Category Archives: ipas

helps boosts search rank for ‘ipas’

ARC Future Fellowship for Dr Jonathan George

jonathan georgeCongratulations to Dr Jonathan George on receiving an Australian Research Council (ARC) Future Fellowship.

Jonathan will be using marine microorganisms to study the biosynthesis of usual antibiotic products, hopefully resulting in the creation of new antibiotics. Currently a senior lecturer in the School of Chemistry,  Jonathan will receive $820 000 for salary and research support over a four year period.


Project details: 

“Using natural products to inspire discoveries in synthesis and biosynthesis. This project aims to understand the organic chemistry that occurs in the biosynthesis of unusual antibiotic natural products by marine microorganisms. In an interdisciplinary approach, proposed biosynthetic intermediates will be synthesized and screened against newly isolated enzymes from the microorganisms of interest. This will allow the elucidation of biosynthetic pathways, and aid the discovery of new chemoenzymatic reactivity that may be broadly useful in organic synthesis. Non-enzymatic, predisposed organic reactions will also be uncovered during the project. The benefit of this project will be an improvement in our ability to synthesise potential antibiotics using a combined synthetic organic and chemoenzymatic approach. This could lead to useful new antibiotics in the future.”

ARC Future Fellowships are aimed at allowing outstanding mid-career researchers to stay in Australia and encourage research in areas of national priority.

A comprehensive list of other successful Future Fellowships can be found here.

Prof Luiten: New Appointment to the National Committee for Physics

Prof Andre Luiten has been appointedAAS as a member of the National Committee for Physics (NCP), with tenure until 31st March 2020. The NCP is one of 22 national committees within the Australian Academy of Science(AAS), with the broad aim of fostering links between domestic and international scientists within disciplines to the academy.



Photonics at Science Meets Parliament 2017

Professor Heike Ebendorff-Heidepriem represented the ARC Centre of Excellence for Nanoscale BioPhotonics and IPAS at Science Meets Parliament, held in Canberra on 21-22nd March 2017. 

Science Meets Parliament is an annual event run by Science and Technology Australia and provides ~200 scientists with the opportunity to meet with federal politicians, advisors and policy makers.

Heike had the opportunity to meet with Senator Chris Back, Chair of Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Legislative Committee, and Senator Chris Ketter; discussing her research involving the use of optical fibres to create windows into the body, specifically in regards to pain detection.

In addition, Heike also had the opportunity to talk with the Honourable Richard Marles, Shadow Minister for Defence, during the official dinner.

A summary of Science Meets Parliament can be found here.


Top 100 Articles of 2016

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The publication “Fast machine-learning online optimisation of ultra-cold-atom experiments” was ranked in the top 100 articles published in Scientific Reports in 2016, receiving 11820 views.

The paper was the result of a collaboration between Australian National University and Professor Andre Luiten.

Scientific Reports is part of the Nature publishing group and more than 20000 articles were published in 2016.


Reference: Wigley et al (2016) “Fast Machine-Learning Online Optimization of Ultra-Cold-Atom Experiments” Scientific Reports, 6, 25890. doi:10.1038/srep25890

New optical fibre sensor to aid breast cancer surgery

An IPAS research team led by Dr Erik Schartner has developed an optical fibre probe that distinguishes breast cancer tissue from normal tissue – potentially allowing surgeons to be much more precise when removing breast cancer.

The device could help prevent follow-up surgery, currently needed for 15-20% of breast cancer surgery patients where all the cancer is not removed.

Published today in the journal Cancer Research, the researchers in the ARC Centre of Excellence for Nanoscale BioPhotonics (CNBP), the Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing, and the Schools of Physical Sciences and Medicine, describe how the optical probe works by detecting the difference in pH between the two types of tissue. The research conducted with our partners Prof. Grantley Gill at with the Breast, Endocrine and Surgical Oncology Unit at the Royal Adelaide Hospital, Dr Deepak Dhatrak of SA Pathology and Prof David Callen, Director of the Centre for Personalised Cancer Medicine at the University of Adelaide. 


“We have designed and tested a fibre-tip pH probe that has very high sensitivity for differentiating between healthy and cancerous tissue with an extremely simple – so far experimental – setup that is fully portable,” says project leader Dr Erik Schartner, postdoctoral researcher at the CNBP at the University of Adelaide.

“Because it is cost-effective to do measurements in this manner compared to many other medical technologies, we see a clear scope for this technology in operating theaters.”

Current surgical techniques to remove cancer lack a reliable method to identify the tissue type during surgery, relying on the experience and judgement of the surgeon to decide on how much tissue to remove. Because of this, surgeons often perform ‘cavity shaving’, which can result in the removal of excessive healthy tissue. And at other times, some cancerous tissue will be left behind.

“This is quite traumatic to the patient, and has been shown to have long-term detrimental effects on the patient’s outcome,” Dr Schartner says.

The optical fibre probe uses the principle that cancer tissue has a more acidic environment than normal cells; they produce more lactic acid as a byproduct of their aggressive growth.

The pH indicator embedded in the tip of the optical probe emits a different colour of light depending on the acidity. A miniature spectrometer on the other end of the probe analyses the light and therefore the pH.

“How we see it working is the surgeon using the probe to test questionable tissue during surgery,” says Dr Schartner. “If the readout shows the tissues are cancerous, that can immediately be removed. Presently this normally falls to post-operative pathology, which could mean further surgery.

The researchers currently have a portable demonstration unit and are doing further testing. They hope to progress to clinical studies in the near future.

$14.7 million in grants to further drive innovative defence technologies

Minister for Defence Industry, The Hon Christopher Pyne MP today announced seven Australian organisations would receive Australian Government funding of $14.7 million to develop and demonstrate innovative technologies to enhance Defence capability, as part of the Government’s $1.6 billion investment in defence innovation.

IPAS researchers Prof Andre Luiten, A/Prof John Hartnett and A/Prof Martin O’Connor are the research leaders of one of these projects. Their project is to develop Ultra-High Quality Signal Generation for Over the Horizon Radar. The project aims to upgrade the overall performance of the Jindalee Operational Radar Network (JORN), through a performance upgrade of its essential sub-systems. This will improve overall detection of targets.


$4.5 million awarded for new research discoveries

IPAS researchers have today been awarded $4.5 million in federal funding for new research.

This included 4 Discovery Projects, 1 DECRA Fellowship, 1 Future Fellowship and 2 LIEF infrastructure grants led by IPAS members. 

IPAS News from the first quarter of 2016

Message from our Director Prof Andre Luiten

Andre_048The New Year certainly started with bang in January with our annual IPAS New Year Event attended by 93 members.  We were able to celebrate members’ achievements for 2015 and members had the opportunity to give each other snapshots of their current and upcoming projects.

2015 was a significant year for IPAS with members driving research in an upward trajectory.  We saw publication outputs jump by a total of 20%.  Even more pleasing was the 50% increase from 2014 in High Impact papers.  Grant funding came flowing in with members being awarded over $7M in new grant funding.

We have continued to strengthen our relationship with key government and industry players.  This included: securing a further $250k from State Government for the Photonics Catalyst Program; continued interactions with our strategic partners in Defence Science Technology Group with 4 funded projects worth more than $1.7M and the establishment of the Trajan R&D Hub based in the Braggs Building. Another exciting development in late 2015 was the success of IPAS researchers in establishing two new spinout companies.

We welcome A/Prof Martin O’Connor who has joined us leading a number of defence and Industry linked projects in IPAS.

IPAS continues to welcome visits by Government ministers and thus far we have hosted 4 Federal and 6 State Government ministers with many more already scheduled this year.

But IPAS isn’t just about the numbers; I am very pleased to report that we have an extremely healthy social culture enabling our researchers to interact regularly. This interaction underpins the ability of our researchers to generate high quality science and is obvious from the buzz I observe in our numerous meeting rooms and at events.  I very much look forward to the continued growth and successes of IPAS members.


We congratulate members on the following recent achievements:

David Ottaway

A/Prof David Ottaway has been awarded an Invitational (Short-Term) Fellowship by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) in association with the Australian Academy of Science (AAS). The Program provides researchers who have an excellent record of research achievements with an opportunity to conduct collaborative research, discussions, and opinion exchanges with researchers in Japan.


staff_020A/Prof Chris Sumby has been awarded the prestigious ‘Sandy Mathieson Medal’ from the ‘Society of Crystallographers in Australia and New Zealand (SCANZ)’. The award recognises distinguished contributions to science involving X-ray, neutron or electron diffraction or imaging by a researcher under 40 years of age. It is awarded on the quality of published scientific work, together with evidence of standing within the international community. Chris will receive his medal at the SCANZ meeting next month in Hobart and deliver the Mathieson Medal Lecture.

Invited Talk

Roman KosteckiMr Roman Kostecki was invited to present “Develop New Path of Smartness”  at the ‘Annual World Congress of Smart Materials’ in Singapore, March 2016 (WCSM-2016).



Pilot Projects 2016

This scheme is intended to seed new research projects and ideas that have potential to become externally-funded research projects. The scheme can support new science that would give the key initial data to create a compelling fundamental science grant application, a fellowship or enable research to create new industry engagement or commercialisation opportunities. $100k of funding was allocated to IPAS members across the following seven projects:

  • Mr Roman Kostecki, Dr Chris Perrella, Dr Philip Light – Demonstrating Spatially Resolved Corrosion Detection
  • Dr Mel McDowall, Dr Jonathan Hall  – Determining embryo health and morphology using whispering gallery modes (WGM)
  • Dr David Ottaway, Mr Andrew Malouf, Dr Ori Henderson Sapir  – Simple Single Pumped 3.5 µm Fiber Lasers
  • Dr Nicolas Riesen, Prof Hans Riesen (UNSW), Dr Peipei Jia, Prof Tanya Monro  – Photoluminescent Storage Phosphors: A Pathway to 3D Memory
  • Dr Yinlan Ruan, Dr Tim Zhao, Dr Victoria Peddie  – A Turn-on fluorescent fiber probe for background free detection of heavy metal ions in water
  • Dr Erik Schartner, Dr Georgios Tsiminis, Mr Mustaf Bekteshi, A/Prof Heike Ebendorff-Heidepriem  – Simplified Hollow Core Optical Fibres for Sensing Applications
  • A/Prof Peter Veitch, Prof Jesper Munch, Dr Miftar Ganija  – Spectroscopy and lasing of cryogenic Ho-doped lasers

Visiting Speakers

We continue to build collaborations with researchers from around the world. Recently we have hosted the following speakers:

Seminar March 16

Interdisciplinary Eureka Prize Success – World’s smallest, brightest nano-flashlights finding a diseased needle in a haystack

Congratulations to Prof Tanya Monro (Founding Director of IPAS) and Prof Dayong Jin, Chief Investigators of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Nanoscale Biophotoncs as well as  Prof Bradley Walsh from Minomic International and Macquarie University who were recognised for their interdisciplinary research excellence on their work with super dots – the world’s smallest flashlights.

The Super Dots team that developed the method for detecting hidden, diseased cells has been awarded the “Eureka Prize for Excellence in Interdisciplinary Scientific Research”.

The super dots may be able to light up diseased cells in our bodies. These infected or cancerous cells may be hiding among millions of healthy cells. The Super Dots team has created tiny crystals that can be implanted in the body to reveal the dangerous needle in a haystack.

The work is being advanced by the ARC Centre of Excellence for Nanoscale BioPhotonics.


Mr Henry Pepper – 2015 Reaxys PhD Prize finalist

Mr Henry Pepper

Mr Henry Pepper

Chemistry student Henry Pepper has been selected as one of the finalists for the 2015 Reaxys PhD Prize, from over 450 submissions around the world. Henry is the only finalist from an Australian university and he will attend the Reaxys PhD Prize Symposium in Hong Kong in September 2015.