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									    Alumni Newsletter 2010, Issue 5

    From the                                               Head of School
                                                            This year marks the beginning of my term as Head of
                                                            School.      The School of Chemistry has long
1. Staff Profile –                                          distinguished itself from many other Schools through
   Perran Cook                                              its collegiality and strong leadership. I hope that
   Short Biography                                          through my time as Head the School is able to
                                                            continue to prosper and strive for excellence in
2. Chemistry                                                teaching and research, and all within an excellent
   Congratulations                                          working environment. Many thanks must go to Peter
                                                            Junk who, after completing his term as Head of
3. Chemistry Events and                                     School, is now fully engaged in his research activities
   Outcomes                                                 once more. Under Peter’s leadership the School
                                                            underwent significant renovation of the north and
4. New Research into      south wings, prospered in national competitive grant awards, continued to build on the
   ‘Greener’ Coal         excellent equipment resources the School has enjoyed, and lead a restructure of our
                          undergraduate offerings with complementary refurbished space. During his time, we
5. ARC Research Grants    were also able to employ a number of excellent young academics whose collective
   2010                   research is taking off, boding well for our future.

6. Working on a Non-      As always, the Alumni newsletter will continue to inform you of the great work being
   Carbon Future          carried out within the School, some of the issues facing the School into the future, and
                          also some of our triumphs. We will continue to profile our academics to give you some
7. MSC Seminar News       idea of the breadth of research carried out within the School, and to introduce you to
                          some of our new staff. This issue we focus the limelight on Dr Perran Cook’s research.
8. Forthcoming Seminars   Perran, the Deputy Director of the Water Studies Centre, was appointed 3 years ago
                          and has already made a tremendous impact including ARC Discovery and Linkage grant
9. Student Support Fund   success. As you will see, his research applies chemistry to diverse environmental
   - Donations            concerns.

10. Dean’s Scholarship    I will spend much of my column talking of our successes and issues in the Higher
    Scheme                Education system that will influence our direction. I can start by congratulating Assoc
                          Professors Mike Grace and Richard Morrison for their awards of the 2009 Vice
11. Quick Links           Chancellors Award for Teaching Excellence and the 2010 Dean’s Excellence in
                          Teaching Award, respectively. These awards indicate the Schools continuing passion in
 School of Chemistry      developing innovative pedagogy and are just reward for a sustained performance as two
  Monash University       of the Schools best educators.
     Building 19
   Clayton Vic 3800       Proving very popular was one of my first tasks as Head, the introduction of a free
                          tea/coffee service and a cappuccino machine for all staff and research students to use.
    Ph: 03 9905 4593      It's a small token, but one that made our staff feel more valued. For 2010, the School
    Fax: 03 9905 4597     will continue its renovation program with upgrades to its senior undergraduate teaching
                                                             Alumni Newsletter 2010, Issue 5
                                                                TEACHING AND RESEARCH NEWS FROM THE
                                                              SCHOOL OF CHEMISTRY, MONASH UNIVERSITY

space and XRD facility, completion of the new NMR facility, the (Toby) Bell Laboratories, and will begin work on
the library component of the RD Brown Room to
house all our PhD theses. This year also sees the implementation of our new teaching offerings, aligned very much
to discipline areas, and also marks the end of our participation in what used to be called the BMedChem (now
Pharmaceutical Sciences) degree. To cap off what appears to be a very busy year will be a formal School Review
(first since 1991) and running alongside this is the latest instalment of an RACI accreditation of our major courses.
This year also sees the presentation of 25 year service medals to Richard Morrison, Peter Nichols and Rod Hall.

Next year (if we all survive this one) is a rather significant one for the School. It will coincide with the 50th
anniversary of our first intake of undergraduate students. As such, the School is planning a large alumni event in
the first half of the year to celebrate this milestone. Peter Junk as kindly agreed to coordinate this event with a small
committee and no doubt you will be hearing more from Peter about his plans (and an invitation) towards the end of
this year.

We continue to go from strength to strength in both numbers and the quality of our students. Our undergraduate
first year numbers are significantly up (by ~130 students) as are the number of Honours and PhD students. The
School has also been the beneficiary of a number of Deans Scholarships, giving many of our academics the chance
to grow their groups and accelerate their research programs. This is an excellent scheme supported strongly by the
Dean who has donated over $20,000 of his own money to date. Many academics are now putting fortnightly
donations into the Scheme so that it can grow to support even more students. Your support is also welcome and
indeed encouraged. Donations (tax deductible – June 30 approaches!!) can be made through the faculty of Science
web page: by following the link in the middle box on the far right-hand side (first
item under Scholarships), and clicking on the first link under Further Information.

Finally, I thought I would touch upon a number of policies that will affect the way the School operates and is
funded into the future. This year, the School has been hard at work preparing for the Federal Government’s
Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) process. In last year’s trial, the University scored very well across all
Chemistry related areas and always above the world standard. Inorganic Chemistry, Materials and Macromolecular
Chemistry and Physical Chemistry were standouts. Analytical Chemistry and Organic Chemistry at Monash scored
the highest in the Go8, though not quite attaining the ‘5’ ranking of the other disciplines. The importance of
attaining a strong result in ERA is that it may well have financial implications, both budgetary at a University level,
as well as strategically at the level of the ARC. Our final submission will be made to the ARC in June with the
outcome due late 2010. Related to this is Sustainability in Research Excellence (SRE) and mission based compacts.
The SRE program will set new targets for funding the full cost of research and been given a positive and welcome
response from all quarters. This funding is being brought in over the period of a few years and will raise funding
from 25 cents in the primary research dollar to 50 cents in the dollar. It is important for the School’s strategic plan
to realise that industry engagement is going to be even more highly valued, leading to a substantial increase in
secondary, or RIBG, funding. So for any of our Alumni in industry positions, spare a thought for the School and
develop relationships to benefit both parties into the future! The mission based compacts will be centred on areas
of strength and uniqueness across the sector. Monash values excellence in chemistry, having a strong School of
Chemistry and Department of Chemical Engineering at Clayton, and a significant grouping of Medicinal Chemists
at its Parkville campus, and so it will feature heavily in negotiations with the Government. On the student front, the
School will be part of the University’s TESQA audit, a quality audit of all University processes, including our
offerings and procedures. For Monash, this will occur in 2012, at the same time as the voucher system comes into
play for all starting undergraduate students. The impact of the voucher system is not known, though we are hoping
it will lead to further increases in undergraduate numbers wishing to do chemistry as part of their science program.

In our next alumni newsletter, we will talk about the Monash Futures and what opportunities they bring for the
School. We will use that same issue to celebrate the achievements of the year. Until next time…..

                                                                                                       Page 2 of 14
                                                          Alumni Newsletter 2010, Issue 5
                                                             TEACHING AND RESEARCH NEWS FROM THE
                                                           SCHOOL OF CHEMISTRY, MONASH UNIVERSITY

                           Each issue we will highlight one of our staff members. This issue’s staff profile is
                           Perran Cook.

                           Staff Profile – Perran Cook
                           PhD University Tasmania

                           Short Biography

                           I completed a bachelor of applied science in environmental science at RMIT with first
class honours in 1997. I undertook my PhD in the School of Chemistry, University of Tasmania from 1999-2002.
The subject of my thesis was carbon and nitrogen cycling on tidal flats in the Huon Estuary, and most of my
research work was undertaken at the CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research Labs. I undertook a post doc at
the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Bremen, Germany (2003-2006), where I was the coordinator of a
3 year European Union funded project studying carbon and nutrient cycling in sand sediments. My major
achievement in this time was a series of research papers which demonstrated that advective porewater exchange
(flow of water through the sediments) in permeable sediments may alter process rates (as opposed to solute fluxes)
including photosynthesis and denitrification. I took up a position as research scientist at CSIRO Land and Water,
Brisbane in 2006, where I participated in a number of large projects which took my to study sites including the
Mossman River (dodging crocodiles) and Tully River (in full flood) and the Lower Lakes (mostly empty) in South

Since commencing at Monash in 2007, I have embarked on a research program centred on aquatic biogeochemistry,
with a focus on nutrient cycling in the coastal zone. Deepening our understanding of the nitrogen cycle is one of
my major aims, because it is generally considered the nutrient that limits primary production (algal growth) within
the ocean and our estuaries. Anthropogenic fixation of bio-available nitrogen is increasing at an exponential rate
and release of nitrogen into the environment is widely recognised as one of the critical environmental issues of our
time. My program aims to understand biogeochemical nutrient recycling processes at both the large system, and
micro-scale. To understand how nutrients move and cycle through the environment I combine a range of
approaches including standard wet chemical methods, the eddy correlation technique, planar optodes, flumes, stable
isotopes and modelling. My program also has a strong focus on applied research to improve management of our
environment. To this end, I have developed collaborations with state agencies (Dept Sustainability and
Environment, Gippsland Lakes Taskforce, Victorian EPA) and private industry (Melbourne Water).

                                                                     A sediment core taken from the Gippsland
                                                                     Lakes (photo Barrie Bolton).

                                                                     Current Active                 Research
                                                                     A new approach to the quantification of
                                                                     denitrification in permeable sediments
                                                                     using kinetic measurements and 2
                                                                     dimensional modelling
                                                                     (ARC Discovery project)

                                                                                                  Page 3 of 14
                                                             Alumni Newsletter 2010, Issue 5
                                                               TEACHING AND RESEARCH NEWS FROM THE
                                                             SCHOOL OF CHEMISTRY, MONASH UNIVERSITY

Denitrification is an important sink for nitrogen released into the coastal zone and plays a critical role in minimising
N accumulation and eutrophication in coastal waters. There have been very few studies of denitrification in
permeable sandy sediments, despite the fact that they make up the majority of the sediments on the continental
shelf. The flow of water through permeable sediments exerts a strong influence on denitrification, but this is poorly
understood. This project will develop and apply new methods to quantify denitrification in permeable sediments
and deepen our understanding of the factors controlling this process in sands.

Unraveling the nitrogen cycle in a periodically anoxic estuary
(ARC Linkage Project co-funded by Melbourne Water and Victorian EPA)

Estuaries are vulnerable to anoxia induced by reduced freshwater inflows which is of particular relevance to
Australia under conditions of drought and climate change. Anoxia has the potential to both increase and reduce
nitrogen (the limiting nutrient in coastal ecosystems) removal efficiency, however, this remains highly uncertain
owing to a lack of studies. This project will combine process studies with hydrodynamic biogeochemical modeling
to provide insight into how anoxia affects nitrogen cycling and retention in the Yarra Estuary, and the interactions
between river flow and nitrogen loading. The new knowledge and approach gained from this project will help set
ecological river inflow requirements for estuaries.

Understanding the role of vegetation in nitrogen removal by biofiltration
(ARC Linkage project, co-funded by Melbourne Water and Department of Water Western Australia. Lead
CI Assoc prof Tim Fletcher)

Stormwater pollution is one of the biggest threats to the health of Australian waterways. Amongst the technologies
designed to combat such pollutant, biofiltration systems show perhaps the greatest potential. However, their
nitrogen removal capacity is inconsistent, depending particularly on the type of vegetation used. This study seeks to
better understand the nitrogen transformation processes in biofilters – using nitrogen isotope tracing techniques –
as well as to understand the role of plant morphology in nitrogen removal. The project will thus give designers clear
specifications on plant selection, and may lead to entirely new biofilter designs capable of much greater nitrogen
removal efficiency than current designs.

Eddy Correlation Lander Array (ARC LIEF grant, Lead CI Prof Brad Eyre)

Eddy correlation is a new technique for quantifying benthic oxygen fluxes and potentially other benthic fluxes (e.g.
Ca2+). The proposed Eddy Correlation Lander Array will be the first in world. This cutting-edge equipment will
put Australian scientists at the forefront of this exciting new research direction, allowing us to make groundbreaking
advances that will revolutionise our understanding of how aquatic systems function. As such, this system will
significantly enhance many core-research programs in a variety of environmental fields such as coastal
biogeochemistry, coastal hydrology, climate change, acid sulfate soils, coral reefs, and freshwater biogeochemistry
and ecology at Southern Cross University and Monash University.

Ongoing monitoring and reviews of load and monitoring data collected in the Gippsland Lakes
(Gippsland Lakes Taskforce)

The Gippsland Lakes have suffered recurring blooms of Nodularia spumigena and more recently a bloom of
Synechococcus has occurred in the Gippsland Lakes. I have been involved in a number of projects which aim to
better understand algal dynamics and nutrient cycling to improve management of the Gippsland Lakes. This has
included reviews of historic data, as well as undertaking our own scientific monitoring programs.

For more information on my research please visit:

                                                                                                      Page 4 of 14
                                                        Alumni Newsletter 2009, Issue 4
                                                               TEACHING AND RESEARCH NEWS FROM THE
                                                             SCHOOL OF CHEMISTRY, MONASH UNIVERSITY

Chemistry Congratulations
The following people who have been awarded the degree of Doctor of Philosophy:

       Amanda Whelan for her thesis, "Synthesis of novel peptidomimetics via olefin metathesis"
       Katrina Lee for her thesis, "The use of covalent and non-covalent strategies towards understanding the
       factors governing electron transfer processes in multichromophoric arrays"
       Magdalini Koutsaplis for her thesis, "Synthesis, characterisation and application of main group metal
       Danny Gelman for his thesis, "Towards the synthesis of steroids, salvinorin A and (+)-lepadiformine"
       Seamus Delaney for his thesis, “Electrically regenerable carbon adsorbents for CO2 capture.”

Other Congratulations Include:

       Rini Subagyono who won not one, but two awards at the national conference of the CRC for Greenhouse
       Gas Technologies held recently at Coolum Beach on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland. Her paper, entitled
       'Amine modified mesocellular siliceous foams (MCF): a novel sorbent for CO2', won the prize for Best
       Student Poster. It also won the prize for Best Poster - Capture/Implementation. Co-authors were Zhijian
       Liang, Greg Knowles and Alan Chaffee.

       Sarah Alexander who has been awarded the degree of Master of Science for her thesis, Impacts of the
       2003 Victorian Alpine Bushfires on Eastern Victorian Receiving Waters

       Mahta Zavabeti who has been awarded the degree of Master of Science for her thesis, "Spectroscopic
       identification of microbiological contaminants"

       Craig Forsyth and Victor De Guzman in their appointments as Safety Officers within the School of

       Professor Leone Spiccia for his appointment to the Chair of the Physics, Chemistry and Earth Sciences
       panel of ARC for one year commencing I January 2010

       Dr Perran Cook who has been appointed as Deputy Director of the Water Studies Centre effective from 1
       March 2010

       Professor Peter Junk who has been invited to become a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry

       Assoc Prof Lisa Martin for her election to Membership of the Medical & Scientific Committee - Cancer
       Council Victoria

       Dr Periyat Pradeepan who has been awarded a prestigious Marie Curie Fellowship to work at Monash
       University on Dye Sensitised Solar Cells with Professor Leone Spiccia

       Ketav Kulkarni, whose second Lab on a Chip paper, on his proteomics work, has just been accepted

       Anjali Bhagwat on the award of a Faculty of Science Postgraduate Publication Award. This award is
       designed to encourage research candidates whose thesis is under examination, to disseminate their research
       findings to a wider public through publication in professional journals or books
                                                 Alumni Newsletter 2010, Issue 5
                                                    TEACHING AND RESEARCH NEWS FROM THE
                                                  SCHOOL OF CHEMISTRY, MONASH UNIVERSITY

Associate Professor Phil Andrews, who has been named the 2010 Bayliss Youth Lecturer by the Western
Australian branch of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute. Phil, accompanied by Dr Jonathan
MacLellan will spend 2 weeks in March travelling around WA presenting the lecture, “All That Is Solid
Melts into Air…Or Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and cauldron bubble…”

Associate Professor Mike Grace, who was recently awarded the 2009 Vice Chancellor’s Award for
Excellence in Teaching. Mike was presented with his award at Graduation on the 25th March, 2010.

Associate Professor Richard Morrison, who was recently awarded the 2010 Dean’s Excellence in
Teaching Award.

Ian McKelvie, Peter Ellis and Bradley Gentle for the 1 min, 45 sec exposure of their research on ABC
news Victoria on 9th January. Their purpose was to deploy the on-line flow analysis systems that we have
developed for the chemical mapping of total phosphorus and nitrate. Check out the photo of their floating

                                            Picture: Floating Laboratory!

                                                                                        Page 6 of 14
                                                           Alumni Newsletter 2010, Issue 5
                                                              TEACHING AND RESEARCH NEWS FROM THE
                                                            SCHOOL OF CHEMISTRY, MONASH UNIVERSITY

Chemistry Events and Outcomes
Science Olympiad. Twenty four of the finest chemists from years 10-12 across Australia (below) pitted their skills
in a challenging program over 6 days for the right to represent Australia at the 42nd International Chemistry
Olympiad in Japan later this year. The successful four were be back over Easter to begin their preparation. A special
thanks to Bruce Dobney who is now becoming an integral part in the preparations.

Science Experience @ Monash. In mid January the Faculty hosted “The Science Experience”, and the School of
Chemistry played a major role. Over three days, about 100 Year 10 students visited Monash and participated in a
round-robin of activities through Chemistry, Physics, Biology, Geosciences and Mathematics. In addition they were
treated to special presentations, tours and a Science Show! In Chemistry, the students investigated a number of fun
experiments including “elephant’s toothpaste”, “crystal gardens”, “underwater volcanoes” and making “slime”! The
students rotated through each experiment, and investigated the underlying chemistry behind each one. Special
thanks goes to the lab team (Miranda, Lisa & Sania), our flamboyant demonstrators on the day, Simon and
Yardenah, and Chris Thompson.

                                                                                                   Page 7 of 14
                                                          Alumni Newsletter 2010, Issue 5
                                                             TEACHING AND RESEARCH NEWS FROM THE
                                                           SCHOOL OF CHEMISTRY, MONASH UNIVERSITY

New Research into 'Greener' Coal
Monash University will lead three new Victorian
Government-funded research projects focused
on developing new technologies to cut
greenhouse gas emissions from brown coal.

Monash University researchers Associate
Professor Sankar Bhattacharya from the
Department of Chemical Engineering and
Associate Professor Alan Chaffee from the
Department of Chemistry will lead the following
multi-partner projects:

    •   An investigation into whether carbon
        from Victorian brown coal can be used
        to capture carbon dioxide from coal
        and gas-fired electricity generation
        ready for storage
    •   An investigation into whether Victorian brown coal can be heated and chemically treated to be like coking
        coal, which is used in the production of steel
    •   Research into the gasification of brown coal and ways to improve the synthetic gas produced to develop
        exportable and value-added products.

Associate Professor Bhattacharya said the projects reflected the strong international interest in brown coal and the
Victorian government's efforts for cleaner and more efficient utilisation of brown coal. The projects will provide
training for three postgraduate students and a number of undergraduate students.
"The funding commitment shows that Monash is leading the way when it comes to brown coal research," Associate
Professor Bhattacharya said.

The commitment of more than $700,000 to drive energy resources innovation and find new and cleaner ways to use
brown coal was made by Victorian Premier John Brumby in the La Trobe Valley earlier this month.
"A clean environment is crucial for a strong future and that's why our Government is committed to making Victoria
a leader in energy-sector innovation," Mr Brumby said.

Japan's Kyushu Electric Power Company (KEPCO) is contributing $250,000 a year for the next three years to
complementary projects based in Japan that will also research Victorian brown coal in association with Monash

Project partners include HRL Developments, CSIRO, Auschar and the University of Melbourne.

                                                                                                  Page 8 of 14
                                                           Alumni Newsletter 2010, Issue 5
                                                              TEACHING AND RESEARCH NEWS FROM THE
                                                            SCHOOL OF CHEMISTRY, MONASH UNIVERSITY

                                 Australian Research Council (ARC) Research
                                 Grants 2010
                                 DP1094744 A/Prof SR Batten: Approved Advanced Materials Constructed
                                 from 'Nanoballs' and Variable Length Ligands

                                 2010: $110,000; 2011: $110,000; 2012: $110,000

                                 Project Summary
                                 Novel types of porous materials will be made using a revolutionary new way to
                                 connect metal ions. Remarkable nanometer sized molecules ('nanoballs') will be
                                 investigated for their unprecedented variety of useful properties. As well as
                                 advancing our understanding of the science of advanced materials, this project will
                                 have application in areas such as hydrogen and methane storage, trapping of
                                 greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, molecular sensing, catalysis, and
                                 information storage.

DP1097198 A/Prof SR Batten; Prof GB Deacon: Approved Small Cyano Anions: A Gateway to New

2010: $100,000; 2011: $100,000; 2012: $100,000

Project Summary
This project will produce new building blocks for a range of new advanced materials. These anions are produced
easily through efficient and cost effective syntheses. From these building blocks new magnetic materials will be
produced. Porous materials capable of absorbing gases such as carbon dioxide (pollution control), or hydrogen or
methane (energy storage) will be targeted. New single molecule magnets will be synthesised which have potential
for use in information storage. New liquids with novel magnetic, neutron capture or luminescent properties will be

DP1093337 Prof SJ Langford; Prof PA Gale; Prof B Kersting:
Exploring Aspects of Supramolecular Chemistry as a Paradigm for Advanced Functional Materials

2010: $150,000; 2011: $120,000; 2012: $120,000

Project Summary
This research proposal aims to provide an intellectual grounding in the use of molecular recognition for the
assembly of complex arrays for new materials research. The development of molecular systems and
supramolecular arrays that are capable of solar energy conversion (e.g. photovoltaics and artificial
photosynthesis) or that have potential applications in catalysis will provide advances in the development of these
industries within Australia. Such developments may also lead to breakthroughs in areas such as optoelectronics
and cleaner energy production.

DP1094100 Prof L Spiccia; Dr B Graham; Prof Y Tor:
Metal complex-aminoglycoside conjugates for sequence-specific cleavage of ribonucleic acid (RNA)

2010: $150,000; 2011: $150,000; 2012: $150,000

Project Summary
Ribonucleic acid (RNA) is emerging as an increasingly attractive drug target in the search for new approaches to
combat diseases such as HIV/AIDS. This project will help position Australia at the forefront of research

                                                                                                    Page 9 of 14
                                                            Alumni Newsletter 2010, Issue 5
                                                               TEACHING AND RESEARCH NEWS FROM THE
                                                             SCHOOL OF CHEMISTRY, MONASH UNIVERSITY

developments in the field of RNA-drug interactions, through the development of novel compounds that can cleave
RNA molecules found in bacteria and retroviruses. In addition to a valuable body of knowledge that will assist in
the future development of new drugs, this project will provide high quality multi-disciplinary training for young
scientists keenly sought by emerging medical and biotechnological industries, research organisations and

Australian Research Council (ARC) LIEF Grants 2010
LE100100197 Prof Keith S Murray, Prof Leone Spiccia, Prof Glen B Deacon, A/Prof Stuart R Batten,
Dr Colette Boskovic, A/Prof Lawrence R Gahan, Prof Graeme R Hanson, Dr Christopher J Sumby,
A/Prof Gerhard Schenk, A/Prof Brendan F Abrahams: National magnetochemical facility

2010: $200,000.00

Project Summary
New magnetic materials of the molecular or biological types are quite different to traditional metal oxide magnets
widely used, for example, in recording devices. They are very important from the perspective of understanding
fundamental properties at low temperatures, in high magnetic fields, or when irradiated by light, but they are also
showing promise in a range of applications, such as memory devices and smart cards and in the new area of
spintronics and molecular computers. The magnetochemical projects described here, that require the new
equipment being sought, are fundamental in nature but will provide the underpinning of future nanomagnetic

Super Science Fellowship Grant 2010
Design and Fabrication of Molecular Machines: the Nanomachines of the Future
Prof. Trevor Lithgow, Prof. Jamie Rossjohn, Prof. Rodney Devenish, A/Prof. Lisandra Martin
Prof. Richard Strugnell

Only three super science Fellowships are awarded

The Super Science Fellowship Scheme is to attract and retain the best and brightest early-career researchers in
Australia and around the world... "to help keep Australia at the forefront of global research and ensure it remains
internationally competitive."

Monash will receive more than $2.5 m over four years to strengthen these research teams with young science super
stars from the fields of Marine and Climate Science, Future Industries Research and Space Science and Astronomy.

The Super Science Fellowships were announced by The Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research,
Senator the Hon Kim Carr on April 8, 2010.

                                                                                                   Page 10 of 14
                                                          Alumni Newsletter 2010, Issue 5
                                                             TEACHING AND RESEARCH NEWS FROM THE
                                                           SCHOOL OF CHEMISTRY, MONASH UNIVERSITY

                           Student Profile - Martin Duriska
                           BSc (Hons)
                           Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) candidate (School of Chemistry)

                           Short Question & Answer

                           Why Monash University?
                           I chose Monash University because it offered the course I wanted, but locality was also
                           a factor as I live 15 minutes from the Clayton campus.

Before I started my PhD I completed a Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Chemistry in 2003 then I travelled to
Europe for a year.

What is the focus of your PhD?
I am undertaking a PhD in inorganic chemistry. My research involves making materials which have various
functions including gas storage, magnetism and catalysis. This research is in the same area of chemistry that I
undertook in my Honours year. I wanted to continue my research in the area of inorganic chemistry as I find it
interesting and challenging.

What do you think are the strengths of the PhD program at Monash University?
The Clayton campus itself has a very good atmosphere and the Doctor of Philosophy program is well set out with a
lot of support offered by school and faculty staff.

The University and Faculty of Science organises and runs seminars relating to various aspects of your PhD, such as
Increasing your productivity and Refereeing processes for journal articles and other publications, which are very
useful and informative.

What are your perceived benefits of undertaking a PhD?
Undertaking a PhD helps a candidate to develop personally and also helps to develop their research ability. Being a
PhD candidate presents you with the opportunity to travel to conferences and seminars within Australia and
overseas which in turn helps you to become a better public speaker and to learn how to communicate your work
with your peers.

What excites you about your research?
Undertaking a PhD helps to foster the ability to think for yourself. This program allows me to try new ideas and to
take my research in new directions. The fact that I am making materials that have never been made before and
testing them to see what they can do is exciting.

How do you feel about the level of support from academic and general staff at Monash University?
The level of support offered by the School of Chemistry, the Faculty of Science and Monash University is fantastic.
I find that all the staff are very friendly and approachable. If I ever encounter any problems there is always
someone there who is willing to help or know how to solve the problem.

                                                                                                 Page 11 of 14
                                                          Alumni Newsletter 2010, Issue 5
                                                             TEACHING AND RESEARCH NEWS FROM THE
                                                           SCHOOL OF CHEMISTRY, MONASH UNIVERSITY

Working on a No-Carbon
As oil supplies dwindle and climate change
drives research into renewable energy
sources, the world is looking to scientists
such as PhD student Aleksey Izgorodin to
provide alternatives.

Aleksey works under the supervision of
Federation Fellow Professor Doug
MacFarlane, of the School of Chemistry
and a chief investigator at the Australian
Research Centre of Excellence for
Electromaterials Science.

                                                                           Alekey Izgorodin, School of Chemistry

At the Clayton-based centre researchers are developing new materials and processes that could help the world move
to carbon neutral, renewable-energy economies.

Aleksey holds a masters degree in electronics and microelectronics from Ivanovo University of Chemistry and
Technology in Russia. He is working on generating hydrogen fuel through solar-powered water splitting.
Scientists believe that an economy that uses hydrogen as its main fuel source will become more viable as carbon
taxes and emissions trading schemes provide a source of funding for alternate technologies.

"Hydrogen is carbon neutral and renewable. It can be burnt in a car engine like petrol or gas or it can be used in a
fuel cell to convert energy to current and drive an electric motor. As well as portable energy, hydrogen has the
potential to power big stationary energy plants," Aleksey said.

A major fuel cell breakthrough in the MacFarlane laboratory makes it possible to replace platinum, which acts as the
catalyst between hydrogen and oxygen with polymers similar to those used in bank notes.

"We are working on very exciting developments in solar cells and fuel cells which have the potential to create
reasonably-priced, renewable energy sources," Alekseys said.

According to Professor MacFarlane the replacement of platinum catalyst in the fuel cell "air electrode" with an
inexpensive plastic material was the most important development in fuel cell technology in 20 years and made the
development of reasonably-priced, pollution-free electric cars possible in the near future.

Aleksey's interest is in using solar energy to power the process that separates hydrogen and oxygen. The energy to
split water is currently sourced from fossil fuels.

                                                                                                 Page 12 of 14
                                                          Alumni Newsletter 2010, Issue 5
                                                             TEACHING AND RESEARCH NEWS FROM THE
                                                           SCHOOL OF CHEMISTRY, MONASH UNIVERSITY

MCS Seminar News for 2010
The Monash Chemical Society (MCS) was founded in 1965 by the School of Chemistry at Monash University. It
hosts speakers from within the membership, other Monash departments, and Melbourne, interstate and
international institutions. A wide range of topics are included within each year’s seminar program. Please see
upcoming lecture program is available at

If you wish to be notified of upcoming MCS seminars please add your name to the email distribution list.

                                             Please send all enquiries to

                                             Anna Severin
                                             School of Chemistry, Monash University
                                             Telephone: 03 9905 4546
                                             Fax: 03 9905 4597

Forthcoming Seminars
All seminars are held in the Bruce West Seminar Room, Building 23 unless otherwise stated. Visitors welcome.
Ticketed parking is available in the multi-storey car park located at the northern end of the campus. Enquiries: Dr.
Kei Saito (9905 4600, or Dr. Toby Bell (9905 4566,

Student Support Fund - Donations

The School of Chemistry has established a Student Support Fund. This fund is designed to support the
undergraduate and honour students with scholarships, prizes, travel grants and other exceptional support. If you
would like to donate to the fund please contact Monika Walker Manager, Academic Programs 9905 1123, or online at and select the
Dean’s Scholarships fund.

Dean’s Scholarship Scheme
The Faculty of Science has recently introduced the Faculty of Science Dean’s Postgraduate Research Scholarship
Scheme. A very generous incentive which looks to provide funding support to all eligible, newly commencing
students in a higher degree by research within the faculty or where there are joint supervisory arrangements with
other faculties of Monash University.

                                                                                                 Page 13 of 14
                                                  Alumni Newsletter 2010, Issue 5
                                                     TEACHING AND RESEARCH NEWS FROM THE
                                                   SCHOOL OF CHEMISTRY, MONASH UNIVERSITY

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