Sir Paul Callaghan was born in Wanganui in August 1947 and died in Wellington in March 2012. He received international recognition for his scientific research in the field of nuclear magnetic resonance. In 2001 he became the thirty-sixth New Zealander to be made a Fellow of the Royal Society. He was awarded the Ampere Prize in 2004 and the Gunther Laukien Prize for Magnetic Resonance in 2010, among others. He was founding director of the MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology, based at Victoria University of Wellington. His research into nuclear magnetic resonance and its applications led directly to the founding of Magritek Ltd, a Wellington-based company which supplies specialised scientific instruments worldwide.
He was a regular public speaker who promoted science to a wide audience, including through his radio series with Kim Hill, some of which was published in book form in 2007 as As Far as We Know: Conversations about Science, Life and the Universe. In 2011 he was named New Zealander of the Year for his outstanding leadership for more than thirty years as a scientist, teacher, visionary and communicator. In recent years, Sir Paul promoted a vision of a future New Zealand economy based on innovation, science and technology. He was passionate about living and working in New Zealand, and in making New Zealand a better society.