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Principal Investigators

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Professor Nicola Gaston

Professor Nicola Gaston

Principal Investigator

Towards Low Energy Tech - Hardware for Future Computing

Phone:
+64 9 923 4427

Address:
Department of Physics
University of Auckland
Private Bag 92019
Auckland 1142

Biography

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.

Research interests

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
Professor Nicola Gaston

In the news

Annual Report

Spinning out a podcast

May 27, 2022

Our fortnightly popular science ‘Materials: Fact or Fiction' segment continued for its second year. A spinoff of the series was released as a podcast titled Sci Fi/Sci Fact.

Read more about Spinning out a podcast

Annual Report

Funding successes - Annual Report 2021

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.

Read more about Funding successes - Annual Report 2021

Annual Report

Co-Directors’ Report - Annual Report 2021

May 4, 2022

Despite the ongoing challenges from the Covid pandemic, 2021 was a year of new directions and growth for the MacDiarmid Institute.

Read more about Co-Directors’ Report - Annual Report 2021

In The Media

Whakarewarewa Living Village and the MacDiarmid Institute to restore the health of culturally significant stream

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.

Read more about Whakarewarewa Living Village and the MacDiarmid Institute to restore the health of culturally significant stream

News Article

Dr Pauline Harris appointed as MacDiarmid Institute Deputy Director Māori

March 16, 2022

Dr Pauline Harris has been appointed to the new position of MacDiarmid Institute Deputy Director Māori.

Read more about Dr Pauline Harris appointed as MacDiarmid Institute Deputy Director Māori

News Article

Liquid Metals, Surface Patterns, and the possibility of accessing a wider range of nanomaterials

February 8, 2022

Australian, New Zealand, and American scientists reported a new type of solidification patterns appearing on the surface of solidifying liquid metals.

Read more about Liquid Metals, Surface Patterns, and the possibility of accessing a wider range of nanomaterials

News Article

New Kyoto University on-site lab opens at Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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.

Read more about New Kyoto University on-site lab opens at Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

News Article

The life of a logo

November 16, 2021

Ahead of launching our new logo, we looked at the whakapapa of our original one.

Read more about The life of a logo

News Article

2021 MacDiarmid Institute Marsden grant successes

November 3, 2021

MacDiarmid Institute led research received $6.2 million funding in 2021 Te Pūtea Rangahau a Marsden, the Marsden Fund.

Read more about 2021 MacDiarmid Institute Marsden grant successes

News Article

MOU celebrates ongoing partnership with Whakarewarewa Living Village

August 2, 2021

We celebrated the collaboration and partnership with Whakarewarewa Village by signing a second MOU and a Statement of Intent.

Read more about MOU celebrates ongoing partnership with Whakarewarewa Living Village

Annual Report

Supporting the teachers

March 31, 2021

We continued our NanoGirl Labs partnership last year to deliver science videos for children learning at home during lockdown.

Read more about Supporting the teachers

Annual Report

Internationally connected

March 31, 2021

Nicola Gaston and Sally Brooker were invited to join a German Academic Exchange Service-funded delegation to Germany..

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Annual Report

Summer studentships for our DiscoveryCamp and Discovery Scholarship Alumni

March 30, 2021

Summer studentship descriptions for our DiscoveryCamp and Discovery Scholarship Alumni.

Read more about Summer studentships for our DiscoveryCamp and Discovery Scholarship Alumni

Annual Report

Co-Directors' Report - Annual Report 2020

March 29, 2021

2020 was an extraordinarily challenging year worldwide, the MacDiarmid Institute community is an amazing resource and support network.

Read more about Co-Directors' Report - Annual Report 2020

News Article

Liquid metals that create nanostructure - it’s the little details that count

March 8, 2021

PhD candidate and MacDiarmid Institute researcher Stephanie Lambie from successfully kick-started a new collaboration with FLEET.

Read more about Liquid metals that create nanostructure - it’s the little details that count

In The Media

Postdocs: the key to NZ's post-Covid recovery

October 14, 2020

Co-Directors Nicola Gaston and Justin Hodgkiss write about funding postdocs to keep talent in New Zealand and elevate the economy.

Read more about Postdocs: the key to NZ's post-Covid recovery

In The Media

Five alternatives to aluminium at Tiwai

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.

Read more about Five alternatives to aluminium at Tiwai

Annual Report

Co-Directors' Report - Annual Report 2019

April 17, 2020

A major focus for the MacDiarmid Institute in 2019 was building the proposal for our next eight years of CoRE funding.

Read more about Co-Directors' Report - Annual Report 2019

In The Media

Not-so-modest proposals for Tiwai

December 10, 2019

An ambitious solution would keep jobs in Southland and deliver on the promise of the Zero Carbon Act.

Read more about Not-so-modest proposals for Tiwai

Annual Report

Virtual materials - Annual Report 2018

April 8, 2019

Our researchers use computers to reproduce conditions unachievable in a lab, such as the magnetic forces inside a white dwarf star.

Read more about Virtual materials - Annual Report 2018

In The Media

The Spinoff profiles MacDiarmid Principal Investigator Associate Professor Nicola Gaston in her new role as Co-Director

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.

Read more about The Spinoff profiles MacDiarmid Principal Investigator Associate Professor Nicola Gaston in her new role as Co-Director

Annual Report

1.3 Painting semiconductors - Annual Report 2017

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.

Read more about 1.3 Painting semiconductors - Annual Report 2017

News Article

Change in leadership sees MacDiarmid Institute head in new direction

May 8, 2018

Announcing the appointment of Associate Professor Nicola Gaston and Associate Professor Justin Hodgkiss as Co-Directors of the Institute.

Read more about Change in leadership sees MacDiarmid Institute head in new direction

Annual Report

Extending our engagement - taking Kōrero to the next level - Annual Report 2016

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.

Read more about Extending our engagement - taking Kōrero to the next level - Annual Report 2016

Podcasts

Element of the Week - Gallium (Ga)

Element of the Week - Gallium (Ga)

August 12, 2019

Associate Professor Nicola Gaston introduces the element Gallium on RNZ's Night Element of the Week.

Read more about Element of the Week - Gallium (Ga)

Element of the Week - Lithium (Li)

Element of the Week - Lithium (Li)

December 2, 2019

Associate Professor Nicola Gaston introduces the element Lithium on RNZ Nights' Element of the Week.

Read more about Element of the Week - Lithium (Li)

Element of the Week - Mercury (Hg)

Element of the Week - Mercury (Hg)

December 2, 2019

Associate Professor Nicola Gaston introduces the element Mercury on RNZ Nights' Element of the Week.

Read more about Element of the Week - Mercury (Hg)

Female academic? Here's your lifetime pay gap

Nicola Gaston on the gender pay gap in academia

January 28, 2020

MacDiarmid Institute Co-Director Associate Professor Nicola Gaston talks to Lynn Freeman at RNZ about the gender pay gap in academia.

Read more about Nicola Gaston on the gender pay gap in academia

Materials: Fact or Fiction - Feminum

Materials: Fact or Fiction - Feminum

May 29, 2020

Associate Professor Nicola Gaston discusses the science behind feminum from Wonder Woman on RNZs' Nights.

Read more about Materials: Fact or Fiction - Feminum

Videos

Interface Industry Challenge

February 12, 2019

MacDiarmid Institute investigators discuss how commercialisation of scientific breakthroughs can help New Zealand’s industry and knowledge economy.

Read more about Interface Industry Challenge

What is materials science

February 12, 2019

MacDiarmid Institute investigators discuss how materials science and nanotechnology can solve the big problems of our time.

Read more about What is materials science