Plenary Speakers

We are pleased to have the following plenary speakers 

Professor Rose Amal

Abstract Title: Harnessing Solar Energy Through Catalysis - Closing the Carbon Loop

ARC Laureate Fellow, Scientia Professor, Particle and Catalysis Group, School of Chemical Engineering.

Professor Rose Amal is a UNSW Scientia Professor and an ARC Laureate Fellow. Prof. Rose Amal is a chemical engineer and the leader of the Particles and Catalysis Research Group. Previously she was also the Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Functional Nanomaterials (2010-2013). Professor Rose Amal is recognised as a pioneer and leading authority in the fields of fine particle technology, photocatalysis and functional nanomaterials having made significant contributions to these related areas of research over the past 15 years. Her research contributions span from fundamental chemistry to applied chemical engineering fields; from material science and nano- research to a specialised photochemistry field. Her current research focuses on designing nanomaterials for solar and chemical energy conversion applications (including photocatalysis for water and air purification, water splitting, development of indoor self-cleaning materials, low temperature catalytic reactions) and engineering systems for solar induced processes, using the sun’s energy as a clean fuel source.  Click here for more details 

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Professor Michael Fuhrer

Abstract Title: Topological Materials for Low-Energy Electronics

Professor Michael Fuhrer is an ARC Laurete Fellow in the School of Physics at Monash University. Michael directs the ARC Centre of Excellence for Future Low-Energy Electronics Technologies (FLEET) and co-directs the Monash Centre for Atromically Thin Materials. Prior to coming to Monash, Michael directed the Center for Nanophysics and Advanced Materials at the University of Maryland. Michael is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Physical Society.

Michael's research explores novel two-dimensional materials such as graphene, the two-dimensional surface state of three-dimensional topological insulators (e.g. Bi2Se3), and other two dimensional semiconductors, metals, and superconductors.

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Professor Dan Nocera

Daniel G. Nocera is the Patterson Rockwood Professor of Energy at Harvard University. Widely recognized in the world as a leading researcher in renewable energy, he is the inventor of the artificial leaf and bionic leaf. Nocera has accomplished the solar fuels process of photosynthesis – the splitting of water to hydrogen and oxygen using light from neutral water, at atmospheric pressure and room temperature at efficiencies of greater than 10%. This discovery, called artificial leaf, was named by Time magazine as Innovation of the Year for 2011. He has since elaborated this invention to accomplish a complete artificial photosynthetic cycle. To do so, he created the bionic leaf, which is a bio-engineered bacterium that uses the hydrogen from that artificial leaf and carbon dioxide from air to make biomass and liquid fuels. The bionic leaf, which was named by the World Economic Forum as the Breakthrough Technology for 2017, performs an artificial photosynthesis that is ten times more efficient than natural photosynthesis. Extending this approach, Nocera has achieved a renewable and distributed synthesis of ammonia (and fertilizer) at ambient conditions by coupling solar-based water splitting to a nitrogen fixing bioorganism, which is powered by the hydrogen produced from water splitting. These science discoveries set the stage for a storage mechanism for the large scale, distributed, deployment of solar energy and distributed food production and thus are particularly useful to the poor of the world, where large infrastructures for fuel and food production are not tenable.  Click here for more details 

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Professor Dr. Joachim P. Spatz

Abstract Title: Matter to Life: Assembly of Synthetic Cells

Joachim P. Spatz joined the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research in 2016 as Director. From 2004-2015 he was Director at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems (former MPI for Metals Research). From this time on he is also a Full Professor at the University of Heidelberg and head of the Dept. of Biophysical Chemistry. He was an Associated Professor for Biophysical Chemistry at the University of Heidelberg from 2000-2004. From 1999-2000 he received his habilitation in Physics at the University of Ulm. He was a PostDoc in the group of Professor Jacques Prost and Albrecht Ott at the Institut Curie, Paris, in 1997 - 1998. He received his Diploma in Physics (1994) and his Ph.D. in Physics (1996) from the University of Ulm under the supervision of Prof. Möller (now at DWI & RWTH Aachen). He is member of the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences and Humanities. Among other awards, he received the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft in 2017. 

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Keynote Speakers

We are pleased to have the following keynote speakers 

Distinguished Professor Margaret Brimble

Abstract Title: Development of Peptide and Peptidomimetic Therapeutic Agents from a New Zealand Perspective

Margaret Brimble is the Director of Medicinal Chemistry and a Distinguished Professor at the University of Auckland, New Zealand where her research program focuses on the synthesis of bioactive natural products, antimicrobial peptides, cancer vaccines, glycopeptides, self-assembling peptides and peptidomimetics. She has published >460 papers, 60 reviews and is an inventor on >30 patents. In 2018 she was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society London and was awarded the Royal Society of Chemistry George and Christine Sosnovsky Award in Cancer Therapy. She won the 2016 Marsden Medal, the 2012 RSNZ Rutherford (NZ’s top science prize), MacDiarmid and Hector Medals, the 2011 Royal Australian Chemical Institute Adrien Albert Award, the 2010 RSC Natural Products Award, the 2007 L’Oreal-UNESCO Women in Science laureate in Materials Science for Asia-Pacific, a 2015 IUPAC Distinguished Women in Chemistry/Chemical Engineering Award and conferred the Queen’s Honour CNZM. She is Past-President of IUPAC Organic and Biomolecular Division III, an Associate Editor for Organic and Biomolecular Chemistry, Past-President of the International Society of Heterocyclic Chemistry and Past-Chair of the Rutherford Foundation RSNZ.  She discovered the first drug named “trofinetide” to treat Rett Syndrome and Fragile X syndrome that is in phase III clinical trials with Neuren Pharmaceuticals. Trofinetide is New Zealand’s first successful drug and one of only a few to be discovered in an academic laboratory. Margaret also co-Founded the spin-out company SapVax with US$6 million funding from BioMotiv USA to take self-adjuvanting cancer vaccines based on a novel chemistry platform, to clinical trial (see:

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Professor Norman Birge

Abstract Title: Ferromagnetic Josephson Junctions for Cryogenic Memory

Norman Birge received his Ph.D. in 1986 from the University of Chicago, studying the glass transition in supercooled liquids.  He changed his focus to electronic transport during his post-doctoral work at AT&T Bell Laboratories.  He came to Michigan State University in 1988 and has been there ever since, aside from two sabbatical years with the Groupe Quantronique at the CEA Saclay in France.  His research has spanned several topics in quantum transport and mesoscopic physics, including 1/f noise and universal conductance fluctuations, dissipative quantum tunneling of defects in metals, electron phase coherence at very low temperatures, the superconducting proximity effect, and nonequilibrium phenomena in metallic systems.  His current research focuses on the interplay between superconductivity and ferromagnetism in hybrid structures.

Professor Adam J Engler

Abstract Title: Improving Cardiovascular “Diseases-in-a-dish” with Dynamic Materials

Adam J. Engler is a Professor of Bioengineering at UC San Diego, where he has been on the faculty since 2008. He also is a resident scientist at the Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine. Dr. Engler previously trained with Dr. Dennis Discher at the University of Pennsylvania, where he earned his PhD studying how ECM stiffness regulated stem cell fate. He also trained as a postdoc with Dr. Jean Schwarzbauer at Princeton University's Department of Molecular Biology.

Dr. Engler’s research focuses on how physical and chemical properties of the niche influence or misregulates cell function and modifies genetic mechanisms of disease. In particular, his lab studies the phenomenon in the context of cardiovascular and musculoskeletal diseases and cancer. To accomplish this, his lab makes natural and synthetic matrices with unique spatiotemporal properties to mimic niche conditions, improve stem cell behavior and commitment in vitro, or direct them for therapeutic use in vivo.

Dr. Engler has received numerous awards in recognition of this research, including young investigator or mid-career awards from International Society for Matrix Biology (2008), Biomedical Engineering Society (2008), American Society of Matrix Biology (2014), American Society of Mechanical Engineering (2015), and American Society for Engineering Education (2018). Dr. Engler is a fellow of the American Institute for Biomedical Engineering and recipient of an NIH New Innovator Award grant.

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Dr Cathy Foley

Dr Cathy Foley, Deputy and Science Director of CSIRO Manufacturing, has made distinguished contributions to the understanding of superconducting materials and to the development of devices using superconductors to detect magnetic fields and locate valuable deposits of minerals. 

Dr Foley has made significant contributions to the scientific community as president of several scientific societies and as a member of committees such as PMSEIC giving advice to Government on scientific and technological matters.  Cathy was awarded the `Woman of the Year’ by the NSW Government in 2013 and the International IEEE Award for Continuing and Significant Contributions to Applied Superconductivity 2014. In 2015 was awarded the Clunies Ross Medal of the Australian Academy of Technological Science and Engineering and in 2016 the Australian Institute of Physics  Medal for Outstanding Service to Physics.

As a leader in CSIRO Manufacturing, Cathy is working to help existing Australian manufacturers to transform to be globally competitive by engaging with Australian researchers and to build new companies to assist with the translation of research for economic prosperity.

Dr Stephan Kupfer

Abstract Title: Tuning Unidirectional Energy and (Multi-)Electron Transfer Processes in Photocatalysis

Stephan Kupfer recieved his PhD in 2013 from the Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, Germany, where he is currently a group leader in the Physical Chemistry Department. His research is focused on the theoretical modeling of photo-induced processes, i.e., in the fields of solar energy conversion and plasmonic hybrid systems. For light-harvesting applications, either in the scope of (dye-sensitized) solar cells or light-driven water-splitting, detailed understanding of the fundamental photophysics and photochemistry is of uttermost importance. Therefore, he aims to elucidate as well as to tune excited state relaxation dynamics in (supra)molecular photocalysts and light-harvesting antenna associated to electron and energy transfer processes, i.e., charge separation, charge recombination and photodegradation.

Professor Richard Palmer

Abstract Title: Nanoparticle Beam Deposition - A Novel Route to the Solvent-Free Creation of Heterogeneous Catalysts

Richard Palmer is Head of the Nanomaterials Lab in the College of Engineering of Swansea University, Wales, and Concurrent Professor in the School of Physics of Nanjing University, China. His research is focused on Cluster (Nanoparticle) Beam Deposition (CBD), including scale-up to the gram level plus and atomic structure/dynamics. Applications include catalysis, biomedicine, environmental standards and advanced materials for the IT sector. At Cambridge Richard was awarded an MA and PhD and afterwards held 1851, Clare College and Royal Society Fellowships. At Birmingham (1994-2017) he founded the UK's first nanoscience centre. Awards include the IOP Boys Medal, an Honorary Doctorate from Hasselt University, the BVC Yarwood Medal and an EPSRC Senior Fellowship. He is a Fellow of the IOP, RSC and Learned Society of Wales. He has published ~400 papers with h index 55; also 18 families of patent applications. Spin-out companies arising from his work include Inanovate, Irresistible Materials and Grove Nanomaterials. He is the Editor-in-Chief of the open-access review journal Advances in Physics: X (2016-, Taylor and Francis) and Series Editor of the Elsevier Book Series ‘Frontiers of Nanoscience’.

Dr Anna Phan

Abstract Title: The Possible Applications of Near Term Quantum Computers

Anna is a research staff member at IBM with a focus on multidisciplinary science.  She trained as an experimental particle physicist, and has always been interested in the applications of computing to physics and as well as physics to computing. After being part of the team that discovered the Higgs boson at the CERN laboratory in Switzerland, she joined IBM Research and worked in data science, and is now investigating algorithms and applications for near term quantum computers.

Associate Professor Brigitte M Städler

Brigitte Städler (ORCID: 0000-0002-7335-3945) was Assistant Professor at the Interdisciplinary Nanoscience Center at Aarhus University, Denmark between 2011 and 2014, before she was promoted to Associate Professor in 2015. Prior to this, she obtained her PhD from ETH Zurich, Switzerland followed by post doc time at the University of Melbourne, Australia. Currently, she is the head of the ‘Laboratory for Cell Mimicry’, an interdisciplinary group working at the interface of drug delivery, polymer science, cell biology, and microfluidics to provide nature inspired solutions to address medical challenges. Highlights include the first report on i) intracellularly active subcompartmentalized nanoreactors, ii) the integration of microreactors with HepG2 cells, and iii) directional self-propelled nanobots. In addition to her fundamental research, she is also collaborating with companies like DuPont, Carlsberg and Microsoft. 

Brigitte has over 75 peer-reviewed publications (web of science h-index 27) and 5 book chapters. She obtained multiple fellowships including L’Oreal/UNESCO - For Women in Science Fellowship, Denmark and the Carlsberg Foundation – Distinguished Associate Professor Fellowship.

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Dr Thomas Watson

Abstract Title: Quantum Computing with Spins in Silicon

Dr Thomas Watson is a quantum engineer at Intel Corporation where he is a part of a research team that is using Intel’s industrial 300mm process line to accelerate the development of quantum computers towards commercial applications.  Before joining Intel, Thomas was a postdoc in Lieven Vanderspen’s group at TUDelft, Netherlands and received his PhD in 2015 from the University of New South Wales, Australia under the supervision of Michelle Simmons.

Thomas’ research focuses on building small scale quantum computers using individual spins confined to semiconductors. His expertise is in qubit control and his research highlights includes demonstrating the first programmable two-qubit quantum processor in silicon.

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