Carl Recsei wins Australia-Israel Scientific Exchange Foundation Postgraduate Fellow award
17 November 2011
Carl Recsei, a PhD student in the School of Chemistry supervised by Dr Chris McErlean, has won the Australia-Israel Scientific Exchange Foundation Postgraduate Fellow award, which will allow him to spend six months at the Technion in Israel in 2012.
The fellowship, worth $7 500 Australian dollars, allows postgraduate students in Australian and Israeli universities to undertake part of their PhD research in matching institutions in Israel and Australia. The Australia-Israel Scientific Exchange Foundation has awarded the fellowship to thirty Australian and Israeli students since 2001.
"It is an honour to receive the Australia-Israel Scientific Exchange Foundation Postgraduate Fellowship. Israel is a fascinating country with a history of respect for and investment in science and technology, which has allowed them to make an impact much greater than expected for their size in all areas of technology and innovation," said Carl.
"I was very pleased that the Australia-Israel Scientific Exchange Foundation Board agreed that my work could be of mutual benefit to our respective countries."
The six month fellowship, starting in January 2012, will be Carl's first visit to Israel and will allow him to continue his research at the Technion - Israel Institute of Technology.
"I chose Technion for two reasons. Firstly, Dr Mark Gandelman, from Technion, gave an excellent lecture here in the School of Chemistry earlier this year and I was so inspired that I have chosen to join his research group for my six months at Technion. Secondly, I chose Technion because it enjoys a reputation as an excellent scientific institution - for example, this year's Nobel Prize in Chemistry went to a researcher from Technion," explained Carl.
The selection panel for the fellowship was impressed by Carl's academic credentials as well as his illustration of how his research would foster and support scientific exchange between Australia and Israel.
"My research is in the field of organocatalysis - that is organic molecules used as catalysts for chemical reactions. Using organic catalysts, as opposed to more widespread metal based catalysts, we seek to expand the range and efficiency of structures we are able to build and subsequently use in medicine or agriculture, for example," said Carl.
"Specifically, I'm working on an organocatalyst that is key to constructing molecules containing bromine that have a very specific structure. These are molecules that have a mirror image version of them - same structure, but the opposite way around, called enantiomers - but only one of the enantiomers is useful, so we just want to synthesise it," explained Carl.
"So in order to just produce the one enantiomer, we have developed a catalyst to deliver bromine to a single face of a type of molecule known as an alkene. This strategy will allow us to access a variety of useful molecules, including many natural marine products with promising medicinal properties."
Carl's work in organobromine natural products aims to take advantage of the extraordinary marine biodiversity Australia enjoys, as almost all of these compounds are from the sea.
"We're looking at connecting these Australian organic molecules to the chemical industry in Israel, which produces the world's largest share of elemental bromine and organobromine compounds. We anticipate that our catalytic method will supply a value-added strategy to the Israeli chemical industry, while allowing Australia the opportunity to develop some of the fruits of our unique environment and see them used as novel medicines and agrochemicals."
The Australia-Israel Scientific Exchange Foundation was established in 1997, with the specific vision to nurture ties between the academic institutions of Australia and Israel.
Read more about the Australia-Israel Scientific Exchange Foundation Postgraduate Fellow award at: www.swinburne.edu.au/hosting/aisef/aisefpgfellow.html
Contact: Katynna Gill
Phone: 02 9351 6997