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School visits

16 February 2024

Scientists from various departments in UC's Faculty of Science are available to visit schools in Canterbury and other parts of New Zealand. They can talk on a wide range of scientific subjects, from artificial intelligence and astronomy to climate change and clean energy. Learn more about our school visits.


Scientists from various departments within the Faculty of Science are available to visit schools in the Canterbury region and—by prior arrangement—around New Zealand. They can talk on a wide range of scientific subjects – from artificial intelligence and astronomy to climate change and clean energy.

Click on the subject headings below and meet some of the scientists available to visit your school or organisation.

Expert speakers by subject

Ursula Rack: A researcher for the Deep South National Science Challenge, Dr Rack's research interests lie in environmental and social history. The project recovers meteorological information from logbooks of merchant and navy ships from the late 18th Century until the mid-20th Century. The data is processed to analyse historic weather phenomena to draw conclusions for future weather models in the Southern Ocean. 

Dr Rack's past work has included social conditions - food, medical conditions, income, hierarchy, leadership, insurance and income - on polar expeditions.

An experienced teacher, Dr Rack can tailor a presentation to fit the needs of the audience but past talks have included:

  • 'Life, travel and work in the Antarctic', Rotary Club of Cashmere
  • 'Working and living in extreme environments', Shirley Ladies Club
  • 'Adaptation to extreme environments', Hillmorton High NCEA level two science class
  • 'Extreme environments', St Andrew's College Ladies Club
  • 'Research in the Antarctic', Riccarton Men's Probus Club
  • 'Tutor in the Antarctic', Merrin Ladies Club
  • 'Environmental project', Te Waka Unua School
  • 'Antarctic quilts and arts', Shirley Ladies Club
  • 'Antarctica as a classroom', Rotary Women's Club
  • 'Leadership and responsibility', Somerfield School

Jack Heinemann - Infectious disease, Biotechnology

Dave Kelly - predator impacts on native plants and animals, pest control, native bird/plant mutualisms, pollination and fruit dispersal, biological control of weeds and pests.

Steven Gieseg - Free radicals and antioxidants, what are they. Heart disease and strokes mechanism, cause and seeing with X-rays. Macrophages and white blood cell biology. Colour X-ray imaging the latest developments in medical imaging.

Environmental Science

Sally Gaw: Environmental science.

Peyman Zawar-Reza: Environmental Science is the newest major in UC's Bachelor of Science. Peyman's fields of research include air pollution, meteorology, virology.


Leanne Morgan: Leanne is an expert in groundwater science with research interests including groundwater management, seawater intrusion, surface/groundwater interaction and groundwater modelling. In-class demonstrations can include the use of a sand tank but trips are also an option to wells at UC and Lincoln to demonstrate how to measure groundwater quantity and quality and determine the properties of aquifers.


Kate Pedley: Active tectonics, structural geology, geomorphology. All introductory Geological Sciences. North Canterbury and the Kaikōura quakes, volcanoes.

Clark Fenton: Engineering Geology, geohazards, earthquakes, landslides.

Tom Wilson: Disasters, natural hazards. Simulations (need 2-5 hours) run along the lines of an emergency management scenario for an eruption, earthquake or tsunami. Experiments that can be demonstrated include pneumatic cannon (volcanic ballistics and rock fall analogy) and a volcanic ash lab examining how infrastructure performs under different doses of ash.

Eric Pawson: Human Geography, the Christchurch rebuild and future of the red zone.

Peyman Zawar-Reza: Climatology, Environmental Science, New Zealand's climate, air pollution, the climate in Antarctica.

Malcolm Campbell: Geography of health, mobile phone location data.

Heather Purdie: Glaciology, climate change. Workshops from year 10 onwards. Glacier year 12 NCEA lecture supported with demonstrations.

Communication disorders

Maggie-Lee Huckabee: Translating Ultrasound into Clinical Swallowing Assessment, with PhD students Katharina Winiker, Msc student Becca Hammond. A new approach to dysphagia rehabilitation: Skill based training – highlighting the UC developed BiSSkiT software with PhD students Emma Burnip, Paige Thomas. The PERC Programme:  Patients-Engineers-Researchers-Clinicians, Brewing Rehab Innovations Together.

Phoebe Macrae: Rehabilitating a reflex:  can cough sensitivity change? With PhD students Emma Wallace and Alicia Ang.

Catherine Theys: Speech perception, speech production, acquired speech-language disorders, stuttering, neural basis of speech.

Greg O'Beirne: Hearing 

Dean Sutherland: Human communication, supporting children and adults with communication and learning differences, using technology to support communication for people unable to speak, Autism, Parenting children who are different.


Julia Rucklidge: Mental Health & Nutrition.

Neville Blampied: Applied Behaviour analysis; Behavioural or cognitive behavioural therapy; Health psychology - especially nutritional interventions.

Sarah Christofferson: Forensic Psychology; Criminal Justice; Risk assessment.

Physics and Astronomy

Simon Brown: Nanotechnology, nanoparticles, nanoelectronics, safety/ethics of nanotechnology.

Chris Gordon: Cosmology, Astrophysics, and Particle Physics. 


Marie Squire: Spectroscopy, spectrometry. Talks and demonstrations include MS/NMR and other techniques.

Sarah Masters: All aspects of Chemistry relating to the school curriculum in particular primary and intermediate children. Interactive workshops and demonstrations can be arranged as required.

ChemSoc: Chemistry and chemical biology - Chemsoc is a student-led group. They are able to give show-style demonstrations or hands-on interactive workshops to children of all ages. Presentations can be tailored to the age group required.

Interested in booking a school visit?

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