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 jointly with Ministry of Economic Development and based on Finland Technopolis international best-practice model

Research | Current

Research Expertise (1970-present): 315 publications up to 2018, 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

  • Non-ionic surfactant conformations

  • Coal Weathering impacts on leading Australia exports to Japan (with BHP Ltd)

  • Conducting polymers in zeolites channels

  • Quantum dots in road paints (with 3M USA)

  • Polyaniline as an anti-bacterial agent

  • Anchored quaternary ammonium salt biocides on surfaces: AFM & XPS studies (with Covestro Germany AG)

  • Controlled release biocides based on zeolites, clays and expanded Perlite (with Inpro NZ)

  • 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): USA North Carolina State University, Millenium Campus and Innovation Triangle model, 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

Postgraduate supervision

Over my full career (1970-present): about 100 PhD, MSc, Honours and Postdoctoral Fellows


  • Jean-Marie Lehn Award (IUPAC Poly-Char) for Achievements in Materials Science & Engineering
  • 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)
  • British Council (UK) and National Science Foudation (NSF) Fellowships


2018: Senior Advisor for the research programme MBIE The Biocide Toolbox

2018: Reviewer for national research funding agencies in NZ, Australia, Canada and Isreal

2014-18: Reviewer for about 20 international journals mainly in advanced and applied materials and interfaces 

Areas of expertise

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

Committees/Professional groups/Services


Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)


Contact details

Primary office location

BUILDING 903 - Bldg 903
Level 2, Room 230C
New Zealand

Web links