Stories of the Polymer Science Group
The annual publication “Stories of Australian Science, 2017” which highlights exciting innovative research from around Australia, included two of the Polymer Science Group’s recent discoveries.
Curing Blindness by Repairing Corneas with Invisible Films highlighted the patented synthesis and development of hydrogel films capable of growing corneal cells. The technology could restore the eyesight of millions of sufferers of corneal disease, through the insertion of these hydrogels via a tiny incision in the patient’s eye.
The second featured story, Using Stars to Overpower Superbugs was also reported and outlined the work Professor Qiao’s group have developed, which has created star-shaped amino acid polymers capable of killing antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The article emphasises the need for a new approach to antibiotic treatment due to the rise of the superbugs which are predicted to result in 10 million deaths by 2050, according to the World Health Organisation. The team plans to develop the formula further and plans to move to phase one human trials in the next five years.
RACI Applied Research Award 2017
Congratulations to Professor Greg Qiao on being awarded the RACIs National Applied Research Award. The Medal is awarded annually to a full member of the RACI who has contributed significantly towards the development of, or innovation through, applied research, or in industrial fields. The awards were announced at the annual awards night dinner which was held on Friday 24 November 2017.
SNAPPS make it to the Science Museum in London
A special exhibition at the Science Museum in London is focussed on raising awareness among the general public about the global threat of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and begins with a recording of Fleming himself explaining the problem of antimicrobial resistance. The public is then greeted face-to-face with some of the world’s most problematic bacteria including Staphylococcus aureas, and other ESKAPE pathogens, safely contained within sealed containers. Further through the exhibit the viewer see’s the strategies being developed to combat these bacteria including the display by the Polymer Science Group, “Star-shaped proteins that kill bacteria”. This display explains the importance of the Polymer Science Group’s SNAPPs technology as is part of the overall exhibition entitled “Superbugs: the fight for our lives” which will be on display from Autumn until Spring 2018.
A detailed description of the exhibition was featured in Nature Microbiology, entitled “Educated Microbes “ by Claudio Nunes-Alves, 9 November 2017.
Six Grand Ideas to Fight the End of Antibiotics
An online article, Six grand ideas to fight the end of antibiotics, produced by the BBC, detailed six of the leading strategies designed to tackle the growing rise in antibiotic resistant bacteria, one of the 21st Century’s biggest challenges. One of the strategies included “Infection-Killing Polymers” developed by the Polymer Science Group at the University of Melbourne. This article highlighted the 15 year development of star-shaped polymers initially aimed at reducing the viscosity of automotive paints and engine oils, to their current incarnation as Structurally Nanoengineered Antimicrobial Peptide Polymers (SNAPPs). These polymers demonstrated their ability to rip apart cell walls of bacteria, absorbing into the cell’s membrane and pulling out their lipid layer. Strategies by other research groups highlighted in this article included using good bacteria to fight ‘bad’ bacteria; light responsive quantum dots for antibiotic treatment; research in identifying which bacteria are responsible for antibiotic resistance; enhancing basic antibiotics to contain multiple mechanisms to kill bacteria; and finally a holistic non-profit organisation in Philadelphia which is bringing together antibiotic research from around the world to fight antibiotic resistant superbugs through a cloud based data-sharing approach.
Fatemeh Karimi awarded the Eugen Singer Award
Well done to PhD student Ms Fatemeh Karimi, who has received the Eugen Singer Award which is open to students engaged in the study of polymers, including their production and processing. The award was established by Mrs Josephine Singer in commemoration of her late husband, Eugen Singer, who distinguished himself as a chemical engineer working in the field of precision engineering associated with the production and processing of polymers. Fatemah is the third recipient of this award from the Polymer Science Group, following on past graduates Dr Andri Halim and Dr Zhou Zhang.
Fatemeh continued her success, winning the 2016 Treloar Prize for best poster presentation at the 36th Australian Polymer Symposium (APS) held at Lorne on the Victorian coast.
Emeritus Professor David Solomon receives the Companion (AC) in the General Division of the Order of Australia
David Solomon was presented with his award at the Governor General’s Government House in Canberra by his Excellency the Honourable Hieu Van Le AC, the Administrator of the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia.
Professor David Solomon’s citation reads:
“For eminent service to science as an academic, researcher and author in the field of polymer chemistry and plastics, to the development and commercialisation of processes and materials, and to professional scientific institutions.
Professor Solomon’s lifelong dedication to revolutionising and promoting research in plastics has led to many life-enriching discoveries, and has inspired a generation of younger scientists.
The research groups he established are internationally renowned and continue to lead the development of ground-breaking scientific solutions. His advocacy for fostering linkages between academia and industry has greatly enriched the Australian scientific community.
At a time when Australia is looking to inspire a new generation of entrepreneurs and spark a significant lift in the level of commercialisation of research, Professor Solomon is a fine example of the best of who we are. Professor David Solomon – Appointed a Companion of the Order.”
Prof Qiao also attended the investiture in support of his long standing colleague, mentor and friend. Emeritus Professor David Solomon has played an important role as the Polymer Science Group Advisor since its inception in 2000, and has been involved with various industrial collaborations with BHP, Orica, DuPont, the CRC-Polymers and most recently the Great Barrier Reef Foundation.
Nature Microbiology Publication: Combating Superbugs with Star-Shaped Peptide Polymers
Congratulations to Shu J. Lam, Professor Greg Qiao and others from the Polymer Science Group for their publication in Nature Microbiology. As part of Shu’s PhD project, the publication reported the discovery of a new class of antimicrobial agents, in the form of star-shaped peptide polymers that have in vitro and in vivo efficacy against multidrug-resistant Gram-negative pathogens without observable resistance development, while possessing high selectivity indices. The work was done in collaboration with Associate Professor Neil O’Brien-Simpson and Professor Eric Reynolds from the Melbourne Dental School and the Bio21 Molecular Science & Biotechnology Institute. The impact of this work led to a lot of media interest in the project with major national and international media outlets reporting on the research findings.
Media coverage included:
- The Melbourne Newsroom
- Sydney Morning Herald
- The Age
- SBS News
- ABC News
- Huffington Post UK
- TV & Radio: ABC News 24, ABC Radio, 2GB, 2SM, 2UE, 2SER, Astro AEC Malaysia
Dual Winners of the Loxton Boger Award
Congratulations to both Ms Stephanie Allison and Mr Bingxin Liu, who were recently awarded the Loxton and Boger Awards, awarded to academically excellent students in the first year of their PhDs. They are the first recipients of this prestigious award from the Polymer Science Group.
Fresh Science: Curing Blindness by repairing corneas with invisible films
Congratulations to Dr Berkay Ozcelik, the Victorian winner of Fresh Science, for his work on hydrogel supported corneal implants aimed at overcoming the worldwide shortage of donated corneas. During his PhD, Berkay developed the synthetic hydrogel film used to culture new corneal cells at the Polymer Science Group (the University of Melbourne), working with the Centre for Eye Research Australia.
“The hydrogel film we have developed allows us to grow a layer of corneal cells in the laboratory,” says Berkay. “Then, we can implant that film on the inner surface of a patient’s cornea, within the eye, via a very small incision.”
Once in place the new cells restore the cornea’s vital water-pumping activity, so that the cornea once more becomes transparent. As part of the Fresh Science award, Berkay appeared on various media outlets including the ABC, channels 7, 9 and 10 explaining his recent technology and outcomes. Fresh Science is a national program helping early career researchers find a share their discoveries, and is supported by Museum Victoria, CSIRO, Deakin, Monash, RMIT, Swinburne universities, the University of Melbourne and New Scientist.
- From the Fresh Science website: Curing blindness by repairing corneas with invisible films
- YouTube: 9 News
- YouTube: 10 News
- YouTube: ABC News
- YouTube: 7 News
- News Online
- International Business Times
- ABC online
- ABC The World Today
- Nine News online
- Tenplay online
- BioPortfolio News
- ABC News 24
- ABC Radio
- Lab + Life Scientists
Jing Ming Ren awarded Victorian Postdoctoral Research Fellowship
Congratulations to Dr Jing Ming Ren for receiving the Victorian Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship. The fellowship will allow Jing Ming to spend two years with Professor Craig Hawker at University of California Santa Barbara, before returning the Polymer Science group.
Book launch for The Plastic Banknote: From Concept to Reality
David Solomon, and co-author Tom Spurling, have launched their new book “The Plastic Banknote: From Concept to Reality”. This book describes the story of the top-secret research project, undertaken by CSIRO and the Reserve Bank of Australia, from its inception in 1968 through to the release of the $10 Australian bicentennial plastic banknote in 1988. It exemplifies a market-driven project which resulted in advances in science, technology and approaches to commercialisation, and a fundamental change in banknote security. The book is available for purchase from CSIRO Publishing.
Shu Lam and Steven Harris Wibowo awarded Treloar at 34APS
The 2013 Treloar Prizes were won by Ms Shu Lam for the best oral presentation and Mr Steven Harris Wibowo for the best poster presentation at this year’s 34th Australian Polymer Symposium in Darwin. The Treloar Prize is awarded for outstanding oral and poster presentations by young polymer scientists at National or International Polymer Division Meetings.
Jing Ming Ren receives the inaugural Len Stevens Scholarship
Jing Ming Ren is the recipient of the inaugural Len Stevens Scholarship. The Len Stevens Scholarship Appeal was established in 2011 during the 150th anniversary of engineering education at the University of Melbourne and named in honour of former Dean of Engineering, Emeritus Professor Leonard Stevens AM. The Len Stevens Scholarship provides local and international engineering student, an exciting opportunity to engage in a program of extracurricular learning either within Australia or overseas with financial support of $15,000. Supported by this scholarship, Jing Ming Ren will visit the IBM Almaden Research Centre, San Jose, California, USA to conduct research on the modification of CNTs with novel star polymers, as a universal strategy to prepare multifunctional organic-CNT hybrid nanomaterials with unique physical and chemical properties under supervision of Dr Robert D. Miller.
Solomon Lecture presented by eminent polymer scientist Prof Kris Matyjaszewski and live streamed across the world
Professor Krzysztof Matyjaszewski was guest of honour and speaker at the 2012 Solomon Lecture held at the University of Melbourne on Monday 29 October 2012 at 6:00pm. “Atom Transfer Radical Polymerization: From Mechanism and Synthesis to Materials and Applications” was a free public lecture and was streamed live from the university.
View the lecture on Youtube.
Further information on Kris Matyjaszewski.
Macromolecular Bioscience cover for pH responsive Peptide Self-Assembly
The article reports a facile approach towards reversible self-assemblies from an amphiphilic block copolypeptide based on changes in the surrounding pH, from unusual ellipsoidal self-assemblies at pH 3 to vesicles at pH 12. The vesicles were then stabilized via oxygen-mediated in situ phenolic oxidation and dimerization of the DOPA repeat units that were randomly distributed throughout the block copolymer segment located in the inner layer of the vesicle shell. This provides a facile and environmentally friendly approach to the stabilization of protein-based reversible vesicles.
Adrian Sulistio and Zhou Zhang awarded Treloar Prize for oral presentations at 33APS
Adrian Sulistio and Zhou Zhang were jointly awarded Treloar Prize for the best oral presentations. The Treloar Prize is awarded for outstanding oral and poster presentations by young polymer scientists at National or International Polymer Division Meetings.
Prof Greg Qiao awarded RACI 2012 Polymer Division Citation at 33APS
Professor Greg Qiao was awarded RACI 2012 Polymer Division Citation for service to Polymer Division and distinguished research achievements in the field of synthetic polymer chemistry.
Steven Harris Wibowo awarded the 2011 CRC Prize
Steven Harris Wibowo was recently awarded the 2011 CRC Prize for his undergraduate research thesis on polymer research, entitled "The fabrication of core cross-linked star (CCS) polymeric film via continuous assembly of polymers ". His project supervisors were Stefanie Nina Guntari, Dr Edgar Wong, Dr Anton Blencowe and Prof Greg Qiao.
Jing Ming Ren awarded the 2012 Endeavour Australia Cheung Kong Research Fellowship
Jing Ming Ren is one out of the five recipients of the 2012 Endeavour Australia Cheung Kong Research Fellowship. The prestigious award was administered by the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations. This award as a part of the Australian Government’s international scholarship program provides the young Australian researchers opportunities to increase their skills and enhance their global awareness by conducting research activities in a foreign country located in the Asia Pacific region. The 2012 Endeavour Australia Cheung Kong Research Fellowship gives the recipient the financial support of up to $22,500 for research conducted in the host country. Jing Ming Ren will be conducting research on the synthesis of novel stereospecific cyclic polymers and the investigation of their supramolecular assemblies at Kamigaito Laboratory, Nagoya University, Japan, under supervision of Prof Masami Kamigaito.
Professor Greg Qiao awarded Future Fellowship
Professor Greg Qiao has been awarded an ARC Future Fellowship of $915,491 over 4 years to investigate “Engineering macromolecular architectures for targeted applications”. This project will use intelligent design to synthesise highly complex polymer architectures for targeted applications. The advances of this research will be expanded to target ultrathin gas separation membranes, self- assembling star polymers for drug delivery and fluorinated macromonomers for in-vivo biodistribution studies.
Professor David Solomon wins the Prime Minister’s Prize for Science
Professor David Solomon has been awarded the Prime Minister’s Prize for Science for his role in revolutionising polymer science. Professor Solomon was joint winner of the $300,000 prize with Professor Ezio Rizzardo from CSIRO.
Dr Jing Fung Tan wins Chancellor’s Prize for his PhD Thesis
Dr Jing Fung Tan from the Department of Chemical Engineering has been awarded a Chancellor’s Award for Excellence for his PhD thesis, which examines methodologies for producing star-shaped polymers. See University News
Dr Jing Fung Tan wins Engineering Thesis Prize
Dr Jing Fung Tan has been awarded the Melbourne Engineering Research Institute (MERIT) prize for the Best PhD thesis in Engineering in 2010. Dr Tan is a recent graduate of the Polymer Science Group. The MERIT prize is an award which is granted annually to the completed PhD student who, in the opinion of the Melbourne School of Engineering, submitted the best PhD thesis in the previous year.
Professor Greg Qiao was interviewed by ChemComm
Professor Greg Qiao was interviewed by ChemComm for his work on star polymers that were composed entirely from amino acids.
ChemComm cover for degradable star polymers
Recent work on star polymers that were composed entirely from amino acids has earned Adrian Sulistio, Adrian Widjaya, Anton Blencowe and Greg Qiao a cover article in ChemComm.
Andri Halim wins Australia Institute of Energy Postgraduate Student Award
Andri Halim was awarded the “Australia Institute of Energy Postgraduate Student Award — 1st Prize for General Energy Project“ for his poster presentation at the All-Energy Conference in Melbourne.
Professor Greg Qiao was awarded The Freehills Award 2010 for his outstanding achievement in polymer chemistry
Professor Greg Qiao was awarded The Freehills Awards 2010 at Chemeca Annual Conference for his outstanding achievement in the field of chemical engineering in Australia and New Zealand.
Dr Anton Blencowe was awarded the 2009 ARC fellowship
Dr Anton Blencowe was awarded The 2009 ARC fellowship for the development of cyclic polymers
Angewandte cover for stereoocomplex assemblies
o Work on poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA) stereocomplex assemblies has recently been published and featured as a cover article.
CCS polymer review article and cover in Polymer
A review on the state-of-the-art in core cross-linked star (CCS) polymer synthesis and applications has been published in Polymer 2009;(50):5–32. The article and cover was prepared by Dr Anton Blencowe, Tan Jing Fung, Goh Tor Kit and Assoc Prof Greg Qiao.
Jing Ming Ren awarded the 2008 CRC Prize
Jing Ming Ren was recently awarded the 2008 CRC Prize for his undergraduate research thesis on polymer research, entitled "Synthesis of amphiphilic star polymers". The focus of his research was the synthesis of novel core cross-linked star polymers by ring-opening polymerization (ROP), atom-transfer radical polymerization (ATRP) and click chemistry. His project supervisors were Dr James Wiltshire and Assoc Prof Greg Qiao.
Professor David Solomon wins 2008 SPE award
The Society of Plastic Engineers (Australia/New Zealand) Innovation Award 2008 was awarded to Professor David Solomon for his work on banknotes and living radical polymerization.
Dr Luke Connal awarded the Sir Keith Murdoch Fellow (American Australian Association)
Dr Luke Connal has been awarded an American Australian Association Fellowship for study in the United States. He received the American Australian Association Fellowship on 12 November at a function in New York for the Association’s 60th Anniversary Benefit dinner.
Goh Tor Kit awarded the 2008 Treloar Prize
Goh Tor Kit is one of two recipients of the 2008 Treloar Prize. He received the Treloar Prize for best poster presentation at the 30th Australasian Polymer Symposium in Melbourne, Australia. His poster, entitled "Towards quantitative synthesis of low polydispersity core cross-linked star polymers by Ru-catalyzed living radical polymerization" was based on his research work with Prof Masami Kamigaito of Nagoya University.
Advanced Functional Material for honeycomb membrane research
The preparation of highly ordered, porous honeycomb films by the breath figure technique using dendron-functionalized star polymers as precursors is described by L. A. Connal et al.
Journal of Polymer Science: Part A cover for click-functionalized CCS polymers
Dr James Wiltshire’s research into degradable core cross-linked star (CCS) polymers with high "click" functionality will be published as a cover article in J. Polym Sci. Part A: Polym. Chem. 2009;47(6): 1485–9. His research involves the combined strategies of ring-opening polymerization (ROP), atom-transfer radical polymerization (ATRP) and click chemistry to synthesize bottle brush-armed CCS polymers.
Autophobicity phenomena reported in Nano Letters
The autophobic behavior of core-shell microgel (CSMG) nanoparticles comprising a poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA) shell in molten PMMA thin films is explored by A. Blencowe et al. and was reported in Nano Letters 2008;8(9):3010-6.
Goh Tor Kit awarded the 2008 Endeavour Research Fellowship
Goh Tor Kit is one of the recipients of the 2008 Endeavour Research Fellowships. The Endeavour Awards are the Australian Government’s international scholarship programme which is administered by the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations. The prestigious awards are a showcase of Australia’s excellence in the education, science and training sectors.
The Endeavour Research Fellowship provides financial support of up to $25,000 for research conducted in participating countries in the Asia Pacific and Middle East. Tor Kit will be conducting research on stereospecific living radical polymerization and the investigation of nanoscale phenomena arising from these unique macromolecules. He will be working under the supervision of Prof Masami Kamigaito of Nagoya University, Japan. Kamigaito Lab webpage
Macromolecular Bioscience cover for surface bioconjugation work
Recent work on bioconjugation of poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) films with poly(lactic acid) has earned Emma Prime, Justin Cooper-White and Greg Qiao a cover article in Macromolecular Bioscience.
Australian Journal of Chemistry cover for review on star polymer applications in drug delivery
A review article by James Wiltshire and Greg Qiao on the application of star polymers in drug delivery technology has been selected as the cover article for the Australian Journal of Chemistry. The special issue, entitled "Polymer Chemistry — From Fundamentals to Applications" (Vol. 60, No. 10) features articles from leading polymer chemists on current topics in the field. Both James Wiltshire and Luke Connal have articles in this issue as part of the Treloar Prize, which they both won at the 29th APS.
David Solomon receives the 2007 NES Award for Novel Engineering Solutions
Prof David Solomon has received the 2007 NES Award for Novel Engineering Solutions at the Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) awards dinner in London. The award recognises tangible, real applications of chemical, biochemical and process engineering research to address important economic, environmental or social issues. The award was presented in recognition of Prof Solomon’s pioneering work on polymer banknotes, which has been adopted by more than 20 countries worldwide. Prof Solomon was also highly commended in the 2007 Sellafield Award for Engineering Excellence.
Luke Connal awarded the 2007 Victoria Fellowship
Luke Connal was awarded one of six Victoria Fellowships at a ceremony in Government House last night. The Victorian Government awards the fellowships annually to emerging leaders in engineering, science and technology with a cash grant of $18,000 to undertake short-term research, training or assist in product commercialisation. Luke Connal will conduct research into magnetic nanoparticles which has potential applications in medical diagnostics and drug delivery.
Soft Matter cover for honeycomb coated particles
Luke Connal and Greg Qiao has recently published work on soft honeycomb coatings that provide coverage to non-planar surfaces, entitled "Honeycomd coated particles: porous doughnuts, golf balls and hollow porous pockets" (Soft Matter 2007,3(7) 837-9. An extension to earlier work published in Advanced Materials, the low Tg poly(dimethyl siloxane)-based coatings with porous honeycomb features may be consistently casted over irregularly-shaped microparticles such as kaolin and sugar crystals.
James Wiltshire and Luke Connal win the Treloar Prizes at the 2007 APS
James Wiltshire and Luke Connal have been awarded the Treloar Prize for best presentation and best poster, respectively, at the 29th Australasian Polymer Symposium in Hobart, Tasmania. The Treloar Prize is awarded for outstanding oral and poster presentations by young polymer scientists at National or International Polymer Division Meetings.
Popular Choice Award for SEM image of PDMS-coated doughnut
An SEM image of a micron-sized, doughnut-shaped particle coated with a porous poly(dimethylsiloxane) (PDMS) film has won the Popular Choice Award at the recent Under The Coverslip competition. The honeycomb film — made from low glass transition temperature core-crosslinked star polymers — has the ability to coat non-flat surfaces and particles. This research, conducted by Luke Connal and Greg Qiao, was the subject of a recent cover article in Advanced Materials.
Advanced Materials cover for poly(dimethylsiloxane)-based honeycomb research
Research on porous poly(dimethylsiloxane)-based honeycomb films has earned Luke Connal and Greg Qiao a cover article in the latest issue of Advanced Materials (18(22) November 2006). In a related development, the same technique was used to coat a micron-sized doughnut with a porous PDMS film, of which the SEM image won the People’s Choice Award at the recent Under The Coverslip competition. more
David Solomon wins the 2006 Victoria Prize
Professor David Solomon has been awarded with Victoria’s most prestigious science award, the Victoria Prize. Prof Solomon accepted the $50,000 prize from Innovation Minister John Brumby for his pioneering work on the world’s first plastic banknote. He also received $100,000 from the Smorgon Families Foundation for a new water conservation research project.
Review by Clem Powell on C02 gas separation membranes is no. 6 of Journal of Membrane Science Top 25
The quarterly survey of the top 25 downloaded publications for ScienceDirect journals has identified the review entitled "Polymeric CO2/N2 gas separation membranes for the capture of carbon dioxide from power plant flue gases" (J. Membrane Sci., 279(1–2), p. 1–49)as the 6th most downloaded for the April–June 2006 period. more
Plastic note pioneer David Solomon receives Uni honour & shares currency of science success
Media Release, Tuesday 15 December 2005
The polymer scientist best known in Australia for inventing the world’s first plastic bank note … awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Melbourne.
Emma Prime wins the Treloar Prize at the 2006 APS
Emma Prime has won the Treloar Prize at the 28th Australasian Polymer Symposium (APS) in New Zealand. The Treloar Prize is awarded for outstanding oral and poster presentations by young polymer scientists at National or International Polymer Division Meetings. more
Luke Connal top three in PACE meets industry poster session 2006
Media Release, Monday 20 February 2006
Research into nanofiltration of dairy waste by a Chemical Engineering PhD student won top prize in the University of Melbourne’s recent 2005 PACE (Postgraduate Association of Chemical Engineering) Postgraduate Student Awards.
Luke Connal wins the 2004 O’Donnell Young Scientist Prize
Media Release, Monday 21 March 2005
University of Melbourne student Luke Connal has been awarded the RACI Polymer Division’s 2004 O’Donnell Young Scientist Prize.
David Solomon awarded the R K Murphy Medal
Eminent polymer scientist and technologist, Professor David Solomon, of the University of Melbourne’s Department of Chemical Engineering, has been awarded the 2002 R K Murphy Medal of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute (RACI).