Position: Professor of Nanotechnology, School of Food and Advanced Technology, Massey University
Richard Haverkamp is Professor of Nanotechnology in the School of Food and Advanced Technology at Massey University, Palmerston North. The focus of his research is on nanotechnology applied to soft and hard materials
Becoming a nanotechnologist has involved a fascinating journey for Richard. At school, he was interested in physics, mathematics and chemistry, but he had no particular career goal in mind. He studied chemistry at university, but at this stage there was no thought of doing nanoscience – he’d never heard of it. Richard went on to work in industry as a chemical engineer.
Career highlights have been the interaction with scientists and engineers around the world, the development of a new understanding of nature, the invention of new devices and the creation of new intellectual models to describe and predict real processes.
After about ten years, Richard returned to university and obtained a PhD. He realised that a career in university was just the thing for him. It was creative and stimulating, with a huge amount of independence – a bit like being your own boss. Over time, Richard found himself spending more and more time studying single molecules and nanoscale particles. Unintentionally, he had morphed from a chemical engineer into a nanotechnologist.
When you meet Richard, you can tell that he finds his research and teaching work fun. “I love what I do, it’s much better than having a job,” he quips. Research and teaching are obviously valuable contributions to science, but looking at how things work at the nanoscale has also helped make the world a more interesting place for Richard.
Richard is a researcher for the Science and Technological Innovation (SfTI) National Science challenges. Alongside other researchers Richard is looking into the potential of using animal collagen as a support for damaged structures within the human body while they’re under natural repair.
This article is based on information current in 2008 and 2021.