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.

Improved solar panels & printed electronics - new finding

Thursday, 15 January 2015 - 6:30pm
New and improved solar panels could result from the discovery of a new liquid crystal material, making printable organic solar cells better performing. Work published in Nature Communications could lead to vastly improved organic solar cell performance. Lead author, David Jones of the School of Chemistry, said these cells will be easier to manufacture, with the new crystals now able to work in cells that are double in thickness on the previous limit of 200 nm. 
"It had been theorized that a certain group of nematic liquid crystals would provide excellent electronic properties – as well as being printable – and, therefore, have been sought for a long time,” said Dr Jones. “With this research, we have shown for the first time these high performing materials.”
The research was conducted with international researchers in Singapore, China and Germany, and received funding from the Victorian Organic Solar Cell Consortium, and the Australian Centre for Advanced Photovoltaics.

Beer and bread yeast-eating bacteria aid human health

Thursday, 8 January 2015 - 6:00pm

Bacteria that have evolved to eat their way through yeast in the human gut could inform the development of new treatments for bowel diseases. Publishing their findings in Nature, 517:165 (8 Jan 2015), the international research team* say discovery of this process could accelerate development of prebiotic medicines to help people suffering from bowel problems and autoimmune diseases. Scientists from UK, Australia, Canada, USA & Belgium have unraveled how Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron, a dominant member of the human microbiome, has learned to feast upon difficult to break down complex carbohydrates called yeast mannans.

"Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron is an important part of our microbiota, the community of bacteria that live within us. By consuming carbohydrates that we can’t, which they convert to short-chain fatty acids that they secrete into our distal gut, these bacteria establish a symbiosis that nourishes the cells that line our gut wall and provide important immune signals that establish a healthy immune response.” says Assoc. Prof. Spencer Williams, School of Chemistry, who contributed to the work.
*The research team are from: Institute for Cell & Molecular Biosciences at Newcastle University, Complex Carbohydrate Research Centre at the University of Georgia, the Department of Microbiology & Immunology at University of Michigan Medical School, Department of Chemistry at University of York, School of Chemistry & Bio21 Institute at University of Melbourne, Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry at University of Kansas School of Pharmacy, Oxyrane, Ghent, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Biochemistry & Microbiology, University of Victoria, Canada and USDA, Agricultural Research Service, National Laboratory for Agriculture and the Environment, Iowa.

Melbourne Research Grants awarded to Chemistry

Sunday, 21 December 2014 - 7:15pm

Congratulations to Assoc Prof Paul Donnelly and Assoc Prof Spencer Williams who were successful in the MRGSS this year. Their grants will fund the following projects in 2015:
Paul Donnelly, "Technetium and copper complexes for diagnostic imaging of neurodegeneration”; and
Spencer Williams, "Glycoprotein cross-linking into the fungal cell wall: A new antifungal drug target”.

Year end celebration

Sunday, 21 December 2014 - 3:00pm

Go8-Germany joint research grant to Wu & Lamb

Monday, 15 December 2014 - 11:30am

Dr Alex Wu and Professor Rob Lamb have been successful in the 2015-16 Group of Eight Australia – Germany Joint Research Co-operation Scheme and awarded a grant to establish a new collaboration with Prof Rosenhahn at the Ruhr-Universität  Bochum. The title of the project is 'Novel ultra-rough antifouling surfaces through air engineering'. In addition they have also just been awarded considerable time on Europe’s largest light source - ESRF in the south of France.

High performance computer time access grant success

Monday, 15 December 2014 - 11:00am

Dr Lars Goerigk was successful in gaining access to high-performance computer clusters with two recent grant applications for 2015: National Computational Merit Allocation Scheme (NCMAS) for 520,000 CPU-hours at the National Computational Infrastructure (NCI) in Canberra to undertake research on the quantum-chemical treatment of biomolecules and the development of new quantum-chemical methods for the treatment of electronic excited states; and Victorian Life Science Computation Initiative (VLSCI) for 82,000 CPU-hours to undertake quantum-chemical research on biomolecules.

Go8-Germany joint research grant to Lars Goerigk

Monday, 8 December 2014 - 10:00pm

Dr Lars Goerigk has been successful in the 2015-2016 Group of Eight Australia-Germany Joint Research Co-operation Scheme and awarded a grant to establish a new collaboration with Dr Tobias Schwabe at the University of Hamburg. The title of the project is "New efficient double-hybrid density functionals for the treatment of electronic excited states”.

Organic polymer chemist - interview with Andrew Holmes

Sunday, 7 December 2014 - 6:00pm

Recently Lab + Life Scientist interviewed Professor Andrew Holmes (November 2014) Vol 25 (5) 6-10. Read Andrew's views on science and industry and the role of serendipity at

Welcome to 2014 McKenzie Fellow Yuning Hong

Friday, 5 December 2014 - 11:00pm

The 2014 McKenzie Fellows were officially welcomed with a lunch at University House attended by senior University staff, including Professor John McKenzie, for whom the scholarships are named. This year, Dr Yuning Hong joined the School of Chemistry from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, with a project titled ‘Fluorescence approaches to probing the conformational transition of intrinsically disordered proteins and investigation of their pathogenic mechanism’.

Feutrill Travel Awards to Chemistry research students

Friday, 21 November 2014 - 11:30pm

Congratulations to the following research students who are recipients of an Feutrill Award for 2014, which helps support travel to an international conference in the area of Organic Chemistry: Aaron Brown for 20th International Conference on Organic Synthesis (ICOS-20) in Budapest in June-July 2014; Wenyi Li for 33rd European Peptide Symposium, Aug-Sep 2014, in Sofia, Bulgaria; and Sayali Shah & Gaetano Speciale for International Carbohydrate Symposium in Bangalore in January 2014.

Angewandte cover for Mass Spec team

Monday, 10 November 2014 - 9:00pm

The mystery of why water and salt contaminants destroy organometallic reagents has been solved by chemistry researchers, Prof Richard O’Hair, Dr George Khairallah and Dr Gabriel da Silva, who used a combination of mass spectrometry and theoretical simulations; see Angewandte Chemie International Edition, 53: 10979 (2014).

ARC grant success

Friday, 7 November 2014 - 9:00pm
Congratulations to the following members of the School on their success in the recent ARC grant schemes:
Prof Evan Bieske: Cold ions and fire; Dr Colette Boskovic: Smart molecular materials for sensors, displays and nanoscale devices; Assoc Prof Craig Hutton: New roles for thioamides in peptide synthesis; Prof Richard O’Hair: Coinage metal nanoclusters: synthesis, structure and reactivity; Dr Alessandro Soncini: Spin detection and control in molecular nanomagnets at surfaces; Dr Lei Zhang (DECRA): Water oxidation catalysts for artificial photosynthesis; Assoc Prof Brendan Abrahams (DP with D’Alessandro, USyd) and Prof Paul Mulvaney (LIEF with RMIT).

Healy Awards to PhD students

Saturday, 1 November 2014 - 12:15am

Tom Healy Awards were presented to PhD students, Nicholas Kirkwood, Brendan Dyett and Anna Mularski, to enable them to travel to international conferences.

MNI Interdisciplinary Seed Funding to Yuning Hong

Friday, 17 October 2014 - 3:45pm

Dr Yuning Hong was successful in her grant application, 'Developing biomarkers of proteostasis decline for translational medicine in neurodegenerative diseases' funded by Melbourne Neuroscience Institute. Well done Yuning!

Wille Lab research highlighted in Chemistry World

Thursday, 2 October 2014 - 9:15pm

The magazine of the Royal Society of Chemistry, Chemistry World, has highlighted research from Assoc Prof Uta Wille’s lab, which was published in Organic & Biomolecular Chemistry. Discussion of the paper, entitled "Oxidative damage of aromatic dipeptides by the environmental oxidants NO2• and O3”, can be viewed at

Controlled quench of NMR

Wednesday, 17 September 2014 - 7:30pm

After almost 20 years, the solid-state 300 MHz NMR is being replaced. The superconducting magnet was decommissioned on 10 Sep 2014. The controlled quench of the 300 magnet story with accompanying video is on the website – follow link

Chemistry Nobel Laureate on Up Close

Monday, 8 September 2014 - 9:30am

Ribosomes: Unlocking the secrets to cellular protein factories. Nobel Laureate Professor Ada Yonath discusses her work on understanding ribosomes, the protein factories that are found in every cell of every living organism. Presented by Dr Dyani Lewis. More information:

Dyason Award for Spas Kolev

Thursday, 4 September 2014 - 9:45am

Prof. Spas Kolev has been successful with his application for a Dyason Fellowship for a project entitled, “Novel methods for coating metal substrates with gold nanoparticles using polymer inclusion membranes”,  which will involve a visit to the School of Chemistry by Prof. Tony Spassov, Dean of the Faculty of Chemistry &Pharmacy, University  of Sofia, Bulgaria.  

Ian Potter Foundation Award to Lars Goerigk

Friday, 29 August 2014 - 4:45pm

Congratulations to Dr Lars Goerigk who was recently awarded an Ian Potter Travel Grant to support his attendance at the triennial congress of the World Association of Theoretical & Computational Chemists “WATOC 2014” in Santiago de Chile, Chile, 5-10 October 2014. WATOC is the biggest and most important meeting in this field and Lars will have the opportunity to present his results and get to know local researchers at the conference.

Public Lecture by Nobel Laureate

Tuesday, 26 August 2014 - 1:15am

In celebration of the International Year of Crystallography, the School of Chemistry hosted a public lecture by Professor Ada Yonath who was awarded the 2009 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for her pioneering work on the structure of the ribosome. Professor Yonath was here on a Miegunyah Distinguished Visiting Fellowship and spoke on 'Chemical bases of life processes revealed by X-ray crystallography’ to an enthusiastic audience of almost 500 in the Copeland Theatre. Read her interview in The Conversation.