Invited Speakers

Biographies of Invited Speakers

Dr Justin Chalker

Justin M. Chalker earned a B.S. in Chemistry and a B.A. in the History and Philosophy of Science at The University of Pittsburgh in 2006. At Pittsburgh, he contributed to the total synthesis of several natural products under the direction of Theodore Cohen. Supported by a Rhodes Scholarship and a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, Justin then completed his D.Phil. at the University of Oxford under the supervision of Benjamin Davis where he developed several tools for the site-selective modification of proteins. This culminated in a new method for mutating proteins directly, rather than by altering the genetic code. In 2012, Justin started his independent career as an assistant professor at The University of Tulsa where he established a diverse research program in organic chemistry, biochemistry and environmental science. Sustainable materials that protect the environment have emerged as a primary theme in his research program. In 2015, Justin moved to Flinders University as a Lecturer in Synthetic Chemistry and recipient of an ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award. In 2016, Justin was named Tall Poppy of the Year for South Australia in recognition of his achievements in research, teaching and science communication. In 2017, Justin was promoted to Senior Lecturer and was among the inaugural recipients of the Green Chemistry Emerging Investigator Award.

A/Prof. Michael Oelgemöller

Associate Professor Michael Oelgemöller received his diploma from the University of Münster in 1995 and his Ph.D. from the University of Cologne in 1999. He was a researcher at the ERATO−JST Photochirogenesis project in Osaka (1999−2001) and at Bayer CropScience K.K. Japan in Yuki (2001−2004). From 2004 to 2008 he held a position as a lecturer in organic and medicinal chemistry at Dublin City University. In February 2009 he joined James Cook University in Townsville as an associate professor in organic chemistry, where he leads the Applied and Green Photochemistry Research Group. Activities of the group range from development of continuous-flow photoreactors to solar manufacturing of chemicals, photochemical synthesis of bioactive compounds, photostability testing, and photochemical degradation of organic pollutants. He has received several awards and has been a visiting professor at various universities in Asia and Europe. For details, see:

Dr Kei Saito

Dr. Kei Saito is currently a Senior Lecturer at the School of Chemistry, Faculty of Science, Monash University, Australia and also a JST PRESTO researcher. He received his BEng. (2000), MEng. (2002) and Ph.D. (2004) degrees from Waseda University, Tokyo, Japan. From 2004-2005, he was a Research Associate at the 21COE Centre for Practical Nano-Chemistry, Department of Applied Chemistry, Waseda University, Japan. From 2005-2007, he was a Postdoctoral fellow, at the Centre for Green Chemistry, University of Massachusetts Lowell, USA. His research interests are in developing new green synthesis and production methods for novel sustainable/environment benign polymeric materials.

A/Prof. Jason Harper

Jason Harper was born in Adelaide, Australia, but spent his childhood in the wilds of the Northern Territory.  He returned to Adelaide for secondary schooling and carried out undergraduate work at the University of Adelaide and the Australian National University, also receiving his Ph.D. (under the supervision of Prof. Christopher Easton) from ANU as the Shell Australia Postgraduate Scholar. After positions at the University of Cambridge (as an NHMRC C. J. Martin Postdoctoral Fellow with Prof. Anthony Kirby) and the Open University, he was appointed to the University of New South Wales in 2002, where he is currently an Associate Professor. His research interests fall broadly in the area of mechanistic and physical organic chemistry. His contributions to these fields have focused on the understanding of the mechanisms of organic processes and what affects such.  These studies have particularly involved solvent effects of ionic liquids, with the ultimate goal of fulfilling their potential to control reaction outcome.  He has published more than 90 articles and book chapters, has a h-index of 25 and has given more than 60 invited lectures around the world. Jason has also been heavily involved in conference organisation.  He was a member of the three person organising committee for the 4th Asia-Pacific Conference on Ionic Liquids, held at Coogee Beach in September 2014.  More recently, he was bid developer and co-Chair of the particularly successful 23rdIUPAC Conference on Physical Organic Chemistry (ICPOC23) which was held at the University of New South Wales, July 2016.

A/Prof. Justin Hodgkiss

Justin Hodgkiss is an Associate Professor in Physical Chemistry at Victoria University of Wellington, where he has been since 2009. Associate Professor Hodgkiss is also a deputy director of the MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology, and was previously a Rutherford Discovery Fellow. His research group develop and apply ultrafast optical spectroscopy methods to understand the photophysics of next generation optoelectronic materials. Associate Professor Hodgkiss completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Otago, before undertaking his PhD with Dan Nocera at MIT, and a postdoc with Sir Richard Friend in Cambridge.

Dr Warren Grigsby

Warren Grigsby is a research leader and senior scientist at Scion, a Crown Research Institute in New Zealand. He is a synthetic and polymer chemist developing applications for biopolymer systems and understandings of natural fibre-polymer interactions in wood and wood-plastic composites. His current research activities include the synthesis of totally biobased adhesives; novel wood modification processing strategies using biopolymers; and adapting polyphenolics in a range of applications including nanofibre and carbon nanomaterials. Warren received the 2016 NZBIO biotechnology of the year award for the Ligate™ adhesive technology. He gained his PhD at University of Waikato with postdoctoral research at the University of California, Davis and Monash University.

Professor Gregory Metha

Greg Metha is Professor and Head of Chemistry at the University of Adelaide, and serves as an Executive Member of the Centre for Energy Technology. He studied undergraduate Chemistry at Monash University and continued as a PhD student exploring the laser spectroscopy of aldehydes. He spent subsequent years as a post-doctoral fellow at the Universities of British Columbia and Sydney before moving to the University of Adelaide in 1997 as an ARC Fellow, then commencing as an Academic in 2003. His research interests were initially focused on molecular laser spectroscopy and this morphed into an interest in studying the fundamental properties of gas phase metal clusters, both experimentally and computationally. One of the key advancements has been the refinement of photo-ionisation efficiency spectroscopy to accurately measure ionisation energies of metal clusters and compare them to DFT calculated structures with predicted Franck-Condon transitions. This has paved the way for more complex bi-metallic metal + metal-oxide clusters to be studied in the gas phase, which provides an atomically-precise model to understand how metal clusters interact with metal-oxides. These fundamental gas-phase studies have provided vital information and extraordinary insight into the interaction of metal clusters with metal-oxide semiconductors. This understanding is now directed towards advancing the science of metal clusters as (photo-)catalysts, which involves collaboration with synthetic chemists and physicists. He is also involved with the development of fast theoretical approaches to model these systems, most recently Density Functional-Tight Binding. For more information on Greg’s research can be found at: