Five new Professors in science

20 January 2009

Five Associate Professors in the Faculty of Science have been promoted to Professors: Professor Arthur Conigrave, from the School of Molecular and Microbial Biosciences; Professor Kate Jolliffe, from the School of Chemistry; Professor Brendan Kennedy, from the School of Chemistry; Professor Geraint Lewis, from the School of Physics; and Professor Dietmar Muller, from the School of Geosciences.

Steps to promotion: five Associate Professors have been promoted to Professors in the Faculty of Science.
Steps to promotion: five Associate Professors have been promoted to Professors in the Faculty of Science.

Being promoted to Professor means these five scientists are widely recognised as leading authorities in their respective disciplines on a national and international level and have made original, innovative and distinguished contributions to research, scholarship and teaching in their scientific disciplines.

"The whole Faculty of Science would like to congratulate Professor Arthur Conigrave, Professor Kate Jolliffe, Professor Brendan Kennedy, Professor Geraint Lewis, and Professor Dietmar Muller on their promotions," said Professor David Day, Dean of the Faculty of Science.

"As Professors, they have proved their capacity to provide sustained outstanding academic leadership and foster excellence in research, teaching and policy development both within the university and within the community, professional, commercial or industrial sectors."

In order to be approved as Professors, the five each had to compile written applications and sit an interview, which was assessed by a local promotion committee including the Dean of the Faculty of Science, four Professors and one Academic Board nominee.

Their applications then had to be approved by a central promotion committee including the Vice-Chancellor, Provost and Deputy Vice-Chancellor, two Deans nominated by the Provost and Deputy Vice-Chancellor, the Chair of the Academic Board, one senior academic from another University nominated by the Vice-Chancellor, and three professors nominated by the Chair of the Academic Board.

Dr Michael Spence, Vice Chancellor and Principal of the university, announced the promotions in December, with the positions officially starting in January 2009.

"It's an honour to be appointed as Professor. For me, it means a fresh start, new opportunities, recognition, responsibility, and maybe even a new car!" said Professor Arthur Conigrave.

Professor Dietmar Muller joked: "It makes me feel old - just kidding! It means that I am finally catching up with my brother-in-law who is younger than me and has been a Professor for some years. I can also finally get new business cards!"

Professor Geraint Lewis said: "The promotion means a pay rise! Actually, it means much more than that - it's recognition for my work to be a professor in the best university in Australia."

Professor Kate Jolliffe said: "This promotion is a significant recognition of my work. There are very few female professors in the field of chemistry, so it's a real honour to be added to the ranks. The increased pay is nice too!"

Professors' Research:

Professor Arthur Conigrave, from the School of Molecular and Microbial Biosciences, studies proteins in the human body - the essential structural and functional components of our bodies. His research particularly focuses on the sensing mechanisms in cells that detect variations in amino acid levels, as amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. Researching the molecules that sense changes in amino acid levels, he currently focuses on a subgroup of the G-protein coupled receptor superfamily ('class 3') that includes a number of broad-spectrum amino acid sensors involved in triggering both gut digestive responses as well as hormonal regulatory responses.

Professor Kate Jolliffe, from the School of Chemistry, researches the design and synthesis of organic molecules with a particular function, with specific targets including biologically active cyclic peptides, molecules capable of sensing other molecules and antifungal drugs. Cyclic peptides have many biological applications, including use as antibacterials, antifungals and anticancer drugs, but are generally difficult to make. Her work focuses on the development of a widely applicable method for the efficient synthesis of these molecules. She has also synthesised modified cyclic peptides that act as molecular receptors and sensors for biologically important molecules and is currently investigating the development of new antifungal drugs with a novel mode of action.

Professor Brendan Kennedy, from the School of Chemistry, works on the design of novel solid materials for use as catalysts, sensors or electrode materials. He investigates the role of anion defects in controlling the electronic properties of ruthenium and iridium oxides. Expertise in powder diffraction, materials preparation and surface analysis is critical in this work. He also studies the structural, electronic and magnetic properties of the new ruthenium superconductors. A recent extension of his work in the design of active metal oxides has been an examination of the absorption and immobilisation of heavy metals including lead and cadmium into inert hosts.

Professor Geraint Lewis, from the School of Physics, investigates the influence of dark energy and dark matter on the evolution and ultimate fate of the universe. He also uses the phenomenon of gravitational lensing to probe the nature and distribution of the pervasive dark matter, and employs individual stars to magnify the hearts of quasars, the most luminous objects in the universe. Closer to home, his research focuses upon galactic cannibalism, where small dwarf galaxies are torn apart by the massive Milky Way and Andromeda Galaxy. Using telescopes from around the world, including the 10-m Keck telescope in Hawaii, he has mapped the tell-tale signs of tidal disruption and destruction, providing important clues to how large galaxies have grown over time.

Professor Dietmar Muller, from the School of Geosciences, is an earth scientist with interests in marine geophysics, tectonic plate motions, geodynamics, continental margin tectonics, petroleum exploration and seafloor imaging. He has made a special contribution to understanding Earth processes by merging conventional geological and geophysical data with advanced kinematic and dynamic process models. He recognised that traditional geoscience, which is data rich and information poor, could exploit the enormous potential of open source software and digital databases for developing 4D geodata synthesis through space and time. This multi-disciplinary approach to Earth system modelling makes Professor Muller an international leader in the emerging field of e-geoscience.

Contact: Katynna Gill

Phone: 02 9351 6997

Email: 59301800213f0b54000e5f1f35054237116a16281e180720