The University of Otago has selected the head of one of New Zealand’s most renowned research institutes to take up the senior leadership role for research at the University.
Professor Richard Blaikie, who is currently a Professor at the University of Canterbury and Director of the MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology, has been appointed as the University’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Enterprise).
Professor Blaikie will take up the position in December. He replaces Professor Harlene Hayne, whose appointment as Otago’s next Vice-Chancellor was announced earlier this year.
Current Vice-Chancellor Professor David Skegg says he is delighted to announce Professor Blaikie’s appointment.
“Richard Blaikie was chosen from an exceptionally strong field of candidates from within and outside the University. Both Professor Hayne and I believe that he will be an ideal person to lead Otago’s activities in research and commercialisation.”
After graduating with a first class honours degree in Physics from the University of Otago in 1988, Professor Blaikie was a Rutherford Memorial Scholar at the University of Cambridge, where he received his PhD in Physics in 1992. He also spent a year as a visiting scientist at the Hitachi Cambridge Laboratory. He returned to New Zealand to take up a position at the University of Canterbury in 1993.
He was the Deputy Director of the MacDiarmid Institute from 2002, succeeding Sir Paul Callaghan as Director in 2008. This Centre of Research Excellence involves a partnership between four universities, including Otago, and two Crown Research Institutes. It is hosted by Victoria University of Wellington.
As well as formerly sitting on the Marsden Fund Council, Professor Blaikie is a foundation member of the Science Board recently established by the New Zealand Government. He was awarded the T K Sidey Medal by the Royal Society of New Zealand in 2001, and was a Fulbright Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the same year.
Professor Blaikie says he is excited to be taking up his role at the University of Otago.
“Otago is noted for the strength of its research and my goal is to maintain and enhance the University’s outstanding performance in this area. This role presents a wonderful opportunity to return and share the benefit of my experience and skills with the University at which my scientific career began.”
“I’m greatly looking forward to spending time with researchers from across the University’s campuses to learn more about the fantastic work they are involved in, and how they can best be supported to continue their pursuit of research excellence,” he says.
In common with all the other senior academic leaders at Otago, Professor Blaikie will continue to pursue his own research. He will hold a personal Chair in Physics in addition to his Deputy Vice-Chancellor role.
“The ability to continue my research and build new collaborations is an attractive feature of the role, and will help ensure that I retain a clear understanding of the kinds of issues and challenges faced by researchers in New Zealand.”
Professor Blaikie’s research field is applied electromagnetics. His principal interests are the development of low cost nano-scale imaging using near-field light, and other sub-wavelength optical phenomena. His interests also include semiconductor device structures, and the application of nanofabrication techniques to new electronic, optical, chemical and biological devices.
For the intervening six months before Professor Blaikie takes up his role, Professor Helen Nicholson will be the Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor. Professor Nicholson is currently the Dean of the Otago School of Medical Sciences.
Professor Skegg says Professor Nicholson has extensive expertise and knowledge of the University’s research activity.
“The University is very grateful for her willingness to accept this important role,” he says.