Chemistry PhD joins US future leaders class

Flinders PhD chemistry researcher Lisa Alcock will get a global view as part of the 2017 SciFinder Future Leaders program in the US.

She was one of only 25 outstanding PhD students and postdocs from around the world selected for this year’s CAS (a division of the American Chemical Society) SciFinder research events in Columbus, Ohio (14-19 August) and the CAS National Meeting and Exposition in Washington DC (20-24 August).

As a member of the 2017 Future Leaders group, Ms Alcock will join an elite group of scientists broadening their understanding of how research information can advance science.

Lisa, who is supervised by Dr Justin Chalker and Associate Professor Mike Perkins at Flinders College of Science and Engineering, is working on projects to explore how chemistry can be used in biology and medicine for a broader impact on human health.

“For my Honours research, I achieved the total synthesis of a marine natural product called spongosoritin A, a bioactive compound found in sea sponges with mild anti-cancer properties,” she says.

Her current research aims to shed light on a poorly understood biomarker of oxidative stress, cysteine sulfenic acid.

“Oxidation of the amino acid cysteine in proteins has implications in several chronic diseases such as cancer and diabetes, but the extent of this involvement is largely unknown,” Lisa says.

“I am synthesising new chemical probes to react with these unusual oxidation states of cysteine to map these biomarkers of oxidative stress and further our understanding of how they might cause disease.”

Researchers from the University of Melbourne and Monash University represented Australia at the 2015 and 2016 SciFinder Future Leaders classes.

This month Dr Chalker is heading to the University of Cambridge to share his research initiatives with fellow researchers – including his novel polymer which is being used to remove mercury from the environment.

And the SA Premier’s Professorial Research Fellow in Clean Technology at Flinders, Professor Colin Raston, will join 12 other Flinders University researchers presenting at the 8th International Conference on Green and Sustainable Chemistry in Melbourne.

The conference is part of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute (RACI) 100 Centenary Congress series, which is attracting more than 2,000 chemists to Australia to discuss the role of chemistry in shaping the economy, drug delivery, the environment with cleaner production or better energy storage, and other challenges of the 21st century.

Scott Pye with his certificate from the Melbourne Green Chemistry conference.

Scott Pye from Flinders received an award for Best Presentation by a Graduate Student or Early Career Investigator.

Several outstanding Australian scientists received RACI awards at the conference, including Dr Chalker who received the ‘Academic Sharp Brain’ David Solomon Award for Polymer Chemistry.

Dr Chalker won the best business pitch to commercialise his research as part of the Academic Sharp Brain competition run during the conference week of events.

The award namesake, Davis Solomon, is credited with inventing the polymer bank note.


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