Professor Sarah Harmer


College of Science and Engineering

place Physical Sciences (2104)
GPO Box 2100, Adelaide 5001, South Australia

Sarah is an applied physicist with a focus on the surface spectroscopic analysis of transition metal chalcogenides. She has established the first Photoemission Electron Microscope (NanoESCA III) in Australia. She is the founding Director of Flinders Microscopy and Microanalysis, and the Deputy Director of the Flinders Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology.

Her research utilises:

  • Photoemission Electron Microscopy (PEEM);
  • Angle Resolved Photoemission Spectroscopy (ARPES)
  • Momentum Microscopy
  • Synchrotron X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy (SXPS);
  • X-ray Absorption Near Edge Spectroscopy (XANES);
  • Scanning Photoelectron Microscopy (SPEM);
  • Scanning Transmision X-ray Microscopy (STXM);
  • Conventional XPS;
  • Time of Flight Secondary IonMass Spectrometry (ToF-SIMS).

Sarah received a PhD from the Ian Wark Research Institute, UniSA in 2003. She then accepted a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at the University of Western Ontario where her research focused on the surface electronic structure of 3d transition metal sulfide and arsenide fracture surfaces using Synchrotron X-ray photoelectron Spectroscopy (SXPS) and X-ray Absorption Near Edge Spectroscopy (XANES). Upon returning to Australia in 2005, Sarah worked in the Manufacturing & Infrastructure Technology division of CSIRO. In 2006 she returned to the Wark as a Research Fellow within the Australian Mineral Science Research Institute (AMSRI). In 2012 she took up an ARC Future Fellowship at Flinders University to study the interaction between bacteria and mineral surfaces using advanced synchrotron nanospectroscopic techniques.

  • Bachelor of Applied Science: UniSA (1999)
  • Doctor of Philosophy: The Ian Wark Research Institute, UniSA (2003)
Honours, awards and grants

Awards & Fellowships

  • Vice-President and Executive Dean's Award for Excellence in Teaching 2024
  • Winnovation SA Award Science 2022
  • ARC Future Fellowship 2011
  • Lumsden Award 2008
  • Australian Academy of Science Scientific Visits to North America 2007/08
  • International Center for Materials Research (ICMR) Uni of California Santa Barbara Summer School for First Principles Calculations for Condensed Matter and Nanoscience 2005
  • Alumni Certificate of Achievement for Outstanding Academic Achievement in App Physics Honours, 1999

Selected Major Grants

  • CRC TiME (2021): Harmer et al. Mine Closure $4.7M cash, $5.5M in kind = $10.2M
  • ARC LIEF (2021) Harmer et al. A spectromicroscopy Facility: Band Mapping to Atomic Resolution Imaging. Funds: $920k.
  • NCRIS, SA Government and Flinders University (2019): Harmer. Photoemission Electron Microscope $3.78M

  • ARC LIEF LE190100123 (2019): Raston; Monteiro; Thordarson; Stubbs; Chalker; Forbes; Harmer et al. Thin film microfluidic facility. ARC: $380k.

  • ARC Linkage Project LP160101497 (2017): Pring, Harmer, Brugger, Gibson, Grguric, Ehring. Reverse Engineering Nature: metal extraction through mineral replacement: $875k ARC and BHP Billiton.
  • ARC LIEF, LE130100038 (2012) Quinton et al. Scanning Auger Microscope Facility Funds Awarded from ARC: $450k.
  • ARC Synchrotron Research Initiative, SR120200004 (2012): Smith et al.Awarded ARC & NHMRC: $30M. Total funds: $120M
  • ARC Future Fellowship, FT110100099 (2011): Harmer. The Microbe Factory: A Novel Approach to Benign Minerals Processing: $648k.
  • ARC LIEF, LE110100174 (2010): Lay et al. Innovative Synchrotron Science - Access Program to the Australian National Beamline Facility and Cutting-Edge Beamlines at International Synchrotrons. FundsARC: $800k.
  • Marsden Fund 10-GNS-023 (2010): Daughney, Johannessen, Weisener HarmerBassell. Shedding Light on a Fundamental Geochemical Process: $720k NZD.
  • ARC Linkage LP0989689 (2009): Harmer & Ametov. Matching Flotation Concentrate Composition to Downstream Processing in Copper Production at OD, BHP. $1.3M.

Teaching Grants

  • Faculty Teaching and Learning Innovation Grant (2012) Parappilly & Harmer, $10k
Topic coordinator
PHYS3702 Solid State Physics and Optoelectronics
PHYS2001 Quantum and Nuclear Physics
Topic lecturer
PHYS1102 Fundamental Physics II
CPES7711 Advanced Techniques in Chemical and Physical Sciences
Supervisory interests
Condensed matter physics
Inorganic electronic structure and spectroscopy
Surface science
Higher degree by research supervision
Principal supervisor: Biomining and Biogeochemistry (3), Surface Science (1), Condensed matter physics and Inorganic electronic structure and spectroscopy (1)
Associate supervisor: Surface Science (2)
Principal supervisor: Bioleaching (1), Electrochemical Impedance Spectroscopy (UniSA) (1), Bioflotation
Associate supervisor: Synchrotron nanospectroscopic imaging of sulfides (UniSA) (1)
Higher degree by research student achievements
Sian La Vars

3 Minute Thesis University Finalist - AUG 2013

Sian La Vars

Poster Prize ICONN conference 2014 - FEB 2014

Belinda Bleeze

Best Poster CaPS Honours - NOV 2014

Connor Retallick

Cheiron School Travel Award - JUL 2015

Belinda Bleeze

Best Poster Flinders Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology Annual Conference - JUN 2019

Belinda Bleeze

Best Poster Flinders Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology Annual Conference - JUN 2018

Further information
For publications not associated with Flinders University search Scopus for Harmer S.L.