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April 2, 2012 | by  | in News |
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Farewell Good Sir

Professor Sir Paul Callaghan Passes Away

One of New Zealand’s most prominent scientists, Professor Sir Paul Callaghan, passed away on Saturday 24 March after a lengthy battle with bowel cancer.

The news of his death affected many people around the country, including staff and students at Victoria University.

Victoria University Vice-Chancellor Professor Pat Walsh described Callaghan as “a great leader and an inspiration.”

“He was a leading light in the field of nuclear magnetic resonance, and in addition made a significant contribution to communicating science beyond the scientific community and to debate about New Zealand’s future prosperity,” said Professor Walsh.

Callaghan, who was named New Zealander of the Year in 2011, was born in Wanganui in 1947. He studied physics at Victoria University before obtaining his Doctor of Science and Doctor of Philosophy degrees from the University of Oxford.

He returned to New Zealand to research the applications of magnetic resonance to the study of soft matter at Massey University. He joined Victoria University in 2001 and became the inaugural Director of the MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology in 2002.

Professor Walsh has said that Victoria University will continue his work.

“Paul was the driving force in developing Victoria as a world-leader in this field. His colleagues and students will continue the research that was his passion.”

Professor Sir Paul Callaghan’s funeral was held on Wednesday 28 March at the Wesley Methodist Church in Wellington. More than 400 people attended the service including Governor-General Sir Jerry Mataparae and Deputy Prime Minister Bill English.

The variety and number of esteemed public figures at the funeral is a testament to the widespread influence and importance of Professor Sir Paul Callaghan’s works. As Vice-Chancellor Professor Pat Walsh said,

“He demonstrated, to use his own words: ‘not just that science is interesting and a relevant part of our lives but it can actually make a tremendous difference to the potential of this country.’”

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