Darwin College's Master, Professor Mary Fowler, who is the great-granddaughter of Lord Rutherford, was the guest of honour at the opening of the new Ernest Rutherford building at the University of Canterbury (UC), Christchurch, New Zealand.
The new building, which is the first stage of the NZ$220 million Rutherford Regional Science and Innovation Centre, was opened by the Prime Minister of new Zealand, the Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern, with fanfare and fireworks, in front of hundreds of invited guests. Lord Rutherford, one of the pre-eminent experimental scientists of the twentieth century, was one of UCs most famous alumni.
Professor Fowler (l) and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (r) are pictured left holding some of Lord Rutherford's many medals.
The new building, described as "complex as a hospital to construct", with over 30 gases and liquids piped into many different laboratories, the new building includes specialist teaching and research laboratories for physics, astronomy, chemistry, geology, geography and biological sciences. Over five floors there are numerous laboratories, a UAV/drone room, 3D medical imaging, a cloud chamber, radioactivity lab, a superconduction magnet lab and a herbarium.
UC Vice-Chancellor Dr Rod Carr said: "This building represents a significant investment by the Crown and the University following the 2010-2011 Canterbury earthquakes when, in September 2014, the Crown signed a UC Futures agreement with the University to provide up to $260 million in funding for buildings that would accommodate the Colleges of Science and Engineering. Ernest Rutherford is the first of two buildings for the College of Science, and contains teaching and research laboratories alongside postgraduate areas, informal learning and social spaces for chemistry, physics, astronomy, geography, geology and biology.”
Before leaving New Zealand, Professor Fowler has spent time meeting alumni of Darwin College in Christchurch, Wellington, and Auckland.