Please make a general enquiry with Geoff at any time about any of the research areas mentioned on this site. Our work is interdisciplinary, and the team includes researchers who have studied physics, chemistry, various engineering disciplines, and materials science at undergraduate level. We work on experiments, theory, and simulations, and projects can be set up in any of these areas

  • Honours / 4th Year: we have many possibilities for Honours projects in the Department of Physics and the School of Chemical Sciences. We can also set up 4th year Engineering projects with a co-supervisor in Engineering.
  • Masters and PhD: These are possible with the required funding. Please discuss with Geoff about possibilities.
  • Research Assistants (RA): Part-time or fixed-term work is usually available in any of our research areas. Please get in touch with Geoff to discuss.

We are currently recruiting for the following funded PhD Project:

Reversible Assembly of Solid Patchy Particles

This project will be a challenging and exciting exploration of the technological possibilities for colloidal self-assembly. Method(s) will be developed for reversible assembly of micrometer-scale solid colloidal particles into multiscale structures such as 3D porous matrices. The colloids will be so-called patchy particles, which can be designed so that they ‘dock’ in prescribed configurations. Reversibility can be achieved, for example, using solid-state magnetism to produce supracolloidal clusters that disassemble in response to stimulus. The methods developed will be scalable and enable specific functions (e.g. catalysis, or capture and storage) so that technologies which enhance material sustainability can emerge.


The ideal candidate will have a strong Honours or Masters degree in a physical sciences discipline, and experimental experience e.g. with microfluidics or fabrication of patchy or Janus colloids. In addition, they should have excellent analytical skills to assist with interpretation of experiments, and a strong command of written English. Candidates should satisfy the requirements for admission as a PhD candidate at University of Auckland.

Total value and tenure of scholarship

NZD$33,000 per annum (not taxed), plus all student fees for three (3) years.

How to apply

To apply, please send a CV, academic record, and the names and contact details of two referees to: Associate Professor Geoff Willmottg.willmott@auckland.ac.nz, with “Reversible Assembly of Solid Patchy Particles” in the subject line.


Associate Professor Geoff Willmott is a New Zealander who studied at the University of Cambridge (UK), obtaining a PhD in shock physics in 2005. The following year, he returned to New Zealand and joined the Nano and Micro Fluidics team at Industrial Research Limited (now Callaghan Innovation) in Lower Hutt. He developed interests in nanofluidics and dynamic microfluidics, and in 2012 was awarded a Rutherford Discovery Fellowship and a Marsden Faststart to work in these areas. In 2013 he moved to the Department of Physics and Chemistry at the University of Auckland. He has been a Principal Investigator with the MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology since 2010, and is the Institute’s Deputy Director for Commercialisation and Industry Engagement. In 2021 he was appointed co-Deputy Head of Department in Physics.


Sina Safaei


MSc, Nanotechnology, Sharif University of Technology, Iran

Sina’s PhD research focuses on theoretical and computational studies to understand the way that soft matter interacts, and self-assembles into coherent phases and higher-order structures. Sina performs large-scale molecular dynamics simulations to study the dynamics of (for example) Janus particles in fluid flows.

Santhosh Kumar Pandian


MSc, Materials Science, Tampere University of Technology, Finland

Santhosh is studying drop impacts of non-Newtonian fluids on structured surfaces in the Dynamic Microfluidics Laboratory. This work involves high-speed photography of the impact events, and analysis of the physical processes observed in the resulting movies. Although Newtonian fluids and impacts on flat surfaces are well studied, everyday applications often involve more complex fluids and rough surfaces.

Qaisar Latif


MEng, Materials Science and Engineering, University of Kiel, Germany

Qaisar’s PhD project focuses on experimental studies to understand novel emergent properties of soft matter. He is employing various microfluidic techniques to study individual and collective particle dynamics in a colloidal system. One aim of the research is to further elucidate the role of slip in particle dynamics.

Nicola Lacalendola


BEng (Hons), Electronics Engineering, Newcastle University, UK

Nick’s main area of research towards a PhD is the mechanics of soft materials on the micron and nanoscale. He is currently working on translating a novel ion-based technique which characterizes micromechanical properties to the nanoscale. This is a comparative study where experimental results are benchmarked against well-known techniques (e.g. atomic force microscopy) while the analysis and the development of a bespoke analytical model are accompanied by finite element simulations.


Dr Ayoub Abdollahi


PhD, Mechanical Engineering, The University of Auckland

Ayoub has joined the Dynamic Microfluidics Lab as a Research Fellow in 2020. He completed his PhD and was a Teaching Fellow in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at UOA. His research interests are in the fields of experimental and computational heat transfer, computational fluid dynamics (CFD), two-phase flow, and microfluidics. He is working on an experimental project focusing on the interactions between drops and surfaces in a heated environment.


Dr Ankita Gangotra


PhD, The University of Auckland (2019)

MEng, Electronics with Nanotechnology, University of York, UK

Ankita moved to New Zealand in late 2015 for a PhD project on aspiration of soft particles using nanoscale pipettes, funded by the MacDiarmid Institute. Following graduation, she has worked with a local start-up (Toha) and as an intern with the Office of the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor, before taking up a Postdoc at Georgetown University, Washington DC.

View Ankita’s winning AMP Ignite presentation from 2016 here.

Dr Matheu Broom


PhD, The University of Auckland (2019)

MPhys (Hons), The University of Hull, UK

Matheu’s research focussed on the role of surface patterning on water repellant surfaces – including drop impact on micropatterns. He developed a range of experimental methods using soft lithography, high-speed photography, and digital image analysis during his PhD. He is now working at Engender, a local start-up.

View Matheu’s 3 minute thesis presentation (2018) here – runner up at the University of Auckland


Dr Miguel Balzan


PhD, Mechanical Engineering, University of Alberta, Canada

Miguel was a Postdoctoral Fellow with the group from 2018-20 with expertise in fluid mechanics and especially spray engineering. He worked in the Dynamic Microfluidics Laboratory on our MBIE-funded project relating to spray drying of dairy products. Miguel obtained a permanent role in the USA in 2020.

Dr Steve Wells


PhD, University of Wollongong, Australia.

Steve worked as a Postdoctoral Fellow on high-speed photography of fluids, and superconductivity. His interests include fluid interactions with surfaces (e.g. drop impact) for various fluids and surfaces – including ferrofluids and superhydrophobic surfaces. He also worked on a project to make and investigte liquid superconductors. Steve joined Fisher and Paykel Healthcare in 2021.

Previous PhD students with Geoff as main supervisor:

James ‘Elf’ Eldridge (Victoria University of Wellington)

Eva Weatherall (Victoria University of Wellington)

Peter Hauer (Victoria University of Wellington)

Anna Radionova (University of Auckland)

Hima Kavuri (University of Auckland)


Our Location

Location: Building 303, 38 Princes Street
Phone: +64 9 373 7599 ext 89998
Email: g.willmott[at]auckland.ac.nz

Want to find out more, please contact us