Professor Robert McLachlan

Massey mathematician wins prestigious fellowship

Massey University mathematician Professor Robert McLachlan has been awarded a prestigious James Cook Fellowship by the Royal Society of New Zealand.

The fellowships are awarded to researchers who have the requisite qualifications, experience and have achieved national and international recognition in their area of scientific research.

The prestigious fellowships allow academics to concentrate on their chosen research for two years without the additional burden of administrative and teaching duties. The funding package annually is $100,000 plus GST and up to $10,000 plus GST in relevant expenses.

Professor McLachlan of the Institute of Fundamental Sciences is one of four researchers to receive a fellowship this year. His research project is entitled Geometric methods for the simulation of complex systems.

He is thrilled to receive the fellowship. “It is a fabulous opportunity to concentrate exclusively on research,” he says. “Several eminent scientists and their research students from Norway, the United Kingdom and Australia are lined up to visit Massey to collaborate on this research as well.”

Geometric integration is a novel approach to simulation, a key enabling technology. It is being used to study areas as diverse as the origin of the ice ages, the structure of large molecules, quantum mechanics, nanotechnology, and weather forecasting.

“These systems all have underlying geometric structures that influence the phenomena they generate,” Professor McLachlan says. “In geometric integration these properties are built into the computational methods, making them faster, more reliable, and often simpler than traditional approaches. The project will explore these geometric structures and study the design and performance of such novel computational methods."

Royal Society of New Zealand chief executive Di McCarthy says this year’s James Cook Fellows are “excellent examples of researchers within New Zealand who are committed to increasing our scientific knowledge and understanding".

"The diversity of the research disciplines covered in the applications is impressive and the approved list of Fellows illustrates the depth of research excellence and leadership in New Zealand.”

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