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14 July 2023

From Logan Williams and Dr Beatrice Tinsley to Professor Roy Kerr and Emeritus Professor Graham Nuthall, learn about the Innovators UC is showcasing to celebrate our 150th anniversary!

UC Legend - Beatrice Tinsley
Dr Beatrice Tinsley

BSc 1961, MSc (Hons) 1963

Known as the “Queen of the Cosmos”, Beatrice Tinsley’s work has had a profound influence on what scientists know about the stars, the galaxy, and the Universe itself. Deciding by the age of 14 that she wanted to be an astrophysicist, she graduated with an MSc in Physics in 1961. Despite producing over 100 papers in her short 14-year academic career, Beatrice struggled to receive professional recognition in the male-dominated world of academia in the United States. She became a Professor of Astronomy at Yale University, only 3 years before her death in 1981.

David Jaggar
David Jaggar

BSc 1988, MSc (Hons) 1991

David Jaggar redesigned a little-known British microprocessor called ARM (based on work from his MSc thesis at UC), to be the first choice for powering the portable products of the digital age, including every cell phone since 1996. It’s still in wide use today, in many different products, with approximately 250 billion ARM processors shipped, most of which use David’s core patents. After receiving the James Clark Maxwell medal in 2019 for "ground-breaking contributions that have had an exceptional impact on the development of electronics and electrical engineering or related fields", David performs many guest lectures and speeches worldwide.

Steve Leftly
Steve Leftly

BSc 1991

With a CV of experience sitting at the intersection of textiles and technology, Steve Leftly’s career has seen him work as an analytical chemist and a scientist developing tech commercialised by the likes of Nike, Adidas, North Face, and NASA. Embracing his entrepreneurial spirit, Steve co-founded wearable rehabilitation technology company Myovolt. Part of the growing tech and innovation sector in New Zealand, Myovolt was initially pioneered as vibration rehabilitation for muscles and joints and is now being investigated for use in the treatment of conditions like stroke, MS, and Parkinson’s. Steve’s goal is to see this technology helping millions of people every day.

Jonathan Ring
Jonathan Ring

BE (Hons) 2018, ME 2022

Development of the technology for Zincovery began during Jonathan’s master’s thesis study. With the assistance of co-founder Professor Aaron Marshall, in two years, the idea has gone from a master’s project to a start-up employing seven people. The innovative tech recycles zinc from galvanised steel five times more efficiently than tradition methods, making it a more environmentally friendly and cost-effective alternative. With a global market opportunity estimated at over $10 billion per annum and several awards under their belt (including the Callaghan Innovation C-Prize in 2020 and KiwiNet’s Breakthrough Innovator Award in 2022) Jonathan is only just getting started.

Robert Peach
Dr Robert Peach

BSc 1978

After studying Zoology at UC, Robert Peach continued his education studying at Lincoln University and then the University of Otago. After completing his PhD in Biochemistry, he took up a career at pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies in America including co-founding two start-up biotechnology companies. Robert is the co-author of 75+ scientific publications and book chapters and 20+ patents. His extensive 30 years of drug discovery and development experience in autoimmune and inflammatory diseases and cancer has resulted in multiple drugs entering clinal trials, with four becoming registered drugs. Robert currently serves on several Boards of Directors.

Roy Kerr 2
Professor Roy Kerr CNZM FRS FRSNZ

BSc 1954, MSc (Hons) 1955, DSc 2015

Eminent mathematician Roy Kerr is known internationally for discovering the Kerr solution in 1963, an exact solution to the Einstein field equation of general relativity – something that had eluded scientists for 47 years and had many in the field doubting it could even be done. Roy’s discovery triggered a revolution in the field of astrophysics. In 1971, he returned to New Zealand and UC where he taught until his retirement. Roy was made Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2011 and in 2016 was awarded UC’s highest honour of Canterbury Distinguished Professor, a title only two others before him share.

George Julius
Sir George Julius

BSc 1896, DSc 1940

Growing up, Sir George Julius spent time in his Dad’s workshop, sparking an early interest in engineering. His professional career started in 1896 when he worked as a railway engineer in Western Australia, before moving on to research work on hardwoods for the Government Railways. In his spare time, George worked on his design for an automatic totaliser, initially intended to be a vote-counting machine. When the government rejected the concept, the design was adapted for its use in horse racing to count bets.

Photo credit: PIC/15611/1-18002 LOC Cold store-Fairfax archive of glass plate negatives/Sir George Julius, New South Wales, ca. 1930s

Graham Nuthall
Emeritus Professor Graham Nuthall MNZM

Christchurch Teachers College 1958, Christchurch Teachers college 1959, BA 1959, MA (Hons) 1962

Becoming a professor at just 37 years old, Graham Nuthall spent his career pioneering empirical research into how students learn, and teachers teach. Highly respected by the international educational research community, his research focused on interactions within the classroom and the hidden lives of learners, resulting in a deeper understanding of how children learn. A celebrated author translated into several languages, he is also the recipient of many awards, including the Royal Society’s Rutherford Science and Technology Medal and in 2003 was made a Member of the NZOM for services to education.

Jeremy Wyn-Harris
Jeremy Wyn-Harris

BE (Hons) 1995, ME 1997

Interested in technology, business and finding a better way of doing things, Jeremy Wyn-Harris is an entrepreneur and innovator who was an early pioneer in the internet camera industry. After co-founding Epic Digital in 1998, Jeremy developed and deployed 10,000 smart Internet accessible low-cost cameras in to the Australian and Singapore markets. Later working at Trimble Navigation in machine control, Jeremy then went on to found in 2006 – creating a leading network service connecting tradespeople with homeowners. He also holds several NZ and US patents across machine control and identity verification technologies and has a strong focus on finding innovative ways of solving real problems for people.

Logan Williams
Logan Williams

Ngāi Tahu
BSc 2016, BA (Hons) 2018

Since graduating in 2016, Logan Williams has secured his place as an internationally acclaimed entrepreneur, scientist and inventor who has sold four novel inventions to international corporations – polarized contact lenses for people with photosensitive epilepsy, a system to destroy methane gas produced on farms, a medical nebulizer and a method to turn didymo algae into biodegradable products. His success has seen him nominated for New Zealander of the Year in 2018, as well as named in the Forbes 30 Under 30 List for Asia in 2020. “I believe that invention is one of the most rewarding pursuits in life, as you have the unique opportunity to shape the world and have a real impact on people’s lives.”

Richard Barrer
Dr Richard Barrer FRS

DSc 1937

A ‘founding father’ of zeolite science and its applications, Richard Barrer was also known for his research in the gas permeability of membranes. Throughout his career he wrote over 400 papers, 3 monographs and held 21 patents. His contributions to his field saw him give his name to the zeolite ‘Barrerite’ and Barrer, a unit of gas permeability still used today. He primarily resided in the UK, and taught in Cambridge, London and Aberdeen. His legacy continues through the Barrer Award, recognising work in the field of porous inorganic materials.

James Robertson
James Robertson

BE 2004

James Robertson is an entrepreneur and engineer specializing in inspection robotics. He studied Mechatronics Engineering at UC from 2004 to 2009 and his company, Invert Robotics, was spun out of UC in 2010. The founding principle of the company is to keep people safe by keeping them out of dangerous situations. Using clever suction technology, the company has become a global leader in the use of climbing robots to inspect all manner of things including tanks and other industrial equipment, power generators, aircraft, ships, and rockets.

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