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The University of Sydney



ISSUE 22, 2013


I'd like to begin my first Head of School column by thanking Professor Greg Warr for his outstanding contribution during his time as Head of School (6 years, 2 months and 3 days!). The past six years have been a time of significant change both within the School and throughout the wider University and Greg has steered the School through this with considerable aplomb. I have been continually amazed by his knowledge and wisdom. I am sure that even though he has stepped down as HoS to return to his 'normal' research and teaching role, the School will continue to benefit from his activities across research, teaching and administration.

One of Greg's final acts as Head of School was to witness the completion of our new Chem2 and Chem3 undergraduate teaching laboratories just in time for the start of Semester 1, 2013. Undergraduate teaching space on levels 4 and 5 of the Chemistry Building has been completely renovated and the results are amazing. We now have state of the art undergraduate teaching laboratories, with Chem2 now consolidated on level 5 and Chem3 on level 4. This restructure of space also allows us to restructure our laboratory teaching programs in Intermediate and Senior chemistry, removing the physical barriers that stood between the subdiscipline areas of Organic, Inorganic, Physical and Theoretical Chemistry and providing us with the ability to show students the links between these areas as we already do in lectures. This restructuring will be an ongoing project over the next couple of years and I look forward to being able to update you on progress.

Space (or lack thereof) has been an issue in the School for several years, primarily as a result of our research success and the subsequent growth of the School. One of the additional advantages in the restructure of our teaching laboratory space is that we have recovered space on level 3 that was previously used for teaching and is now available for research. Plans are underway to renew this and other outdated research space within the School and I anticipate being able to advise you in a future column of how this will provide research groups with better infrastructure to accommodate the changed nature of research programs that the School has seen since the building was opened more than 50 years ago.

With research in mind, it is pleasing to note that members of the School have again been very successful in obtaining research grants in an extremely competitive era. Our ARC Discovery grant success rate for funding starting in 2013 was 35% (compared to an average national success rate of 22.85% in Physics, Chemistry and Earth Sciences) and members of the School have also been successful in obtaining grants from a variety of other funding agencies. We also have several new staff members supported by a number of sources: Dr Anna Renfrew was successful in obtaining an ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA); Dr Mohammad Choucair has commenced a USyd postdoctoral fellowship and Dr Suzanne Neville has joined the School on an ARC Australian Research Fellowship. We welcome all three of these researchers to the School. We also welcome Dimetra Skondras-Silva who has joined our administration team in the front office. Dimetra has recently done a fantastic job of updating our front foyer noticeboard, so next time you enter the School make sure you have a look at the updated format!

Kind regards,
Kate Jolliffe  |  Head of School |  School of Chemistry

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Capturing & converting carbon dioxide
"Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) is a proposed strategy to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in the short term; however, current CCS technologies are highly energy-intensive, consuming up to a third of the energy produced by a power station." Read more here.
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Marie Curie Fellowship
Dr Jenny Zhang has been awarded a Marie Curie Fellowship to carry out research at the University Cambridge, UK. Read more here.
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New labs for old!
"This summer just passed we witnessed a near-magical transformation of our undergraduate teaching labs on Levels 4 and 5." Read more here.
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When the going gets hot

On the 18th of January this year Sydney experienced its hottest ever recorded temperature, 45.8oC. Climate scientists may argue whether such a high temperature was a sign of global climate change or whether it would be expected based on natural weather fluctuations. If it was in fact a taste of hotter things to come, it's interesting to consider how our bodies handle heat, how heat is produced within our bodies and what direct effects increasing temperatures will have on our own bodies. Read more here.

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Recognition of excellence
The Australian Academy of Science has recognised the research excellence of Professor Peter Lay and Professor Sébastien Perrier. Read more here.
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Meet our new academics
Read more here.
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Obituary - Dr Rita Cornforth
It is with great sadness we pass on the news that distinguished alumna Dr Rita Cornforth (née Harradence), passed away on 6 November 2012, aged 97. Read more here here.
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5th AONSA Neutron School

Read about PhD candidate, Ms Denissa Murphy's travels to Beijing, China to attend the 5th Asia-Oceania Neutron Scattering Association (AONSA) Neutron School. Read more here.

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Hans C. Freeman Lecture
Read more here.
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Sydney University Chemical Society
The Sydney University Chemical Society (SUCS) was founded in 1929, and since then has been the forum for chemists both at the University and outside to meet together and talk about chemistry. Read more here.
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Michael Bishop Awards

The Michael Bishop Award in Chemistry was established in 2010 by the Foundation for Inorganic Chemistry within The University of Sydney, to mark the many inspirational contributions of Dr Michael Bishop to the Foundation, the School of Chemistry, and the teaching of Chemistry within secondary schools. Meet the 2012 winners here.

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Alumni facebook page
This Facebook page is for people who studied at the School of Chemistry, The University of Sydney. If you were an alumnus, please feel free to share information about yourselves, anecdotes about your time with us, or even arrange alumni events. We'll try to post things of interest to you all, but this Facebook page is mainly for you guys to reconnect with each other. Why not be the first to post something? Visit the Alumni Facebook page here.
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Check out what our staff, and especially our students, have been achieving during 2013. Please visit here.

Visit Facebook to view this year's chemistry graduates.


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Upcoming seminars*
Wednesday, 1 May| 10am | Chemistry LT2
Professor Mark Gordon, Iowa State University, USA
Friday, 3 May| 11am | Chemistry LT4
Professor Paul Alewood, University of Queensland
Friday, 10 May | 11am | Chemistry LT4
Dr Anna Renfrew, School of Chemistry, Sydney University
Wednesday, 15 May| 10am | Chemistry LT2
Professor Mark A. Rizzacasa, The University of Melbourne
Friday, 17 May| 11am | Chemistry LT4
Dr Alessandro Soncini, The University of Melbourne
Wednesday, 22 May | 10am | Chemistry LT2
Professor Chris Easton, Australian National University
Friday, 24 May | 11am | Chemistry LT4
Professor Maria Forsyth, Deakin University
Wednesday, 29 May | 10am | Chemistry LT2
Dr Phil Barker, BlueScope Steel Research
Friday, 31 May | 11am | Chemistry LT4
Professor Michelle Coote, Australian National University
Friday, 7 June | 11am | Chemistry LT4
Dr Angus Gray-Weale, University of Melbourne
Wednesday, 12 June | 10am | Chemistry LT2
Dr Bimbil Graham, Monash University
Wednesday, 19 June | 10am | Chemistry LT2
Professor Reto Dorta, University of Western Australia
Wednesday, 26 June | 10am | Chemistry LT2
Dr Andrew Gilbert, Australian National University
Wednesday, 3 July | 10am | Chemistry LT2
Professor Stefan Brase, KIT, Institut fur Organische Chemie
Friday, 12 July | 11am | Chemistry LT4
Professor Ronald Quinn, Griffith University
Wednesday, 17 July | 5.30pm | Chemistry LT2 | SUCS Lecture
Professor Ben Davis, University of Oxford, UK
Friday, 19 July | 11am | Chemistry LT4
Professor Stephen Hashmi, University of Heidelberg
Wednesday, 24 July | 10am | Chemistry LT2
Associate Professor Steve Colbran, University of NSW
Friday, 9 August | 11am | Chemistry LT4
Professor David O'Hagan, University of St Andrews
Wednesday, 14 August | 5.30pm | Chemistry LT2 | SUCS Lecture
Professor Dirk Trauner, University of Munich


Chemistry seminars are held throughout Semesters 1 and 2 on Wednesdays (10am in Chemistry Lecture Theatre 4) and Fridays (11am in Chemistry Lecture Theatre 4) unless otherwise stated. If you would like to be notified of these weekly seminars and other weekly chemistry news and events please email Anne Woods and she will add you to the electronic mailout. Alternatively you can visit our Seminars page or our Upcoming Seminar page. Seminars are also advertised on our Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter pages.


To keep up-to-date with the latest news and events in the School of Chemistry visit ChemNEWS and EVENTS.


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Donations can be made to the following funds by using our online donation form.

To find out more about these funds please visit:

The School of Chemistry would like to take this opportunity to thank Alumni and Friends for their very generous donations. Your support continues to make a profound impact on our various programs. To view our current list a donors please click here.


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Chemistry news
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The consequences of our ever-increasing carbon dioxide emissions need no introduction. Despite progress toward cost-effective 'clean energy', hundreds of coal-burning power stations will remain in use for the foreseeable future, and more continue to be built. In this article, Dr Deanna D'Alessandra, Dr Peter Southon and Dr Tamara Church, talk more about capturing and converting carbon dioxide.
Read more here.


Dr Jim Eckert returns with his fascinating articles on the history of the University, and in particular, the School of Chemistry. To read more please visit the School's History page.




Don't forget to post your own news on the new Chemistry Alumni Facebook. Our Facebook site is a great way to get in contact with fellow alumni and we'd love to hear about what you're doing now and about your time with us.



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