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Vol. 35 No. 1
January-February 2013

Conference Call | Reports from recent conferences and symposia 
See also www.iupac.org/indexes/Conferences

Australasian Polymer

The Australasian Polymer Symposium (APS) is the flagship meeting for polymer science in Australia, and over the years, the symposium has developed a reputation as an excellent showcase of Australian Polymer research, and also as a forum that attracts top international polymer scientists. The 33rd Australasian Polymer Symposium (33APS), held at The Wrest Point Convention Centre, Hobart, Tasmania, between 12–15 February 2012, under the auspice of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute (RACI) Polymer Division and under the sponsor of the IUPAC, was another excellent example of delivering just that. 33APS welcomed a number of leading Plenary and Keynote Speakers, and also contributors (over 300 in total) from Australia and around the world. The ratio of international delegates was nearly a third of the total delegate number.

The program covered all areas of polymer science and engineering, with themes on “Latest Developments in Polymer Synthesis,” “Latest Trends in Polymer Characterization,” “Advance Materials,” “Polymers for Health,” “Polymers and the Environment,” and “Polymers for Electronics and Energy.” It also included a number of special sessions, including an Early Career Researchers symposium and a session on Innovation, which covered the very dynamic topic of knowledge transfer from academia to industry.

Plenary lectures were given by Harm-Anton Klok (EPFL), Heather Maynard (UCLA), Gordon Wallace (University of Wollongong), David Haddleton (University of Warwick), Ludwick Leibler (ESPCI) and Xi Zhang (Tsinghua University). Each session was championed by a keynote lecture delivered by our invited speakers: Stuart Rowan (Case Western Reserve University), Remzi Becer (University of Warwick), Thomas Junkers (Universiteit Hasselt), Steven Holdcroft (Simon Fraser University), Brian Hawkett (The University of Sydney), Laurent Fontaine (LCOM —Chimie des Polymères), Feihe Huang (Zhejiang University), Martina Stenzel (University of New South Wales), Junpo He (Fudan University), Ulrich Wiesner (Cornell University), Theresa Reineke (University of Minnesota), Jas Pal Badyal (Durham University), Bert Klumperman (Stellenbosch University), Eduardo Vivaldo-Lima (Universidad Nacional Autonoma De Mexico), Brent Sumerlin (Southern Methodist University), Filip DuPrez (Ghent University), Richard Kaner (UCLA), Philippe Guégan (Université d’Evry Val d’Essonne), Michael Monteiro (The University of Queensland), and Nicolas Voelcker (University of South Australia).

 

Each theme had both oral and poster sessions, and interestingly all of them covered topics at the interface between polymer science and other disciplines, a testimony of how much polymer science has evolved as discipline over recent years. Topics of course addressed a range of important issues faced by our modern society in medicine, energy and the environment, but also covered a number of fundamental issues in polymer science, and especially chemistry, a traditionally very strong area in Australia.

This very varied program clearly illustrated the multidisciplinary aspect of modern polymer science, and how collaborations across fields are the best approach to tackle today’s challenges. APS has also as strong reputation as focusing on early career researchers, graduate and postdoctoral researchers, but also young lecturers. This year again, students made more than the third of our total delegate numbers, and a special session for Early Career Researchers was organized, which included presentations by Patrice Castignolles (University of Western Sydney), Kristopher Thurecht (University of Queensland), Anthony Granville, (University of New South Wales) and Daniel Keddie (CSIRO Materials Science and Engineering).

The inclusion of so many excellent oral and poster presentations by young researchers is a clear indication that Australian polymer research is very healthy, and has a bright future ahead. Among the topics discussed, the special session on living radical polymerisation (or reversible-deactivation radical polymerization, according to the nomenclature recommended by IUPAC), held towards the end of the meeting, deserves a special mention, as it is an area of research that has always been very strong in Australia. The session was introduced by a plenary from David Haddleton (University of Warwick), and concluded with plenary lectures from the recipients of the Australian 2011 Prime Minister’s Prize for Science, David Solomon (University of Melbourne) and Ezio Rizzardo (CSIRO). Solomon describes the discovery of the fundamentals behind the establishment of nitroxide mediated polymerization (NMP), and Dr Rizzardo discussed the discovery of reversible addition fragmentation chain transfer (RAFT) polymerization. NMP and RAFT are two of the major living radical polymerization techniques reported to date, and their discovery has certainly placed Australia as one of the leading nations in the field of living radical polymerization/reversible-deactivation radical polymerization.

In parallel to a packed scientific program, the APS also included a busy social schedule, as is always the case. The welcome reception was held in one of the best wineries in Tasmania, Meadow Bank Winery, where the delegates were welcomed with great wine and great food, and enjoyed the sunset over the hills surrounding Hobart. A special student night in Hobart city center allowed research groups to meet and discuss science in an informal atmosphere. The symposium dinner was held on the Wednesday night at Wrest Point Convention Centre, during which prizewinners were announced. The Treloar Prize, awarded for outstanding oral and poster presentations by young polymer scientists at National or International Polymer Division Meetings, was awarded to Zhou Zhang (University of Melbourne) and Adrian Sulistio (University of Melbourne) for best oral presentation, and Wei Zhao (The University of Sydney), for best poster presentation. The prize is named in honor of the late Edward (Ted) Treloar who was an enthusiastic supporter of young polymer scientists in Australia. During the dinner, Graeme Moad (CSIRO) also received the highly prestigious Batteard-Jordan Australian Polymer Medal, and Greg Qiao (University of Melbourne) and Martina Stenzel (University of New South Wales) each received a Polymer Division Citation for their contributions and service to polymer science and/or technology.

APS is not a conventional conference. It is traditionally the time of the year when Australian researchers come together and catch up, when Australian polymer science celebrate its young researchers, and it has now also become an international event attracting delegates from around the world. I guess the mix of great science and social programme have contributed to make it such a special event. An excellent testimony to the meeting is the large number delegates, Australian and from around the world, who come back every year. We are now looking forward to the next edition of the meeting, the 34APS, again under IUPAC sponsorship, which will be held in Darwin between 7–10 July 2013 <www.34aps.org.au/2013> and chaired by Kevin Jack from the University of Queensland. See you there!

Sébastian Perrier <s.perrier@chem.usyd.edu.au> is professor at the University of Sydney and director of the Key Centre for Polymer Colloids . He was chair of the symposium.


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