Position: Lecturer and researcher, University of Auckland.
Associate Professor Ashton Partridge was a researcher and lecturer at Massey University where he headed a team applying nanotechnology to a range of applications including both solar cells and sensing. He is currently Associate Professor and researcher in Chemical and Materials Engineering at the and CSO at Manufacturing Systems Ltd, where he leads a number of scientists and engineers, developing polymer products for a range of applications.
Ashton finished school in the 6th form (year 12) not knowing what to do. However, he enjoyed science, so he completed a BSc in chemistry at Auckland University and went on to complete a PhD in synthetic organic chemistry from La Trobe University (Melbourne, Australia) making drugs used for schizophrenia.
His began his career as a scientist working for the Australian Defence Department, developing chemical sensors based on conducting polymers. After 3 years, Ashton returned to New Zealand and worked for Industrial Research Limited (a government research lab) for 10 years. Initially, he worked as a scale-up chemist in the National Pilot Plant and later within the sensors and electronics team applying conducting polymers to the development of chemical sensors, electronics and membranes. A highlight of the conducting polymer work was the numerous long-term collaborations with researchers from around the world including Prof Alan MacDiarmid (University of Pennsylvania) and Prof Gordon Wallace (University of Wollongong).
Ashton then switched disciplines and for 3 years worked as a senior business analyst and programmer for a marketing company in Wellington, developing web-based marketing software for banks and retail outlets. This experience gave him some understanding of the business world and the broad range of expertise required to take a product from the bench to the market. From there, he spent 18 months with the Ministry of Research, Science and Technology as a senior advisor in the Biotech and Nanotechnology groups.
His current position includes both teaching and research. The research is in collaboration with local New Zealand industry and is aimed at solving a commercially relevant problem. In the sensor work, he is developing methods for detecting a range of things including algal blooms, cancer, mastitis and facial eczema.
In the photovoltaic work, he is supporting a New Zealand-based company to develop plastic roofing tiles that would produce the total power requirements of the home.
There is nothing more exciting than discovering something new
One of his current projects is a new wireless sensor which detects nitrates in rivers.
Ashton has a large family in New Zealand with whom he is very close. As a Christian, Ashton says, “To me, science proves the existence of a creator.”
This article is based on information current in 2010 and updated in 2018.