Highly-cited UNSW chemical engineers influence peers all over the world

The top talents of four UNSW chemical engineers have been recognised by the latest Highly Cited Researchers Clarivate Analytics list which recognises the world’s most influential researchers of the past decade.

"This result clearly demonstrates that UNSW’s ambitious 2025 Strategy is delivering on one of its key objectives which is excellence in research."

Professor Guangzhao Mao, Head of School, UNSW Chemical Engineering


“It is testament to the growing global influence of the School of Chemical Engineering that four of our researchers have been recognised on the prestigious Highly Cited Researchers list for the last two years in a row,” says Chemical Engineering Head of School, Professor Guangzhao Mao.

The Highly Cited Researchers (HGR) list is compiled annually by Clarivate Analytics and recognises the world's most influential researchers, whose citation records position them in the top 1% of their respective fields over a decade.

Around 6,200 HCRs were announced on the 2019 list, with 30 of those coming from UNSW. This marks a 50% increase compared to 2018 and means UNSW places second among Group of Eight (Go8) universities. This meteoric rise is even more impressive when compared to 2016 when the university ranked seventh among Go8, with just three academics included.

“This result clearly demonstrates that UNSW’s ambitious 2025 Strategy is delivering on one of its key objectives which is excellence in research,” explains Prof Mao.

The four UNSW Chemical Engineers on the list include Professor Cyrille Boyer, Professor Liming Dai, Dr Da Wei Wang, and Professor Kourosh Kalantar-Zadeh, all of whom are conducting fascinating high-impact research.

Prof Boyer is the Co-director of the Australian Centre for NanoMedicine. His research focuses on the development of sustainable techniques for the synthesis of functional polymeric materials for applications including drug delivery and 3D printing. He also works with industry partners (including Flame Security International) in designing new-generation fire retardant products using nano-technology, resulting in commercialisation.

“My research group does a lot of fundamental research and we have been fortunate to discover a new technique of polymerisation that uses visible light to make functional polymers,” he explains.

The technique has generated considerable global interest and Prof Boyer says it is very gratifying to see it used so widely. “One particularly hot topic has been the use of this technique to fabricate polymeric materials for new synthetic antimicrobial macromolecules. Another application, in collaboration with colleagues in medicine, has been to develop polymers for the treatment of pancreatic cancer,” he says.

Prof Dai is an international pioneer in the fields of carbon nanomaterials and metal-free carbon electrocatalysis for renewable energy applications. His research bridges the gap between nanoscale science and applied research on polymers and carbon nanomaterials and their related devices in the micro-macro-world.

As evidence of the calibre and impact of Dai’s work, his name has appeared on the HCR list, in both the Chemistry and Materials categories, each year for the past five years. There are only about 100 double-listed HCRs in the world, which puts his extraordinary achievement into perspective.

“I feel so honoured for my work to be recognised by peers and the scientific community worldwide. I have no hesitation in saying that UNSW Chemical Engineering is one of the best places to engage in carbon energy research and development globally,” he says.

Prof Kalantar-Zadeh, is a multidisciplinary researcher with a background in electronics and telecommunications. His research on ingestible sensors, liquid metals and two-dimensional materials are internationally recognised and he has received several international awards for his work in the fields of materials, sensors and analytical sciences.

“I have always endeavoured to define and make sense of fundamental phenomena and have been fortunate enough to be involved in several novel discoveries and developments,” he says.

Another success factor for Prof Kalantar-Zadeh is his ability to widely communicate his research. “I always try to present my findings in an exciting and interesting way,” he says. “Writing a good paper is very similar to presenting a good lecture in a classroom.”

With a focus on providing sustainable and affordable solutions to current and future energy and environmental problems, Prof Wang’s research focuses on some of the biggest issues facing humanity today.

“My work seeks to narrow the gap between academic knowledge and industry application through fundamental innovations in high-performing materials discovery, more efficient system engineering, and cross-field collaborations,” he explains.

He says that being named on the list is hugely satisfying. “It feels like a quality mark that I want to keep for my future research. I truly appreciate the recognition of my contribution by my worldwide peers and the generous support from all my colleagues who I have been so fortunate to work with.”

Prof Mao says she is proud of not just the four HCR researchers but all of the teams and colleagues their success represents. “I have no doubt they will continue to excel in their research areas and help our promising young researchers to grow through excellent mentorship,” she says.

“In fact, I’d like to invite any aspiring researchers reading this to explore the work of our HCRs, and the many other exciting research projects going on in the school, and to get in touch with us to find out more about joining our chemical engineering family.”

Share this