Professor Nicola Gaston is Co-Director of the MacDiarmid Institute and a Professor in the Department of Physics at The University of Auckland. Nicola Gaston was a Senior Lecturer in the School of Chemical and Physical Sciences at VUW.
She was previously a Principal Research Scientist at IRL, where she was based since returning to New Zealand in 2007 from the Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems in Dresden. She has previously been the leader of Theme 2: Electronic and Optical Materials and a member of the Science Executive.
Nicola is interested in understanding the development and variation of physical properties in materials as a function of size, from few atom clusters to large nanoparticles and the bulk.
Her current research is focused on understanding the relationship between electronic structure and properties such as catalytic activity, chemical reactivity, conductivity and thermodynamic stability, and how this relates to the underlying structure (size, shape, composition) of the material. She uses a range of ab initio quantum mechanical techniques to describe electronic structure and the way it depends on the chemical and physical environment.
We often work at the nanoscale – which means that the science solutions can be based on tiny, almost infinitesimal amounts of the world’s natural resources.Professor Nicola Gaston
November 9, 2023
Our Co-Director Prof Nicola Gaston has been awarded the Thomson Medal by Royal Society Te Apārangi for transformative leadership for the research, science and innovation sector and as a ‘driver of change’ towards equity for women in science.
July 3, 2023
We welcome Associate Professors Anna Garden and Natalie Plank as our new Deputy Directors, and bid farewell from our directorship team to Professor Paul Kruger and Associate Professor Geoff Willmott.
April 18, 2023
There has been an evolution to move the focus of applications more towards global challenges of climate change and sustainability.
April 13, 2023
When the MacDiarmid Institute turned 20 years old in 2022, we took the opportunity to celebrate what the Institute has achieved so far, and to look forward to the next 20 years.
May 9, 2022
Funding successes for our investigators and their research programmes during 2021. This funding enables our researchers and collaborators to continue their breakthrough research in advanced materials and nanotechnology.
May 4, 2022
Despite the ongoing challenges from the Covid pandemic, 2021 was a year of new directions and growth for the MacDiarmid Institute.
In The Media
April 5, 2022
Whakarewarewa Living Village is looking to restore the health of the stream which flows through the Village, with help from some of our researchers. Combining Mātauranga Māori, putaiao Māori and science.
March 16, 2022
Dr Pauline Harris has been appointed to the new position of MacDiarmid Institute Deputy Director Māori.
February 8, 2022
Australian, New Zealand, and American scientists reported a new type of solidification patterns appearing on the surface of solidifying liquid metals.
November 26, 2021
Kyoto University’s Institute for Integrated Cell-Material Sciences (iCeMS) today opened an on-site lab in Wellington, operated jointly with the MacDiarmid Institute.
November 3, 2021
MacDiarmid Institute led research received $6.2 million funding in 2021 Te Pūtea Rangahau a Marsden, the Marsden Fund.
August 2, 2021
We celebrated the collaboration and partnership with Whakarewarewa Village by signing a second MOU and a Statement of Intent.
March 30, 2021
Summer studentship descriptions for our DiscoveryCamp and Discovery Scholarship Alumni.
March 29, 2021
2020 was an extraordinarily challenging year worldwide, the MacDiarmid Institute community is an amazing resource and support network.
March 8, 2021
PhD candidate and MacDiarmid Institute researcher Stephanie Lambie from successfully kick-started a new collaboration with FLEET.
In The Media
October 14, 2020
Co-Directors Nicola Gaston and Justin Hodgkiss write about funding postdocs to keep talent in New Zealand and elevate the economy.
In The Media
August 11, 2020
The market failure imposed by the use of Tiwai Point as an aluminium smelter does not mean that there are no other good options. Nicola Gaston explores five of them.
May 28, 2020
In 2019, we focused our annual regional showcase on 'NZ Innovation for Sustainability.'
April 17, 2020
A major focus for the MacDiarmid Institute in 2019 was building the proposal for our next eight years of CoRE funding.
April 8, 2019
Our researchers use computers to reproduce conditions unachievable in a lab, such as the magnetic forces inside a white dwarf star.
In The Media
June 28, 2018
Recently appointed Co-Director of the MacDiarmid Institute Dr Nicola Gaston’s new role allows her to guide one of New Zealand’s top science institutes to potentially world-leading research.
May 30, 2018
This award recognises an entrepreneurial researcher who has made outstanding contributions to business innovation.
May 18, 2018
Imagine a point-of-care electronic blood test that can provide an immediate result in a doctor’s surgery, instead of the current tests that have to be sent away to a lab. The blood test device would plug into a mobile phone to provide a reading, and would be cheap and biofriendly.
May 8, 2018
Announcing the appointment of Associate Professor Nicola Gaston and Associate Professor Justin Hodgkiss as Co-Directors of the Institute.
August 11, 2017
Sometimes an idea comes along that is so successful that you want to take it to the next level, and this is what happened with the MacDiarmid Institute’s Kōrero with Scientists workshops, where teachers and MacDiarmid scientists spend two hours exploring basic physical science concepts like magnets, light, and acids and bases.
August 12, 2019
Associate Professor Nicola Gaston introduces the element Gallium on RNZ's Night Element of the Week.
December 2, 2019
Associate Professor Nicola Gaston introduces the element Lithium on RNZ Nights' Element of the Week.
December 2, 2019
Associate Professor Nicola Gaston introduces the element Mercury on RNZ Nights' Element of the Week.
January 28, 2020
MacDiarmid Institute Co-Director Associate Professor Nicola Gaston talks to Lynn Freeman at RNZ about the gender pay gap in academia.
May 29, 2020
Associate Professor Nicola Gaston discusses the science behind feminum from Wonder Woman on RNZs' Nights.