Professor Kate McGrath

Victoria University of Wellington

Kate completed her BSc(Hons) degree in Chemistry at the University of Canterbury, before moving to The Australian National University (Department of Applied Mathematics), Canberra, Australia where she obtained her PhD. After finishing her PhD Kate took up a post-doctoral position in Paris at L’Université de Pierre et Marie Curie – Paris VI (Laboratoire de Mineralogie et Cristallographie), with Maurice Kléman. During her second post-doctoral fellowship, Kate worked with Sol Gruner in the Physics Department at Princeton University, Princeton. Kate’s first lecturing position was in the Department of Chemistry, University of Otago, New Zealand. During her time in Dunedin Kate also completed a PGDipCom in Finance. In January 2004 Kate moved to Victoria University of Wellington. She was promoted to Professor and became the Director of the MacDiarmid Institute in 2011, a position she held through 2015. Kate’s research has been recognised by the New Zealand Institute of Chemistry (2003 Easterfield Medal) and the New Zealand Association of Scientists (2007 Research Medal). In 2013 Kate was awarded the Wellington Gold, Inspire Wellington Award. Kate is currently Vice-Provost (Research) at Victoria University of Wellington.

Research Interests

Bionano/Nanobio and Soft Matter Objective 1: Bottom-Up Soft Engineering Objective 5: Nanomaterials for Biological Applications.

Molecular Self-assembly, Soft Matter and Biominerals (including synthetic mimics).

Many materials consist of molecules only interacting with each other via weak interactions. These materials often forming via a process called self-assembly. Such materials can have different 2- and 3-dimensional structures when examined on different length scales and also different time scales for their various behavioural responses. Investigating these different length and time scales requires a variety of techniques to be used, including for example optical, confocal and electron microscopies; x-ray and light scattering; rheology and force measurements. Examples of hierarchical self-assembled materials include the hard tissue of biological organisms including bones and teeth, cellular membranes and emulsions. My interest pertains to understanding the fundamental behaviour of such materials so that we are able to make new materials with advanced physical, chemical and mechanical characteristics and understand the behaviour of biological systems, complex fluids and soft matter.

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