POSTGRADUATE STUDIES IN
INFORMATION FOR STUDENTS CONSIDERING
AVAILABLE IN >>
The information contained in this publication is indicative of the offerings available in 2008
and subsequent years. This information is correct at the time of going to press, but may be
subject to change. Readers are advised that information contained within the Massey
University Calendar will take precedence over any information given in this booklet. While
all reasonable efforts have been made to ensure listed courses are offered and regulations
are up to date, the University reserves the right to change the content or method of
presentation, or to withdraw any qualification or part thereof, or impose limitations on
enrolments should circumstances require this.
The Institute of Fundamental Sciences 1
Preparing ourselves for the 21st Century 1
Postgraduate Degrees in Physics
What degrees are offered in Physics and what are the basic requirements for each
Comparison of postgraduate degrees 3
How do I choose? 3
What fourth-year papers are offered in Physics? 3
Are there certain papers that I must take? 5
May I take papers from other subjects as part of my postgraduate degree? 5
What is “course approval”? Isn’t it enough just to enrol? 5
What is a research supervisor? 6
What should I consider when choosing a research topic and supervisors? 6
What projects are currently available? 7
What can I expect from my supervisor? 7
What does my research supervisor expect of me? 8
When can I start my research? 9
How can I get financial assistance for my research and living expenses? 9
More Course information
Will someone let me know if I am not making adequate progress? 12
Do I have to attend seminars? 12
Can I change my mind and take another paper
or switch to another degree programme? 12
Individual staff pages 13-23
Support Services in the Institute
Administrative Support 24
Chemical Services 24
Cryogenic Services 24
Electronic Services 24
Engineering Services 25
Glassblowing Services 25
Questions about your course?
Contact Information 25
International Students 26
Sources of Information on the Web 26
Staff Information 27
Research Topics 27
The Institute of Fundamental Sciences
The Institute of Fundamental Sciences is located on both the Palmerston North
(Turitea) and Albany campuses of Massey University. Our Palmerston North
Campus has 41 permanent academic staff, six graduate assistants, 18 postdoctoral
fellows, and research officers, 18 technical staff and five secretaries. At Albany we
have eight academic staff, three postdoctoral fellows, two technical staff members
and one secretary.
The quality of our graduates is highly regarded both within New Zealand and
overseas. Many of our graduates have subsequently taken doctoral degrees or
Postdoctoral Fellowships in some of the major universities of Europe and North
America and all have met with considerable success.
This booklet provides information on postgraduate programmes, the types of
projects available to postgraduate students and the research strengths within the
discipline of Physics in the Institute of Fundamental Sciences. It aims to answer
some of the questions you may have about beginning a postgraduate programme
within our Institute. We trust that this booklet conveys some of the excitement that
we feel about the current research activities being carried out and the opportunities
for students within our postgraduate programmes.
Preparing Ourselves for the 21st Century
Our vision is to provide a supportive environment for scientists carrying out
research at the frontiers of their disciplines and, in so doing, provide the leadership
and excellence to underpin and enhance teaching, research and scholarship within
Massey University, throughout New Zealand and internationally.
Postgraduate Degrees in Physics
What degrees are offered in Physics
and what are the basic requirements for each degree?
Bachelor of Science (Honours) (BSc(Hons))
The BSc(Hons) is a one year prestigious degree that combines 90 credits of 700-
level papers with a 30 credit research project. To do this degree you must have
qualified for a BSc Degree with a grade point average of at least 6.0 (B+) over your
300-level major papers. One reason for pursuing a BSc(Hons) is as a fast track to
doing a PhD. You might also decide to do an Honours year because you are
stimulated by the intellectual challenge that will help you to decide your next career
move. Your class of honours (First Class, Second Class Division I or Second Class
Division II) is determined by how well you perform in your papers (75%) and
research project (25%). To qualify for the award of Honours, degrees must be
completed in one year full-time or three years part-time study.
Postgraduate Certificate in Science (PGCertSc)
The PGCertSc is a new qualification which can be used as a stepping stone towards
a PGDipSc or MSc after completing a BSc degree. The PGCertSc comprises a
minimum of 60 credits of 700-level papers. Admission to the programme will be
subject to the approval of the College of Sciences
Postgraduate Diploma in Science (PGDipSc)
The PGDipSc is usually chosen by students who think they might like to convert to
an MSc at the end of their first postgraduate year but do not want to be committed
to it immediately. The PGDipSc is also available to students whose grades do not
qualify them for MSc. Postgraduate Diplomas carry the award of Distinction for
excellence if completed at a superior standard within one year full-time or three
years part-time study.
Master of Science (MSc)
The MSc is a two-year degree that combines 90 credits of 700-level papers with a
150 credits research report/thesis. Students who have completed the course work
for BSc(Hons) or PGDipSc may transfer to a course for MSc. Students who have
graduated with a PGDipSc or BSc(Hons) should do the MSc by thesis alone. Your
class of honours (First Class, Second Class Division I, or Second Class Division II)
is determined by how well you perform in your papers (37.5%) and research project
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
The PhD degree is the highest supervised degree offered by Massey University. It is
awarded for a thesis that is an integrated and coherent report that demonstrates a
candidate’s ability to carry out independent research, analysis and presentation of
this research at an advanced level in a particular field of study. The PhD degree
normally involves a maximum of four years of full-time, or six years of part-time
Comparison of postgraduate Degrees
General General Minimum Normal
Degree Prerequisites Requirements time time
PGDipSc Pass at 300-level 120 credits 1 year 1 year
BSc(Hons) BSc with average B grade 90 700-level credits + 1 year 1 year
in majoring 300-level 30 credits research
MSc B average in 300-level 90 700-level credits + 2 years 2 years
majoring papers 130 credits research
MSc At least B average in 120 credits 1 year 1 year
By thesis PGDipSc or BSc(Hons) research/year
MPhil First degree By negotiation 1 year 1 year
PhD Second Class, Division I 120 credits 2 years 3.5 years
or First Class in research/year
BSc(Hons) Papers may be
MSc or MPhil required
How do I choose?
Discuss the choice of the postgraduate degree that best meets your needs and future
career plans with one or more of the following; your Physics Graduate Subject
Advisor, the Institute Postgraduate Studies Coordinator, the Head of Institute, the
College Graduate Studies Administrator or the Dean of the Graduate Research
School. Contact details for all of the above are listed on page 23 of this publication.
What fourth-year papers are offered in Physics?
The following are the fourth year (700-level) papers currently available in Physics:
124.712 Condensed Matter Physics 15 credits
Selected topics of solid-state physics: crystal lattices and band
structure, thermodynamic and electronic properties of materials,
elementary transport processes. Macroscopic Quantum Phenomena:
superfluidity, superconductivity, magnetism.
124.721 Quantum Mechanics and Group Theory 15 credits
Group representations, irreducible representation, group character,
Wigner-Eckart theorem. Dirac formalism. Unitary displacement
operators, SU(n) symmetries. Angular momentum matrices,
rotations, generalized rotation operators. Spinor and vector particles.
Angular correlations. Product representations. Clebsch-Gordon
coefficients. Hadron symmetries. Quantum statistics: density
operator and dynamical evolution.
124.722 Relativistic Quantum Mechanics and
Field Theory 15 credits
Lorentz covariance. Four-vectors, electromagnetic fields and
Maxwell’s equations in four-vector formalism. Klein-Gordon
Equation, Dirac equation and Spinors. Feynman diagrams. Second
quantization, oscillators and canonical formulation. Scattering.
Symmetries and the gauge principle.
124.761 Statistical Physics and
Renormalisation Group 15 credits
Random data: Mean square values, Probability density functions,
Autocorrelation functions, Power spectral density functions, Levels
crossing. Descriptions and applications. The Optical Field: Intensity
fluctuations. Coherence. Nonlinear dynamics and chaos. Phase
transitions, critical phenomena, mean field theory.
124.762 Chemical Physics 15 credits
Topics drawn from representative areas of Chemical Physics
including: theoretical methods and algorithms; gas phase dynamics
and structure; condensed phase dynamics, structure and
thermodynamics; surfaces, interfaces and materials; polymers,
biopolymers and complex systems.
124.771 Relativistic and Quantum Cosmology 15 credits
Classical and relativistic models of the large scale structure of the
universe. Solutions to general relativistic field equations. Big bang
cosmology, nucleosynthesis, microwave background. Problems with
big bang model.
Are there certain papers that I must take?
You must take those papers that are required for your degree as stated in the Massey
University Calendar. Your actual set of papers is worked out in consultation with
the Physics Graduate Subject Advisor.
May I take papers from other subjects as part
of my postgraduate degree?
Yes, you may. In the case of mathematical physics, you must. These are normally
700-level Mathematics papers.
What is "course approval"? Isn’t it enough just to enrol?
If you are doing a PGDipSc, MSc or BSc(Hons) then your papers will be approved
by the Physics Graduate Subject Advisor before classes begin. However, your
particular combination of papers and project needs to be approved by the
Administrator for Graduate Studies, College of Sciences. The Administrator
oversees all postgraduate study and protects the interests of students by ensuring
that their programmes of study and research meet the regulations and standards set
by the University.
PGDipSc, MSc and BSc(Hons) students need to enrol at the beginning of the year.
This is because all papers span both semesters.
If you are doing a degree by research only (MSc by thesis alone, MPhil or PhD)
then you can register at any time of the year and have your course approved by the
College of Sciences or Doctoral Research Committee.
What is a research supervisor?
University lecturers choose their career path because they enjoy working with
students. Nevertheless, university lecturers are also busy people. If you ask them
to supervise your research, then you are asking them to make a substantial time
commitment to you in terms of assisting you to plan, execute and write up your
research. In the normal course of events, you and your supervisors will share both
the frustrations and the rewards of your research project.
You should consult your supervisors frequently and regularly, especially during the
early part of your research. You are not obliged to follow their advice, but must be
able to rigorously justify any decisions you make. It may be in your best interests
to timetable a regular weekly meeting with your chief supervisor, and perhaps
others as well, to keep them informed about your activities.
Research for a higher degree should produce significant new results. You and your
supervisor share a responsibility to make your work publicly available through
publications. Supervisors will normally be co-authors on publications that result
from your research project. Generally your supervisors are seen, in the research
community, as the people validating your activities.
What should I consider when choosing a research topic and
By definition, research must involve investigations that are original. However, it
can be hard for you to define a topic of research even in areas where you have
completed postgraduate papers. Your best strategy is to discuss potential topics
with a wide range of staff members; most keep an actual or mental list of ideas they
would be happy to see explored. Some topics are listed under the section of this
publication entitled “Staff Projects”.
Because your work will be original, a successful conclusion to an investigation
cannot be guaranteed. It is sensible therefore to hedge your bets, and to consider
the worst-case scenario for your preferred topic. What are you left with, by way of
interpretable results, if everything goes wrong with your project? Detailed planning
and full discussions with your supervisor should diminish such a prospect.
It is important that your chief supervisor is sufficiently informed, experienced and
skilled in an area to guide your research. Consider the supervisor’s own areas of
research expertise in making your approaches. Extra supervisors could contribute
skills which you may need for particular aspects of your research. These should be
people whose advice you trust and respect.
Because you will work closely with your supervisors, particularly your chief
supervisor, you need to be able to get along with them. Ensure that they are people
you can approach easily, and be prepared to develop a good working relationship
with them. Imagine, during the stressful write up period, that the chapter draft you
promised your supervisor a month ago still hasn't appeared, and you will see the
need for a strong, tolerant relationship.
Remember that it is possible for your supervisors to be away on sabbatical or other
overseas leave for several months at a time during your degree. With a supervisory
team, and electronic mail to most parts of the globe, this isn’t a problem for much
of your studies. However, it could be a nuisance, or worse, if it occurs early on
during your planning and preliminary work, or during your final thesis write up.
Inquire about the possibility of such absences and plan for them as part of your
What projects are currently available?
In physics the main research themes are theoretical physics and biomaterials. This
includes Antarctic physics, biophysics, theoretical particle physics, electronic
instrumentation, and energy from biomass. The techniques that are used include
theoretical solid state physics, chemical physics, theory of ultra cold gases, nuclear
magnetic resonance (NMR), laser light scattering, electron microscopy and
scanning probe microscopy.
More detailed information on projects offered by staff is given in the section headed
“Staff Projects” on pages 12 to 21 of this booklet.
What can I expect from my supervisor?
Supervisors have formal responsibilities which vary somewhat depending on the
degree you are doing. These responsibilities are outlined in the Postgraduate
Guidebook produced by the College of Sciences Office of Graduate Studies and in
the Doctoral Research Committee handbook.
You can expect your supervisor to:
suggest novel research ideas to you and help you to develop your own,
help you plan your research by discussing topics, methods, analyses, etc with
discuss funding sources and options with you,
write letters to support your funding applications,
guide the general direction, content and focus of your research,
help you establish a viable programme,
suggest appropriate methods of statistical analysis where necessary,
do six-monthly reports as required by the Doctoral Research Committee in
the case of PhD students,
help you prepare seminars and conference papers,
comment on one or two drafts of your thesis,
ensure that you give the best possible defence of your work in an oral
assist you to draft papers for publication of your research findings,
write letters of reference for job applications,
maintain cheerful, tolerant good humour 95% of the time.
Other matters are much harder to define, because of their nature, and because of the
workloads of those involved, but it is reasonable to expect that:
you should be able to consult your supervisor when necessary,
you should expect detailed discussions of plans, problems and progress with
your chief supervisor once a week on average, but much more frequently
early and late on in your research,
drafts of minor documents should be returned quickly,
drafts of large parts of a thesis should be read and returned within about 10
Your supervisor should try to warn you of possible pitfalls, although these are often
hard to anticipate:
instabilities in funding supply,
ensure that the work you are credited with is in fact your own,
people who may pirate your ideas or data,
other people who are researching in your area, who may ‘scoop’ you.
What does my research supervisor expect of me?
It is important that candidates play an active role in the supervisor-candidate
relationship. While candidates are expected to accept advice and guidance from
their supervisors, they are not expected to work as ‘technicians’ for their
supervisors. Candidates should constantly work towards their own intellectual
independence from within a supportive relationship with their supervisors. The
following are some factors that can contribute to successful doctoral candidacy:-
Being a full-time candidate with few or no employment responsibilities.
Being committed to the research project.
Taking initiatives to find out from staff and others about life and prospects as
a Doctoral candidate.
Getting off to a good start.
Maintaining regular and frequent contact with supervisors.
Seeking and accepting advice from supervisors and others.
Being prepared to acknowledge and discuss any academic or personal
Being well organised and capable of setting and meeting deadlines according
to a work schedule.
Always being clear as to the overall aim of the research and of the
intermediate goals along the way.
Starting to write early and continuing to write throughout the programme.
Regularly providing supervisors with written reports on progress and future
Presenting seminars and otherwise participating in the intellectual life of the
Establishing professional and social links with other academic staff and other
Attending conferences and presenting papers at conferences.
Publishing during candidacy, where appropriate.
In general terms, it is critical that candidates and supervisors meet frequently, that
each understands how the other views the candidate’s progress, and that there is a
mutually co-operative professional academic partnership.
Discuss your work with anyone willing to provide you with useful feedback. Your
supervisors do not know everything, and where they have blank spots it is up to you
to cover these. You will gain useful insights and ideas by discussing your work
with a range of people, including other students and if you feel you need advice in a
particular area, then go out and look for a good source.
When can I start my research?
BSc(Hons), PGDipSc and first year MSc students should begin their project work
as early as possible, preferably in February.
You should write your project in Semester 2. Since first year MSc students do not
write a report at the end of their first year’s research they would continue their work
until the start of the Mid-Semester two break.
How can I get financial assistance for my research and living
Finance is an integral part of planning a research project. A cash crisis in the
middle of your research can be avoided with a bit of forward planning. You can do
a lot on your own to help with both your personal finances and the funding of your
There are at least seven ways you may get help through the University.
1. Graduate Assistant (GA) positions are usually available each year in the
Institute. Duties include some tutorial work and assignment marking. Office
space is provided, and, as members of staff, GAs are entitled to use general
IFS facilities for their work.
A typical full-time GA salary is $21,500 p.a.
A partial GA may be held concurrently with a scholarship.
2. Postgraduates may contribute to the physics teaching programme by
demonstrating. The rate of pay will be determined by your experience. The
University will pay you fortnightly and deduct PAYE from your pay.
3. Full-time students are eligible for student loans. If you are not a full-time
student you may still be eligible if you are completing your degree in the
current year. For student loan applications contact Work and Income NZ or
alternatively if you have any queries contact the Campus Information
Services Officer – Finance, Level 2 Registry.
4. The University oversees a number of scholarships. These are outlined in the
Awards Handbook available online at the following address:
http://awards.massey.ac.nz/index1.htm. You may contact Mrs Shirley
Morris, Campus Information Services Officer - Massey Contact, Level 2,
Registry, extension 7823, or Ms Pauline Larsen, Client Services Officer,
Quad Block A, Albany, extension 9544 for details of scholarships for which
you may be eligible.
Two scholarships are of particular
• Massey Vice-Chancellor's
Doctoral Scholarships and
Massey University awards a
number of PhD scholarships each
year. Their present value is
$22,000 per annum for a
maximum of three years. In
addition each year up to ten Vice-
Scholarships, valued at $27,000
per annum for a maximum of
three years, will be awarded to the
top candidates applying for a
Doctoral Scholarship. Both
scholarships include a PhD thesis
tuition fee waiver at the domestic
rate. Applications must be in the hands of the Scholarships Office, Massey
University, by 1 July for study in the current year, or 1 October for study in
the following year.
• Massey Masterate Scholarships and Massey Masterate
Scholarships for Maori Students
These scholarships are awarded to students who are undertaking research
full time for a Masterate thesis (120 credits). Their present value is $15,000
for one year and payment of the research tuition fee up to 120 credits or up
to a maximum of $4,000 per annum. Applications close with the
Scholarships Office, Massey University on 1 July for study in the current
year or 1 October for study in the following year.
5. You and your supervisor may arrange funding for your project that includes a
salary or emolument for you. Be certain that you understand the tax
implications of your income.
6. The Institute Graduate Research Fund pays for some costs associated with
doing research for MSc or PhD students. The application deadlines are mid
March and mid September. Contact the Personal Assistant to the Head of
Institute, (telephone 356 9099 extn 3504, office ScB3.12) for details and
7. The Institute provides a financial allocation to every research student. These
funds will be managed by your supervisor.
Individual staff may have money available.
More Course Information
Will someone let me know if I am not making adequate progress?
You will be required to complete an OGS4 form, Postgraduate Research
Report/Thesis Progress Review. The aim of the Review is to monitor a research
candidate’s progress and to maximise opportunities for action on any concerns, and
to assist candidates to complete on time. If you don't meet your obligations during
the course of your research, then you can expect to have this raised in discussions
between you and your supervisors. If the problem continues, then you will be
notified in writing, and the consequences of non-compliance listed. Take heed;
things are getting serious. At the worst, your funding can be cut off, your
registration suspended or terminated, and your degree not awarded.
Do I have to attend Seminars?
PGDipSc and BSc(Hons) students are expected to present their work during the
Physics Spring Seminar series. MSc and PhD students will present their work at a
Graduate Student Seminar day.
Can I change my mind and take another paper
or switch to another degree programme?
You may add or withdraw from single and double semester papers and still receive
refunds up until specified dates in March. These dates should be confirmed at
To change to another
degree programme within
Physics, for example
from a PGDipSc to MSc,
you will need to get
permission from the
Physics Graduate Subject
Advisor. These changes
are normally done at the
beginning or end of the
Dr Geoff Barnes
+64 6 356 9099 ext 3533
Science Tower C Level 4, C4.12
Veterinary and Health Biophysics, Thermal and Statistical Physics
Gasification, biomass, animal welfare, sports physics
Renewable Energy Production from Biomass
A research gasifier has been built, and modelled mathematically in studies
examining the use of difficult biomass fuels for gas production.
In partnership with the Institute of Veterinary, Animal and Biomedical Sciences, we
are part of an international group formed to develop improved criteria for
determining the "vitality" of cetaceans. These studies have animal welfare
implications for both strandings and for whaling operations.
Instrumented Sports Equipment
The point of impact of a ball with bat or club can be critical in terms of sports
outcomes. We plan to develop technologies for instrumenting sports implements to
assist players and coaches in monitoring the positions of ball strike.
Dr Patrick Bowman
+64 9 443 9721
Room 40.02, Bldg 40, Albany Campus
Theoretical Particle Physics
Hadronic physics remains a challenging area of fundamental science. Quantum
Chromodynamics is widely regarded as the correct theory of the strong interactions
but, while elegant, it is difficult to use to make exact predictions. One would like to
test QCD in terms of its gross properties (confinement and dynamical mass
generation); to make precision tests through quantities such as quark and hadron
masses; and to use it to make predictions of new phenomena. There are also
interesting formal issues to explore about quantum field theories such as the effects
of Gribov copies and the connection between perturbative and nonperturbative
Lattice gauge theory is an effective and popular way of performing nonperturbative
calculations in quantum field theory. It often involves large scale computing. I am
involved in lattice calculations of quark and gluon propagators and their vertices.
These are the building blocks of QCD. In particular, we use them to understand
how QCD produces confinement and to see if confinement and mass generation
share a common mechanism.
Generally, I am interested in intermediate energy physics, where perturbative and
nonperturbative field theory meet and where gluons and quarks bind together to
form hadrons. This is complemented by an interest in the challenges associated
with computational science.
For a couple of examples, see:
Dr Joachim Brand
+64 9 443 9721
Room 40.04, Bldg 40, Albany Campus
Solitons in Bose-Einstein Condensates
Particle and Wave Nature of Matter-Wave Bright Solitons
Bose-Einstein condensate with attractive interactions can form non-spreading wave
packets, sort of self-cohesive drops also called bright solitons. Being a special sort
of nonlinear waves, bright solitons share many properties of classical particles.
However, depending on the circumstances they may still reveal their quantum
nature. I am working closely with experimentalists on possibilities to observe and
demonstrate surprising effects relating to the particle and wave nature of solitons.
Soliton and vortex ring collisions
Solitons and vortex rings are examples of nonlinear wave phenomena, which
maintain their shape during propagation. The collisions of such waves were
recently observed in a Bose-Einstein condensate for the first time. The experiment
at Harvard University showed evidence of unexpected shell-like structures.
Simulations give evidence that these structures are hybrid objects composed of
soliton fronts and vortex rings. We aim at understanding both the properties of
elementary vortex rings during their collisions as well as the mechanisms for energy
redistribution in the Bose-Einstein condensate.
Strongly-Interacting Quantum Gases
We are interested in the many-body theory of quantum gases under the influence of
strong correlations. In particular there are interesting crossover scenarios for a Bose
gas in one dimension or a two-component Fermi gas under the influence of a
Is the 1D Bose gas superfluid?
The 1D Bose gas at zero temperature has many surprising properties that are very
distinct from 3D Bose-Einstein condensates including the loss of phase coherence
and a fermionic excitation spectrum with appearance of two branches of elementary
excitations. According to the Landau criterion of superfluidity this should prevent
the possibility of superfluidity. However, according to common definitions of
condensed-matter physics, the superfluid fraction of the interacting 1D Bose is
known to be 100%. In order to really understand the superfluid properties of the 1D
Bose gas we calculate the dynamic structure factor and the drag force that a heavy
but small particle feels when dragged through the gas.
I am one of the scientists contributing to the Centre for Theoretical Chemistry and
Physics on Massey’s Albany campus.
Dr Fu-Guang Cao
+64 6 356 9099 ext 3544
Science Tower C, Level 4, C4.11
Theoretical Particle Physics
QCD study of exclusive process
The QCD study of hard (large-momentum-transfer) exclusive processes plays an
important role in understanding hadronic structure as well as in testing quantum
chromodynamics. Although there is general agreement that perturbative QCD
(pQCD) can make successful predictions for exclusive process at asymptotic limit
where energy transfer is very large, the applicability of pQCD at currently available
experimental energies (a few GeV2) is a matter of controversy and has long been
discussed. To solve this problem, one needs to analyze carefully all of the important
non-leading perturbative contributions and non-perturbative effect. The ultimate
research goal is to develop a systematical formalism which is able to make reliable
predictions for the experiments that have been carried out at various high energy
experimental centers world-wide.
Polarized deep inelastic scattering
Polarized deep inelastic lepton-hadron scattering (DIS), involving the collision of a
polarized lepton beam and a polarized target, can provide answers to the
fundamental questions such as ‘how do the quarks conspire to produce nucleon spin
of 1/2?’. Our research activities have been centred on the study of symmetry
breaking in the hadron structure. The standard model of hadronic structure predicts
a variety of symmetries among the hadrons. However, in most cases it is still an
open question which of these symmetries are broken and to what extent. The aims
of this research are to calculate to what extent some key quark model symmetries
are broken and to work with experimental groups at overseas laboratories (CERN,
SLAC etc.) to test these calculations against experimental data. This should lead to
new insights into the quark structure and forces in the nucleon and the mechanism
of the models used.
Although model studies have been, and still will be, very successful in studying the
structure of hadrons, ultimately one would like a more exact connection between
parton phenomenology and QCD. The lattice formulation of QCD is, at present, the
only known way of obtaining low energy properties of the hadrons directly from the
QCD Lagrangian, i.e. from first principles, without any model assumptions. Due to
modern computational advances, lattice QCD is developing into a useful and
practical tool with which to study hadron structure. Comparisons of lattice and
model calculations can give insight into the properties of the QCD vacuum, which
can be used to develop new ideas for modeling hadron structure.
Professor Peter Derrick
+64 6 356-9099 Ext 3500
Science Tower B Level 3, B3.13
Electrospray Mass Spectrometry is the “coming method” in Structural Biology,
complementing and supplementing the established approaches of X-Ray diffraction
and nuclear magnetic resonance. The project offered involves electrospray in the
form of a variation called nanospray and time-of-flight mass spectrometry. The aim
is to explore interactions of the drug vancomycin with models of its bacterial cell
wall targets. A long standing hypothesis in this area poses that dimerisation is a key
step in the action of vancomycin. Most literature in the area when based on mass
spectrometry shows evidence for interaction of monomeric vancomycin with a
model of the cell wall, such as tripeptide, lycine-alanine-alanine. In the project
offered, a new device for controlling the electrospray process will be exploited with
a view to detecting the dimeric vancomycin and establishing whether or not this
dimer interacts more or less strongly with one or more molecules of the cell-wall
model. There is unpublished evidence that the vancomycin dimer can be detected
by mass spectrometry and the results suggest that interactions are with a single
The project would be supported through the availability of the nanospray
equipment, the ion conveyor and the time-of-flight mass spectrometer. The project
would provide a thorough grounding in both theoretical and practical aspects of
mass spectrometry, and would provide opportunities for interactions and links with
Distinguished Professor David Parry
+64 6 456 9099 ext 3501
Science Tower B, Level 3, B3.03
My research work is concerned with the determination of the structure and function of
fibrous biological macromolecules. X-ray diffraction and electron microscopy have been
employed to ascertain structural details of the thin-filament regulatory mechanism in
vertebrate skeletal muscle and of the growth, development and structure of collagen fibrils
in a diverse range of connective tissues as a function of age.
Computational and theoretical methods have also been devised and employed to relate the
amino acid sequence of a protein to its secondary, tertiary and quaternary structure.
Towards that end we have developed the use of hydropathy profiles to recognise
β−strands lying on the surface of proteins. Work in the sequence prediction area has
provided details of the structure of the rod domain motif in the spectrin superfamily of
proteins and on the structures of the interferons and interleukins, the desmoplakin
superfamily of proteins, laminin and desmoyokin.
An advance in the past few years has been the detailed determination of the structure of
the hair intermediate filaments. We have shown that the expression and assembly of these
intermediate filament proteins, which occurs under reducing conditions at a point just
above the dermal papilla, leads to a structure that is very closely similar to that seen for
other classes of intermediate filaments. However, when the intermediate filament
associated proteins are laid down at a point higher in the hair follicle and conditions
change to an oxidising one following cell death there is a significant structural
rearrangement of the constituent molecules. This leads to a unique structure. These
observations have brought together a diverse group of experimental observations that
previously seemed incompatible. Following on from these studies it has been possible to
explain the different organization of sheets of IF in the para– and orthocortex of hair.
Studies on EBS keratinopathies (epidermolysis bullosa simplex) arising from mutations in
one of the coiled coil rod domain segments have also revealed new insights into the
Recent work has concentrated on the structure of the hair keratin-associated proteins
(KAPs). Thanks to the human genome project the sequences of all the KAP proteins are
now known. Penta- and deca-peptide repeats, as well as longer repeats based on the same
motif, have been characterized. Furthermore, the crystal structures of homologous repeats
in the databases have been analysed. This has enabled possible conformations to be
identified including one in which there is relative free of rotation about the single bonds
connecting consecutive disulphide stabilised pentapeptide motifs. This leads to a
“knotted” string model that ultimately folds up into a more compact structure.
Dr Steven Pascal
+64 6 456 9099 ext 3558
Science Tower C, Level 5, C5.02
NMR-based Investigation of Biomolecular Interactions
We use state-of-the-art NMR spectroscopy (and the Massey Center for Structural
Biology 700 MHz NMR spectrometer with cryo-probe) to study biomolecular
complexes related to disease processes in humans.
Molecules which normally reorient isotropically in solution can be prompted to
become weakly anisotropic via immersion in a liquid crystalline solution. This
anisotropy allows detection of the direct coupling between two nuclear dipoles,
which otherwise would time-average to zero. As this coupling contains an angular
dependence, its survival (“residual dipolar coupling” or RDC) allows the
extraction of angular information. Hence it is now possible to determine the angle
between, e.g., two H-N bond vectors from extreme ends of a large molecule, or
between bond vectors from two different molecules in a complex.
Coupled with other recent NMR advances (e.g. deuteration and quadruple-
resonance, TROSY, cryogenic probes), RDC allows extension of structure
determination to complexes or multi-domain proteins in the 100-kDa range. Once
individual domain structures are determined via more established X-ray or NMR
methods (which may include RDC), RDC technology can be combined with
computational approaches to bring the domains or molecules into their proper
relative alignment. Given the wealth of domain structure information becoming
available through structural proteomics projects together with advances in
bioinformatics and modeling, the RDC approach shows great promise in
addressing the next major initiative in genome-based research: deciphering the
network of inter-molecular and inter-domain interactions.
Professor Tony Signal
+64 6 456 9099 ext 7844
Science Tower C, Level 4, C4.26
Theoretical Particle Physics
I am interested in the quark structure of the proton and the neutron. This is an
interesting problem because we have a field theory of quarks, but are unable to
solve the equations of motion. There exist a variety of quark models, and I am
involved with relating these models to the information we have from high energy
lepton-nucleon scattering. These scattering experiments are useful as they tell us
about the momentum distribution of the quarks in the nucleon. Calculating the
momentum distribution functions from static models involves the use of projection
methods, and care is needed to ensure that momentum is conserved. The results
have shown that we can understand much of the data in terms of relativistic 'bag'
models of quarks in the nucleon. However the situation for the spin distributions of
the quarks is less clear. Presently we are working on refining these calculations by
taking into account 'higher twist' operators and also the meson 'cloud' that
accompanies the nucleon.
In a new project, I am relating our knowledge of proton structure to what can be
observed experimentally at the new LHC collider. This is a necessary step towards
understanding whether LHC experiments actually detect new particles or
phenomena. This work is done in conjunction with experimentalists at the CMS
experiment and theorists at the IPPP, Durham University.
For recent work in this field see:
Dr Mark Waterland
+64 6 356-9099 Ext 3578
Science Tower A Level 3, A3.09
Materials and Spectroscopy
My research interests span a range of activities from the synthesis of photonic
materials to resonance Raman spectroscopy and nanobiotechnology. An overview
of my interests is given here:
Photonic materials manipulate light (photons) in the same way that electronic
materials manipulate electrons. Our activities with photonic materials involve:
(i) Self-assembly of photonic crystals
Photonic crystals are the optical analogues of semiconductor – they display optical
band gaps which prohibit the presence of photons of certain frequency. This
property has fundamental interest for controlling the rates of relaxation of
photoexcited molecules and also a variety of applications such as loss-free optical
cavities for lasers and sub-wavelength optical waveguides. We are investigating
how we can use surface chemistry to control the self-assembly of photonic crystals.
(ii) Nonlinear Optical Chromophores
In a collaboration with Industrial Research Limited (Lower Hutt, New Zealand) we
are characterization the nonlinear optical properties of a new class of promising
organic nonlinear optical chromophores. We are currently building a Stark
apparatus to measure the change in dipole moment, Δµ, between the ground and
electronic excited-state. This parameter is an important figure-of-merit for organic
nonlinear optical chromophores
Solvent dynamics in polymer and ionic liquids
New generation display technologies (e.g. oLEDs) and dye-sensitized solar cells
both have charge-transport as critical events. Solvent dynamics play an important
role in charge-transport in these systems. Resonance Raman spectroscopy allows us
to distinguish between so-called inertial and reorientational solvent motions. Both
polymers and ionic liquids should exhibit an unusual distribution of solvent motions
and we believe resonance Raman spectroscopy is an ideal probe of these motions.
We are currently carrying out resonance Raman intensity analysis of both polymer
and ionic liquids systems.
This is a new collaboration with Dr. Jasna Rakonjac from the Institute of Molecular
and Biological Science (IMBS). We are using surface-enhanced Raman
spectroscopy (SERS) to examine how phage display libraries can be used to
selectively template the formation of gold nanoparticles. For more information on
this project please see the IMBS graduate research booklet and website
Dr Bill Williams
+64 6 456 9099 ext 3543
Science Tower C, Level 4, C4.09
Structure-Function Relationships in Biopolymer Systems,
Structural Polysaccharides and Soft Condensed Matter
My current research is focussed on elucidating structure-function relationships in
biologically relevant systems, with the long-term vision that, by learning from
Nature, smart, biodegradable, sustainable, systems can be designed to deliver
materials and devices with a range of tailored functionalities. Such work involves a
number of activities, from the molecular engineering of polymeric fine structure
variants, through the challenges of experimental measurement and efficient
representation of position resolved structural variation, to describing how the
presence of distinct features impact upon molecular and macroscopic functionality.
Recent work has focussed on polysaccharides, an area that is increasingly receiving
attention beyond its staple agricultural fold, in such areas as the glycobiological
aspects of human health, and the soft condensed matter physics of bio-inspired
Molecular engineering of polysaccharide architectures
Methodologies for polysaccharide fine structure elucidation
Soft Condensed Matter
Measurement and modelling of structural, dynamic and materials properties of
Check out the Polysaccharide Biomaterals Group if you are interested:
Dr Ulrich Zuelicke
+64 6 456 9099 ext 7259
Science Tower C, Level 4, C4.10
Theoretical Condensed-Matter Physics
Basically all the things surrounding us in daily life are aggregates of many (~1023)
elementary building blocks as, e.g., atoms and electrons. How the properties of a
macroscopic object derive from the microscopic, and often quantum-mechanical,
nature of its constituent particles is the subject of condensed-matter research. For
example, we can explain why glass is transparent, whereas metal reflects light.
Quite interestingly, it turns out that a collective of many atoms or molecules can
exhibit new -- we say emergent -- behavior that is not shown by a single such
elementary building block alone! An assembly of iron atoms turns magnetic, and an
aluminum wire goes superconducting, due to correlations between electrons in
these materials. Strange things happen in such correlated-electron systems. The
electron, known to high-energy physicists as one of the most elementary particles in
vacuum, turns out to decay into entirely new quasiparticles. Basically, by changing
materials parameters, condensed-matter physicists are able to create and switch
between new mini-universes complete with their associated set of elementary
particles. Hence, the study of emergence in condensed-matter systems not only
enables tailoring of specific materials properties but also advances our fundamental
knowledge of matter itself. This is the aspect of statistical and solid-state physics
that I am particularly interested in.
Theory of Functional Nanostructures
A recent attraction has been the study of small and low-dimensional systems.
Making things smaller accentuates quantum and interaction effects. While this may
spoil the functionality of tiny transistors realized on a microchip, it also opens up
possibilities for entirely new designs of future electronic devices. Physicists,
chemists, and electrical engineers have been united in their drive to perform
fabrication at the nanoscale. Therefore my theoretical studies are instructed by close
consultation with experimental researchers. I am involved in the study of novel
phenomena emerging in low-dimensional conductors, such as quantum wires, and
hybrid systems combining superconducting and/or magnetic materials with normal
metals. Quite fundamental effects, like quantum confinement and spin-orbit
coupling, turn out to lead to spectacular transport properties of nanostructures that
may form the basis of a future electronics paradigm. Along the way toward possible
applications, our efforts not only stimulate the development of new fabrication
techniques but also challenge our basic understanding of matter and materials.
Support services in the Institute
The Institute has first class technical and secretarial support.
The Institute of Fundamental Sciences Specialist Services group is charged to
provide high quality specialist Services for the Institute and, where requested, for
other Institutes within the College of Sciences. The facilities are well equipped and
the staff are highly skilled and helpful.
Institute Administrator Mrs Toni Wilson
Institute Office personnel provide administrative and secretarial support. They also
offer technical advice on document preparation, handle questions related directly to
your programme of study, and action requests to courier documents.
Manager Ms Penny Abercrombie
Chemical Services provide chemicals, glassware and consumable items as required
through the Chemical Store for teaching and research programmes. Chemical
Services also manages the Chemical Inventory programme (ChIM), an on-line data
base of all chemicals held in stock.
Manager Mr Bob Parsons
Cryogenics Services provides liquid nitrogen for teaching and research programmes
carried out within the Institute.
Manager Mr Peter Lewis
Electronics Services staff provide front line back-up of the computing needs of the
Institute (both Macintosh and PC platforms). The Electronics Workshop also
repairs and maintains apparatus and equipment as well as offering a design and
manufacture service for teaching and research programmes.
Manager Mr Barry Evans
Engineering Services has well equipped workshops with the capability for
woodwork, sheet metal work, fabrication, welding, machining and maintenance of
vacuum equipment. The Engineering workshop also offers a design and
manufacture service for teaching and research apparatus.
Manager Mr Grant Platt
Glassblowing Services has a fully equipped glassblowing workshop and offers a
repair, design and manufacture service for teaching and research programmes.
Questions about your course?
The people listed below will be of particular use in answering questions about
specific aspects of your course, we have also listed several web addresses which
may be of interest to you.
Office Extn Email
Physics Graduate Subject Advisor
Professor Tony Signal ScB4.11 3505 A.I.Signal@massey.ac.nz
Institute Postgraduate Studies Coordinator
Professor Andrew Brodie ScA4.19 3536 A.Brodie@massey.ac.nz
Head of Institute, Institute of Fundamental Sciences
Professor Peter Derrick ScB3.13 3500 P.J.Derrick@massey.ac.nz
Dean, Graduate Research School
Professor Ken Milne Commerical
Centre 5243 K.Milne@massey.ac.nz
Administrator, Graduate Studies, College of Sciences
Mrs Kathy Hamilton ScB2.22 5883 K.A.Hamilton@massey.ac.nz
Mrs Toni Wilson ScC5.05 3508 email@example.com
Full information on admission procedures and financial assistance for international
students should be obtained from the:
International Student’s Office
Private Bag 11 222
Telephone: +64 6 350 6148
Fax: +64 6 350 5698
Sources of Information on the Web
Institute Home Page
Individual staff pages giving more detail on staff research may be accessed via this site
Massey University Home Page
International Student’s Office
Massey University Calendar
Handbook for Doctoral Study
Barnes, Dr Geoff 13
Bowman, Dr Patrick 14
Brand, Dr Joachim 15
Cao, Dr Fu-Guang 16
Derrick, Professor Peter 17
Parry, Distinguished Professor David 18
Pascal, Dr Steven 19
Signal, Professor Tony 20
Waterland, Dr Mark 21
Williams, Dr Bill 22
Zuelicke, Dr Uli 23
Soft Condensed Matter Physics 22
Solitons in Bose-Einstein Condensates 15
Strongly-Interacting Quantum Gases 15
Structural Biology 17
Structural Biophysics 18, 19, 22
Structural Polysaccharides and Soft Condensed Matter 22
Structure-Function Relationships in Biopolymer Systems 22
Theoretical Condensed-Matter Physics 23
Theoretical Particle Physics 14, 16, 20
Theory of Functional Nanostructures 23
Thermal and Statistical Physics 13
Veterinary and Health Biophysics 13