Award for world-class scientist

7 November 2014

Chris Hendy

Research honour: Associate Professor Chris Hendy (centre) with University of Waikato Vice-Chancellor Professor Roy Crawford and Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Alister Jones.

A scientist who is known around the world for his expertise in stalagmites and stalactites, has a lake in Antarctica named after him, and who helped set up one of the best radiocarbon dating laboratories in the world, is being made an Honorary Fellow at the University of Waikato.

Associate Professor Chris Hendy worked at the university for 40 years. He led the university’s first Antarctic expedition, and then went on to make 18 more trips to the ice with postgraduate students. Lake Hendy in Antarctica is named after him.

Cave structures

Dr Hendy was also the first person to demonstrate that speleothems (cave structures) could ‘tell a story’, that they could yield a palaeoclimate record, and the dating tool he developed was also used to date lake carbonate sediments in Antarctica’s Dry Valleys. He was awarded a Polar Medal of the United States for his Antarctic research.

“The University of Waikato is indebted to the work carried out by Dr Hendy,” says Vice-Chancellor Professor Roy Crawford. “He was responsible for several major facilities on campus, including the Radio Carbon Dating Laboratory that works for organisations all over the world, and he also set up our stable isotope mass spectrometry lab – the first of its kind in a New Zealand university.”

A first for a non-US scientist

Dr Hendy was awarded a fellowship by the Gary Comer Educational Foundation in the US – the first non-US scientist to be awarded the honour. It brought in more than half a million dollars to the University of Waikato.

Dr Hendy’s research and expertise in speleothem geochemistry took him around the world, and he also researched aspects of climate change, contamination of surface waters by heavy metals, and the chemistry of wine production. His last major project involved the coring and analysis of central and North Island lake sediments, a project that is ongoing.

The title honorary fellow recognised a distinguished scholar who has given exceptional service to the University of Waikato. “And without doubt, Dr Hendy has fulfilled the criteria,” says Professor Crawford. “The University, and the School of Science in particular, are indebted to him for his many years of research, teaching and expertise.”

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