Researchers nominated for technological innovation

Claire Halliday
Claire Halliday

Three University of Adelaide researchers have been recognised by the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences (ATSE) for their cutting-edge work in the diverse areas of ocean conservation, energy storage, and decarbonisation transformation in heavy industry.

Professor Bronwyn Gillanders, Professor Zaiping Guo and Professor Graham Nathan were announced as 2023 ATSE Fellows, which the organisation bestows upon researchers whose work demonstrates technological innovation.

“I congratulate our University of Adelaide researchers for their election as 2023 ATSE Fellows,” said Professor Anton Middelberg, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Vice-President (Research) at the University of Adelaide.

“This achievement is testament to the remarkable research occurring across our campuses and the real-world positive outcomes of our projects on the people and environments of Australia and across the world.

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“The University’s strong focus on sustainability is articulated through our Sustainability Strategy 2030 – Here for Good and our FAME Sustainability Research Strategy. Guided by these, our researchers deliver socially responsible solutions that benefit ecosystems, governments, industries, and communities, and ensures we remain a top-choice university for those considering sustainability credentials.”

“This achievement is testament to the remarkable research occurring across our campuses and the real-world positive outcomes of our projects on the people and environments of Australia and across the world.”

Sustainable marine management

Professor Bronwyn Gillanders, Head of School, School of Biological Sciences and a member of the Environment Institute, is a globally recognised oceans scientist whose research is critical to sustainable management of commercial fisheries and protection of coastal environments.

“I am absolutely honoured to be elected to the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering,” said Professor Gillanders. “I put many of these Fellows on a pedestal well above me so to also be recognised alongside them is truly incredible.”

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Professor Gillanders has pioneered transformative techniques in marine management and conservation, including using fish ear bones and trace chemicals to understand fish populations. She has undertaken seminal work on cephalopods, and her efforts have led to the protection of the only known breeding aggregation of cuttlefish in the world.

Professor Gillanders also led the Spencer Gulf Ecosystem Development Initiative, considered an outstanding case study in marine management achieving sound outcomes for both gulf users and the environment.

The quest for cleaner energy

Professor Zaiping Guo, Deputy Director, ARC Research Hub for SafeREnergy, School of Chemical Engineering, has made significant breakthroughs in engineering safe, long-life, and high energy batteries – an essential technology for powering the shift to renewable energy.

“I am deeply honoured to be appointed as a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences & Engineering,” said Professor Guo. “It is a privilege to be counted among the distinguished members of this esteemed institution and I look forward to contributing to the development of energy storage in Australia and beyond as a Fellow.”

Professor Guo is a world leader in clean energy storage materials and has developed new battery materials that improve the safety and storage capacity of rechargeable batteries, such as lithium-ion batteries. Having forged strong collaborations with industry, her patented technologies are now being scaled up and commercialised, with a vision to make electric vehicles safer with greater mileage.

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Professor Guo and her team have also developed advanced zinc-ion battery – considered a potential option for grid-scale energy storage.

Exploring decarbonisation solutions

Professor Graham ‘Gus’ Nathan, Director, Centre for Energy Technology, School of Electrical and Mechanical Engineering, is an internationally recognised researcher leading the decarbonisation of heavy industry.

“I am very fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with many world-leading partners from research and industry from around the world and with an outstanding team at the University of Adelaide,” said Professor Nathan.

“I am deeply indebted to them all. Our shared passion for industrial decarbonisation, together with a love of innovation and advancing understanding, has made each step of this journey deeply rewarding.

“I am also extremely grateful to the Academy and to my nominators for entrusting me to join their endeavours to address grand challenges. Finally, I especially wish to thank my wife, son, wider family and friends for continuing to inspire me to leave the world a better place than how I found it.”

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The heavy industry sector Professor Nathan focuses on encompasses the production of energy-intensive materials such as cement, alumina and steel and accounts for about one quarter of Australia’s direct carbon emissions.

Professor Nathan jointly led the development of the Gyro-therm burner – which achieves a 50 per cent reduction in nitrous oxide emissions – for use in the cement, lime, iron-pellet and alumina industries. He is also partnering with industry to solve challenges in new low carbon technology for cement, lime alumina and direct reduced iron production.

Professor Nathan is the Research Director of the $215m Heavy Industry, Low-carbon Transition Cooperative Research Centre and provides high-quality advice to policy makers on topics such as low-emissions technology and hydrogen.

ATSE contributes robust and practical thinking to Australia’s big debates and is made up of almost 900 Fellows elected by their peers. Fellows are independent experts helping Australians understand and use technology to solve complex problems.

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Claire Halliday has an extensive career as a full-time writer - across book publishing, copywriting, podcasting and feature journalism - for more than 25 years. She lives in Melbourne with children, two border collies and a grumpy Burmese cat. Contact: claire.halliday[at]