The Power List 2020 – Australia
Research Fellow, Centre for Crop and Disease Management, School of Molecular and Life Sciences, Curtin University, Australia
Reason for pursuing analytical science: To improve human health and tackle global problems arising from increasing food, environmental, and water insecurity. My interest in science started when I learned to interpret mass spectra and reconstruct chemical compounds in A-Level Chemistry – the tasks strangely felt like solving an intriguing puzzle rather than doing my classwork. Fast forward eleven years and MS, together with other computational and lab-based analytical chemistry, is still central to my research. What I find most satisfying is to use these high-resolution techniques to solve real-world problems especially in the food, agriculture, health and forensic sector.
Future of the field: Thanks to recent technological improvements, we’ve come a long way in automating repetitive and labor-intensive duties with high-throughput, reproducible and accurate protocols. Looking ahead, I hope there will be an increase in the development of portable or wearable devices that are smaller, cheaper, greener, and more efficient. Particularly for the agricultural sector, it would be very beneficial to use microfluidic chips in remote fields to monitor the presence of pathogens or use drones to identify visual signs of crop infection via pattern recognition. Though there are challenges ahead to realize these innovations, I strongly believe we are in a golden age for collaboration with researchers in other disciplines, and we truly have a chance to make a positive impact on human lives.