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  • Position: Science Team Leader, Bioproduct & Fibre Technology, AgResearch, Lincoln

    Stewart leads a small research team at AgResearch developing technical textiles, including protective fabrics and composites reinforced with natural fibres like harakeke (New Zealand flax).

    Rights: The University of Waikato Te Whare Wānanga o Waikato

    Dr Stewart Collie at work

    Dr Stewart Collie demonstrates the flame resistance of the new fabric he is working on.

    Stweart particularly enjoys designing the new textile structures – working out how to arrange the fibres and threads and which ones to use to get the required performance.

    Making stab and flame-resistant fabric

    New stab and flame-resistant fabric is made on a special type of machine. Dr Stewart Collie, Senior Scientist at AgResearch, explains how the machine creates the unique fabric structure.

    Stewart also led research looking into what happens to textile fibres once they enter freshwater systems and the sea. In 2020 the results were released confirming that wool fibres readily biodegrade in marine environments.

    Career pathway

    At school, Stewart studied all the science and mathematics he could, with physics and chemistry his preferences. He was planning to study engineering, but got a scholarship to study textile technology at the University of New South Wales in Sydney. He’d been interested in textiles and was reasonable at sewing too, but until he started university study, he had no intention of studying textiles at all.

    I enjoy the fact that the textiles we develop get used in all sorts of different applications – we have to learn about other disciplines, such as medical, sports science and so on. This keeps it interesting!

    Stewart came back to Christchurch to work for the Wool Research Organisation of NZ (WRONZ) and, after a few years, looked for an opportunity to do a PhD, which eventuated in 2001. He was enrolled at Massey University but mostly based at WRONZ and investigated ways of making textiles electrically conductive by depositing intrinsically conductive polymers onto them.

    While doing his PhD, Stewart had the opportunity to work in the United Kingdom for 3 years, after which he returned to Christchurch. Stewart is one of relatively few in the Textiles section who’ve always been a textile specialist, right back to undergraduate level.

    Personal interests

    Stewart has developed an interest in gardening – especially how to maximise the food output of his own garden!

    He also enjoys mountain biking and likes to get out on to the local tracks (Port Hills, Bottle Lake) as often as possible.

    This article is based on information current in 2010 and 2021.

    Related content

    These articles, New stab and flame-resistant fabric, Developing new stab and flame-resistant fabric and Wool fibre properties, give information about some of the innovative fabrics Stewart and his team are working on.

    Useful links

    Read aout how AgResearch has had to think outside the box for new wool products, in this 2020 article from the AA, featuring Stewart.

    See Stewart's AgResearch profile.

      Published 4 June 2010, Updated 9 March 2021 Referencing Hub articles
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