UQ scientists investigate health threats in the environment

1 Dec 2023

A new research centre connecting University of Queensland, University of Tasmania and Deakin University researchers will enable new and advanced technologies in water environmental monitoring, food quality control, and fine chemical manufacturing processes.

The Australian Research Council (ARC) Training Centre for Hyphenated Analytical Separation Techniques, known as HyTECH, was established to develop analytical chemistry technologies capable of isolating specific target molecules from within complex mixtures to accurately measure them.

The UQ team, led by Professor Kevin Thomas, Director of UQ’s Queensland Alliance for Environmental Health Sciences (QAEHS), will focus on HyTECH research platform ‘Environmental science and monitoring’, which aims to improve human health outcomes through environmental health science.

QAEHS is a leading centre in the field of trace chemical and particulate pollutant monitoring, with state-of-the-art analytical facilities, including numerous hyphenated mass spectrometry techniques, a unique contaminant-controlled clean lab and a world-class archiving facility.

Professor Thomas said the QAEHS team will conduct research to determine the presence and volume of nano-sized plastic particles in water and urban air settings.

"We will investigate the use of high-resolution mass spectrometry to identify chemical hazards that are historic, new or emerging," Professor Thomas said. 

"This will help environmental regulation agencies globally to understand the risks and impacts of environmental hazards more effectively."

A key mission for HyTECH is to train the next generation of PhD students in the development and application of this advanced technology and provide the next generation of experts to industry.

Dedicated to a deeply collaborative approach to advancing separation science in Australia, Hytech projects are all cross-institutional, with academic investigators spread across all three nodes to achieve the greatest diversity of thought, skills and experience to solve challenges.

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