31 August 2015

The University of Queensland’s Dr Jack Clegg is one of the outstanding young researchers who has won the Queensland Young Tall Poppy Science Award this year.

Announced in an awards ceremony at the Science in Parliament event in Brisbane, the Tall Poppy awards honour up-and-coming scientists who combine world-class research with a passionate commitment to communicating science.

Dr Clegg’s work addresses one of the most enduring and costly challenges in the chemical sciences and includes developing new materials for separating and purifying complex mixtures.

“It is a privilege to have received this award, and at the same time, I am excited to contribute to the growing research in the area of chemical sciences in Queensland,” Dr Clegg said.

“This research is central to our understanding of fundamental processes of molecular recognition.

“It allows us to work out how to design materials capable of selectively catching smaller molecules.

“It's a bit like designing really tiny sieves.”

The chemical separation and purification techniques that Dr Clegg is working on will help reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions in the pharmaceutical industries.

“Ultimately if we can make these industrial processes more efficient, we can reduce the cost of medicines, and the environmental damage from making them,” Dr Clegg said.

Dr Clegg, who is also an ARC Future Fellow, works in the general field of inorganic chemistry where he focuses on synthesising complex new molecules from simple building blocks through a self-assembly process.

“It's a bit like a cross between playing with Lego and cooking,” he said.

“Through molecular engineering, we program the building blocks to spontaneously come together before preparing them in the laboratory.”

Dr Clegg has published more than 135 journal articles and three book chapters including in some of the highest-ranked chemistry journals, and has been invited to present his research work at many international conferences.

He is a past recipient of a prestigious Marie Curie Fellowship and a University of Queensland Foundation Research Excellence Award.

The Tall Poppy awards, run by the Australian Institute of Policy and Science, are held on a state by state basis to celebrate research across science, engineering and mathematics.

As part of the Young Tall Poppy campaign, award winners will spend a year sharing their knowledge with school students, teachers and the broader community through workshops, seminars and public lectures.

“The award will provide an opportunity for me to connect with the community and to share with them my passion for science and some of the remarkable developments that are taking place in chemistry research,” Dr Clegg said.

SCMB Head of School Professor Paul Young congratulated Dr Clegg on his outstanding achievement and success.

“We are delighted that as an early career researcher, Jack has received this significant recognition in his work,” Professor Young said.

Media: Dr Jack Clegg (+61 7 336 54384, +61 408 642 082, j.clegg@uq.edu.au); Faculty of Science Engagement Officer Aarti Kapoor (+61 7 334 60808, a.kapoor@uq.edu.au)

Image: From left - Queensland Minister for Science and Innovation Leeanne Enoch; Dr Jack Clegg; Deputy Executive Dean (UQ Faculty of Science) Professor Ian Gentle; and Queensland Chief Scientist Dr Geoff Garrett.

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