“It’s a guaranteed way to start the day in a good mood ”
The PhD student has spent his adult life in the Hutt (he rents a flat above a shop in Jackson Street) and puts his love of Petone down to the friendly locals. He should know: one of his interests is placing young science students in local hi-tech firms. “All the businesses are really lovely, really welcoming – they’ll make time to sit down for a coffee and hear your ideas, even the chief executives.”
Elf’s PhD focus may be very small (he’s working on nanoparticles, in particular a Christchurch-made machine capable of measuring particles a billionth of a metre across) but his outlook is broad: besides participating in an outreach programme to enthuse kids about a career in science, he’s also active in KiwiMars 2012, a simulated Mars landing in Utah. His employers, IRL and the MacDiarmid Institute, are involved in a variety of research projects, all intended to boost innovation in partnership with the private sector. He singles out two recent examples: a collaboration with Resene to develop high-performance water-based paints, and a partnership with Wellington company Mesynthes Ltd to develop a human tissue substitute from sheep stomachs. Elf’s own research will be put to a range of uses, one of the most exciting being the detection of viruses invisible to the naked eye. It’s one more reason to keep him braving those blustery sea breezes on the way to work each day.