From time to time, School of Chemistry staff and students will make the news! Below are excerpts from, and links to, recent news stories and articles about the School of Chemistry from print and electronic media.

Photoisomerization action spectroscopy on cover of PCCP

Thursday, 1 October 2015 - 4:30pm

Research from the Bieske and Goerigk groups has appeared on the front cover of the special themed issue on “Optical spectroscopy coupled with mass spectrometry methods” in Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys. The study combines laser spectroscopy, ion mobility spectrometry and accurate quantum-chemical calculations to elucidate the protonated merocyanine-spiropyran system. Spiropyrans are photoactive molecules that are relevant in molecular switches, chemical sensors and photoelectric cells. See Markworth et al. (2015).

Royal Society of Victoria student prizes

Tuesday, 29 September 2015 - 1:45am

Congratulations are due to PhD student, Edward Nagul, for being a joint winner of the Royal Society of Victoria Young Scientist Research Award in the physical sciences category. Well done Eddie!

Andrew Holmes: it began as lab monitor at school

Saturday, 26 September 2015 - 12:15am

Brain Box is a video podcast series created by the Australian Academy of Science: ‘Scientists come in all shapes and sizes and with Brain Box you can get to know the wonderful brains behind the science.’ Watch the interview with the Academy’s President, Professor Andrew Holmes, who reveals what inspired him to become a chemist in the first place.

Publishing Awards to Penny Commons

Friday, 25 September 2015 - 11:00am

Congratulations to Penny Commons who shared in three awards in the Educational Publishing Awards Australia last week. The Pearson Lightbook won best Secondary Student Resource, Most Outstanding Secondary Digital resource and the Excellence in Australian Publishing Award. Penny is coordinating author for the Chemistry titles in the Pearson Lightbook series in Victoria and Western Australia: Pearson Chemistry Lightbook 11 & Pearson Chemistry Lightbook 12.

Healy Awards 2015(#2)

Monday, 21 September 2015 - 5:15pm

The School of Chemistry is delighted to announce the T.W. Healy awardees for 2nd Round 2015 funding for conference travel between 1 Sep 2015 and 31 Aug 2016. Preference is given to students studying in the field of colloid and surface chemistry. Congratulations to:
Peng Zeng (Smith Lab) to attend the XXVIth IUPAC Symposium on Photochemistry in Japan, 3-8 April 2016;
Wuquiang Wu (Caruso Lab) to attend Pacifichem 2015: International Chemical Congress of Pacific Basin Societies in Honolulu, USA, 15-20 December 2015; and
Enrico Columbo (Ashokkumar Group) to attend Pacifichem 2015: International Chemical Congress of Pacific Basin Societies in Honolulu, USA, 15-20 December 2015.

Ian Potter travel grant to Yuning Hong

Sunday, 6 September 2015 - 7:30pm

The Ian Potter Foundation has awarded funding to Dr Yuning Hong for travel to attend Pacifichem, The International Chemical Congress of Pacific Basin Societies, Honolulu, Hawaii, 15 - 20 December 2015.

Free radical damage by ozone for models of lung proteins

Thursday, 3 September 2015 - 8:00pm

New research from the Universities of Melbourne and Wollongong and QUT has provided a first glimpse at how free radical damage might be initiated in the human lung upon exposure to the urban air pollutant ozone. “This is an important problem, especially since that surface concentrations of ozone have more than doubled over the last century and predictions that background urban ozone levels may ultimately exceed internationally accepted levels for human health in the 21st century.” said Professor Blanksby. The research team led by Prof. Richard O’Hair & Prof. Stephen Blanksby from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Free Radical Chemistry, has used a powerful combination of electrospray ionisation coupled with multistage mass spectrometry experiments to shed light on how radicals are formed in the reactions of ozone with models of lung proteins. Their work is featured in the current edition of Angewandte Chemie. The team studied how the deprotonated form of the amino acid cysteine, its derivatives and related peptides react with ozone when isolated under idealized near-vacuum conditions, and tracked the formation of primary oxidation products including radicals. “We hope this work will inspire scientists to search for ozone induced protein free radical formation and damage at the air-liquid interface of the lung.” said Professor O’Hair.

Radio Interview – Beyond Zero Emissions

Saturday, 29 August 2015 - 1:45am

Yasmina Dkhissi, a PhD student in the Caruso lab, was interviewed by 3CR on 28 August regarding perovskite solar cells, which are the focus of her PhD thesis. Yasmina works in close collaboration with Monash University and the CSIRO. Her research focuses on the development of flexible thin film PV on polymer substrates. In particular, she is looking at device fabrication techniques and at practical industrial concerns such as the reproducibility, manufacturing processability and stability of perovskite solar cells. Listen to the interview at

Open Day 2015

Friday, 28 August 2015 - 7:00pm

A big thank you to everyone involved in Open Day on Sunday 16 August. The weather was perfect which helped make it a wonderful day. Wilson Hall looked lovely and the BSc information sessions were overflowing four times over. All the hard work and enthusiasm certainly paid off with thousands of prospective students coming to see what Science at Melbourne has to offer. In the School of Chemistry, it was great to see over 120 people queueing to get in the Learning Lab door and to see our staff talking to half a dozen interested people at a time in Wilson Hall or the First Year lab. By all accounts it was a highly successful day. Check out the Open Day video for a high speed summary of the day.

New chemical analysis platform: TrACEES

Friday, 28 August 2015 - 9:45am

Congratulations to Professor Spas Kolev who has led a successful application for the establishment of a new platform, Trace Analysis for Chemical, Earth and Environmental Sciences (TrACEES), with manager located in the School of Chemistry. The Platform will be funded for an initial period of three years by the Melbourne Collaborative Research Infrastructure Program (MCRIP) and its stakeholder and will have nodes in the School of Chemistry, School of Earth Sciences and Faculty of Veterinary & Agricultural Sciences. It will offer world-class surface and chemical analysis services to researchers of the University, other academic and research institutions and industry to support cutting-edge research and training and development of research partnerships and excellence.

Illuminated: Stories from the Chemistry Cultural Collection

Thursday, 13 August 2015 - 1:45pm

On Wed 12 August we were delighted to welcome alumni and friends of the School of Chemistry to help us celebrate the opening of the Chemistry Cultural Collection's latest exhibition, Illuminated: through the prism of chemistry, and the International Year of Light 2015. This exhibition brings together lamps, instruments, and materials used by chemists throughout the history of the School of Chemistry, and drawings by artist Peter Sharp in response to these items to illuminate and elucidate the secrets of the Universe. The evening included a MUCS public lecture delivered by Dr Renee Beale, Manager & Curator of the Chemistry Cultural Collection, and Peter Sharp, 2015 Chemistry Cultural Collection resident artist, followed by the exhibition viewing. Visitors were also treated to a series of artwork projections onto the exterior of the Chemistry building. A selection of drawings and Chemistry Cultural Collection items will remain on display in the cabinets on the ground floor of Chemistry until the end of the year for those who are interested in viewing them.

Perpetual IMPACT Philanthropy Grant to Spas Kolev

Wednesday, 12 August 2015 - 11:45pm

Congratulations to Professor Spas Kolev and his collaborator, Prof. Michael McCullough (Melbourne Dental School), who have been successful with their application for 1 year funding for research on oral cancer risk testing through Perpetual’s 2015 IMPACT Philanthropy Application Program.

2014 Student Prizes

Friday, 7 August 2015 - 4:30pm


Outstanding student achievers from the School of Chemistry were presented awards recently by the Head of School, Prof. Frances Separovic, and Industry sponsors from Agilent, Dulux and Huntsman.



Dwights Prize – James Ha
Exhibition Prize - Stanley Sim
CA Taylor Prize – Wenxiao Yue
HuntsmanAustralia Prize – Peter McDonald
J.S. Anderson Prize – Jared Crabtree-Morton
Fred Walker Scholarship – Liselle Aitkin
James Cuming Memorial Scholarship (Major) - Jarad Crabtree-Morton
James Cuming Memorial Scholarship (Minor) - Jacob Rowan
Agilent Award For Excellence – Katie Feng
Dixson Research Scholarship – Quentin Hong
Ronald Riseborough Prize – Tessa Evans
Andrew Kirby Award for Research Excellence – Joses Grady Nathanael
Dr Rex Williamson and Family Scholarship – Liselle Aitkin
Kernot Research Scholarship (& Stanley Harvey Prize) - Stacey Rudd
Dulux Australia Prize – Stacey Rudd
Monica Elizabeth Reum Memorial Prize – Jennifer Muth Chambers

Calum Drummond awarded DSc

Sunday, 2 August 2015 - 8:15pm

Professor Calum Drummond is an outstanding scientist who combines leading-edge fundamental physical chemistry research with development of innovative industrial processes and products. His work in colloid (particle) and surface chemistry, and factors that govern molecular self-assembly and particle and surface interactions in liquids, addresses a wide range of problems from biology to materials science, leading to new products. He has received a number of prestigious awards in recognition of his eminence in colloid and surface science and research translation activities. Calum is a graduate of the University of Melbourne (BScEd 1981, BSc Hons 1982, PhD 1987) and is the DVC(R) at RMIT University.

Global Environmental Sustainability Award

Friday, 31 July 2015 - 8:15pm

PhD student Kyra Schwarz, from the Ghiggino lab, has received a Global Environmental Sustainability (GES) award from the Rotary Club of Balwyn. The award will help Kyra attend an international conference in Italy next year on organic electronics.

Poster prize for Chemistry students

Friday, 31 July 2015 - 1:15pm

Congratulations to Mina Barzegar Amiri Olia, from the Schiesser research group, who won the Best Poster Prize at the recent 7th Pacific Symposium on Radical Chemistry, held in Singapore from 15 – 18 July 2015. Congratulations also go to Laura Cortes, from the Wedd Lab, who won the poster prize at the 17th International Conference on Biological Inorganic Chemistry, held in Beijing over July 20-24.

Science Engagement Grant for Chemistry with Light

Thursday, 30 July 2015 - 10:45pm

Chemistry staff members, Dr Chris Ritchie and Dr Lars Goerigk, in collaboration with alumnus, Dr Kerwyn Alley, have been awarded a Dean's Engagement Seed Funding grant to initiate an outreach programme on "Chemistry in action through light” with the Nossal High School.

DAAD travel award to Chemistry student

Wednesday, 29 July 2015 - 10:00pm

PhD student, Hedi Karou from the Ritchie lab, is the recipient of a DAAD short term research grant to visit the University of Ulm to work with Professor Carsten Streb for two months to conduct photocatalytic experiments relating to his thesis project.

Dyason Fellowship to Chris Ritchie

Wednesday, 29 July 2015 - 10:00pm

Dr Chris Ritchie has been awarded a Dyason Fellowship to visit the Instituto de Nanociencia de Aragón to work with Dr Jesús Martínez de la Fuente on the project, "Synthesis, assembly and antibacterial properties of polyoxometalate containing polysaccharide nano capsules”.

New solid-state NMR installed at Bio21

Thursday, 23 July 2015 - 11:30pm

A 400 MHz solid-state NMR spectrometer with a wide bore magnet has been installed at the Bio21 NMR Facility. The NMR purchase was funded through an ARC LIEF grant awarded to Prof. Frances Separovic and colleagues. Read more about the instrument and how it will be used at 'Everyday quantum mechanics and the study of cell membranes'.