Accessibility Skip to Global Navigation Skip to Local Navigation Skip to Content Skip to Search Skip to Site Map Menu

Postgrads valued at Dodd-Walls Centre

Friday, 7 March 2014 11:29am

colourful image of Dodd-Walls Centre entrance The Dodd-Walls Centre for Photonic and Quantum Technologies

PhD and MSc students are a key element of research groups within the Dodd-Walls Centre for Photonic and Quantum Technologies says Director, Professor David Hutchinson.

Named for ground-breaking kiwi physicists Professors Jack Dodd and Dan Walls, the Centre was established in 2014 and recognised by the Tertiary Education Commission as a national Centre of Research Excellence (CoRE). The Centre is based on close collaboration between six New Zealand universities, hosted by the University of Otago.

"Our students come from, and our graduates find positions, all over the world"

New Zealand researchers have long been at the forefront of developments in precision atomic and quantum optical physics, forming a thriving international web of research relationships – something the Dodd-Walls Centre strongly reflects.

Strong international relationships

“Without a shadow of a doubt, we are a truly international centre,” Professor Hutchinson says. “For example, I see my research relationships as ranging over the UK, US and Australia; other researchers in the centre are more Eurocentric and/or Asia-focussed in their collaborations. Our students come from, and our graduates find positions, all over the world.

“A lot of our work is about collaboration – it’s the unexpected ways collaboration can go that I really like. For instance, the Centre has a strong engagement with industry that students can choose to be part of – it opens a lot of doors. We run an annual competition for students where they pitch a commercial idea to a panel of industry players. It’s a sort of nurturing ‘Lion’s Den’. Last time the panel deemed all of the projects were worthy of investment!”

Community involvement programmes

The Centre boasts a strong, autonomous student organisation that offers support socially and it helps with education outreach programmes to the community and schools (the Centre is involved in numerous MBIE Unlocking Curious Minds projects to actively engage children in primary and intermediate schools, inspiring a passion for science).

"...the Centre ensures there’s a very strong student cohort, doing great things together."

Professor Hutchinson says, “Having CoRE status opens doors, too. Having the name and the extra funding means we can undertake more and more activity, such as our annual symposium. All the students go to that. We attract some truly big name guests ‑ 1997 Nobel Prize winner Bill Phillips, for instance.”

The Centre has over 120 graduate students working across numerous departments - Physics, Chemistry and Computer Science at Otago, plus Engineering and Mathematics at partner institutions.

“Along with a large number of PhD and MSc Scholarship students and a lot of research collaboration, the Centre ensures there’s a very strong student cohort, doing great things together,” Professor Hutchinson concludes.