My research is in the area of bio-mimetic chemistry with focus on nanomedicine, supramolecular and biophysical chemistry. To this end we apply a combination of synthetic organic and inorganic chemistry, bioconjugate chemistry (chemical modification of biological molecules), cellular biology (for activity assays) and supramolecular chemistry to make our target systems and we use various spectroscopic techniques such as UV, fluorescence and NMR as well as microscopy techniques such as AFM, STM and TEM, to analyse these systems.
Biomimetic chemistry – using Nature as an blueprint or inspiration to solve societal challenges and make new discoveries – is what our research is about. Self-assembly, supramolecular chemistry and protein chemistry are the common themes in the diverse range of work within our research group. We work with medical researchers on cancer-targeting peptides and novel materials for drug release and stem cell therapies. We work with industry on projects such as developing new materials for enhancing algae production and improving our understanding of how to module the taste profile of processed food. We work with biophysical scientist on uncovering the secrets of light-harvesting proteins. We develop methods for data analysis in supramolecular chemistry and we work on understanding the role of self-assembly in prebiotic chemistry (origin of life) through synthetic biology experiments. In short – our works spans the whole spectra from physical chemistry and data analysis to organic synthesis, supramolecular and biophysical chemistry.
Broadly speaking our current projects can be divided into three main areas:
Nanomedicine, Biophysical & Protein Chemistry and Supramolecular Chemistry.
More specifically, our current PhD and Honours projects include:
Self-assembled gels for drug release (Nanomedicine).
Cancer cell targeting peptides (Nanomedicine).
Novel materials for 3D cell cultures (Biophysical and Protein Chemistry).
Light-activated bioconjugates (Biophysical and Protein Chemistry).
Controlling protein self-assembly and protein-protein interactions (Biophysical and Protein Chemistry).
Proteins and polymer self-assembly (Biophysical and Protein Chemistry).
The formation of self-assembled gels (Supramolecular Chemistry).
Cooperativity in ion-pair hosts (Supramolecular Chemistry).
Biomimetic light-harvesting and donor-acceptor arrays (Supramolecular Chemistry).
I am always open for suggestions from prospective students on projects that fit within our broad research area, be they related to our current projects or a completely new line of investigation. Please don’t hesitate to contact me regarding your ideas or ask for further advice on possible projects.
Our group is focused on creativity and on tackling fundamentally interesting and important challenges. With that comes lack of respect for boundaries between disciplines – our home is in chemistry but work goes across from biophysics, data analysis physical organic chemistry to nanotechnology, synthesis, protein chemistry and synthetic biology. We aim to make a difference with our work, be it by publishing in top quality journal or creating new materials and processes that can be used to solve medical, industrial or societal challenges.
Director of Research, School of Chemistry UNSW.
Chair, Scientific Advisory Board, Biomedical Imaging Facility, Mark Wainwright Analytical Centre, UNSW.
Member of RACI, ACS, RSC, SPP and MCFA.
Associate Editor Australian Journal of Chemistry.
Co-Chair: 23rd IUPAC Conference on Physical Organic Chemistry – Sydney Australia 2016. Chair: Supramolecular Symposia – RACI Congress 2014.
2012: The Le Févre Memorial Prize, Australian Academy of Science.
2012: Future Fellowship from the Australian Research Council (ARC).
2010: The International Society of Porphyrins and Phthalocyanines (SPP) / Journal of Porphyrins and Phthalocyanines (JPP): SPP/JPP Young Investigator Award for 2010.
2008: NSW Young Tall Poppy Science Award.
2006: Australian Research Fellowship from the Australian Research Council (ARC).
2003: Sesqui post-doctoral research fellowship from The University of Sydney.
2001: Marie Curie Fellowship from the EU, Brussels.