Professor Simon Mitchell's inaugural lecture - ‘Bursting bubbles. How a recreational passion drove an academic career’ Event as iCalendar

23 August 2017

5:30 - 7pm

Venue: Lecture Theatre 505-007, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences

Location: 85 Park Road, Grafton Campus

*RSVP by Monday 14 August by clicking here *

Please state the name of the Professor whose lecture you wish to attend on the subject line of your email.


Our annual inaugural lecture series provide a way for our faculty to celebrate and recognise the mark of distinction conferred by the University when it awards the title of professor.

Join us to celebrate the inaugural lecture of Professor Simon Mitchell.


‘Bursting bubbles. How a recreational passion drove an academic career’

My academic journey started with a teenage passion for scuba diving and an aspiration to be a great diver and to know everything about “the bends”. The diving part was comparatively easy, but knowing everything about anything proved much harder! I shall offer unassailable proof that I was a poor student at a young age, and my transition to the present was only made with extensive help and encouragement from inspirational friends, mentors and colleagues.

Over 30 years we have explored the role of bubbles in decompression sickness (the bends), and in causing brain injury to cardiac surgery patients. We have found ways of reducing related harm in both settings. We have studied the role of human factors in compromising the safety of divers and patients undergoing surgery, and have developed influential mitigating strategies.

Along the way I have stayed true to the original passion, and have shared some extraordinary adventures, from hunting for sunken gold in the sub-Antarctic to a world record dive to solve the mystery of a second world war tragedy. This presentation will tell the story of this rich synergy between my recreational and academic careers. 



Professor Simon Mitchell is an anaesthetist and diving physician and is the Head of the Department of Anaesthesiology at the University of Auckland.

He studied medicine at the University of Auckland graduating in 1990 and was a diving medical officer in the Royal New Zealand Navy for 8 years. During this time he completed a PhD addressing neuroprotection in embolic brain injury. He then spent 6 years in Australia, working first as a hyperbaric physician at Brisbane, and then undertaking anaesthetic training at Prince of Wales Hospital in Sydney.

He returned to New Zealand in 2004, completing fellowships in cardiothoracic and liver transplantation anaesthesia in 2008.

Professor Mitchell is widely published, particularly in the area of diving medicine, with over 130 scientific papers or book chapters which include a co-authored chapter on hyperbaric and diving medicine in Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine.

His current research interests include the pathophysiology of decompression sickness, the respiratory physiology of deep diving, patient safety and human factors in the operating room, and carbon dioxide scrubbing and monitoring technology in rebreathers.

He has been a lifelong passionate diver and was a lead member of teams that were the first to locate, dive and identify 3 deep shipwrecks of high historical significance in Australia and New Zealand. At the time of one of these dives it was the deepest (600’) ever undertaken to a wreck.

Professor Mitchell was elected to Fellowship of the Explorers’ Club of New York in 2006. He received the Albert R Behnke Award (the highest American award for scientific contributions to diving medicine) in 2010, the Eurotek Discovery Award in 2014, and was the Rolex Diver of the Year in 2015.


Invite open to FMHS staff and students

Date: Wednesday 23 August, 5.30-7pm

Venue: Lecture Theatre 505-007, Grafton Campus


Prior to the inaugural lecture, we will gather in the atrium for a cocktail function as a further recognition of Professor Skinner’s achievements.

Please RSVP by Monday 14 August by clicking here

*We have a large number of inaugural lectures this year.  To avoid confusion we ask that when you RSVP, you state which inaugural lecture you will be attending.


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