School Seminar: Dr Melanie MacGregor-Ramiasa, University of South Australia
Friday, 13 November 2020. 11am – 12pm.
This seminar will be delivered via Zoom – Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for zoom link and password.
Dr Melanie MacGregor-Ramiasa, University of South Australia.
Host: Professor Chiara Neto
Nanofluid adsorption to advanced materials for energy and biotechnology applications.
Materials with intricate nanostructures display wetting properties that modern technologies already use to lubricate engines or capture tumor cells. Yet, their full potential in applications for sustainable catalysis, gas treatment or water splitting cannot be realised until we understand how nano-objects adsorb to surfaces with features of comparable size. Indeed, controlling or even predicting how proteins, surfactants or nanoparticles stick to nano-engineered surfaces is a challenge because key aspects of the wetting phenomenon remain poorly understood at this scale. This is the fundamental knowledge gap that I proposed to address in my Future Fellowship. In this talk, I will tell you about the research journey that led to this question. I’ll briefly review what we currently know about “nanowetting”. I’ll discuss how we are using surface nanoengineering, plasma polymers and such wetting principles to create materials that could help diagnose cancer, grow organoids or mitigate nitrogen pollution.
Dr Melanie Macgregor has chemical engineering background. She received her PhD from UniSA mid-2013. For her thesis on dynamic wetting phenomena on nanorough surfaces she was awarded the Ian Wark Medal. She then worked as a post doc on responsive nanocomposite hydrogels and biomaterials. In 2018 she became a Santos-UCL Research Fellow at the Future Industries Institute where she works on industry-driven translational research in close partnership with end users, clinicians, industry and academics from complimentary disciplines. Her applied research program includes multiple projects to develop novel advanced manufacturing solutions for the biomedical and energy industries. Specifically, she explores the effects of surface chemistry and nanoscale topography on the interaction between (bio)materials and their environment.
Melanie has, for instance, worked on developing bioengineered platforms capable to guide cell growth and differentiation, and selective cell capture devices for diagnostic purposes. In this field, she has led several externally, internally and industry funded projects as principal chief investigator (Channel 7 Children Research Foundation grant, UniSA Research Theme Investment Scheme project, New adventure fund Project). In 2017, her collaborative research work was further funded through a $6M CRC-P project in partnership with SMR automotive and Flinders Medical Centre, aiming to industrialise biomedical devices for the non invasive diagnosis of bladder cancer. In 2018, her fundamental work on wetting phenomena at the nanoscale was funded by an ARC discovery project in collaboration with QUT and the Max Plank Institute for Polymer research in Germany. It is this aspect of her research that Melanie will explore further in her ARC Future Fellowship, starting in 2021. In this project she intends to develop new knowledge and know-how to control the binding of nanoobjects to nanotextured surfaces. Her team (see 2 open PhD positions) will work with (inter)national collaborators from UCL, ETH Zurich, INL Braga, and ANU to apply these findings to new technologies for oil recovery, catalysis, and medical devices.
The quality of her research, innovation and science communication have been recognised through several awards, including the 2016 Engineers Australia John A. Brodie Medal for achievement in Chemical Engineering , the 2017 UniSA ITEE Early Career Researcher award, the 2017 Winnovation awards in the Engineering category, and a 2018 SA Young Tall Poppy Science Award. In 2019, she was selected to participate to the SuperStar Of STEM program hosted by Science Technology Australia. Melanie is currently a member of the AFRAN SA Branch committee and the Royal Australian Chemical Institute (RACI) women in chemistry group. As of 2021, she will become member of the RACI board.