In this month’s newsletter, we would like to introduce PhD student, Matt Jellicoe from the College of Science and Engineering.
Matt’s recently submitted thesis, “Vortex mediated catalysis and physico-chemical process control” received outstanding results from the examiners.
We asked Matt to share what his research is about, future goals and advice to fellow students.
Tell us about yourself
I was born and raised in the Adelaide Hills. From a young age, I have always loved science which was partially attributed to my grandfather previously being a science teacher at Strathalbyn High School, where I graduated in 2013. I undertook a BSc in Forensic and Analytical Science and then a BSc (Hons) titled ‘Vortex Fluidics Mediated Diels-Alder Reactions in Electric Fields’. Since submitting my PhD thesis, I have begun working as a research fellow in automated and continuous production of nanomaterials at the University of Leeds. In my free time I like to exercise, read (for fun, finally), play chess, watch sport and travel (which I have been doing more of recently being in the UK).
What is your research about?
My research investigated how fluid flows in miscible and immiscible liquids at the nanometre dimension, and how we can use this knowledge to control the physical and chemical structures of different materials. My research used a number of techniques to understand what is occurring at the nanometre dimension; including nanofabrication, thermal imaging, mixing/demixing experiments and neutron scattering.
The understanding of how the fluid flows was then applied to nanofabrication in the coating of fullerene C60 over polystyrene beads and coiling of single walled carbon nanotubes and in biomaterials. In the fabrication of a biofilm from sustainable starting materials, the entrapment of nutrients in gelatin and the fabrication of highly compact and crystalline cellulose fibres from Kombucha. My research led to 8 peer reviewed papers in Q1 journals including ACS sustainable chemistry and engineering, RSC Nanoscale advances and Chemical Science.
What advice would you give to fellow students?
A PhD is a monumental undertaking which will forever impact your life. My advice for people who are about to undertake a PhD is to make sure you enjoy what you’re going to do. I was extremely grateful and fortunate to be flexible with what projects I took on in my PhD, but I made sure I liked what I was studying. I knew If I didn’t like what I was studying I would be less inclined to put the effort into the project.
So, I chose areas of science that I enjoyed and studied them. The final piece of advice is to make sure you have a good community around you of family, friends and a significant other. This last one is particularly important in my opinion, my girlfriend Ellie was an amazing person to lean on, complain to and discuss things with throughout my PhD. I truly don’t think I would have completed my PhD without her. She was my rock.
What are your future goals and plans?
My immediate goals are to gain knowledge and skills in self optimisation of nanomaterial and biomaterial fabrication under continuous flow (currently doing this in my current position). Incorporating algorithms in continuous flow systems to obtain higher yields, desired morphology and increased functionality of a material, while increasing Green Chemistry metrics. I would like to take skills and knowledge that I acquire to set up an independent research group in the next few years at a leading university in Australia (hopefully at Flinders!).