School of Molecular Sciences


Our research covers ten broad areas, with many researchers working across several areas.

Research areas

Biological chemistry
The study of biomolecules at the interface of biology and chemistry is revolutionising our understanding of the mechanisms of life, and enabling us to create new therapeutics and biotechnological tools. Our research programs range from medicinal chemistry and natural products chemistry, through chemical biology and synthetic biology, to macromolecular structural biology and bionanotechnology.
Inorganic chemistry
Inorganic chemistry at UWA spans activity in synthetic organometallic and coordination chemistry, and aspects of bioinorganic chemistry (including enzyme structure, function and bio-inspired target directed synthesis), with strong emphasis on exploration of the fundamental science that underpins the structural properties, redox, electronic and optical behaviour of inorganic compounds and complexes.
Materials and nanoscience
The materials and nanoscience group spans a diverse range of activity including surface modification and interfacial science for electronic and biological applications, nanomaterials synthesis, bionanotechnology, and molecular electronics. Work in the area is underpinned by competitive grant funding and fellowships, and a wide array of international, national and institution collaborations, ensuring UWA plays a pivotal role in projects advancing materials science around the globe.
Metabolic pathways
Understanding enzymes, their activities, and the pathways they catalyze are integral to all biological sciences, and the springboard to the expanding interdisciplinary fields of systems biology and synthetic biology.  Animal and plant metabolic pathways are a focus in the School, with emphasis on applications in medicine, and agriculture.
Molecular genetics
New technologies in molecular genetics provide unprecedented insight into entire genomes and transcriptomes of a multitude of organisms, revolutionizing medical and agricultural sciences, and highlighting the diversity of life around us.  The School is positioned in a global biodiversity hotspot, with strong links to world-class medical and agricultural research institutes.
Molecular structure
The structure of a molecule dictates its functions and interactions. Our research into molecular structure, supported by cutting-edge infrastructure, focusses a broad suite of approaches, including computational chemistry, spectroscopy, crystallography, biophysics and proteomics, to answer key questions across the chemical and biological sciences, from environmental science, smart materials and molecular electronics to biotechnology, agriculture and human health.
Molecular synthesis and catalysis
The ability to design and build new molecules rests at the heart of the chemical sciences. Molecular synthesis at UWA includes development of new synthetic methodologies, catalysts and catalytic processes, and asymmetric transformations. Molecular targets include organic and metal-based pharmaceuticals and therapeutic agents, carbohydrates, natural products and molecular materials.
Organic chemistry
Fundamental research activities include natural product isolation and structure elucidation, synthetic method and catalyst development, and total (target-directed) synthesis. Organic chemistry also underpins the multidisciplinary fields of chemical ecology, medicinal chemistry, chemical biology, glycobiology, and materials chemistry, all of which are practiced in the School.
Physical chemistry
Physical Chemistry probes the structure and properties of chemical compounds, their reactions, and the nature of their bonding. The School’s physical chemists have expertise in laser and electron spin resonance (ESR) spectroscopy to detect and characterize short-lived species, radicals and reactive intermediates, and the research programs benefit from close ties between experiment and theory.
Theory and computation
Computational and simulation methods are increasingly important in all areas of chemical and biomolecular sciences. Our research focus in Theory and Computation exploits local high-performance computing facilities to seek a deeper understanding of how molecules interact with one another – in the gas phase, in solution, at interfaces and in crystals. We also apply computational methods to better understand the functional, structural and evolutionary properties, both of single organisms, and of biological systems. That is: what they do, how they are structured, how they interact and how they change over time.

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