The Power List 2015
ACS Sensors Editor-in-Chief; Scientia Professor, ARC Australian Laureate Fellow and founding Co-Director of The Australian Centre for NanoMedicine, University of New South Wales, Australia.
Most important lesson To be persistent. My post-doctoral supervisor taught me this well as an early career scientist. Funding for research is hard to get, so you must really want the opportunity badly, not just because it would be nice.
Encounters with serendipity Perhaps the most serendipitous result has been the catalyst for a lot of the work we do now. We do a lot of surface modification of silicon that does not have an intervening oxide layer. The surface chemistry partly is required to prevent any oxidation of the silicon. One person in the group stumbled across surface chemistry that is so effective at preventing the oxidation of silicon that we can now use silicon as an electrode material in aqueous solution. The same surface chemistry has allowed us to develop photonics crystals that actually sense in vivo and to develop electrode arrays where each element of the array is addressed using light, as distinct from having its own wire. This is important as it opens up routes to high-density electrode arrays.
Most unexpected outcome Being on the first Power List was most unexpected. Blew me away.
Eye on the horizon I think the sensing field is really blossoming; there seems to be a move away from electrochemical to optical methods with nanoscale materials and control being very prominent. For me, the really exciting direction is towards digital assays that count single molecules. Other exciting directions are wearables with sensors that seamlessly integrate with our lives. I have just been made editor-in-chief of a new American Chemical Society journal ACS Sensors. It will be great to have a high-quality journal that covers all aspects of chemical and biological sensing.