Professor Ralph Paul Cooney

FRSNZ, BSc (Hons)(UQ,1964), PhD (UQ, 1968), DSc (UQ, 1992)


Experience 1986-present:

University of Auckland

2004+: Director of 4 major Government (MBIE/FRST) funded research programmes (total $40M)

2001-2009: Pro Vice Chancellor and Head of UA Tamaki Innovation Campus

1993-2009: Executive Dean of Science: 13 Departments

1991-1993: Head of Department of Chemistry

1986-1991: Head of Physical Chemistry

  • Academic Leadership:

1993-2001: Established new successful Applied Postgraduate Programmes as Dean:

  • Food Science
  • Forensic Science
  • Polymers
  • Wine Science
  • Speech Science (including Speech Language Therapy)

2001 Established the UA Polymer Electronics Research Centre (with Prof Jadranka Travas-Sejdic)

  • NZ Government Roles:

1991-1998: Director on the Board of ESR Ltd (Crown Research Institute)

1994-2001: Government Representative (Foreign Affairs & Trade) on the Council of the University of the South Pacific

1995-1996: Special Advisor to the Minister of Research, Science and Technology

1994-1997: Appointee to the International S&T Advisory Committee to the Ministers of Science and Foreign Affairs and Trade

  • Regional Roles:

1993-1996: Two reports on “Jobs Growth in Science and Technology” – published by Association of Scientists

2003-2005: Chair of the Auckland Metro Project Panel: growing Auckland via R&D Innovation

2005-2008: UA Convenor of project group to develop National NZ Science & Technology Park with Ministry of Economic Development

Research | Current

Research Expertise (1970-present): involving about 100 research students

  • Raman and Infrared molecular spectroscopy

  • Adsorption of organic adsorbates on porous oxides, zeolites and clays

  • Poly(acetylene) in zeolite channels: Resonance Raman spectra of molecular wires

  • Raman spectra of adsorbates on working electrodes

  • FTIR reflectance spectra of adsorbates on platinum working electrodes and colloids

  • Origin of Surface Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy (SERS) for silver and  gold electrodes

  • Conducting polymers in zeolites channels

  • Polyaniline as an anti-bacterial agent

  • Anchored quaternary ammonium salt biocides on surfaces: AFM and XPS studies

  • Controlled release biocides based on zeolites, clays and expanded Perlite

  • Expanded Perlite transformation into Ultra-high surface area silica

  • Self-cleaning of metal roofing

Track Record of External Research Funding (2004+): Lead Author and Founding Director

  • MBIE The Biocide Toolbox: $15M over 6 years

  • MBIE Hybrid Anti-Microbial Polymers: $8.3M over 6 years

  • MBIE Materials Accelerator: $9.6M over 4 years 

  • FRST Membranes & Micro-pumps: $5.6M over 4 years

Innovation and Entrepreneurship:

  • Survey of International Best Practice in University-Industry partnerships (2010 study leave): 8 countries, 43 agencies, 100 interviews

  • Campus Masterplan for Tamaki Innovation Campus (2000): Technology Foresighting themes, End-user clusters, International Innovation Campus models, National Science & Technology Park

  • Negotiations and engagement with 500 companies across 4 MBIE and FRST contracts and Callaghan Innovation


  • Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand (FRSNZ)
  • Fellow of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute (FRACI)
  • Fellow of the New Zealand Institute of Chemistry(FNZIC)
  • Several others

Areas of expertise

  • Applied Research & Innovation – International best practice
  • Multi-materials Interfacial Analysis
  • Conducting Polymers

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

  • Wheelwright, W., Cooney, R. P., Ray, S., Zujovic, Z., & De Silva, K. (2017). Ultra-high surface area nano-porous silica from expanded perlite: Formation and characterization. Ceramics International, 43 (14), 11495-11504. 10.1016/j.ceramint.2017.05.333
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Karnika De Silva, Sudip Ray, Zoran Zujovic
  • Zujovic, Z., Wheelwright, W. V. K., Kilmartin, P. A., Hanna, J. V., & Cooney, R. P. (2017). Structural investigations of perlite and expanded perlite using<sup>1</sup>H,<sup>27</sup>Al and<sup>29</sup>Si solid-state NMR. Ceramics International10.1016/j.ceramint.2017.11.047
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Paul Kilmartin
  • Wu, J. C.-C., Ray, S., Gizdavic-Nikolaidis, M., Jin, J., & Cooney, R. P. (2016). Effect of polyvinylpyrrolidone on storage stability, anti-oxidative and anti-bacterial properties of colloidal polyaniline. Synthetic Metals, 217, 202-209. 10.1016/j.synthmet.2016.03.019
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Sudip Ray, Marija Gizdavic Nikolaidis, Jianyong Jin
  • Zhang, J., Jin, J., Cooney, R., & Zhang, S. (2015). Fluoride-mediated polycondensation for the synthesis of polymers of intrinsic microporosity. Polymer, 76, 168-172. 10.1016/j.polymer.2015.08.066
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Jianyong Jin
  • Wheelwright, W. V. K., Ray, S., & Cooney, R. P. (2015). Studies of Interfacial Interaction between Polyaniline and Corn Gluten Meal and their Effect on Electroactive and Free Radical Scavenging Properties. Molecular Crystals and Liquid Crystals, 616 (1), 239-250. 10.1080/15421406.2015.1043212
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Sudip Ray
  • Zhang, J., Jin, J., Cooney, R., Fu, Q., Qiao, G. G., Thomas, S., & Merkel, T. C. (2015). Synthesis of perfectly alternating copolymers for polymers of intrinsic microporosity. Polym. Chem, 6 (28), 5003-5008. 10.1039/C5PY00570A
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Jianyong Jin
  • Zhang, J., Jin, J., Cooney, R., & Zhang, S. (2015). Synthesis of polymers of intrinsic microporosity using an AB-type monomer. Polymer, 57, 45-50. 10.1016/j.polymer.2014.12.010
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Jianyong Jin
  • Cooney, R. P., Jin, J., Swift, S., Kilmartin, P., De Silva, K., Ray, S., ... Wells, B. (2014). Anti-microbial conducting polymers: Summary and Commercialization strategy. Paper presented at Polychar 22 World Forum on Advanced Materials, Stellenbosch, South Africa. 7 April - 11 April 2014. Related URL.
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Jianyong Jin, Simon Swift, Paul Kilmartin, Sudip Ray