I obtained my Ph. D. from the University of Toronto in 1990 working with Prof. J. C. Polanyi on the detection of small molecules and the determination of their energies. From 1990 to 1996, I worked at the University of Western Ontario (London, Ontario) building a scanning tunnelling microscope and lecturing first year chemistry.
I was appointed as a lecturer at Flinders in 1996, promoted to Senior lecturer at the start of 2000, promoted to Associate Professor in 2004 and made full Professor in June 2008.
Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry from the University of Toronto (1990)
B. Sc. (Hons) from Memorial University of Newfoundland (1985)
Our research group is very lucky in a sense. Our work centres around the use of a technique called scanning probe microscopy (SPM).
In simple terms, this is a relatively new form of microscope (invented in the earlier 1980s) which has the capability to see the finest detail of material (atoms). Our ability to image atoms and molecules is among the best in the world and this has lead to many national and international collaborations and has the added bonus of seeing our group involved in many and varied research areas.
Selected Research areas:
Work with colleagues at UNSW has seen the development of a glucose biosensor. This is important work for diabetics who must continuously monitor their glucose level to determine if they need an insulin injection. Our sensor is much more efficient than current methods but still have the weakness of low term stability. Our work to address this continues.
Carbon nanotubes are a new form of carbon with amazing properties such as the ability to conduct electrons better that copper and strength higher than steel. We have developed new ways to attach these nanotubes to silicon which is of great interest in areas such as
electronics, biosensors and solar cells. We have expanded our work into the area of microfluidics and this work was done at Cambridge University.
A recent area of interest in collaboration with Prof. J. Miners has been the examination of biological membranes. Our work has used novel scanning probe techniques which has revealed unprecedented resolution of membrane dynamics when the temperature is changed or when the membrane is exposed to a drug.
I believe these are exceptionally challenging times for university educators. Both students and staff seem to have less time for education. Given this there are several roles I play to make education a rewarding and worthwhile experience for both student and teacher.
In my own teaching, I try to do two things. The first is to make the experience enjoyable and even entertaining. My second effort in teaching is to always relate topic material to real-world examples that people can understand.
The energy required to ensure a chemical reaction occurs might be a difficult concept for some but everyone understands what happens when cars collide and the effect of speed on this process. Ultimately, I don't think I, or any other teacher, can make people learn. The role of educators must be in the facilitation of learning through guiding and stimulating interest and motivation such that students learn because they want to learn.
The most important outcome for any educator is that students enjoy learning and thus progress to become complete, independent life-long learners. As associate dean (teaching) my role is to help present everyone with new approaches to teaching with an eye to improving teaching for both students and teachers. This might mean the use of new technology, new approaches or simply different methods of presentation.
Playford Fellowship - SEP 2012
SA Physcial Sciences Thesis of the Year - SEP 2012
Humboldt Fellowship - SEP 2012
Ross Honours Scholarship - SEP 2012
Ross Honours Scholarship - SEP 2012
PRC Postdoctoral Fellowship - SEP 2012
I am a passionate science communicator and have given presentations to audiences ranging from 6 to 85 years of age using different media/settings such as radio, newspapers, schools, science clubs and community groups about topics ranging from nuclear power to nanotechnology.
I have spoken for example about nanotechnology or energetic materials to the Sydney Morning Herald and The West Australian as well as the ABC in Adelaide, Darwin and Sydney. When talking to the general pubic,
I explain in layman's words the value and relevance of science and its importance to society. When addressing school students, the message is the same with the added point that science is fun, interesting and can be a fulfilling career.
I believe that as our society becomes more technologically advanced, that it is critical that people have a basic understanding of science to appreciate their world and to be able to make informed judgements on what they think are reasonable advances and those that are best left alone.