Latest news

Latest research news

Looking to the future of AINST

June, 2015

More than 50 researchers from across the University attended a community development day to learn more about the University’s newest multi-faculty research and education initiative, the Australian Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology (AINST).  Read more.

Revealing the distribution of the atoms within individual bimetallic catalyst nanoparticles

April, 2015

From sunscreen to optoelectronics, sensors, catalysis and drug delivery, nanometer-scale particles are important in a rapidly growing range of applications. Important commercial examples of nanoparticles are metallic catalysts. Nanostructuring of catalytic metals allows catalytic reactivity to can be greatly enhanced and the selectivity strongly influenced. Multimetallic particles offer even greater scope for fine-tuning.  Read more.

Fascinating world of sugar

April, 2015

We often hear someone saying, ‘I want to reduce my sugar intake!’ or we always look for sugar contents on food products at the supermarket. Why are we so worried about sugar, is sugar really that bad? It’s not all bad!   Read more.

Unlocking the secrets of crystals

April, 2015

A/Prof Chris Ling and his students use crystallography to discover and improve new solid-state materials for energy conversion and storage devices – and even when their experiments fail, they still make pretty pictures.  Read more.

3D printing enables a smartphone's transformation into a dual spectrometer

April, 2015

A project conducted by researchers in the interdisciplinary Photonics Laboratory (iPL), the School of Chemistry and the School of Electrical and Information Engineering at The University of Sydney, have built a functional, dual absorption and fluorescence spectrometer combining a smartphone and its set of electronic sensors (and CMOS chip) and a 3D printed enclosure.   Read more.

Top 5 under 40 winners announced

March, 2015

Postdoctoral Research Associate, Dr Alice Williamson, was named one of ABC’s RN and UNSW’s ‘Top 5 Under 40’ – a nationwide competition to find the next generation of passionate science communicators. Read more.

Finding an affordable way to use graphene is the key to its success

March, 2015

Scientists have long been excited about the potential for graphene to revolutionise technologies, and even consider it a technology itself. Graphene is the best known conductor of electricity and heat. It is also the thinnest surface and represents the next generation wonder material for everyday applications in electronics.  Read more.



The School of Chemistry has just been awarded $113,334 from the Faculty of Science Learning & Teaching Equipment Scheme to improve the student experience in our undergraduate laboratories. This money will be used to purchase new UV/Vis spectrophotometers, new fluorescence and NMR spectrometers, an upgrade to our IR spectrometers, and new polarimeters, for use across all three years of our undergraduate program.

PhD candidate, Mr Edward O’Neill has won first prize for his poster at the Centre for Advanced Imaging Annual Symposium, University of Queensland. Well done!

Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Dr Karolina Jankowska, has won a Bioconjugate Chemistry Award for her poster at the 2015 World Molecular Imaging Congress in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Associate Professor Chris Ling has received a 2-year grant from the Royal Society for "Energy Materials: Structure-Property Relationships in Oxide Ion Conductors". (£12000)

Honours students, Mr Sean Injac and Ms Cheryl Wong have been awarded prizes for the best honours student presentation at the NSW meeting of the Australian X-Ray Analytical Association on the 15 September. Well done!

The 2015 Selby Research Award has been awarded to Dr Liz New.  This prestigious award from the Selby Scientific Foundation provides funds to  assist an outstanding early career academic establish his or her research career in Chemistry or a Chemistry-related discipline. The value of the award in 2015 is $18,000.

Dr Deanna D’Alessandro (synthetic inorganic chemistry and molecular materials) has been awarded the prestigious 2015 ChemComm Emerging Investigator Lectureship.  This annual lectureship recognises an emerging scientist in the early stages of their independent academic career. Deanna will deliver her inaugural ChemComm EMI Lecture at a symposium on Metal-Organic Frameworks: Synthesis, Properties and Applications at Pacifichem 2015 in Hawaii this December.

Congratulations to Professor John Canning who has won a place as a finalist in the Asian region of the 2015 Edmund Optics Educational Award.  This award is based on his work in spectroscopy and spectrometers for use in undergraduate research teaching. 

Congratulations to the three successful winners of the University of Sydney International Research Collaboration Award. The University of Sydney International Research Collaboration Award is offered to overseas researchers of high standing at any stage in their career to share and disseminate new and original ideas and/or techniques, initiate and undertake collaborative research and facilitate interaction and training of University staff and students. They were:

Congratulations to PhD candidate, Mr Phil Norcott, who has won the inaugural RACI 2015 Pat Rodgers Postgraduate Research Prize.  The Selection Panel was impressed by Phil's research efforts to apply innovative chemistry to streamline the synthesis of complex natural products.  In particular, his investigations into the application of 'on-water' catalysis in approaches to the heliespirones and murrayaquinones were commended.  They remarked on the thoroughness of the investigations, and his persistence in developing an alternative when 'on-water' chemisty was found unsuitable for achieving the necessary bond formation in the work on the heliespirones. Phil started his PhD in 2012 under the supervision of Dr Chris McErlean.

Congratulations to PhD candidate, Mr Liam Scarratt, who won runner-up at The University of Sydney Finals of the "Three Minute Thesis" competition. Liam presented his three minute thesis on his work with superhydrophobic surfaces on Saturday, 29 August 2015 and was competing as one of 12 students.  The Three Minute Thesis (3MT) is a competition for postgraduate research students to present their research topic to an intelligent, non-specialist audience in an engaging way. They have just three minutes to present a compelling presentation on their thesis topic and its significance.

Liam did his Honours with A/Prof Chiara Neto and A/Prof Brian Hawkett last year, and has continued on with a PhD in the same area. He is interested in surface modification for the purpose of creating up-scalable coatings with special properties for industrial applications. 

Congratulations to Professor Peter Lay (led investigator) with Des Richardson, Richard Banati, Maté Biro, Mary Bebawy, Manuel Graeber, Georges Grau, Professor Trevor Hambley, Dr Elizabeth New and Dr Elizabeth Carter, who have been awarded a 2015 Cancer Institute NSW Research Equipment Grant.  This equipment grant will be used towards portable infrared spectroscopy equipment for cancer diagnosis, research into prevention of cancer by understanding the role of diet, and for drug development and studies on efficacy.  Funding $102k.

Congratulations to Des Richardson (led investigator) with Richard Scolyer, Georgina Long, Gary Halliday, Michael Murray, Cheok Soon Lee, Naresh Kumar, Rebecca Mason, Professor Richard Payne and Professor Peter Lay, who have been awarded a 2015 Cancer Institute NSW Research Equipment Grant.  This equipment grant will be used towards a Biacore T200 molecular interaction analysis system for the open access, multi-disciplinary Sydney Cancer Research Core Facility.  Funding $354,048.

Professor Debbie Crans from the University of Colorado will spend three weeks in Professor Peter Lay's research group setting up a number of long term collaborations, as well as interacting with other researchers in the School of Chemistry and other parts of the University thanks to The University of Sydney International Research Collaboration Award (IRCA). The IRCA is offered to overseas researchers of high standing at any stage in their career to share and disseminate new and original ideas and/or techniques, initiate and undertake collaborative research and facilitate interaction and training of University staff and students.

Look out for Issue 27 of ChemNEWS to find out more about this exciting research collaboration.

Dr Alice Williamson, with A/Prof Lou Rendina, A/Prof Mat Todd, A/Prof John O'Bryne (Physics) and A/Prof Peter Rutledge, were awarded a $9,920 Small Educational Innovation Grant for 'Open Research in the Undergraduate Laboratory'.

Professor Adam Bridgeman has received a prestigious fellowship from the federal government’s Office for Learning and Teaching (OLT) to develop approaches that empower teachers to develop individualised, adaptive learning environments and personalised student experiences for large classes. Read more.

Congratulations to Jun Liang who was one of four recipients of student prizes for a combined poster and oral presentation at the International Conference on Biological Inorganic Chemistry (~600 people registered) in Beijing.  He did an excellent job with both his poster and oral presentations.

The Australian Research Council (ARC) has granted more than $2.2 million to researchers from the Faculty of Science under its Linkage Projects scheme in 2015. Richard Payne and Mat Todd were included in the 2015 round.  Read more.

  • Professor Richard Payne, in partnership with Novo Nordisk, has been awarded $305K.  Rich's project aims to understand the role of carbohydrate modifications on the structure and function of the fat cell-derived hormone adiponectin, which has shown protective effects against obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Advancing knowledge of the molecular mechanisms that regulate fat is crucial to unravelling the processes involved in the development of these diseases. The project plans to use novel synthetic technologies to access a library of adiponectins with defined patterns of carbohydrates attached to the peptide backbone, thus potentially enabling detailed dissection of the role of these modifications on structure, cell signalling and insulin sensitising activities.
  • Associate Professor Mat Todd, in partnership with Medicines for Malaria Venture, has been awarded $410K.  Mat's project plans to synthesise new compounds that bind the protein ATP4, an essential ion pump in the malaria parasite. It plans to generate a three-dimensional map to understand how these compounds stop ATP4 from working. Several promising new medicines for malaria target ATP4, yet we do not understand properly how they do so. The project’s intended aims will be achieved using new methods in synthetic chemistry and membrane biology, and by leveraging global scientific inputs through online research methods allowing anyone to participate.

Postdoctoral Research Associate, Dr Binh Pham, has been awarded an AINSE research grant valued at $10,000 for research into radiolabelling of iron oxide nanoparticles as multimodality imaging agents.

Dr Elizabeth New has been awarded the 2015 Vice-Chancellor award for Outstanding Teaching (Early Career).

Professor Max Crossley has been elected to Fellowship of the Royal Society of New South Wales.

Postgraduate candidate, Mr Stephen Ogilvie, has been awarded a Faculty Postgraduate Research Prize in recognition of his outstanding Postgraduate student academic achievements, particularly during the early phases of his candidature. This prize is valued at $500. The criteria for this prize is the significance and quality of a manuscript which has been accepted for publication, and the role the student played in that particular research project.

Emeritus Professor Noel Hush has been invited to meet with the perovskite theory group in the Department of Physics at Shanghai University from 28 May to the 13 June as Li Quaing visiting professor. 

Professor Richard Payne has been awarded a Chemical Society of Japan Distinguished Lectureship Award. 

Professor Richard Payne is the recipient of the 2015 MedChemComm Emerging Investigator Lectureship.  Read more.

Chemistry alumna, Dr Karena Chapman, has received the prestigious international 2015 MRS Outstanding Young Investigator Award for contributions to energy-relevant systems.  Currently a scientist working in the X-ray Science Division of Argonne National Laboratory, Karena received her BSc and PhD degrees in chemistry from The University of Sydney in the Kepert Research Group.

Following on from his recent Chancellor’s Distinguished Fellowship, A/Prof. Lou Rendina has been appointed as an Adjunct Professor at the International Institute of Nano and Molecular Medicine (I2NM2) in the USA, the first time an Australian scientist has been appointed by the Institute.  I2NM2 is a world-leading research centre dedicated to the discovery and application of fundamental and translational medical science based upon previously unexplored chemistry combined with nanotechnology and the biosciences, funded by the University of Missouri, NIH, DOE, NSF, and Honeywell.  The design of new boron and gadolinium agents for binary cancer therapies and the application of boron clusters in medicinal chemistry were two of A/Prof. Rendina's research areas highlighted by the Institute.

Professor Cameron Kepert has been awarded the Burrows Award, presented following his delivery of the Burrows Lecture at the RACI National Congress in Adelaide. The Award is presented by the Inorganic Division of the RACI and commemorates George Joseph Burrows (1888-1950). Burrows was appointed to the staff of the University of Sydney in 1919 and made important contributions to coordination chemistry during the following 21 years, especially in the field of metal-tertiary arsine complexes. The Award is based on consideration of the candidate’s scientific work published in the past 10 years, together with other evidence of his or her standing in the international community.  Read more.

Professor Richard Payne has been awarded the 2015 Leo Dintenfass Memorial Award for Excellence in Research by The Rebecca L. Cooper Medical Research Foundation for his research entitled “Automated purification platform for accelerated tuberculosis drug discovery”.  Awarded to applications judged by the Directors of the Foundation to be the most interesting or innovative of the year.  Professor Payne has also been awarded a Rebecca L. Cooper Medical Research Foundation Grant. Read more.

Professor Richard Payne has been awarded the 2014 Edgeworth David Medal by the Royal Society of NSW. He will receive the medal during 2015.  Read more.
Dr Asaph Widmer-Cooper has been awarded an ARC Future Fellowship to characterise the interactions between colloidal nanorods and their self-assembly in the presence of interfaces and directional interactions. While nanoparticles can currently be made in a staggering array of shapes, patterns and materials, organising such objects into extended structures that could revolutionise technology remains a challenge. The goal of the project is a robust strategy for making monolayer films of rods aligned perpendicular to a variety of interfaces for the fabrication of solar cells, microfiltration membranes and biosensors.
Congratulations to Richard Payne and Adam Bridgeman who have both been promoted to Professor.  Further congratulations to Chiara Neto who has been promoted to Associate Professor. Well done!

Latest funding outcomes


Congratulations to everyone who has received funding for 2015.  Read more.