Associate Professor Rico Tabor

Rico Tabor completed his undergraduate and postgraduate degrees at the University of Bristol, UK, under the supervision of the legendary surfactant chemist Julian Eastoe. In 2009, he moved to Australia for a post-doctoral position at the University of Melbourne, working in the colloid group of Profs Ray Dagastine, Franz Grieser and Derek Chan, using atomic force microscopy to explore fundamental forces in soft systems. In 2012, he was appointed to a lectureship at Monash University, where he started the Soft Materials and Colloids group, whose members research phenomena at the interface of self-assembly and responsive nanomaterials. Outside of work, he spends most of his time walking his dog and researching the best Australian red wines.

Post-doctoral researchers

Dr Jonathan Faber

Dr Jonathan Faber is a synthetic organic chemist with experience in both academia and industry. He completed his PhD at the University of Queensland, focused on the total synthesis of natural products. He has worked on medicinal chemistry projects in Brisbane and Tokyo and applied his skills at a custom organic synthesis company in Melbourne. At Monash University he has delved into the world of surfactants and their synthesis with an emphasis on sustainability. In what little free time he has after encouraging his children to become the scientists of the future, Jon attempts to grow fruits and vegetables and explores the great outdoors.

Dr Ryan Robson

Ryan completed his Bachelor of forensic science (2013) at Deakin University before continuing his PhD studies in the synthesis of supramolecular hosts for anion recognition (2017) in the Pfeffer lab. He continued his research as a postdoctoral associate in the Woerpel lab at NYU studying synthetic techniques and applications of organic peroxide and their development as small molecule ferroptosis initiators. His current research involves the development of synthetic and analytical techniques for surfactant molecules. 

PhD researchers

Chris Hill 

Chris completed a BSc with honours in Chemistry in 2020 under the supervision of Rico Tabor. After a brief detour into environmental science, Chris has returned to the SMaC lab in 2022 to complete his PhD. His work focuses on the development and testing of scalable microcapsules from sustainable materials and the interfacial science therein. Chris enjoys long walks, long novels and is an amateur Jazz enthusiast.

Josh King 

Josh undertook his Honours year in 2017 in the SMaCLab, researching the spatiotemporal evolution of complex fluid films. He spent the following year travelling and learning about the rheology of non-Newtonian systems as a research assistant in the Chemistry and Materials Science and Engineering. In 2019, Josh returned to the SMaCLab to commence his PhD, exploring the relationship between nanostructure and properties for self-assembled fluids.

Yue Gao

Yue joined the SMaC lab in October 2018, as a PhD student of Dr Boon Teo. She obtained her bachelor degree from Wuhan Textile University (2015, China) and master degree in Donghua University (2018, China). She is currently studying biomaterial-based hydrogels and hoping to apply them in medical research in the future.

Veena Kelleppan (co-supervised by Assoc. Prof. Kellie Tuck)

Veena completed a Bachelor of Science with Honours in Chemistry, under the supervision of Associate Professor Rico Tabor in 2017. After working in industry for 2 years, Veena has returned to undertake an industry partnered PhD, sponsored by Axieo. Her PhD project focuses on the synthesis and analysis of novel surfactant molecules. Out of the lab Veena is a voracious reader, tennis enthusiast and music lover. 

Ashley Williams

Ash completed his Bachelor of Science with Chemistry and Applied Mathematics Majors in 2018 at Monash University.  He joined the SMaCLab in an undergraduate research project to investigate the rheological properties and stability of cellulose nanofibres in the presence of surfactants. In 2019 Ash completed his Honours, looking at modelling small-angle neutron scattering (SANS) data for concentrated wormlike micellar systems. In 2020, he started his PhD looking into the molecular basis for binary surfactant self-assembly phenomena, with a focus in scattering techniques and tensiometry. Outside of research, Ash enjoys expanding his culinary repertoire, solving 'twisty' puzzles, and listening to music.

Kirti Thakur (Main supervisor: Prof. Tanja Junkers)

Kirti joined SMaC Lab in June 2020 with Prof. Rico Tabor as her co supervisor. Her research is focused on intelligent polymer designs for environmental chemistry. She joined Monash University in 2019 and works on Microcapsule Technology and Green chemical processes that enhances her skill in hydrogel–based microcapsules for organic pollutant remediation focusing on PFAS (Perfluoro alkyl substances) remediation. She also takes keen interest in theoretical understanding of pollutant behaviour in water. She strives to work for material design based on principles of green chemistry. Her hobbies are numismatics, poetry writing and has new found interest in gardening.

Michaela Wawryk (Main supervisor Prof. Perran Cook)

Michaela Wawryk completed her Bachelor of Science Advanced – Research degree, doing her Honours project with Assoc. Prof. Rico Tabor. She has previously undertaken research projects in materials and physical chemistry, and her Honours year project looked into the fabrication of unique surfaces using particle self-alignment. Michaela's PhD project focuses on investigation of conductive cable bateria in sediments.


Dr Boon Teo

Boon Teo received her B.A.Sc from the University of Melbourne in 2005, majoring in Psychology and Chemistry. In 2006, she received her B.Sc (first class Hons) and Ph.D. (2010) in Physical Chemistry under the supervision of Prof. Muthupandian Ashokkumar and Prof. Franz Grieser. She loves travelling for work and has worked in the USA, Japan, Denmark and the UK. She returned to Melbourne in May 2017 having been appointed to a lectureship at Monash University. She is part of the SMaC group and leads a theme in particle, polymer and ultrasound chemistry.

Adjunct Professor Roger Horn

Roger graduated in physics from Monash followed by a PhD on the physics of liquid crystals from Cambridge University. He joined ANU in 1978 where he worked with Jacob Israelachvili on pioneering surface force measurements. In 1988 he moved to the US National Institute of Standards and Technology in Gaithersburg, Maryland, before returning to Australia and joining the University of South Australia. There Roger was Deputy Director of the Ian Wark Research Institute from the time of its foundation in 1994 until mid-2009 when he moved to Deakin University as the Dean of Research Training. Now retired, he has returned to his alma mater as an adjunct professor in the School of Chemistry, where he plans to continue studying the surprisingly complex properties of air bubbles in water.

Dr Mark Vidallon

Mark completed his bachelor’s degree in Chemistry at the University of the Philippines Los Baños, where he also taught chemistry laboratory courses for almost three years. He joined SMaC Lab in January 2018, under the supervision of Dr. Boon Mian Teo. For his PhD research, Mark will be developing biopolymer-nanometal hybrid encapsulation and nanodelivery systems, and exploring their possible applications as antimicrobials and ultrasound contrast agents. His hobbies include watching horror films, reading and cooking.

Dr Luke Giles

Luke completed his Honours year in 2017, investigating structural control of coordination polymer morphologies using soft matter templates (co-supervised by Prof. Stuart Batten). Returning to the SMaC group to start his PhD in 2018, his research now aims to develop azobenzene-based liquid crystals towards responsive optical and optoelectronic materials.

Dr Calum Butler (co-supervised with A/Prof. Kellie Tuck)

Calum completed his Honours year in 2016 with Dr Kellie Tuck, developing new synthesis methods for ion-sensitive organic molecules. In 2017, he worked on an industrial project, developing new methods for analysing and treating wastewater. Calum started his PhD in 2018, and is developing new, responsive surfactant molecules for smart self-assembly.

Dr Geosmin Turpin

Geosmin Turpin completed her Honours year in the SMaCLab in 2016, exploring ways of controlling the self-assembly of nanoparticles using gases. After spending a year teaching in the laboratory and designing practical demonstrations for lectures, she decided nanoparticles were so exciting she had to return to do a PhD in 2018. Her research focuses on surfactant-free methods of facilitating the spontaneous adsorption of 1D and 2D nanoparticles to interfaces. She is happiest when a student she is mentoring surprises her with an idea she hasn’t thought of yet! Geosmin is a member of the ACIS Equity Committee, and hopes she can help pave the way for other transgender scientists in the future.

Dr Matthew Pottage

Matt Pottage has been a member of the SMaC group since completing his honours year in the lab in 2013, and spending most of 2014 working as a research assistant. He started a PhD through the Monash Chemicals and Plastics Manufacturing Innovation Network, sponsored by 3M, in February 2015. His research interests include the structural investigation of fluorinated amphiphiles to facilitate design of their replacements, and the incorporation of graphene into smart, functional materials.

Dr Rajiv Thapa

Rajiv completed his Bachelors and Masters degrees in biochemistry from the State University of New York. He moved to Monash university in 2012 and joined SMaC Lab in 2015. Rajiv's interest lies in the bacterial membrane composition and their interactions. His research in the lab involved the study of bacterial membranes and their interactions with nanomaterials using atomic force microscopy.

Dr Shahinur Acter 

Shahinur Acter completed her Bachelor of Science (with Honours) in Chemistry from National University, Bangladesh. She graduated with Master’s degree from Graduate School of Bio- nanotechnology at Hanyang University, South Korea. She has work experience in synthesis of soft polymeric material including hydrogel, surface modified polystyrene micro-particles and dimple shaped micro particles. She also worked as a lecturer in Chemistry at World University of Bangladesh after completing her Master’s degree. Shahinur started her PhD as a part of the SMaC group from February 2018. Her PhD research mainly focused on synthesis and characterisation of nanomaterials and encapsulate contrast agents and grow them with cells, also see the uptake of the cells with ultrasound. Her main supervisor was Dr. Boon Mian Teo and co supervisor Prof. Bayden Wood. Her hobbies include photography, cooking, shopping and exploring new places.

Dr Zhenzhen Lu 

Zhenzhen comes from China, and joined the SMaC lab in March 2018. Before that, she gained her bachelor degree from Central South University (China), Master degree from University of Ottawa (Canada) and 2 years working experience in the personal care industry. Her main research interest lies in transdermal cosmetic/drug delivery using liposome and ultrasound chemistry. In her leisure time she loves travelling around, swimming and reading.

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