University of Otago, New Zealand


Te Tari Hua-Ruanuku

The Department

Chem DeptEstablished in 1871 with the appointment of Professor James Gow Black, the Department of Chemistry at the University of Otago is the oldest chemistry department in New Zealand. It has grown to be one of the largest Departments in the Division of Sciences and contributes to various courses and programmes in Sciences and Health Sciences at the University of Otago.

Responsibility for the department's dual mandate of teaching and research is shared among full-time academic staff and a number of teaching and research fellows, assisted by a similar number of technical, secretarial and general staff.  As such, the department is one of the largest and most active in New Zealand.  Working conditions and facilities rival those of many overseas departments.

Research activities

Research activities in the Department of Chemistry are largely encapsulated by three areas of research strength.

Researchers in the Department of Chemistry have access to an extensive array of modern specialist research techniques, as well as the services of the Campbell Microanalytical Laboratory, the department's mechanical and electronics workshops and the university's Glassblowing Service. 

Read more about the department's research interests.

Equipment and techniques

Equipment and techniques that are available include:

Research Units

The Department of Chemistry also hosts two research units that are joint ventures with New Zealand Crown Research Institutes.

They are the Centre for Chemical and Physical Oceanography (National Institute for Water and Atmospheric Research – NIWA and the Plant Extracts Research Unit (Plant and Food Research).  The placement of these research units with the Department of Chemistry at Otago recognizes the department's expertise in natural products chemistry and marine chemistry and oceanography.  Staff from the research units play a full part in the life of the department, including joint supervision of undergraduate and postgraduate research projects.

Otago Chemistry Alumni Network (OCAN)


Thank you for taking a look at our alumni site.  We hope that you will take the time to update your details online with the University of Otago alumni network. This will ensure you receive the Chemistry Alumni Magazine and other information from us.

The aim of the web site and the Alumni Magazine (issues 1 and 2 already distributed) is to establish an interactive network of our past students and staff, our current members of the department and any prospective members.  The idea is that with time the network will become self-sustaining and provide links among all members of our chemistry community, allowing contact to be maintained between individuals, for us as a department to have an ongoing relationship with our past members and to establish an easy path of communication between everyone that has been connected with the department at some time in its history.  This could include a student wanting to ask some chemistry-related questions, people planning their careers and wanting to contact someone currently employed in their preferred job, employers looking to provide job opportunities, or maybe you have just lost contact with someone that used to be in your class and you’d like to find them again.  We would love all of our past members of the department to join this interactive network and to establish a support system beyond graduation.

When you join the network please let us know if you are happy for us to pass your details onto others — nothing will be published on the web or in the magazine that does not have prior permission.  Your level of participation in the network will be completely up to you but we hope over the next couple of years all our alumni will start to see the benefits of maintaining an active and healthy alumni group, facilitated by the department.  Again, thanks for your interest and welcome to OCAN.

You can contact us a number of ways:

Read more about life in the department

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