Professor Alison J Downard
Principal Investigator with the MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology
Field of Study
BSc(Hons), PhD (Otago)
Telephone: +64 3 364 2501
Fax: +64 3 364 2110
Research Interests and Publications
- The Downard Electrochemistry and Surface Chemistry Research Group web pages
- Professor Alison J Downard (UC SPARK website)
Alison obtained her BSc(Hons) degree and PhD at the University of Otago, under the supervision of Professors Brian Robinson and Jim Simpson. Her project involved the synthesis and redox chemistry of tricobalt carbonyl clusters and sparked her interest in electrochemistry, which has been a common theme in her research since that time. Following her PhD, Alison did a year’s postdoctoral research on conducting polymers with Professor Derek Pletcher at the University of Southampton and then took up a two-year postdoctoral position at UNC-Chapel Hill with Professor T. J. Meyer. Her research examined the use of conducting polymers functionalized with inorganic chromophores for artificial photosynthetic systems. Since joining the staff at the University of Canterbury, Alison has worked in several areas of electrochemistry, most recently with a nanotechnology focus. She has a particular interest in surface functionalisation and has published a number of highly cited papers in this area.
For many years, Alison has been the New Zealand Corresponding Member of the Electrochemistry Division of the Royal Australian Chemical Society. She has undertaken various leadership roles including Associate Dean of Science, University of Canterbury (1999-2004), Leader of the Molecular Materials theme, MacDiarmid Institute (2009-present) and Head of Department of Chemistry (2009-2010). Alison is currently the chair-elect of the Analytical Electrochemistry Division of the International Society of Electrochemistry.
Electrochemistry is the common thread that runs through all our research. We have worked in a wide range of electrochemical areas including organometallic electrochemistry, conducting polymers, electroanalysis, inorganic electrochemistry, surface modification, electrochemistry of microorganisms and bioelectrochemistry, applications of electrochemistry in wool processing and fabrication and characterisation of carbon nanotube materials.
At present, our research is focused in three areas: covalent surface modification via radicals and other reactive intermediates, electrochemical communication with microorganisms, and applications of electrochemistry in processing New Zealand’s natural products.
Current Research Projects
- Attachment and patterning of nanoscale molecular layers on conducting surfaces to form chemically well-defined surfaces
- Attachment and characterisation of nanoscale molecular layers on non-conducting surfaces
- Building up covalently attached layers on surfaces through novel attachment chemistry
- Applications of electrochemistry in processing New Zealand’s natural products; a green chemistry approach
- New catalysts and new methods for the growth of carbon nanotubes and for electrocatalysis of organic reactions
- Electrochemistry of microbial cells with electrodes functionalised with vertically aligned carbon nanotube and or molecular mediators
- Switchable electrowetting of novel materials