lunde Hermansson wrote about “Chemical speciation models: simplifying the complexity of the ocean” for 2nd place ($75). Their essays were published in the October 2019 issue of Chemistry in New Zealand.

Award for Distinguished Contribution to Chemical Education

Following a nomination by the NZIC, Dave Warren received the Award for Distinguished Contribution to Chemical Education from the Federation of Asian Chemical Societies (FACS). Dave will receive his award at the 18th Asian Chemical Congress (Taipei, Taiwan; 8-12 December 2019), where he will present a talk on chemical education.

NZIC Awards to Otago Branch members

Bill Hawkins: RSC/NZIC Easterfield Medal awarded (biennially) to a chemist in New Zealand in recognition of the quality and originality of their research.

Russell Frew: Shimadzu Prize for Industrial and Applied Chemistry, in recognition of Russell’s contribution to the fight against counterfeit products.