Professor in Materials Science and Engineering Kim L Pickering

Kim Pickering

Associate Dean Research & Professor of Engineering

Qualifications: BSc(Eng) Hons, Materials Science, Imperial College London. PhD, Surrey; MIMMM, FIPENZ

About Kim

Professor Pickering has been involved in materials related research for over 30 years, specialising in composite materials.  Prior to her current role, she was an industrial researcher at Plessey in the UK . Professor Pickering is the director of the Waikato Centre for Advanced Materials and Manufacture and has been leader of the Polymers and Composites Research Group, University of Waikato since 2000. She was elected as Fellow of Institute of Professional Engineers of New Zealand (IPENZ) in 2008, awarded Chartered Engineer Status and certified on the International Professional Engineers register (IPENZ) in 2005 and has been a Professional Member of the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining Communities (IoM3) since 2005. She has written more than 100 peer-reviewed journal articles, 6 patents and has more than 7,800 citations. She received her BSc(Eng) with Honours from Imperial College, London, and her PhD at Surrey University in the UK. Professor Pickering has participated in MBIE's National Science Challenge (Science for Technological Innovation) as a co-leader of a spearhead project on the 3D printing of biomaterials and is the principal researcher and leader of the MBIE funded  " – A circular economy for the wellbeing of New Zealand" project.

Papers Taught

Research Supervised

PhD Students

  • Tan Le Minh,“Harakeke Fibre as Reinforcement in Epoxy Matrix Composites and its Hybridisation with Hemp Fibre”, 2016
  • John McDonald-Wharry,“Carbonisation of Harakeke (Phormium Tenax) Biomass of Potential Application as Composite Reinforcement”, 2015
  • Aruan Mohammad Ghazali Efendi, “Bio-composite Materials from Engineered Natural Fibres for Structural Applications”, 2016
  • Thavanayagam Gnanavinthan, “Producing Near-Net Shape Titanium Parts By Metal Injection Moulding”, 2016
  • Raa Khimi, "Development of elastomeric composites from iron sand and natural rubber for vibration damping, 2015
  • John McDonald-Wharry, "Carbonisation of harakeke (phormium tenax) biomass for potential application as composite reinforcement, 2015
  • Carmen Viljoen, "Development of a bioderived unsaturated polyester resin for use in the composites industry", 2011
  • Maggie (Yan) Li, "Processing of hemp fibre using enzyme/fungal treatment for composites", 2009
  • Moyeen Sawpan, "Mechanical performance of industrial hemp fibre reinforced polylactide and unsaturated polyester composites", 2009
  • Saiful Islam, "The influence of fibre processing and treatments on hemp fibre/epoxy and hemp fibre/PLA composites", 2008
  • Dalour Beg, "The improvement of interfacial bonding, weathering and recycling of wood fibre reinforced polypropylene composites", 2007
  • Ali Ismail, "Preformulation and formulation of steroids and assessment of an electronically modulated intravaginal device for induced calving or oestrous synchronization of cattle", 2006
  • Gareth Beckermann, " The processing, production and improvement of hemp-fibre reinforced polypropylene composite materials", 2004
  • Colin Ogle, "Design, development and optimisation of veterinary intravaginal controlled release drug delivery systems", 1999

MPhil Students

  • David Joy, "An investigation of environmental variables in the "hot-stacking" process for medium density fibreboard panels", 2003

MSc Students

  • Xin Qin, “Chicken Feather Fibre Mat/PLA Composites for Thermal Insulation”, 2015
  • Sarah Banham, “Extending the Shelf-Life of CO2 Impregnated Polylactic Acid Beads for Foaming”, 2012
  • Liviu Armeanu, "Analysis of bonded joints for small craft and marine applications", 2010
  • Jeevan Jayaraman, "The effect of heat treatment on the structure and properties of hemp/PLA composites", 2010
  • Nicholas Maarhuis, "Development of reaction injection moulded polyurethane foam including assessment of densification and reinforcement for use as a structural core in rotationally moulded products", 2008
  • Paul Betschart, "Strengthening rotationally moulded products: development of a rotomouldable thermoplastic composite", 2008
  • Maggie Li, "Fungi and alkali treated hemp fibre for reinforcement in composites", 2006
  • Stephanie Weal, "Processing and mechanical properties of corn based wood reinforced composites", 2005
  • Neamul Alam, "The characterisation of natural fibres and their interfacial and composite properties", 2004
  • Gareth Beckermann, "The processing, production and improvement of hemp-fibre reinforced polypropylene composite materials", 2004
  • Michael La Franchie, "The optimisation of rotationally moulded polyester matrix composites", 2004
  • Chen (James) Ji, "The effect of coupling agents on wood fibre reinforced polymer composites (WFPC), 2002
  • Simon Burton, "Improvement of pultruded optic fibre cable strength members", 2003
  • Conrad Lendrum, "The optimisation of pultruded polymer matrix composites : utilising statistical experimental design and fracture mechanics", 2001
  • Xiaoxia (Lorna) Luo, "Processing of Al-Al2O3 metal matrix composites using a powder metallurgy approach", 2001
  • Pieter Smilde, "Modified unleaded fuel resistance of unsaturated polyester laminating resins", 2000
  • Tracy Murray, "Sandwich composite boards for furniture construction", 1999
  • Russell Cross, "Stress analysis of adhesively bonded joints", 1998
  • John Davidson, "Failure analysis of carbon fibres", 1998

Research Interests

    NEW Masters scholarship  and PhD scholarship (see university scholarship page) available in Sustainable Materials Research - contact at [email protected] for more information

  • Sustainable materials (for a circular economy)
  • Modelling/predicting composite failure
  • High performance natural fibre composite
  • 3D printing of composites
  • Repair of composite structures
  • Chemical stability of composite materials
  • Composite damping – using magnetic and viscous mechanisms

The best mechanical properties for any materials are achieved with a selection of materials in fibrous form. It therefore makes sense to incorporate these fibres within other materials (i.e. produce a composite material) to enable fibres to be used in structures. In addition, modification of mechanical and physical properties can also be made using particulates. The combination of multiple constituent materials to produce a single material leads to increased complexity in behavioural terms compared to conventional engineering materials, and this leads to challenges in their engineering. However, many examples of their use, Black Magic and Brittan's bike to name two close to home, have demonstrated that the challenge is well worth it.

Currently, however, as relatively new materials, advanced composites pay penalties compared to conventional engineering materials in the requirement for much more conservative design. Increased knowledge of their long-term behaviour will improve this and increase their efficiency along with improving mass production techniques. As this occurs, composites will increasingly replace conventional engineering materials to give improved performance. Furthermore, technology learnt with advanced composites, commonly the regime of carbon fibre, can be applied to other composite materials including glass fibre and natural fibre based composites. Such work at Waikato University has focussed on tailoring properties of composites through fibre treatment and interfacial engineering. In addition, research has involved development of polymer matrices from bioderivable materials including a thermoplastic based on corn gluten meal and a thermoset based on glycerol. With New Zealand's resources of wood and other natural fibres, there is great potential to tap into composite design and process technology to produce improved cost efficient structural materials.

Recent Publications

  • Muthe, L. P., Pickering, K., & Gauss, C. (2022). A Review of 3D/4D Printing of Poly-Lactic Acid Composites with Bio-Derived Reinforcements. Composites Part C: Open Access. doi:10.1016/j.jcomc.2022.100271 Open Access version:

  • Sunny, T., Pickering, K. L., & McDonald-Wharry, J. (2021). Improving the Alignment of Dynamic Sheet-Formed Mats by Changing Nozzle Geometry and Their Reinforcement of Polypropylene Matrix Composites. Journal of Composites Science, 5(9), 226. doi:10.3390/jcs5090226 Open Access version:

  • McDonald-Wharry, J., Amirpour, M., Pickering, K. L., Battley, M., & Fu, Y. (2021). Moisture sensitivity and compressive performance of 3D-printed cellulose-biopolyester foam lattices. Additive Manufacturing, 40. doi:10.1016/j.addma.2021.101918

  • Barbier, M., Le Guen, M. J., McDonald-Wharry, J., Bridson, J. H., & Pickering, K. L. (2021). Quantifying the shape memory performance of a three-dimensional-printed biobased polyester/cellulose composite material. 3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing. doi:10.1089/3dp.2020.0166

Find more research publications by Kim Pickering


Engineering; Materials and Processing; Science Education

Contact Details

Email: [email protected]
Room: CD.3.03
Phone: +64 7 838 4672