PEOPLE BEHIND THE PROCESS
The team at WaikatoLink have a variety of skills stemming from diverse backgrounds. From core staff and directors through to contractors and interns, it's the people behind the process that make things happen in commercialisation.
Prof Vic Arcus | Professor - Biological Science
Vic has been with the University of Waikato for 5 years having spent 8 years prior to that at the University of Auckland. Having gained a BSc and MSc in organic chemistry at the University of Waikato, Vic went on to be awarded the Prince of Wales scholarship to the University of Cambridge where he completed a PhD in molecular biology in 1995. He then went on to become a fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge. It is important to him to help develop the next generation of scientists and ensure the on-going creation of new knowledge.
One of his current research objectives is to find out how Tuberculosis controls its growth. Vic also hopes to expand the enzyme research domain by marrying up industrial enzymes with the ancient enzymes. He has already developed a billion year old functional enzyme and has completed some very successful mycobacterium toxin/antitoxin research.
Over the years Vic has worked closely with WaikatoLink on a number of projects, one of which has resulted in the development of spin-out company OBodies. OBodies' technologies will occupy part of the monoclonal antibody market, in addition to creating new markets through the ability to utilise OBodies in situations where traditional antibodies are unsuitable (for example, where heat stability is required).
Outside of research, Vic is interested in music, soccer, skiing, swimming and cycling.
Dr James Carson | Senior Lecturer - Engineering
James is inspired by how highly regarded New Zealand refrigeration research is received internationally. One of his greatest achievements has been a publication in the International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer that's received a prize from the publisher for its number of citings.
Prior to his 6 years at the University of Waikato, James spent 6 years as part of the Food Systems and Technology group at MIRINZ, AgResearch. While at AgResearch he was involved with a number of commercial projects. This included managing the development of a spray-freeze dryer. James' refrigeration expertise places him in an excellent position to collaborate with industry to help optimise refrigeration systems and provide solutions in the space.
James finds the solar heat pump and refrigeration research, which he is working with Mike Duke on to be some of the most interesting activity he is involved with at the moment.
When he finds time in between looking after his three young children, James enjoys listening to music and following sport.
Dr Adrian Dorrington | Senior Lecturer - Engineering
Adrian's research is focussed on improving the quality of 3D range imaging cameras, so that they can be used in more applications such as computing and gesture control, medical imaging, quality assurance and security. He is passionate about developing a collaborative, productive, friendly and interactive environment where students can flourish and do their best work with the opportunity to interact with leading edge researchers.
Some of Adrian's greatest research achievements include forming the Chronoptics™ Research Group and developing the group to a point where it has a well-respected international reputation, and has demonstrated what future commercial range cameras will be capable of. This includes publishing world class range imaging measurement results and developing sensor characterisation techniques that are so far unmatched globally. WaikatoLink and Chronoptics™ have secured pre-seed accelerator funding to commercialise the technology, and are currently in talks with some major companies in the space.
Prior to his time at The University of Waikato, Adrian was a postdoctoral fellow at the NASA Langley Research Center. In his spare time he enjoys photography, skiing and travel.
Nihal Kularatna | Senior Lecturer - Engineering
Nihal's research is focussed on improving the efficiency of power supplies and finding solutions to power quality issues. He has been with the University of Waikato for 5 years after a brief stint at Auckland University and prior to that, 16 years at the Arthur C. Clarke Institute in Sri Lanka where he reached the position of CEO. He has also worked for 6 years as an electronics engineer responsible for navigational aids and 3 years working with digital telephone exchange systems. He is driven by developing creative usable topologies and keeping the half-life of knowledge in power electronics as low as possible.
WaikatoLink have helped Nihal secure his recently granted US patent for his invention of a novel voltage regulator topology that creates a step-change in efficiency for linear regulators. He has several other projects in progress with commercial potential including a novel low cost and high performance technique to produce linear impedance for AC power regulation and a low cost and efficient surge resistant UPS technology.
Michael Mucalo | Senior Lecturer - Chemistry
Michael has been at the University of Waikato for 16 years. He was previously a post doc in Nagoya, Japan. He completed his MSc and PhD at Auckland University and was a Foundation Fellow at the DSIR Chemistry Division at Lower Hutt. Michael places a strong focus on collaborative research, particularly with researchers from other disciplines to benefit from different opinions and expertise. A key driver for him is to transfer skills and knowledge to students as an investment in the future of science.
Michael's collaborations have involved working with a number of industry and CRI partners. One of the outputs of his research, which WaikatoLink has been involved with, has been the formation of Graftoss, a medical device company developing a bone implant sourced from bovine bone for use by surgeons and veterinarians. Other important research areas for Michael include controlled release drug or nutrient delivery and infra-red spectroelectrochemistry.
Michael's work with biomaterials has often led to TV appearances, media articles and public lectures. Outside of his research, Michael enjoys collecting paraphernalia from bygone eras like clocks as well as gardening, keeping farm animals and travelling.
AProf Kim Pickering | Associate Professor - Engineering
Kim has been with the University of Waikato since 1994. Inspired by the materials and processes involved in nature, her vision is increased sustainability, where the use of bio-derived materials and more sustainable processes is common practice.
One of her greatest achievements was related to recyclable composites using biomaterials and bioprocesses. Her group grew and processed hemp fibre in a way that produced the best mechanical properties. Recently Kim has been working on a number of things including aligned natural fibre composites, hybrid natural fibres using a combination of harakeke and hemp, feather composites, synthetic self-healing composites and smart materials.
Her goals include improving the mechanical properties of composites with aligned natural fibres and creating a self-healing composite that is truly self-healing.
Kim enjoys seeing her research applied and has had a number of commercially orientated interactions including:
- Improving the properties of petroleum storage vessels of Nuplex
- Quick repair of aircraft for Air New Zealand
- Working with natural fibre composites for Hemptech
- Rotational moulding reinforced composite materials for ITS Ltd
In her spare time, Kim also enjoys orienteering, spending time with her children, running, creating mosaics, painting and reading.
Prof Jonathan Scott | Professor - Engineering
Professor Jonathan Scott has been at the University of Waikato for 5 years. Prior to this, he ran the Advanced Measurements Laboratory for Agilient Technologies in California. During his time with Agilient Technologies, Professor Scott was the chief designer of a nonlinear vector network analyser that was awarded Product of the Year in 2008.
Over the years, Professor Scott has been the inventor on 10 patents and has engaged in research collaborations with a number of places including Agilient Technologies, Gallagher International and the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
Professor Scott has also worked on a number of commercialisation projects with WaikatoLink. These projects include a patented solution for reducing false alarms in security settings (Tamper Sensor), a treatment method for improving the flavour of wine (PPD), and an intelligent sprinkler that reduces water usage in residential applications (Smart Sprinkler).
Dr Johan Verbeek | Senior Lecturer - Engineering
Johan has been with the University of Waikato of 8 years now, having previously come from the University of Pretoria. His research interests lie mainly in waste and by-product valorisation with an emphasis on renewable materials and biological products. In recent years, Johan's research has led to the development of protein-based thermoplastics from bloodmeal. This project has led to the establishment of spin-off company, Novatein Ltd, which is in the process of registering worldwide patents. A New Zealand national patent was granted in 2009. This area covers a wide range of topics, such as polymer extrusion, rheology, material properties, protein analysis, chemical modification of proteins as well as protein composites and nano-composites.
Other topics of biological nature include protein recovery from waste water and recovery and modification of chicken feathers suitable for polymer composites. Johan also has a strong interest in polymer composites, such as particulate polymer composites and short fibre polymer composites. It is important to him that his work will make a difference to someone and that it's relevant to industry.
In his spare time, Johan enjoys running, squash, woodworking and restoring antique furniture.
Prof Brian Gabbitas | Professor - Engineering
Professor Brian Gabbitas is a metallic materials scientist based in the School of Engineering, University of Waikato. His main research interest is in the powder metallurgy of titanium alloys, especially processing by forging and extrusion.
After graduating with a PhD in metallurgy from the University of Leeds in the UK, Brian worked for several years with a company manufacturing nickel alloys for use in the aerospace industry. He then took the unusual step of accepting a 5-year commission with the British Royal Navy. The experiences gained in his time with the Navy, particularly at the Royal Navy Engineering College in Plymouth, UK, convinced Brian to follow a career path in higher education. In 2002, he accepted a lectureship at the University of Waikato.
Brian’s work within the Department of Engineering is very diverse, including lecturing, department administration, project supervision and research. He finds working with research students stimulating and enjoyable.