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February 22, 2011 | by  | in Online Only | [ssba]

Failure to Communicate – Science and You at Victoria University

Welcome to Victoria, new and returning students! I’m a physics student in the second year of a PhD, and the purpose of this column is to help people outside of the world of science understand it a little better, and learn what your relation to science is. I’ll focus on the particular relation of science to the media in future columns, but today I’ll be giving you an overview of how you can interact with science and scientists in your role as a student at Vic. In all likelihood, you’ve never had as many opportunities than you do now to communicate with scientists, or learn about real, up-to-date research!

Of course, those of you enrolled in a science degree will already have a pretty good idea how you’re gonna learn about science. But there are a number of things you may not know, and these things are applicable to a person in any degree:


The VUW library is a great source of current and historic scientific research. Make use of it! If you’re a new student, then this is probably the first time in your life that you have the ability to go and pick up off the shelf a new issue of Nature, Science or Lancet and read today’s research without having to pay a subscription fee. You may also not be aware that you can access these journals on the internet for free as well, as long as you’re logged on to a VUW computer.

This is the real stuff too. It ain’t no high school titration experiment, or a report on a Newton’s laws of motion! One of the big problems with science in high school is that it is typically very stale stuff. Nothing anyone learned in the past ten years is allowed into your NCEA exams, but what you can find in journals in the library is what professional scientists are interested in right now.

The library website is, and it is situated in the Rankine Brown building in Kelburn campus.

Science Society

The VUW Science Society is the newest VUWSA-affiliated representative group. Like the other rep groups, they are designed to provide support for their students, and to reach out to other groups of people. Got a burning question about what happens if you shine a torch in front of you while travelling near the speed of light, or what would happen if you built a ladder between the Earth and the Moon? I just know these guys would love to find the answer for you! They’ll also be holding some more social events during the year, such as quiz nights and lab coat parties. And towards the end of the year, you’ll have the chance to go to the very first Science Ball! How cool would that be? The science society also maintains a mailing list of science speeches and seminars being given around the university.

The science society will have a stall during Clubs Week, so look out for them there. You can also find them on Facebook—search for “the science society” in Victoria University of Wellington.


For those of you more interested in the end-user aspects of science and technology, Viclink might be of interest to you. Viclink is Victoria University’s commercialisation company. Its job is to take the results of Vic research and find a way to turn it into a product or service that can be sold in the market. You can visit their website to learn about some of the most exciting high-tech businesses that have developed from VUW research, and you could find out about the process of tech commercialisation from them too. Viclink will also be worth keeping in mind once you start to do research of your own!

The Viclink office can be found in Alan MacDiarmid building, room 404.

Public Lectures

One last thing I encourage you to do is to take advantage of public lectures! No matter what your field is, your mind will always be broadened by listening to people from beyond your usual spheres. Look out for posters on notice boards around the university. I know it might seem like a drag to haul yourself down to the railway station at 5pm after your classes are over, but trust me: it’s almost always worth the effort.

That’s all from me for now. You’ve got your first week of classes, and a lot of O-Week fun to look forward to! Get out there and enjoy yourself, and next week I’ll get down to the real business of scientific investigation.


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Comments (3)

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  1. Nick says:

    You can actually access journals through the library site off campus as well. Just log in as usual with your username. You don’t even have to be at uni to access the latest science stuffs!

  2. Ben says:

    That’s awesome. See, keeping current with research is easy in modern times! Thanks for the tip, Nick : )

  3. Carli says:

    Hey hey hey, take a gndaer at what’ you’ve done

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