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York atmospheric scientist secures major sponsorship deal from high-tech company

Posted on 30 November 2018

An atmospheric scientist at the University of York has been awarded a £170,000 grant after the CEO of a major international company heard him speak at a conference and was so impressed he offered him a sponsorship deal.

Dr Shaw is a research scientist in the Wolfson Atmospheric Chemistry Laboratories

Dr Marvin Shaw had just finished giving a keynote presentation at the prestigious annual British Mass Spectrometry Society (BMSS) meeting on the calibration of environmental instruments, when he was approached by Doug Hastie, the CEO of Syft Technologies, New Zealand.

Mr Hastie was so taken with the presentation he immediately offered Dr Shaw a three-year research sponsorship deal.

Air quality

Dr Shaw is a research scientist in the Wolfson Atmospheric Chemistry Laboratories, part of the Department of Chemistry, and an expert in instruments for measuring urban air quality and pollution emission sources. He specialises in calibrating complex state-of-the-art field instruments which measure gaseous volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

He will be sponsored by New Zealand-based Syft Technologies which design and manufacture high-tech devices to test air quality for industrial processes and outdoors.


Over the next three years Dr Shaw will work with colleagues at Syft to develop their Voice200 Ultra – a new chemical mass spectrometer and improve its ability to measure trace air pollution. In particular, he will develop technologies to fine-tune and calibrate the device to provide more exacting measurements.

Dr Shaw completed his PhD at York and has also spent several years working in government labs before returning to the University in 2015, having gained further post-doctoral research experience at the Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster University.

He said: “This is a remarkable opportunity, I look forward to the opportunities that this sponsorship will provide, in particular working more closely with the Syft-Technologies to develop next generation analytical instrumentation for characterising the quality of the air we breathe”.


Alastair Lewis, Professor of atmospheric chemistry at the University of York, added:“This is a fantastic achievement for Marvin and demonstrates that our lab’s PhD graduates are not just first class atmospheric scientists, but also highly rated engineers with real entrepreneurial skills."

Doug Hastie, CEO of Syft Technologies, added: “Syft technologies are a growing company who are committed to supporting a skilled team of chemists, physicists, mathematicians, hardware and software engineers at its facilities in Christchurch. Our research goals align with both Dr Marvin Shaw and the Wolfson Atmospheric Chemistry laboratories at York, particularly our views toward the advancement of detection technologies for a wide range of applications applicable to the 21 Century”.


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