Dr. Jonathan A. Kitchen

Current position: IRCSET postdoc (June 2010 - July 2012) with Prof. Thorri Gunnlaugsson (Trinity College Dublin) and Prof. Stephen Faulkner (University of Oxford)
Previous postdoc: MacDiarmid then Marsden postdoc with Prof. Sally Brooker (Jan 2009-May 2010)
PhD: Top Achiever PhD scholarship, with Prof. Sally Brooker (2006-2008)
BSc(Hons): first class, with Prof. Sally Brooker (2005)

Jon and Nick

Jon gritting his teeth against the cold in Glenorchy, near Queenstown.

I began in Sally's group as a summer student in 2004/2005 and then went on to carry out my honours research project during 2005. After a highly enjoyable and successful honours year with many results, I decided I'd like to undertake my PhD with Sally. As it turns out this was one of the best decisions I have ever made and my three years of PhD study in Brooker's Bunch was absolutely superb. From a research point of view, working alongside Sally was great, her enthusiasm and interest in the research made it far easier to move forward quickly and obtain many, many highly interesting results. The open door policy that Sally maintains and her willingness to sit down and have a chat about anything is perhaps one of the best testaments to the mentorship and support that Sally offers to all of those in her research group. Sally's propensity to publish is another highly attractive feature of working in the Brooker's Bunch and everyone is encouraged to publish their results as they go. As such I ended up with 15 publications by the time I left, with more still to come.

Whilst working in Sally's group people are exposed to a large number of techniques, including X-ray crystallography, various synthetic procedures and Mössbauer spectroscopy just to name a few. The group itself works very well together complementing each other's various skills and teaching the various techniques to new group members. This all makes for a really good working environment.

From a non-research perspective Brooker's Bunch, and the Chemistry department in general, are very sociable. The group regularly get together for lunches/dinners to celebrate various milestones, or to welcome guests into the group - Sally's many international contacts means that everyone benefits from meeting a variety of "big name" chemists from overseas. The department has a very active social committee who organise many functions throughout the year including dinners, Chem. Club and the Staff versus Student challenges (Gawk trophy).

Dunedin is a fantastic place to live while undertaking a PhD. Although Dunedin is a small city, it is steeped in history with the strong Scottish connections prevalent wherever you go. It is home to New Zealand's oldest University; the Speights and Emerson's breweries; the world's steepest street (Baldwin street); the Royal Albatross colony and many other attractions. The city centre is small but very vibrant, full of great restaurants, bars, galleries, theatres and coffee shops. Dunedin is also close to a good deal of New Zealand's most breathtaking scenery; the Otago peninsula, Central Otago, the Catlins and Queenstown are all within a few hours' drive.

Having spent nearly 9 years in Dunedin it was with great sadness that I left, however I will always look back on my time spent in Brooker's Bunch with the fondest of memories.