No Forsyth saga at all

Just three wee small hours and Deakin has yet another prize research recruit - Professor Maria Forsyth

Professor Maria Forsyth
Professor Maria Forsyth

No Forsyth saga at all - just three wee small hours and Deakin recruits another leading researcher!

Deakin University has further bolstered its fast-growing research depth with the recruitment of one of Australia’s leading scientists, Professor Maria Forsyth.

Professor Forsyth, formerly at Monash University, joined Deakin’s Institute for Technologically Research and Innovation (ITRI) on August 4th.

The Associate Director of the Australian Centre for Excellence in Electromaterials ScienceProfessor Forsyth has been a leader in the field of electromaterials science for more than a decade.

“We are delighted, in fact more than delighted, that Professor Forsyth and her team are coming to Deakin,” said Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Lee Astheimer.

“We are looking forward to her working in the new temporary modular laboratories at the Burwood campus.

“Maria is an extremely energetic, dynamic and creative scientist.

“She will create a fantastic link between our Institute for Technology Research and Innovation and the Faculty of Science and Technology through her groundbreaking work.

“She will also have a great role to play in encouraging more female researchers in engineering.”

Professor Forsyth is equally excited about joining Deakin University.

“Deakin is a University with its head screwed on,” she said.

“It knows where it is going in research and where it is going up.

“It’s a real can do place.

“I first became aware of that when I was asked to be involved in a mentoring program with Dr Bronwyn Fox at Deakin.

“Then Professor Xungai Wang asked me to address ITRI’s first annual conference last year.

“Then Professor Peter Hodgson, the Director of ITRI, asked me if would consider moving to Deakin.

“My initial reaction was no because my family was very happy living in Melbourne.

“I said to him that I might though if suitable laboratories on the Burwood campus ever became available.

“This was over an exchange of e-mails around midnight. When about three hours later I got an e-mail saying that lack of laboratories at Burwood was no longer a problem, I thought wow, this is the sort of university I could work at.”

The members of her research teams who come with her to Deakin will work initially on the Burwood campus, with others shifting to the Waurn Ponds campus later in the year.

Although not a person to seek the spotlight, Professor Forsyth has been a key player in a number of high profile, groundbreaking research projects.

These include working with the University of Wollongong and the Bionic Ear Institute at the Australian Centre of Excellence in Electromaterials Science,

“Our team is focussed on new materials for renewable energy technologies, corrosion and bionics – the interface between electromaterials and biology,” she explained.

"Cutting edge battery and fuel cell technologies both implantable medical as well as everyday domestic applications also are an important part of the research being undertaken in the Centre of Excellence.  Inexpensive, reliable energy storage is crucial if we are going to see renewable energy based on solar and wind technologies become a serious contender in our energy supply.”

The development of new environmentally friendly corrosion protection coatings for various metals, and in particular new lightweight alloys has also been a major effort of Professor Forsyth’s team.

Professor Maria Forsyth’s research Interests:

Professor Forsyth’s research focuses on developing an understanding of charge transport at metal/electrolyte interfaces and within electrolyte materials. Such materials have included a range of novel ionic liquids, polymer electrolytes and plastic crystals. Using this understanding, she has collaborated very productively with colleagues within academia, CSIRO, DSTO as well as industry to design new materials and processes to control and optimise these phenomena in two key areas – corrosion  (e.g. Corrosion Science 2006, Surface and Coatings Technology, 2007) and electrochemical devices (e.g. Nature 1999, Science 2002, Science 2008, Journal of Applied Electrochemistry 2008). Overall, she has authored over 250 publications and 5 patents, which have been cited more than 5000 times.

One very important area of application of this knowledge is in corrosion mitigation.  Professor Forsyth and her team have been at the forefront of developing and characterising new, environmentally friendly methods to control charge transfer at reactive metal interfaces, such as aluminium and magnesium, in order to improve their corrosion resistance.  For example, her group have pioneered the development of novel corrosion inhibitors based on a combination of rare-earth-metal and organic compounds, and more recently the use of Ionic Liquid treatments to form passivating surfaces. This work has led to a prestigious invitation to present a seminar at the Gordon Conference on Aqueous Corrosion (2004) as well as invited talks at the International Symposium of Electrochemistry (ISE-2004) and at the Australasian Corrosion Association conference (CPC-2007).

The second very significant application of this knowledge has been in the field of electrochemical devices.  For a number of years Professor Forsyth has focussed attention of her group on understanding interphase creation in electrochemical devices such as lithium batteries.  In the field of electrochemical devices, the group led by Professor Forsyth and Professor Macfarlane has pioneered the use of ionic liquids and plastic crystals in light metal batteries, fuel cells, actuators and photoelectrochemical solar cells.

Professor Forsyth’s group has also developed a range of unique characterisation approaches including multinuclear, variable temperature pulsed field gradient NMR facilities, with which they have contributed to the elucidation of ion transport mechanisms in electrolyte materials and surfaces. She was recently successful in an EPSRC grant with Professor Mark Smith (PVC-R at Warwick University) to develop high-resolution solid-state NMR techniques to characterize interfacial films on reactive metals.

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