Keynote speakers and Invited speakers

Keynote speakers

Professor Debra Bernhardt

Debra Bernhardt is an ARC Australian Laureate Fellow in the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN) and School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences (SCMB) at The University of Queensland. Her research program focuses on theoretical and computational approaches to develop a fundamental understanding of the behaviour of matter. She applies these approaches to a wide range of problems, particularly transport in nanoscale systems, nonequilibrium flow, design of materials, energy storage and conversion. She is a Fellow of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute and Fellow of the Australian Academy of Sciences. Debra publishes as Debra J. Searles.


Professor Jason Hallett

Jason Hallett FRSA FRSC is Professor of Sustainable Chemical Technology within the Department of Chemical Engineering at Imperial College London. He is also holder of a Royal Academy of Engineering Chair in Emerging Technologies. His academic career has been dedicated to the development of emerging sustainable technologies and the translation of those into commercial practice. His publication record has mainly focussed on biorefining and his group has been developing an ionic liquid biorefinery process, ionoSolv, toward commercial reality since 2014. He is Co-Director of the UK’s National Supergen Bioenergy Hub and in 2023 he was awarded a Royal Academy of Engineering Chair in Emerging Technologies to accelerate his commercial translation activities. Prof Hallett has published more than 160 academic papers with over 30,000 citations. His research activities have been profiled by many noteworthy scientific magazines and journals, including the Washington Post, Scientific AmericanChemical & Engineering NewsChemistry World, and Science. He has received more than £40 million in research funding from different UKRI, industry and European programmes since 2013. He currently leads a group of 26 PhDs and PDRA (plus 15 Masters) and alongside 30 researchers in spin-out companies to create academic, scientific and commercial impact on society.


Professor Debbie Silvester-Dean

Debbie Silvester-Dean is Professor of Chemistry in the School of Molecular and Life Sciences at Curtin University, Perth. She completed her DPhil (PhD) at the University of Oxford, UK, then worked as an intern for Schlumberger Cambridge Research, before arriving at Curtin University in 2009 as a Curtin Research Fellow. In 2012, she was awarded an ARC Discovery Early Career Research Award (DECRA) and in 2017, a Future Fellowship. She was elected a Fellow of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute (RACI) in 2020 and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) in 2022. Her research focuses on the application of ionic liquids as electrolytes in electrochemical reactions, with an emphasis on understanding fundamental behaviour to developing new electrochemical sensors. She has won various awards for her research, including the Le Fèvre medal from the Australian Academy of Science, a Young Tall Poppy award, the Rennie Memorial medal from the RACI, the Peter W. Alexander Medal from the Analytical & Environmental Division of the RACI, and the Alan M Bond medal from the Electrochemistry Division of the RACI. She is currently the chair elect for the Electrochemistry Division of the RACI, and the outgoing Australia/New Zealand regional representative for the International Society of Electrochemistry (ISE).  


Professor Rob Aitkin

Rob Atkin is a Professor of Chemistry at the University of Western Australia (UWA). He obtained his PhD from the University of Newcastle (Australia) in 2003 and then completed a postdoc at Bristol University (UK). In 2005 Rob was awarded an Australian Research Council (ARC) Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Sydney. He returned to Newcastle in 2007 as a University of Newcastle Research Fellow, was awarded an ARC Future Fellowship in 2012 and was promoted to Professor in 2015. In 2017 Rob moved to his current role at UWA. Rob has >200 career publications which have attracted >16000 citations. His research interests include ionic liquids and deep eutectic solvents, liquid nanostructure in bulk and at electrodes, surfactant and polymer adsorption, Stern layer structures and locally concentrated ionic liquid electrolytes.  Rob makes extensive use of facilities in the UWA Centre for microscopy, Characterisation and Analysis (including video rate atomic force microscopy) and external radiation scattering facilities such as ANSTO and the ISIS Neutron and Muon Source.  


Professor Katya Pas

Katya graduated from the Higher Chemistry College affiliated with the Russian Academy of Sciences in 2000 with a bachelor’s and master’s degree in chemistry, both with honours. In 2004, she was awarded a Dr. Rer. Nat. degree from the University of Münster in the field of Theoretical Chemistry after three years of enrolment. After two post-doctoral positions at the Australian National University and Monash University, she was appointed a Lecturer in the School of Chemistry at Monash in 2007. From 2008 until 2016 she had held two prestigious fellowships from the ARC, that allowed her to establish the Monash Computational Chemistry Group (https://mccg.erc.monash.edu/). In 2017, she was elected a Fellow of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute (RACI) and in 2023 she was named within the top 341 chemists in Australia published by research.com. Her research has attracted nearly 7500 citations resulting in an h-index of 43. In 2020, she was elected to the ARC College of Experts and awarded the supervisor of the year by the Victorian RACI. She had been a member of several external advisory committees assessing research grants including ANSTO and the National Computational Infrastructure. For the last five years she had been Associate Head International affairs elevating international exchange programs both at undergraduate and post-graduate levels. Her research focuses on the development of computational chemistry methods, molecular dynamics simulations and machine learning algorithms to facilitate accurate large-scale calculations for the prediction of material properties from organic electrodes to antimicrobial peptides. Her research platform provides a fast-track for the design of sustainable materials to support the circular economy of the future. Her passion lies in the understanding of the role of intermolecular forces and structural arrangement in designing organic and biomaterials with desired physicochemical properties.


Professor Yoshizawa Fujita

Masahiro Yoshizawa-Fujita received his PhD degree (2002) from Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology (Japan). During his PhD studies, he received a Research Fellowship for Young Scientists at the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS). He spent two years as a postdoctoral research fellow (Discovery-Project) at Monash University. He moved to Sophia University as an Assistant Professor in 2006. He was promoted to Professor in 2019. His recent research activities are concerned with the design of organic salts (ionic liquids, ionic plastic crystals, zwitterions, etc.), especially for battery research and biomass processing.


Professor Heng Zhang

Heng Zhang received his Bachelor (2011) and PhD (2016) degree in School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at Huazhong University of Science and Technology (HUST, China). Then, he joined CIC EnergiGUNE as a post-doc researcher (2016-2017) working with Prof. Michel Armand, and later he acted as the research line manager of polymer electrolyte at CIC EnergiGUNE (2018-2020). He is now a professor of Organic Chemistry at HUST (2020-). His interests focus on safe electrolyte materials, particularly ionic liquid electrolytes, solid polymer electrolytes, for rechargeable batteries.


Professor Suojiang Zhang

Prof. Suojiang Zhang, Member of Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), Professor and Director of Beijing Key Laboratory of Ionic Liquids Clean Process of IPE, and the President of Henan University. Prof. Zhang is mainly engaged in the research of green chemical engineering, new energy and materials, especially focusing on the fundamental and application studies of ionic liquids and green low-carbon process engineering. He has developed a number of green media-enhanced reaction/separation technologies, breaking through major challenges in ionic liquid design, process innovation, and system integration, and realizing the industrial application of more than 10 green technologies. He has also won several academic awards, including the Second Class Prize of National Natural Science Award, the TWAS-Award in Chemistry, the Ho Leung Ho Lee Foundation Science and Technology Progress Award, etc.


Professor Jenny Pringle

Prof Jenny Pringle works in the Institute for Frontier Materials at Deakin University, Melbourne. She is Director of the ARC Industrial Transformation Training Centre for Future Energy Storage Technologies, “StorEnergy”. She received her degree and PhD at The University of Edinburgh in Scotland, working on ionic liquids, before moving to Monash University in 2002. From 2008-2012 she held an ARC QEII Fellowship, and she moved to Deakin University in 2013. There she leads research into the development and use of ionic liquids and plastic crystals for applications including thermal energy harvesting and storage, CO2 separation membranes, sodium and lithium batteries.


Professor Patricia A. Hunt

Prof Patricia Hunt completed her BSc and MSc (with Honours) in physics and chemistry at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, her PhD was in the areas of Group 15 inversion, transition metal bonding and relativistic effects in small gold clusters with Peter Schwerdfeger. During this time she also completed a BA in politics and philosophy. Subsequently Patricia took up a position at Kings College London, London UK with Prof. Mike Robb developing the theory (and coding) on-the-fly dynamics through conical intersections employing the CASSCF method. She then moved on to Cambridge University, Cambridge, UK working with Prof Micheal Sprik, developing (and coding) the effective MO theory for analysing ab-initio molecular dynamics studying the solvation of small ions in aqueous solutions. She was then awarded prestigious Royal Society University Research Fellowship which she took up at Imperial College London, at the end of the fellowship she stayed at Imperial College raising through the ranks to become Prof of Theoretical and Computational Chemistry. In 2020 she took up her current position at Victoria University of Wellington.


Prof Tom Welton OBE, CChem, FRSC, FCGI

(Imperial College London)

Tom Welton is one of the oldies of ionic liquids. He has worked with ionic liquids continuously since 1985 when he embarked upon his PhD, supervised by Ken Seddon at the University of Sussex, on The Chemistry and Spectroscopy of Ionic Liquids. He joined Imperial College London as a Lloyd’s of London Tercentenary Fellow in 1993 and has remained there ever since.In 2004, he became the world’s first Professor of Sustainable Chemistry. He investigates the properties of ionic liquids, their interactions with solutes, and their effects on chemical reactions. He is best known for quantifying these effects and providing mechanistic understandings of their use in organic synthesis. Much of his earlier work was on the application of ionic liquids to transition metal catalysed reactions. More recently he has been interested in the use of ionic liquids for the processing of lignocellulosic biomass. Beyond his own research, he has been Head of the Chemistry Department (2007-14) and Dean of the Faculty of Natural Sciences (2014-19) at Imperial College. From 2020-22, he was President of the Royal Society of Chemistry. He is a champion for greater inclusion of underrepresented groups in chemistry. In recognition of his work on diversity in education, he was awarded Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 2017 and in 2024 he was granted the Freedom of the City of London (which means that he is allowed to drive his sheep across London Bridge).


Invited speakers

Prof. Cameron Weber

University of Auckland

Dr. Irune Villaluenga

POLYMAT

Prof. Tristan Rawling

University of Technology Sydney

Dr. Thomas Ruther

CSIRO

Prof. Ueno Kazuhide

Yokohama National University

Dr. Tamar Greaves

RMIT

Dr. Sherif Abbas

Deakin University

Dr. Hua Li

University of Western Australia

Dr. Owen Curnow

University of Canterbury

Dr. Jason Harper

University of New South Wales

Prof. Luke O’Dell

Deakin University

Dr. Karolina Matuszek 

Monash University