1 April, 2021
Now in its 10th year, the MacDiarmid Emerging Scientists Association (MESA) runs networking and training for all MacDiarmid Institute students and postdoctoral researchers.
In 2020, the MESA executive was Edoardo Galli (Chair), Sam Brooke (Secretary), Sriram Sundaresan (Treasurer), Tarek Kollmetz (Social Media Representative), David Uhrig, Charlie Ruffman, Aljo Anand, Benjamin Westberry, Caitlin Casey-Stevens, Tane Butler, Tehreema Nawaz, Hellen Nalumaga, Liam Carroll, Stephanie Lambie, Geoffrey Weal, Luca Bondí, and Sashikumar Ramamirtham.
This year, we celebrated MESA’s 10th anniversary. Unfortunately, 2020 was a very difficult year mainly due to the global pandemic of Covid-19. Nonetheless, our MESA committee managed to keep up the great work done in the last decade by organising multiple events. In particular, we started the year with one of the largest committees to date, showing how participation in and engagement with MESA has increased significantly throughout the years.
Our annual welcome events were not affected by Covid-19 since they took place at the beginning of the year. This was the perfect opportunity for new students to meet other MESA members through fun activities, such as bowling and go-karting and around a table for dinner. The lockdown significantly changed our mid-year plans. We managed to redirect part of the MESA international travel scholarship budget towards domestic events. We organised our first fully online MESA workshop, ‘Science from the Supermarket’, designed to help MacDiarmid researchers develop outreach skills that they could then use with young students and children.
We also launched, during lockdown, a series of weekly social gatherings over Zoom to keep up the morale of the students. Webinars also became the norm throughout the year. In particular, we organised a webinar with Australian researcher, Dr Inger Mewburn, about graduating during a pandemic and what the job market will look like.
We also managed to organise a MESA 3-Minute- Thesis competition, partially online, (at the time Auckland went back into Level 3) where students at each MacDiarmid partner university connected via Zoom to each other. The competition was a great success with more than 20
contestants. In addition, this year we focused on developing coding skills for our students through a series of Python workshops in different centres (Massey, Otago, and Auckland).
Finally, the biggest event of the year was our annual Bootcamp 2020 which took place in Te Anau at the end of November. This was our largest Bootcamp to date with around 50 participants. The theme this year was ‘Post-graduation pathways – where to next?’ We had many speakers
from industry, academia and the government sector. The feedback from the attendees and the speakers was very positive.