Bernie Goldie

Scholarship gets students’ hands on antimicrobial coating research

Aspiring scientists will have the chance to engage in leading antimicrobial coating research this summer as part of the joint ARC Centre of Excellence for Electromaterials Science (ACES) and BlueScope Steel scholarship program for 2012.

With the state-of-the-art ACES materials, fabrication and characterisation facility open to three university students, each project is to be supervised by Research Fellows from the Intelligent Polymer Research Institute (IPRI) based at the Innovation Campus.

ACES Executive Director Professor Gordon Wallace said findings from the student projects would be used to overcome particular bacterial processes.

“Each of our student projects will provide new insights into biofouling and, more specifically, biodriven corrosion,” Professor Wallace said.

“The knowledge gained will be used to develop strategies such as anti-fouling coatings and paints that will circumvent these adverse processes,” he said.

One project, under the supervision of IPRI Fellow Dr Michael Higgins, will use a revolutionary technique to measure the actual forces involved in biofouling adhesion processes and how they can be modified.

“By measuring the forces using latest advances in Atomic Force Microscopy, we’ll be able to monitor the interactions involved in biofouling at the single molecule, or even sub-molecular level,” Dr Higgins said.

“This will become very interesting when combined with molecular modelling approaches in the future”, he said.

Details of the new technique, which has been developed by a research team at ACES, is to be published in the coming issue of the science and technology journal SMALL.

“Programs like this are critical to both forging collaborations with industry, as well as providing opportunities for students to gain experience in both academic and industry research environments,” BlueScope Steel Coatings Research Manager Dr Evans said.

This year three students have been chosen for the $6,000 summer scholarship.

They are Dean Cardillio (UOW), Alex Keller (UOW) and Amanda Wang (University of New South Wales). The program began on 10 December.


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  • One of the summer scholarship recipients is Alex Keller from UOW

  • Amanda Wang from UNSW is another scholarship recipient