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Research

The discipline of Chemistry has strong record of research in analytical and synthetic chemistry as well as areas of environmental, materials and biological chemistry.  At the University of Tasmania, we are well-placed to tackle fundamental problems through to industry driven projects with academic staff who are recognised nationally and internationally in their research fields.

There are several options for higher degrees by research (HDR) including Honours, Master’s and Ph.D. levels.

Research Specialisations and Key Strengths

Modern analytical techniques are being used to assess the environmental impact of anthropogenic activities on urban, terrestrial and aquatic environments.

Research includes development of environmental sampling techniques, such as passive samplers, and studies into the fate and provenance of contaminants in the environment.

Methods to clean up industrial and agricultural effluents are also under development.

Key researchers

  • Professor Michael Breadmore
  • Professor Brett Paull
  • Associate Professor Lito Quirino
  • Dr Trevor Lewis
  • Dr Fernando Maya

We are involved in a number of teaching development research projects at the discipline, institute and national levels.  At the institute and national levels we are researching the impact of embedding learning academic standards (expressed as learning outcomes) in discipline majors, across degree programs, and across an institution.

At the school-level, our research is focused on investigating the viability of new assessment practices in the undergraduate laboratory curriculum and better integrating inquiry- and problem-based learning and more authentic research experiences into our undergraduate laboratory program at higher levels.  

At the discipline level, our research is focused on inquiry-based learning in laboratory classes.

Key researchers

  • Dr Andrew Seen
  • Dr Susan Turland
  • Dr Alex Bissember
  • Dr Nathan Kilah
  • Dr Stuart Thickett
  • Prof. Brian Yates

Research in materials chemistry includes the synthesis, design and application of polymers, nanoparticles, composites, ceramics and various other materials for a wide variety of applications.

Specific applications and areas of focus include: additive manufacturing (“3D printing”) for device miniaturization, nanoparticle synthesis and self-assembly, porous materials including monoliths for separation science, in addition to non-traditional synthetic methods of composite materials including polymeric gels and nanomaterials.

Research in this stream involves numerous active collaborations with other universities in Australia and internationally, in addition to several industrial and commercial partners.

Key researchers

  • Dr Stuart Thickett
  • Dr Fernando Maya
  • Professor Brett Paull

Research covers all areas of organic chemistry including synthetic organic, mechanistic and analytical organic chemistry.

In particular, the development of new metal-catalyzed reactions and associated mechanistic studies, new reaction development with applications to target-oriented and total synthesis, supramolecular, polymer, natural products isolation, heterocyclic and medicinal chemistry.

This includes a number of active collaborations with local and Australian industry and other Universities within Australian and abroad.

Key researchers

  • Associate Professor Jason Smith
  • Dr  Alex Bissember
  • Dr Alireza Ariafard
  • Professor Brian Yates

Research in organometallic and inorganic chemistry includes;

  • standard air-stable and air-sensitive organometallic synthesis,
  • synthesis of photoactive metal complexes,
  • structural characterisation,
  • fundamental mechanistic and reactivity studies and
  • investigations of a wide array of metal complexes and their applications to catalysis.

Areas of focus include: development of efficient metal-based catalysts for industrial processes as well as exploring the fundamental intermediates and mechanistic pathways present in various catalytic reactions.

This includes a number of active collaborations with and other Universities within Australian and abroad

Key researchers

  • Dr Nathan Kilah
  • Dr  Alex Bissember
  • Dr Alireza Ariafard
  • Professor Brian Yates
  • Dr Rebecca Fuller
  • Dr Curtis Ho

The pulp and paper research group investigates fundamental aspects of the chemistry of pulping and papermaking and environmental issues associated with the papermaking process.

Areas of research interest include;

  • pulping of mechanical pulp,
  • bleaching of mechanical pulp,
  • relationship between wood and mechanical pulp properties,
  • environmental issues associated with bleaching and pulping,
  • retention aids, deinking and recycling of newsprint,
  • factors affecting pitch deposition, and
  • improving effluent treatment
Key researchers

  • Dr Karen Stack
  • Dr Trevor Lewis
  • Professor Brett Paull

Separation science research encompasses most areas, including high performance liquid chromatography, ion chromatography, gas chromatography, counter-current chromatography, capillary zone electrophoresis, and capillary electrochromatography.

Studies include the theory and modelling of retention and migration processes, control of separation selectivity, design of new stationary phases (especially polymer monoliths), development of new detection methods, sample handling methods, and computer optimization methods and software.

Considerable effort is also devoted to specific applications of separation science, especially in the fields of pharmaceuticals, forensic science and counter-terrorism, bioanalysis, mining and minerals, and environmental analysis.

The Australian Centre for Research of Separation Science (ACROSS) is a consortium of Australian researchers working at the University of Tasmania, RMIT University and the University of Western Sydney.

Key researchers

  • Professor Michael Breadmore
  • Professor Brett Paull
  • Associate Professor Lito Quirino
  • Dr Trevor Lewis
  • Dr Fernando Maya

We use computational chemistry in the understanding of reaction mechanisms, fundamental structures, the molecular modelling of biologically active compounds (computer-aided drug design), and the design of substrates in separation science.

We are particularly focused on applications in organometallic chemistry.

Techniques used include ab initio and density functional theories for sophisticated calculations and simpler molecular mechanics models.

Strong collaboration exists with the experimental research in the School and overseas

Key researchers

Synthetic Chemistry
  • Assoc. Prof. Jason Smith
  • Dr Alex Bissember
  • Dr Nathan Kilah
  • Dr Stuart Thickett
  • Dr Curtis Ho
Computational Chemistry Staff
  • Dr Alireza Ariafard
  • Prof. Brian Yates
  • Emeritus Prof. Allan Canty

Honours and Summer Research

Students who have completed BSc may consider enrolling in an honours program studying under the supervision of a team of researchers. Students will carry out a research project guided by their supervisory team, undertake a literature review, write a research proposal and present a seminar with their findings.

For enquiries about undertaking Honours, please contact: Associate Professor Lito Quirino.

The College of Sciences and Engineering offers the Dean's Summer Research Scholarship for eligible students. Research projects in Chemistry are generally completed over the summer of your second and/or third undergraduate year of study.

Visit the College website for general information on the Summer Research Scholarship.  If you're interested, the first step is to express interest to your Chemistry lecturers. They can help identify research opportunities and get you on track. It all starts with a conversation!

In undergrad we get to go on lots of field trips and do mini projects, but it’s a whole different thing when you’re in charge of your own project. Designing it, planning it, going out and doing it and then seeing the results is a great experience, and a lot of fun.

Laura van Galen
Dean's Summer Research Scholarship participant
Bachelor of Science with Honours graduate

Affiliated Research Centres