2017 Research News

Successful JIPDF grant to Professor Kate Jolliffe

23 June, 2017

Congratulations to Professor Kate Jolliffe, who has been awarded a Joint International Program Development Fund Grant along with Professor Jerome Lacour from the University of Geneva, for research to develop fluorescent sensors for anions in aqueous environments.  The University of Sydney and the University of Geneva's Joint International Program Development Fund provides funding to support collaborative partnerships in research and teaching between the two institutions.  Kate and Jerome will be awarded $10,000 each to undertake this joint project.

Liz New winner of the 2017 ChemComm Emerging Investigator Lectureship

13 June, 2017

Congratulations to Dr Liz New, winner of the 2017 ChemComm Emerging Investigator Lectureship.  As part of the Lectureship, Liz will present a lecture at three locations over the coming year, with at least one of these events taking place at an international conference, where she will be formally presented with her Emerging Investigator Lectureship certificate. Read more.

Linkage Project success for Liz Carter

7 June, 2017

Congratulations to Dr Elizabeth Carter (School of Chemistry, USYD), along with Dr Jude Philp (USYD); Professor Simon Ville (USYD); Associate Professor Anne Clarke; Dr Robin Torrence (Australian Museum); Professor Deirdre Coleman (UMELB) and Ms Vanessa Finney (Australian Museum) on their successful ARC Linkage grant. This research aims to reconnect zoological specimens with vital collection data. From 1758-1900 millions of specimens were commercially traded to and between museums and collectors, frequently without retaining the data associated with the specimen. This project pioneers spectroscopic techniques to reconstruct data and enhance material conservation practice. The impact of the project will provide new pathways for recovering lost ecological data, creating a resource to improve future biodiversity research.  Total funding:  $403,060

Annual student prize or scholarship recipients

7 June, 2017

Congratulations to all the students who were awarded prizes or scholarships for academic achievements in 2016 and 2017. These scholarships and prizes would not be possible without the generous contributions of our benefactors.   Read more.

Deanna D’Alessandro awarded an ARC Future Fellowship

7 June, 2017

Congratulations to A/Prof Deanna D’Alessandro who has been awarded an ARC Future Fellowship.  The Future Fellowships scheme encourages research in areas of national priority, with preference given to researchers who can demonstrate a capacity to build collaboration across industry, with other research institutions and with other disciplines.

Deanna's research looks at the development of electroactive nanoporous solids which is highly sought as their properties underpin the next generation of technologically and industrially useful devices.

Using a combined experimental, theoretical and computational approach this project expects to provide new insights of relevance to understanding biological photosynthetic systems and porous semiconductors. An expected benefit will be the development of devices for applications in energy storage and conversion, including electrochromic devices, electrocatalysts and battery materials.  Funding total: $860,000.

2017 AINSE Honours Scholarship

30 May, 2017

Congratulations to Ms Olivia McRae, who has won the 2017 AINSEHonours Scholarship. 

Olivia began a Bachelor of Science (Advanced) at the University of Sydney in 2014 with a double major in Chemistry and Environmental Studies. Over the 2015-2016 summer holidays, she completed a Summer Research Scholarship under Dr Girish Lakhwani. This project investigated the optical properties of conjugated polymers through different spectroscopic techniques.

In 2017, Olivia began a project for her Honours year in collaboration with Dr Markus Muellner and A/Prof Chris Ling. Her project focuses on the use of diblock copolymers to template a nanoporous metal oxide material for battery anodes.

Ahmed Owais wins The Surface Coatings Australia Scholarship

30 May, 2017

Congratulations to Mr Ahmed Owais, a PhD candidate in A/Prof Chiara Neto's research group, who has been awarded The Surface Coatings Australia Scholarship. The aim of Ahmed's PhD project is to develop energy- efficient methods to separate the crude-oil and renewable water-soluble chemicals from the water phase by developing robust nanostructured coatings on porous substrates, based on special wettability coatings and supramolecular chemistry. Well done!

A/Prof Ron Clarke featured in RACI's "Chemistry in Australia"

24 May, 2017

The June 2017 issue of RACI's Chemistry in Australia features an article by Associate Professor Ron Clarke, on "Pumps, channels and transporters. How chemists can help". Read more.

Professor Kate Jolliffe awarded A.J. Birch Medal

23 May, 2017

Congratulations to Professor Kate Jolliffe who is the recipient of the 2017 A.J. Birch Medal. This award acknowledges Kate’s significant contributions in the field of synthesis and molecular recognition of cyclic peptides.  We congratulate her on receiving this prestigious award.  Read more.

18th Australasian Polymer Summer School

23 May, 2017

In February members of the Key Centre for Polymer and Colloids, Dr Markus Muellner, PhD candidate, Mr Theophile Pelras, Honours students, Ms Olivia McRae and Ms Vivian Shang, attended the Australasian Polymer Summer School held at the University of South Australia. Read more.

Emeritus Professor Noel Hush

12 May, 2017

Congratulations to E/Prof Noel Hush and Prof Jeff Reimers, whose review article "Sulfur ligand mediated electrochemistry of gold surfaces and nanoparticles:  What, how, and why", appeared in the first issue of a new Elsevier journal Current Opinion in Electrochemistry.   Check it out here.

Len Lindoy - special 80th birthday issue

5 May, 2017

The May issue of RACI's Chemistry in Australia features a tribute to E/Prof Len Lindoy, who turned 80 in April.  Read more.

Elected OSA Fellow

5 May, 2017

Congratulations to Professor John Canning, who has been elected 2017 Optical Society of America (OSA) Fellow for significant scientific and engineering contributions in fundamental and applied photonics across materials, devices, system and instrumentation, and for translating these into industry” (Engineering and Science Research).

Awarded the OSA David Richardson Medal

5 May, 2017

Congratulations to Professor John Canning who has been awarded the Optical Society of America (OSA) David Richardson Medal for seminal scientific and engineering contributions in fundamental and applied photonics across materials, devices, systems and instrumentation, and for translating these into industry. The David Richardson Medal recognizes those who have made significant contributions to optical engineering, primarily in the commercial and industrial sector. In establishing this prize, OSA honors the unique contributions to applied optics made by David Richardson, who received the first award in 1966 for his distinctive contributions to the ruling and replicating of gratings.

The Medicine Maker's Power List

5 May, 2017

Congratulations to our very own A/Prof Mat Todd (Founder, Open Source Malaria) for making "The Medicine Maker's Power List" as a Champion of Change! Mat says he wants to see a “robust and large-scale trial of open source drug development as a competing model for the pharmaceutical industry.” The turning point in his career was the moment he realized that problems in science would be solved more quickly if the industry were more open with what it can’t do.

Check it out at

Best Poster Presentation

3 May, 2017

Congratulations to Marcello Solomon who received the award for the "Best Poster Presentation (Student/Postdoc)" at the "Catalysed Energy Storage in Chemicals" symposium which was held in Melbourne from 26-28 April 2017.

Marcello recently completed his PhD under the joint supervision of A/Prof. Deanna D'Alessandro and Prof Kate Jolliffe, where he designed and synthesised porous solid state materials incorporating redox-active moieties for CO2 capture and conversion. His work also explored the fundamental charge transfer properties of discrete salen metal complexes and whether they could be used to electrochemically transform CO2 into commodity chemicals.

RACI Adrien Albert Award

28 April, 2017

Professor Michael Kassiou has been unanimously awarded the RACI Adrien Albert Award, given for sustained, outstanding research in the field of medicinal chemistry or chemical biology. It is the premier award of the Medicinal Chemistry and Chemical Biology Division of the RACI.

New podcast by Dr Alice Williams and Science Journalist Bernie Hobbs

28 April, 2017

Science journalist Bernie Hobbs and bona fide chemist Dr Alice Williamson take letters written to 'agony aunts' and provide entirely unsolicited, rigorously evidence-based replies.  Listen to podcast.

Priority Partnership Collaboration Award

26 April, 2017

Professor Cameron Kepert, A/Prof Deanna D’Alessandro and Dr Suzanne Neville have been awarded a Priority Partnership Collaboration Award with A/Prof Louise Berben at the University of California, Davis. The project titled “CO2 Capture and Electrocatalytic Conversion with Covalently Immobilized Porous Materials” has been selected to receive funding in the amount of AU$40,000 over 2017-18.

The Priority Partnership Collaboration Award will enable the team to establish a stronger connection with A/Prof Louise Berben who is an expert in organometallic chemistry, particularly relating to new compounds for catalysing the reduction of carbon dioxide and hydrogen. The Sydney-based team will develop new nanoporous materials with capacity to catalyse these environmentally and industrially important reactions. As part of the collaboration, A/Prof Berben will visit Sydney this July.

Priority Partnership Collaboration Award

26 April, 2017

Professor Thomas Maschmeyer, A/Prof Anthony Masters and Dr Xiaobo Li have been awarded a Priority Partnership Collaboration Award with Professor Frank Osterloh (Department of Chemistry, UC Davis). The project titled "Advanced semiconductor materials system for solar hydrogen generation" has been selected to receive funding of AU$40,000 over the period 2017-18.

The goal of the joint project is to develop an advanced semiconductor photocatalyst system that meets the essential requirements for photocatalytic hydrogen generation for renewable fuel applications.This goal will be accomplished by combining the synthetic and materials characterization expertise at the University of Sydney with expertise and advanced photovoltage characterization at the University of California, at Davis. The University of Sydney group is developing novel, inexpensive semiconductor photocatalysts. This effort involves a wider array of synthetic methodologies, obtaining semiconductor materials with controlled composition, structure and morphology at nanoscale. The University of California, Davis group is developing surface photovoltage spectroscopy (SPS) as a technique for the characterization of photocatalysts. In this way, SPS can be used to observe key variables in photocatalytic materials, including the identity of the majority carriers (which control the photochemistry), the effective band gap (which determines light absorption), the photovoltage (which determines power output), and the energy and concentration of defects (which control detrimental electron hole recombination).

Cleaning up fuels: Removing pollutants from renewable feedstocks

21 April, 2017

A simple, low energy method to reduce nitrogen content of fuels has the potential to reduce air pollutants generated from combustion.

Researchers, led by Professor Thomas Maschmeyer, from the Laboratory of Advanced Catalysis for Sustainability at The University of Sydney, have developed a simple technique to reduce the amount of nitrogen-based compounds commonly found in biocrude oils, when generated from biomass that contained some residual protein, e.g. algae, seaweed or municipal green waste. These nitrogen-containing residues interfere with traditional refining methods and need to be removed, prior to their integration in the supply chain.  Read more.

Living Light

21 April, 2017

There’s a strange yet beautiful glow coming from the Blue Mountains - all thanks to a collaboration between artist Marta Ferracin and chemist Dr Robert Baker.

Marta’s sculpture, entitled Organic Chemistry, is part of the sixth Sculpture at Scenic World festival, in Katoomba. A fascination with the way in which Nature uses chemistry to create light encouraged Marta to seek out some scientific expertise.  Read more.

Elected Fellows of the Royal Society of NSW

21 April, 2017

Congratulations to Professors Kate Jolliffe and Phil Gale, who have been elected Fellows of the Royal Society of NSW.

New Director of the Society of Radiopharmaceutical Sciences

7 April, 2017

Congratulations to Professor Michael Kassiou, who has been elected to the position of Director for the Society of Radiopharmaceutical Sciences. This is the peak international body that plays a key role in the advancement of radiopharmaceutical sciences. This enabling science provides the means for technological growth and the probes required to advance our understanding of normal human functioning and disease.
Mrs Shanthi Perera

2017 SHINE award

28 March, 2017

Congratulations to our Finance Manager, Mrs Shanthi Perera, who along with 3 others, won the 2017 SHINE award.  This award is in recognition of her professional and genuine effort in developing and successfully launching the Finance Mentoring Program at The University of Sydney.  Well done!
Dr Alice Williamson

Alice Williamson accepted as associate fellow of the HEA

24 March, 2017

Congratulations to Dr Alice Williamson who has been accepted as an Associate Fellow of The Higher Education Academy (HEA).  The Higher Education Academy (HEA) is a UK-based organisation responsible for enhancing teaching and supporting learning in higher education. They work with governments, universities and other higher education providers to help and achieve change in learning and teaching. HEA work to improve the experience that students have while they are studying, and we support and develop those who teach them.  Alice was part of a pilot group who applied from The University of Sydney in 2016.  Well done!

Research spotlights early signs of disease using infrared light

21 March, 2017
University of Sydney researchers have used infrared spectroscopy to spotlight changes in tiny cell fragments called microvesicles to probe their role in a model of the body’s immunological response to bacterial infection.

The research led by Professor Peter Lay (School of Chemistry/VSCF) and Professor Georges Grau (School of Medical Sciences) used Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy to detect and characterize the release of sub-micron sized microvesicles.  Read more.

Patent licensed for cancer-fighting molecule

17 March, 2017
New Sydney-developed brain cancer-fighting molecule licensed and attracts $1.2 million in research funding.

A new brain cancer-fighting molecule developed by Sydney researchers Associate Professor Lenka Munoz (Sydney Medical School) and Professor Michael Kassiou (School of Chemistry) has been licensed by drug development company Lin BioScience.  Read more.

2017 Alan Sargeson Lectureship

15 March, 2017
We are delighted to announce that A/Prof Deanna D’Alessandro has been selected from a strong field of applicants as the winner of the RACI Inorganic Chemistry Division's Alan Sargeson Lectureship for 2017. Deanna obtained her BSc(Hons) (2001) and PhD (2006) degrees at James Cook University under the supervision of E/Prof. Richard Keene, followed by postdoctoral research (2007-9) with Prof. Jeff Long at the University of California, Berkeley. Since 2010, she has been based at the University of Sydney where her group works on fundamental and applied aspects of electroactive microporous materials. This award assists the recipient to undertake a lecture tour of Australia and New Zealand.

Mr Andrew Giltrap

67th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting, Germany

14 March 2017
Congratulations to PhD candidate, Mr Andrew Giltrap, who has been invited to attend the 67th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting, Germany. This is an unique opportunity to interact with over 30 Nobel Laureates and 400 most qualified early career researchers around the world.  Well done!

School of Chemistry building

The 2017 QS Subject Rankings

10 March 2017

I’m pleased to announce that The University of Sydney remains in the top 50 Universities for Chemistry in the QS rankings . Given the strong competition from across the globe, this is a great achievement. Well done everyone! Read more.

Dr Alice Williamson

Our new Lecturer in Chemical Education and Outreach

7 March 2017
Congratulations to Dr Alice Williamson who has been appointed the first Lecturer in Chemical Education and Outreach in the School of Chemistry. 
Ms Joy Jiang

67th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting, Germany

7 March 2017
Congratulations to PhD candidate, Ms Haihui Joy Jiang, who has been invited to attend the 67th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting, Germany. This is a unique opportunity to interact with over 30 Nobel Laureates and 400 most qualified early career researchers around the world.  Well done!
Associate Professor Chiara Neto

Nature works with nanotechnology to extract water from thin air

3 March 2017
Professor Richard Payne

Drug lead identified in fight against TB

3 March 2017
Antibacterial compounds found in soil could spell the beginnings of a new treatment for tuberculosis.  New findings lead the way to a much-needed treatment for the world's most deadly infectious disease.  Professor Richard Payne talks about his work and passion for finding a cure for highly infectious diseases such as tuberculosis. Read more.

 Liam Scarratt

Lim Scarratt wins Postgraduate Research Prize

24 February 2017
Congratulations to PhD candidate, Mr Liam Scarratt, who has been awarded the "Postgraduate Research Prize for Outstanding Academic Achievement" for a paper published in 2016 entitled "Durable superhydrophobic surfaces via spontaneous wrinkling of Teflon AF".

Liam completed his Bachelor of Science majoring in Chemistry and Physics at The University of Sydney in 2013. During this time, he spent a year working as an Industrial Chemist at NICNAS as part of the Year In Industry Program provided by the School of Chemistry. He commenced his PhD candidature in 2015 on the fabrication of superhydrophobic surfaces for anti-drag and anti-fouling applications. He has since begun working on liquid infused surfaces, which display enhanced versatility for different applications and greater robustness, despite relying on similar nano-scale surface properties. Using colloid probe atomic force microscopy, he now studies the flow of liquids over these surfaces at the nano-scale, with the aim to understand how to minimise hydrodynamic drag.

Liam plans to visit the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research in Mainz later this year to work under Professor Doris Vollmer and gain further insight into the fluid dynamics on these surfaces at the micro-scale.

 Katrina Zenere

SANZ-O-MAG2 Murray Student Talk Prize

24 February 2017
Congratulations to Ms Katrina Zenere who was awarded the Murray Student Talk Prize (named in honour of Emeritus Professor Keith Murray from Monash University) for the best student research seminar at the 2017 SANZ-O-MAG2 workshop.

The second Southampton-Australia-New Zealand workshop on molecular magnetism was held at The University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand, on 8th-10th February 2017. With the aim of bringing together researchers who have an interest in molecular magnetism, the workshop featured a range of tutorials given by international experts in the field, as well as numerous high quality student talks and posters.

Katrina is a third year PhD student in the Molecular Materials Group working on porous spin crossover framework materials. Her work involves exploring the magnetic and structural properties of these materials by investigating the effects of various external stimuli upon these systems, including variable temperature, guest exchange, photo-active spin state switching, and high pressure studies. 

$17M NHMRC program grant

7 February 2017
Professor Michael Kassiou is one of 8 Chief Investigators in receiving a $17M NHMRC program grant over the next 5 years.

The research project aims to study frontotemporal degeneration of the brain which is a leading cause of morbidity due to a pathologically heterogeneous, rapidly-progressive group of disorders with behavioural, language and motor deficits. The NHMRC Program Grant will continue to develop the necessary tools and therapies to effectively diagnose, manage and treat these disorders, with particular focus on understanding the unusual genetics underpinning these disorders, and fast-tracking any potential treatments.

Highly cited paper

7 February 2017
Congratulations to Emeritus Professor Leo Radom whose 1996 paper entitled "Harmonic Vibrational Frequencies: An Evaluation of Hartee-Fock, Møller-Plesset, Quadratic Configuration Interaction, Density Functional Theory, and Semiempirical Scale Factors", by Anthony P. Scott and Leo Radom, has just been listed as the fifth most cited article in the 120 year history of the American Chemical Society's Journal of Physical ChemistryDOI:


RACI's 2016 Cornforth Medal winner

3 February 2017
Congratulations to Dr Carol Hua (MRACI CChem) on receiving the Royal Australian Chemical Institute's 2016 Cornforth Medal for the best PhD thesis in Australia.

Carol completed her PhD in 2016 in the Molecular Materials Group working on the development of electroactive nanoporous materials (molecular complexes, metal-organic frameworks and porous organic polymers). She is currently a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Limerick, Ireland, with Professor Mike Zaworotko, working on the development of nanoporous materials as carbon dioxide sensors and for the storage and delivery of NO in biomedical applications.

Carol was recently awarded two prestigious postdoctoral fellowships including the a Dow Chemical Company Fellowship of the American-Australian Association and an Endeavour Fellowship which she will commence in May 2017 at Northwestern University with Associate Professor David Harris, focusing on stimuli-responsive magnetic materials.

Royal Australian Chemical Institute (RACI) Archibald D. Ollé Prize

7 January 2017
Congratulations to Associate Professor Ron Clarke on being awarded the 2016 Royal Australian Chemical Institute (RACI) Archibald D. Ollé Prize for publication of Pumps, channels and transporters: methods of functional analysis. This book is volume 183 of Chemical Analysis: a series of monographs on analytical chemistry and its applications. Ron and Mohammed Khalid (University of Taif, Saudi Arabia) were co-editors for this volume; review for which can be found in the July issue of Chemistry in Australia. Archibald Ollé was very active in the chemical and scientific life of NSW in the first 40 years of the twentieth century, and his wife, who outlived him, left a bequest to the RACI to his name with an annual prize. The Ollé Prize is awarded to a member of the institute who submits the “best treatise, writing or paper” on any subject relevant to the Institute’s interests.

Smaller and safer batteries for electric cars

4 January, 2017
Congratulations to Associate Professor Chris Ling who has been awarded one of ten inaugural Sydney Research Accelerator (SOAR) fellowships for mid-career researchers. In its first year, the program will enable 10 mid-career researchers to further their research. Chris' research into the power-to-weight ratio of lithium-ion batteries has led them to dominate consumer electronics and early electric vehicles. As part of his fellowship, Chris hopes to design and build new materials into these batteries that will improve their performance – making them smaller, safer and more powerful – with a particular focus on large-scale automotive and renewable energy storage applications. Read more here.

Developing new materials for energy conversion and storage

4 January, 2017
Congratulations to Associate Professor Deanna D'Alessandro who has been awarded one of ten inaugural Sydney Research Accelerator (SOAR) fellowships for early-career researchers. In its first year, the program will enable 10 early-career researchers to further their research. Deanna is at the forefront of developing new materials that have enormous potential to further sensing technologies and energy conversion and storage, as well as creating new electrochromic devices that change colour with electricity. Her fellowship will allow her to build her international profile in the field of materials science. Read more here.

ARC funding success

4 January, 2017
Congratulations to those who were successful in receiving their ARC Discovery and LIEF grants for 2017. To find out who was successful please visit here.