College of Science - University of Canterbury - New Zealand

Diagnosing impending ‘DOOM’: Non-invasive joint implant diagnostics – the missing link

28 April 2017 Research on early detection of wear and tear of hip joint implants is set to make significant new progress. (read article)

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Science study at UC doesn’t just take place in a lecture theatre or lab. Find out what Laura is researching at our Cass Field Station, an amazing facility for students.

Tales from the Nigerian Field Station

Matt Walters from the School of Biological Sciences is currently working at a College of Science field station, on the Mambilla Plateau in Taraba, Nigeria.
Matt’s blog

Nigerian Montane Forest Project

Summer School on Ice

Emperor Penguins, helicopter rides, visiting Scott's hut - PhD student Daniel Price shot this footage while spending three weeks in McMurdo Sound as part of his studies with Gateway Antarctica.

Read more about Daniel

‘The water cycle's importance to people, and how people react to it, is very interesting...’

Toiata Apelu-Uili Studying towards a Master of Water Resource Management
(read profile)



WIN AN EVENING WITH DR NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: A Cosmic Perspective, Christchurch 4 July at Horncastle Arena

Love science? Show us how much to win the ultimate science experience.

Thirty prize packs to be won! Astrophysist, author and world-renowned science communicator — Neil deGrasse Tyson — is coming to Christchurch and we’re giving you the chance to meet him.

All you need to do is share your passion for science in any way you like — storytelling, art, photos, video — it’s up to you.



There are thirty prize packs to give away. Prize packs include:

  • Two tickets to Neil deGrasse Tyson’s amazing show – A Cosmic Perspective,4 July at Horncastle Arena, Christchurch
  • A group photo with Neil deGrasse Tyson
  • Bed and breakfast accommodation
  • An evening meal before the show
  • A tour of UC’s new $200 million Regional Science and Innovation Centre.

Entries open Wednesday 5 April and close Monday 15 May at 5pm. Winners announced Friday 26 May.


UC Possibilities 26-28 April

UC possibilities is a 3-day programme from 26 to 28 April, open to year 13 Canterbury students who are not quite sure what they would like to study at UC and want to discover what’s possible in the Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Arts.

We have arranged three exciting days:

Day one: sustainability, global citizenship and our environment
Day two: people and society
Day three: study options in the BSc or BA for example from GIS (global information systems) and data science to biochemistry and cinema studies.

Find out more



UC Science is proud to sponsor Neil deGrasse Tyson:
A Cosmic Perspective, Christchurch 4 July at Horncastle Arena

UC Science is proud to sponsor Neil deGrasse Tyson: A Cosmic Perspective, in Christchurch 4 July at Horncastle Arena – Theatre Mode. Expert on star formation, exploding stars, dwarf galaxies, and the structure of our Milky Way, best-selling author, Emmy Award winner and recipient of nineteen honorary doctorates, Dr Neil deGrasse Tyson will guide Kiwi audiences on a trip across the cosmos, and help attempt to make sense of some of our biggest questions.

Dr Neil deGrasse Tyson is at the forefront of an ongoing movement to produce a society that counters ignorance and promotes scientific curiosity and literacy, critical thinking, and rational approaches to ensure our smooth transitions into a civilised future. Beloved as an author, scientist and enthusiastic science communicator through his public persona, he is perhaps best known for his StarTalk podcast and show, and his hosting of the acclaimed Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, the successor to Carl Sagan’s seminal series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage from 1980.

Buy tickets at Ticketek more info at



Choose Science careers evening
Thinking about studying science? Not sure where it can lead?

Come along to our careers evening and find out where science can take you. The opportunities may surprise you! Learn about degree options and campus life. Hear from some of our inspiring graduates. Find out how they’ve turned their passions into a successful career with a science degree.
When: 6.30pm to 8.30pm, Tuesday 23 May 2017
Where: C Block, Ilam Campus, University of Canterbury Registration: Free entry.
Bring your friends and whānau!

Click here to register for the event 

Find out about our speakers here.

The Elaine P. Snowden Astronomy School

Mt John Observatory at nightApplications are now closed for the Elaine P. Snowden Astronomy School (formerly known as the Aurora School). The University of Canterbury has offered 3 year 12 and 17 year 13 students a place to attend the 5-day astronomy camp in Christchurch and Tekapo.

Open to just 20 students each year, the annual Elaine P. Snowden Astronomy School camp is an inspiring experience for successful applicants.

The camp takes place 19th to 23rd April at UC's Ilam campus in Christchurch and the Mt John Observatory in Tekapo. There is no charge for the camp (excluding travel costs).

Image credit: Matt Searles

Introducing the winners of the NZ Young Physicists’ Tournament 2017

On 25 March, the New Zealand Young Physicists' Tournament was held at the University of Canterbury. Teams from Wellingotn High School, Auckland Grammar School, ACG Parnell College, Rangi Ruru Girls' School, Riccarton High School and Onslow College fought for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place. The NZYPT panel also announced the 9 potential members of the New Zealand squad who will compete at the International level in Singapore this year.

1st place: Onslow College
2nd place: Wellington High School
3rd place: Auckland Grammar School


Congratulations to all the fantastic students who competed!



The Rutherford Science and Innovation Centre - an update

The Rutherford Science and Innovation Centre - an update The new Rutherford Science and Innovation Centre will create a hub for Canterbury's science and innovation network in modern state-of-the-art facilities that encourage collaborative teaching, learning and research, and be the centrepiece of the campus Science Precinct. It is part of a $216M construction project to build two new science buildings on the Ilam Campus; the Rutherford Science and Innovation Centre and a replacement for the Van Haast Building. The Rutherford Centre is a five storey flagship building which includes research and teaching labs for biology, chemistry, physics and astronomy, geology, and geography.It is expected to be open by July 2017.

Watch the latest video of its development here.

The inaugural College of Science Teaching Awards

Dr Travis Horton, Dr Kate Pedley and Dr Paul Ashwell from Geological ScienceThe winner of the College of Science Innovation in Teaching Award 2016 is a team led by Travis Horton, with Paul Ashwell and Kate Pedley from Geological Sciences. Their application outlined innovation in both content and pedagogy in reworking of two 100 level courses in response to declining 100 level enrolments and student feedback. Some of the innovation pertained to the graduate attribute of employability, and included an increased focus on modern skill development, and a change from lecture format to dynamic group-led learning.

Dr Eileen BrittThere are two winners of inaugural College of Science Kaupapa Māori Teaching Award 2016: Eileen Britt of the Department of Psychology, and John Pirker of the School of Biological Sciences. Eileen has made significant and tangible contributions to bicultural training within the Clinical Psychology Programme, as Chair of the Bicultural Working Group in the Department of Psychology, and as a member of the College’s Te Ohu Pūtaiao. John’s sustained commitment to Kaupapa Māori teaching philosophy is impressive, as is the number and breadth of bicultural teaching activities with which he is involved.

Each College of Science Teaching Award comes with a prize of $3,000 grant in aid to support the further development of the teaching work in question.

UC geologist's investigate surface faulting from Kaikoura earthquake

Dr Sarah KessansStaff and graduate students from the Department of Geological Sciences have been carrying out reconnaissance investigations of the surface faulting associated from the 15th November 2016 M7.8 Kaikoura earthquake.

Limited road access meant that the efforts have been concentrated in the North Culverden Basin and along the Inland Route as far as Mount Lyford.

Read the full report here [PDF 2.30MB].

UC researcher closer to her NASA astronaut dream

Dr Sarah KessansDr Sarah Kessans, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Canterbury, is in the top 1% of applicants shortlisted by NASA to become an astronaut.

Aspiring astronaut and University of Canterbury (UC) Chemistry academic Dr Kessans is one step closer to fulfilling her dream. She applied to be a NASA astronaut back in February and recently made the next cut for NASA's Astronaut Candidate Class of 2017.

Dr Kessans is one of about 120 invited to Houston, Texas, United States, for initial interviews later this month. From there, 50 applicants will be invited for finalist interviews, after which eight to 14 will be chosen as NASA's 22nd Astronaut Candidate Class, reporting for duty in August 2017.

He Puna Pūtaiao

He Puna Pūtaiao is a programme for Year 10 Māori students from a selection of Christchurch schools. The scheme was piloted in the Spring of 2013 and has run successfully for three years. Puna means to well up or to flow, so symbolically represents youth or rangatahi. Its meaning may also incorporate research because in a sense research is meant to flow out and create meaningfulness so as to fill the kete or baskets of knowledge. Pūtaiao is science, so He Puna Pūtaiao connotes research, youth and science.






Remote-controlled jet boat to investigate the Tasman Glacier

Scientists from the University of Canterbury Geography Department have used a high-tech, remote-controlled jet boat to investigate the Tasman Glacier in the South Island of New Zealand. The glacier has a relatively uncommon underwater "ramp" of ice jutting out from the glacier's edge (terminus), into the bed of Lake Tasman. The Tasman Glacier had been somewhat dangerous to investigate, as there was a risk of ice breaking off the glacier and dropping into the water. The remote-controlled mini jet boat allowed the researchers to drive it over the underwater ramp and collect bathymetric data from 240 metres below the lake while tracking its location in real-time.

Read more at the NZ Herald
Research paper

Image shows Canterbury University geography technician Paul Bealing operating a miniature high-tech jet boat to investigate Lake Tasman in the South Island. Photo: Dr Heather Purdie.