Scientist of the Year

Innovator recognised for work in medical bionics and energy conversion and storage

Professor Gordon Wallace, Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Electromaterials Science (ACES) at the University of Wollongong (UOW), has been named 2017 NSW Scientist of the Year.

Professor Wallace is an internationally renowned researcher in the field of electromaterials science for his innovative use of nanotechnology in conjunction with organic conductors to create new materials for energy conversion and storage, as well as medical bionics.

As Director of Australian National Fabrication Facility (ANFF) Materials node Professor Wallace has led the development of innovative approaches to materials processing and fabrication tools that enable advanced materials to be integrated into practical devices for use in energy and medical bionics.

This has facilitated a number of commercial opportunities in both areas.

He has established a national clinical research network to develop customised printing solutions (hardware, software and bioinks) targeted at a range of clinical challenges.

His research vision is to develop fully functional implantable 3D printed structures containing living cells, to regenerate damaged cartilage in knees, the ears of children suffering from microtia, bone and even organs.

This fusing of human biology with engineering and robotics has the potential to fix a patient’s specific medical condition – from cancer to diabetes and neural diseases – by printing a functional 3D structure containing living cells and inserting it into their body via surgery.

This can only be achieved via interdisciplinary and collaborative research teams that involve end users throughout the research and development process.

ACES research into energy conversion and the formation of hydrogen from water into important fuels, hydrogen and oxygen, has led to the successful formation of an ACES spin off company, Aquahydrex, now in its fifth year of operation.

“It is a great honour to have a fantastic team to captain and for our research to be recognised in this way,” Professor Wallace said.

“We will continue to strive to ensure that our most fundamental discoveries are translated into real applications to the benefit of our communities in the most effective way possible.”

UOW Vice-Chancellor Professor Paul Wellings, CBE, said the honour was well-deserved recognition of Professor Wallace’s many contributions to science and society.

“Distinguished Professor Gordon Wallace is internationally recognised for his ingenuity and innovation, and for the enormous contribution he has made over many years to the field of electromaterials science,” Professor Wellings said.

“In addition to the ground-breaking research work for which he has been lauded around the world, he has also played a valuable role in fostering the work of other researchers, having supervised almost 100 PhD students to completion and mentored more than 50 research fellows.

“As a passionate communicator he is dedicated to explaining scientific advances to all in the community, from the lay person to the specialist.

“On behalf of the entire UOW community, I thank Professor Wallace for his outstanding contribution to the University and congratulate him on this richly deserved honour.”

Professor Wallace is among ten leading researchers, innovators and educators honoured at the 2017 Premier’s Prizes for Science & Engineering at Government House on Monday 23 October 2017.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the Prizes recognise the contribution scientists and engineers make to our everyday lives.

“This year’s Prizes again demonstrate NSW has some of the world’s best and brightest scientists and technologists across a diverse range of disciplines right here in our own backyard,” Premier Berejiklian said.

“Through their inspiring ingenuity and innovation this year’s winners have delivered economic, environmental, health, social and technological benefits for the global community.”

The Prizes were presented by the Governor of New South Wales, His Excellency General David Hurley AC DSC (Ret’d), NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer Professor Mary O’Kane AC and leaders from government, industry, business, academia and the state’s Research and Development community.

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