news from the school - 2011


Also see our Achievements page.


16 December 2011

Peter Lay Inorganic Chemistry Lecturer

Professor Peter Lay who was the Inorganic Chemistry Lecturer for the Commission Scientifique pour L'enseignement du 3e Cycle en Chimie, Switzerland.  He delivered five lectures in a lecture series entitled Metal Ions in Physiology, Disease and Treatment over five days to universities in the French-speaking part of Switzerland in late November 2011.  Lectures were given in Geneve, Neuchatel, Fribourg and Lausanne and covered topics that included: Complementary Biospectroscopic Microscopies in Medicine; Ruthenium Anti-Cancer Drugs; Applications of X-ray Absorption Spectroscopy; Metal Anti-Diabetic Drugs; and Cerebral Malaria.

15 December 2011

Sebastien Perrier promoted to Professor

Congratulations to Sebastien Perrier who was recently promoted to Professor of Chemistry. The announcement was made by the Office of the Vice-Chancellor and Principal and will take effect 1 January 2012.

Matthew Todd

9 December 2011

Chris Ling promoted to Associate Professor

Congratulations to Chris Ling who was recently promoted to Associate Professor. The announcement was made by the Office of the Provost and Deputy Vice Chancellor and will take effect 1 January 2012.

Matthew Todd

9 December 2011

Professor Max Crossley awarded the 2012 David Craig Medal

Professor Max Crossley was awarded the 2012 David Craig Medal by the Australian Academy of Science in recognition of his outstanding research contributions in chemistry. Award recipients will recieve their medals at the Academy's annual conference in May 2012.

Matthew Todd

30 November 2011

Dr Richard Payne awarded the 2011 Rennie Memorial Medal

Dr Richard Payne was honoured at the 2011 Royal Australian Chemical Institute (RACI) National Awards Dinner in Melbourne with the award of the 2011 Rennie Memorial Medal for his outstanding contributions to synthetic organic chemistry and drug discovery. The Rennie Memorial Medal is awarded annually to a member of the RACI with less than eight years of professional experience since completing their most recent relevant qualification and who, in the opinion of the Board of the RACI, has contributed most towards the development of a branch of the chemical sciences. The contribution is judged by the research work published during the 10 years immediately preceding the award. For further information, please visit the RACI website.

Matthew Todd

24 November 2011

Dr Matthew Todd honoured in the NSW Science and Engineering Awards

Dr Matthew Todd won the Emerging Research category of the NSW Science and Engineering Awards for the open source project he led that discovered a new way to produce medicine now used worldwide for the treatment of Bilharzia, a terrible parasitic disease that afflicts millions of the world's poorest people. As an organic chemist Dr Todd works on drug development, but this project was innovative in applying open source principles to experimental research by freely sharing ideas and making results available online. For further information, please visit a more detailed article in the University News.

Matthew Todd

17 November 2011

Congratulations to our DECRA and Future Fellowship recipients

Congratulations to the following staff on their recent success with the ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Awards (DECRA) and Future Fellowships.

  • Canning, Prof. John, ARC Future Fellowship Optical fibre nanophotonics for sensing, $929K.
  • Hunter, Dr Luke, ARC DECRA Selective fluorination chemistry: a tool for creating bioactive, shape-controlled peptides, $375K.
  • New, Dr Elizabeth, ARC DECRA Development of sensors for biological redox state, $375K.

John Canning

Professor John Canning

17 November 2011

Prof. Thomas Maschmeyer elected as youngest foreign memebr to the Academia Europa

Congratulations to Prof. Thomas Maschmeyer on his recent election to the Academia Europa (Academy of Europe). The Academy is an international, non-governmental not-for-profit association of individual scientists and scholars. The Academy is a pan-European Academy of Sciences, Humanities and Letters with elected members drawn from the whole European continent. Membership is currently in the region of 2,300. Its foundation in 1988 in Cambridge was initiated by the Royal Society (UK) with support from the French government. Members are drawn from some 35 European countries and eight non-European countries. Members are grouped into 20 Academic Sections. The Academia Europaea organises workshops, conferences, study groups; publishes the European Review and other academic materials; provides expert advice on European Science policy matters either alone and through the European Academies Science Advisory Council (EASAC).


Thomas Maschmeyer

16 November 2011

$10M SIEF Project "Advanced Catalytic Processes for Renewable Chemicals Manufacture" has been granted

This project, a $5M cash grant from the Science and Industry Endowment Fund (SIEF), matched by $5M in-kind from the project participant – CSIRO and the University of Sydney (Lead Recipient) – is a major boost for Renewable Chemicals in Australia. The direct connection of this program to stakeholders such as Lyondell-Basell, Dow Australia, Visy, Amcor and Ignite Energy as well as DRET and DIISR leads to uniquely powerful positioning regarding technology translation,” project leader Professor Maschmeyer remarks.

The Advanced Catalytic Processes for Renewable Chemicals Manufacture project is to develop low energy / sustainable materials platform technologies that utilise renewable resources to produce bulk chemicals, intermediates, fine and specialty chemicals.  These technologies have the potential to greatly invigorate the Australian agriculture, forestry and manufacturing industry sectors, linking them via innovative biorefinery technologies.


Thomas Maschmeyer

9 November 2011

Dr Deanna D'Alessandro wins a Young Tall Poppy Science Award from the Australian Institute of Policy and Science

Congratulations to Dr Deanna D'Alessandro on winning a Young Tall Poppy Science Award from the Australian Institute of Policy and Science, announced at an awards ceremony on 3 November 2011. The prestigious annual science awards recognise young scientists who are doing outstanding work in their field and actively engage and educate the community about their work. Dr D'Alessandro is developing 'Metal-Organic Frameworks' (or MOFs) to capture and convert carbon dioxide emitted from power plants and natural gas wells. These materials have unique optical and electronic properties and can act as 'molecular sponges' to mop up greenhouse gases - one teaspoon full can have a surface area equivalent to an entire football field. They have the potential to significantly reduce the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by power plants and may help to reduce the penalty for capture using current technologies.



Deanna D'Alessandro

3 November 2011

Prof. Thomas Maschmeyer elected Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering

Congratulations to Prof. Thomas Maschmeyer on being elected as a 2011 Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering. Prof. Maschmeyer has international status for his ground-breaking research in materials and catalysts. He is an inventor with many patents, has applied his science to new commercial developments overseas and in Australia and has received many distinguished awards for science and technology.

To listen to a recent interview of Prof. Maschmeyer discussing a new approach to producing hydrogen, please visit The Science Show website (ABC Radio National).

Thomas Maschmeyer

3 November 2011

A/Prof. Lou Rendina secures funding for cancer research

A/Prof. Louis Rendina, in collaboration with Prof. Michael Kassiou, has been awarded funding from the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia. A total of $300K over the next two years will support research into carboranes as novel pharmacophores in the treatment and imaging of advanced prostate cancer.


Lou Rendina Michael Kassiou


2 November 2011

Outstanding ARC success for the School of Chemistry

Congratulations to all involved in the following ARC grant success:

  • Beattie, A/Prof James K; McErlean, Dr Christopher S; Maschmeyer, Prof Thomas, ARC Discovery Project On-water catalysis for green chemistry, $360K.
  • Kepert, Prof Cameron J; D'Alessandro, Dr Deanna M, ARC Discovery Project Advanced functional properties in metal-organic frameworks, $420K.
  • Maschmeyer, Prof Thomas, ARC Discovery Project Renewable solar hydrogen generated from waste streams, $250K.
  • Payne, Dr Richard J, ARC Discovery Project New methods for the chemical synthesis of a library of glycopeptide-based tri-component cancer vaccines, $420K.
  • Reimers, Prof Jeffrey R; Crossley, Prof Maxwell J; Hush, Em/Prof Noel S, ARC Discovery Project One-dimensional, two-dimensional and three-dimensional nanostructures for electronics and computing applications, $600K.
  • Rendina, A/Prof Louis M, ARC Discovery Project New frontiers in the therapeutic application of gadolinium, $390K.
  • Schmidt, A/Prof Timothy; Kable, Prof Scott H; McCarthy, Dr Michael C; Stanton, Prof John F, ARC Discovery Project Double resonance spectroscopy for astrochemistry, $360K.
  • Todd, Dr Matthew H; Rutledge, Dr Peter J; Smith, Dr Peter J, ARC Discovery Project Charting intercellular space, $348K.
  • Warr, Prof Gregory G, ARC DIscovery Project Co-oligomer amphiphiles for novel living and fixed nanomaterials, $410K.
  • Allen, A/Prof Toby W; Clarke, Dr Ronald J, ARC Discovery Project Electromechanical controls of membrane transport phenomena (Administered by The University of Melbourne), $320K.
  • Todd, Dr Matthew H; Wells, Dr Timothy N, ARC Linkage Project Open source drug discovery for malaria in collaboration with Medicines for Malaria Venture, $320K.








24 October 2011

NHMRC funding success for Dr Richard Payne

Congratulations to Dr Richard Payne in securing NHMRC funding for a collaborative project with Professor Roland Stocker from the Sydney Medical School. The project will involve the chemical and biochemical study of a novel pathway for the control of vascular tone which will have important medical implications.

  • NHMRC Project Grant, A Novel Pathway for the Regulation of Vascular
    , $569,685
Richard Payne

19 October 2011

NHMRC funding success for Professor Michael Kassiou

Congratulations to Professor Michael Kassiou on his outstanding success in securing the below funding from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC):

  • NHMRC Project Grant, Oxytocin receptor agonists for treatment of social anxiety, $444 261.
  • NHMRC European Union Collaborative Research Grant, New strategies in the treatment and imaging of brain diseases, $887 250. The grant will allow him to be the only non-EU partner in a European consortium of around 22 academic laboratories.


Michael Kassiou

14 October 2011

Dr Elizabeth New wins the Dalton Young Researchers Award

Welcome to Dr Elizabth New who has recently joined the School of Chemistry and congratulations on recieving the 2011 Dalton Young Researchers Award. Granted by the Royal Society of Chemistry, this award is in recognition of her research in bioinorganic chemistry, and in particular the development of new probes for molecular imaging in living systems. For further information, please visit the RSC website.

Elizabeth New

13 September 2011

Dr Chris McErlean wins the 2011 Selby Research Award

Congratulations to Dr Chris McErlean who was awarded the 2011 Selby Research Award. This award is given by the Faculty of Science to an outstanding academic within five years of their first appointment as a Lecturer or Senior Lecturer in the physical, chemical or biochemical disciplines to establish their research career. The Selby award aims to assist an outstanding academic to establish their research career and consists of a prize of $14,000 to support research costs.

2 September 2011

A/Prof. Adam Bridgeman appears on Catalyst

How does a professor make a lesson on thermodynamics more interesting? By incorporating explosive theatrics of course! Ruben Meerman is a willing student as Associate Professor Adam Bridgman extracts molten iron from iron oxide. Visit the Catalyst website to view the full video.





26 July 2011

Final awards recognise nation's best educators


The Australian Learning and Teaching Council’s (ALTC) last ever awards have honoured 22 top teachers and 10 innovative student learning programs. Of these Associate Professor Adam Bridgeman and Dr Peter Rutledge have been awarded an Australian Learning and Teaching Council Award for Programs that Enhance Learning.

The annual Australian Awards for University Teaching recognise both excellence in teaching and innovative programs that enrich the student experience. Read more here.









29 June 2011

Mr John Moraes wins Tech on Tap

John Moraes, a PhD student working with Associate Professor Sébastien Perrier and Professor Thomas Maschmeyer in the School of Chemistry, has won Tech on Tap – a science communication competition giving PhD students and researchers the opportunity to explain their research, and how it will benefit society, in 2.5 minutes.

Taking a comic approach, John likened his PhD research of grafting polymers onto silica nanospheres, to being like growing hair on tiny balls. His 'hairy balls' concept, and all the jokes attached, were a hit in the Sydney pub where Tech on Tap was held and won John the top prize of $5000. Read more at



28 June 2011

Dr Peter Rutledge awarded a 2011 Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning

Citations can be awarded to academic, general and sessional staff, and institutional associates, who have made significant contributions to student learning in a specific area of responsibility over a sustained period.
The 2011 cohort of recipients represents a vast range of disciplines including mathematics, health sciences, psychology, media, medicine, engineering and education. The Citations recognise staff working in areas such as the first year experience, the transition of non-traditional students into university and the growing field of education for sustainability, demonstrating the diversity of the recipients.


14 June 2011

I'm a scientist, get me out of here!

I’m a Scientist is like school science lessons meet the X Factor! School students choose which scientist gets a prize of $1000 to communicate their work.

Scientists and students talk on this website. They both break down barriers, have fun and learn. But only the students get to vote.

This zone is Hydrogen Zone. It has a range of scientists studying all different topics.


31 May 2011

Associate Professor Sébastien Perrier elected as Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry

Associate Professor Sébastien Perrier has been elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry,  the largest  organisation in Europe for advancing the chemical sciences.

Only a handful of top chemists are honoured each year by The Royal Society in the selection of its new Fellows. The scientists - who must be Commonwealth citizens to qualify for the accolade - are elected by a ballot of the existing Fellows of the society. 



24 May 2011

CO2 capture team awarded $6 million

Professor Cameron Kepert and Dr Deanna D'Alessandro are amongst a team of leading researchers recently awarded $6 million from the Science and Industry Endowment Fund (SIEF) to develop new ways to capture and transform carbon dioxide, the notorious gas at the centre of the greenhouse discussion.
The team of 19 researchers from Australia's top universities and research institutes are joining forces for the first time to explore how materials called metal-organic frameworks (or MOFs) can be used to capture and concentrate CO2 with minimum energy requirements.
The team leader, Professor Cameron Kepert said: "These materials are capable of absorbing large amounts of CO2 into nanometre-sized holes within their structures, leading potentially to the efficient separation of this gas from power station flue gases.”
"On an international scale, the project mounts one of the most comprehensive investigations into this promising new area by combining world-leading expertise in both chemistry and engineering."
The team will also look at how MOFs can be used to convert CO2 into useful substances, including feedstocks for agriculture, hydrocarbon fuels and precursors to complex metal oxides for use in solar cells.

Read the full article here. Click here to view the C02 capture team.



17 May 2011

Professor Maschmeyer behind cutting edge research

Professor Thomas Maschmeyer is behind cutting edge research that could fuel the aviation industry from sustainable energy sources in the not too distant future.

Speaking recently on the ABC's The Science Show, Professor Maschmeyer said the process uses what is known as lignocellulosic feedstocks - sourced either from existing processes in the pulp and paper industry or even grass cuttings.


12 May 2011

Professor Maschmeyer appointed to new Biofuels Council

Professor Thomas Maschmeyer has been appointed to the Establishment Council that will advise the Gillard Government on how best to set up the new $20 million Australian Biofuels Research Institute.

The new Institute will look into the potential of next-generation biofuels in order to increase Australia's energy security and diversify sources of liquid fuel supply. The Institute's work is designed to drive down the costs of next generation biofuel technologies and to develop biofuels from non-food and non-traditional feedstocks including algae, oil seeds and wood waste. The Establishment Council comprises some of Australia's top biofuels experts.


6 May 2011

Emeritus Professor Noel Hush elected to the National Academy of Sciences


Emeritus Professor Noel Hush, Foundation Professor of Theoretical Chemistry, has been elected to the prestigious US-based National Academy of Sciences for his excellence in original scientific research.

Professor Hush is one of the world's eminent chemists and one of the finest in Australia. He has been awarded the Order of Australia and the prestigious Flinders and Craig Medals of the Australian Academy of Science. His international recognition includes the Fellowship of the Royal Society of London, the Royal Society of Chemistry Centenary Medal and most recently the Welch Prize in 2007. He is one of the very few Foreign Members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. His most renowned research achievement is the development, starting in the 1950s, of a model for electron transfer; this is often referred to as 'the Marcus–Hush Theory'. Professor Hush's fundamental model is used in the interpretation of a wide variety of processes in chemistry, such as the spectra of intervalence inorganic compounds, photosynthesis, and electron transfer in biological, inorganic, and solid-state systems. In his 1983 Nobel lecture, Henry Taube, stated 'The papers which most influenced the experimentalists … were those … by Hush dealing with adiabatic electron transfer.' Taube also said, concerning the work that was responsible for his Nobel Prize, 'In pursuing these interests … we have relied on theory introduced by Hush'. Professor Hush's research career now spans six decades, yet he remains at the cutting edge of his fields.

The Hush Fellowship Fund was established by the School of Chemistry in 2005 for the purpose of holding annual lectures by noted international scientists in the area of Professor Hush's research interest, to commemorate his great scientific achievements.


3 May 2011

Dr Bob Hunter honoured by special RACI meeting

The legacy of Dr Bob Hunter, Honorary Associate Professor and former Head of School, is being honoured by the RACI at a special meeting to be held in June, where his exceptional and influential work as educator and scientist, both within Australia and internationally, will be celebrated and remembered.  Bob has published a number of books and textbooks, including the seminal work, Foundations of Colloid Science.  In addition, Bob was instrumental in setting up the Hunter-Healy (now the Australian Colloid and Surface Science Student) conferences,  established in 1967 and which continue to today.  Bob was awarded the Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in 2003 for service to science in the field of colloid and surface chemistry, as an educator and researcher, and to the community through the promotion of scientific social responsibility.

2 May 2011

The School awarded two Vice-Chancellor's Teaching Awards

Dr Peter Rutledge has been awarded a Vice-Chancellor's Award for Outstanding Teaching and both Dr Adrian George and Dr Don Radford have been awarded a Vice-Chancellor's Award for Support of the Student Experience.   Dr Rutledge was particularly commended for his work in curriculum design, the innovative use of personal feedback, his lively connection with students and his leadership through publications. Dr George's and Dr Radford's Award was for their work on the School's Bridging Course.   The selection panel were particularly impressed by the broad impact of the Bridging Course including its functioning as a university orientation program and the roll out to other faculties.





15 April 2011

Professor Maschmeyer & His Team Leads Race for Renewable Fuel

Professor Thomas Maschmeyer, Future Fellow, has been featured on a recent episode of the ABC's "7.30 Report". His work on converting worthless forestry by-product into oil results in a product that can be used in cars, aeroplanes or large diesel engines. These advanced biofuels can reduce the greenhouse gas emissions by about 90 per cent, compared to conventional petroleum or diesel. Click here to view the video.


25 March 2011

Professor Trevor Hambley and Professor Thomas Maschmeyer elected Fellows of the Australian Academy of Science

Seventeen of Australia's leading scientists were honoured on 23 March by election to the Australian Academy of Science. Election to the Australian Academy of Science recognises a career that has significantly advanced, and continues to advance, the world's scientific knowledge. Two of the seventeen elected are Professor Trevor William Hambley FAA for his distinguished work in bioinorganic chemistry, crystallography and molecular mechanics, including multidisciplinary research on metal anti-cancer drugs and Professor Thomas Maschmeyer FAA for his distinguished for his work on materials and catalysis with applications in pharmaceuticals, process intensification and biofuels. The full list of new FAAs is at

3 March 2011

A/Prof Sébastien Perrier appointed on the ARC College of Experts

Associate Professor Sébastien Perrier has been appointed on the Physics, Chemistry and Earth Sciences (PCE) panel of the Australian Research Council College of Experts. View list at (

The Australian Research Council (ARC) is a statutory authority within the Australian Government's Innovation, Industry, Science and Research portfolio. The ARC advises the Government on research matters, manages the National Competitive Grants Program, a significant component of Australia's investment in research and development, and has responsibility for the Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) initiative. The College of Experts members assess and rank ARC grant applications submitted under the National Competitive Grants Program, make funding recommendations to the ARC and provide strategic advice to the ARC on emerging disciplines and cross-disciplinary developments.

Sebastien Perrier

31 January 2011

Dr Mat Todd named as one of the University's top ten lecturers

Dr Mat Todd has been placed among the top ten lecturers at The University of Sydney for 2010 in the recently held UniJobs Lecturer of the Year Award national poll. This award allows students and staff to recognise outstanding lecturers.

Lecturer of the Year is an award designed to allow students and fellow staff member to recognise lecturers who have gone above and beyond in their efforts to better the lives of their students, and their campus communities. Last year the initiative attracted over 70,000 votes, and more than 4000 university lecturers were nominated, making the 2010 award the most popular to date.


5 January 2011

Professor Michael Kassiou looks into developing a medication that could help people suffering from social anxiety

At any one time, about 3% of the population suffer from crippling social anxiety, characterised by excessive fear of exposure to situations that involve potential scrutiny by others. Social anxiety is also seen in many other psychiatric conditions including depression, schizophrenia, autism and addictions. Modern neuroscience is learning much about the way in which the brain regulates social behaviour, opening up opportunities to pharmacologically stimulate social processes in individuals who are socially withdrawn. Promising targets include the hormone oxytocin which is known to strongly regulate social processes in mammals. However there are problems with administering oxytocin as it is very rapidly broken down in the body and does not easily penetrate the brain. To overcome these problems our group is developing non-peptidic compounds that stimulate oxytocin receptors in the brain but that are more potent, brain penetrating and longer lasting than oxytocin itself. One such compound has shown that when given to rats it strongly stimulates social interest. This compound forms the basis of an expanding drug discovery program to find compounds that can reverse the social deficits seen in many psychiatric disorders. To view the ABC news story visit


6 December 2010

Dr Ron Clarke awarded the inaugural McAulay-Hope Prize

Dr Ron Clarke has been awarded the inaugural McAulay-Hope Prize for Original Biophysics at the Annual Conference of the Australian Society for Biophysics (ASB), held last week in Adelaide. The McAulay-Hope Prize for Original Biophysics is designed to recognise true originality and innovation in the field of biophysics, rather than the use of existing techniques or applications.  Further details are available at the ASB website