Position: Professor, University of Waikato.
Field: Fluid mechanics, applied thermodynamics, energy efficiency
Growing up in Hamilton, Michael’s interest in science developed when he was in Year 9.
I’d have to give the credit to my [Year 9] science teacher... Before that, everything seemed to be debatable... [In Year 9], we got introduced to kinematics and the mathematics of science and things became more precise, and I liked that idea and it went from there.
Originally intending to be an architect, Michael was told that, due to his good Year 13 grades, he could skip a year if he started an engineering degree. He decided to do an engineering degree first and later pursue a career in architecture. He started his undergraduate degree at Auckland University doing civil engineering but changed to chemical engineering in his second year, and ended up with a degree in chemical and materials engineering. One aspect of chemical and material engineering is non-Newtonian Fluids “because plastics, when they are in the liquid form, get pumped through pipes and they behave differently than water” says Michael, who found it interesting seeing these “strange fluids” and how they behaved. This led him into fluid mechanics, and he completed his PhD at Auckland University.
After finishing his studies, Michael left New Zealand to work overseas. He worked in Melbourne, Australia and the USA, working for universities and private companies, and became involved in the pulp and paper industry looking at the fluid flow of pulp suspensions. In 1995, he returned to New Zealand and took up a job at Waikato University, and assisted in getting the Engineering Department up and running.
His current areas of research interest are in energy efficiencies of industrial plants, and milk and milk products, for example, looking at how milk powder deposits on stainless steel surfaces, understanding when lactose becomes sticky and how this affects the way it moves through ducts.
When he is not thinking about work, Michael enjoys spending time with his family, going running and playing cricket.
This article is based on information current in 2010 and in 2018.