Twenty five years ago I received a call in my University College Cork office from Prof. Leon Kane-Maguire, then Head of Department of Chemistry at University of Wollongong. I did not know that call was about to change the course of my professional life – allowing me to embark on an incredibly exciting research journey.
This year I celebrate 25 years “service” to the University of Wollongong. Arriving in Wollongong I found myself in a University keen to establish international research credentials and to be innovative in the approach that was used to do that. I have been privileged to be caught up in and to be allowed to contribute to that exciting venture. A start up research grant of $2,000 (AUD) was proudly negotiated by Prof. Kane-Maguire and the University hierarchy (I guess). Start up research funds at other Universities were significantly greater but I have since learnt that enthusiasm, camaraderie and the working environment (eventually) outweigh any lack of funding available.
I was fortunate that at this point in time some of the best PhD students in Australia were also attracted to this challenging dynamic and rapidly growing research environment. Together we forged viable research activities, faced with the challenge of balancing applied research (the major source of our support at that time) with our desire and need to build a strong fundamental research base. A research theme emerged that could satisfy these twin desires and was “sexy” enough to generate interest at all levels in our community – it was intelligent polymers. Polymers, for example, that could monitor and respond/shut down corrosion or that could detect biological imbalances or imperfections and correct them. The concept was indeed visionary (perhaps more so than we thought at the time) with short term outcomes possible and the longer term continually presenting us with significantly more research challenges. Twenty one years later (2011), the Intelligent Polymer Research Institute has come of age and the science is as intriguing as ever. We are excited by on-going discoveries and enthused by the outcomes we see possible by integrating multifunctional behaviour into devices at the molecular level. Continue reading ’25 Years at UOW – “what a privilege”, says Prof. Gordon Wallace’