Passion and determination for ‘green chemistry’ research

Kasturi Vimalanathan

Tackling issues of climate change and pollution, Flinders University Science graduate Dr Kasturi
Vimalanathan (PhD(Chem) ’17) is determined to make a positive impact on our planet.

“I’ve always wanted to make a difference,” says Dr Vimalanathan. “Today, as a scientist, I am indeed working towards making a difference by developing processes that tackle issues of climate change, pollution and other environmental factors that have negative impacts on our society.”

As a Research Associate at Flinders University, Dr Vimalanathan’s passion and sheer hard work is currently focused on developing fabrication methods under continuous flow using green chemistry metrics to manipulate 2D materials such as graphene, carbon nanotubes and fullerenes, to study their properties for a diverse range of applications.

These new processes aim to reduce production costs, complexity in processing methods, processing time, energy usage and minimise the generation of waste and the use of harsh chemicals and surfactants – with scalability incorporated into the science at its inception.

Gaining global recognition, including on ABC’s Catalyst and BBC News, Dr Vimalanathan’s research has the potential to be used by industry to create products sustainably, without compromising on quality.

During her PhD studies at Flinders University, Dr Vimalanathan was awarded a scholarship to undertake a research fellowship at the National Institute for Materials Science in Japan, to investigate the local electrical properties of novel carbon nanostructures using their state-of the-art measurement facilities.

She was also awarded an entrepreneurial scholarship with Flinders’ New Venture Institute, where she undertook an Enterprise workshop to develop a business plan demonstrating the commercial viability of Splashboard, a joint venture with colleague and creator of the software, Laura Diment (BEng(Biomed) ’13). Splashboard was the first software to use gesture recognition technology to encourage and enable people across all ages, physical abilities and languages, to create art and music.

Dr Vimalanathan acknowledges that science can be a challenging career path, but also very rewarding. She says her journey has taught her many life lessons, including the importance of persistence – believing that failure and rejection is the key to success.

At Flinders she has learned to embrace and encourage collaboration, which she says has given her the ability to widen her research goals and pursue multiple projects simultaneously.

“I built a great support network very early on and my amazing mentors at the College of Science and Engineering and colleagues, such as Professor Colin Raston, have been exceptional and instrumental in assisting me in building my career in science,” she says.

“I’m proud of how far I have come. I’ve developed unwavering resilience and persistence and have built this sense of confidence to try and achieve greatness and to make a difference.”

“There is still a lot to do and accomplish, but my passion and determination makes it a very exciting and enjoyable journey.”

Read more about studying Science at Flinders

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