ATSE Awards

Ezio Rizzardo Polymer Scholarship

Awards FWI-4

Ezio Rizzardo Polymer Scholarship

The Ezio Rizzardo Polymer Scholarship acknowledges the potential impact of an outstanding PhD candidate in polymer science or engineering. The award is made to an existing scholarship holder who is intending to undertake PhD studies related to polymer science or engineering and whose work will benefit Australia. The scholarship will provide $10,000 per year over up to three years, plus a $5000 travel fund. The Academy administers the scholarship, which is funded by the former CRC for Polymers.

Award purpose:

  • To encourage and support outstanding polymer research in Australia
  • To draw national attention to Australia’s outstanding polymer research capability
  • To elevate polymer research among the technology and innovation communities
  • Reinforce the contribution polymer science or engineering makes to Australia’s reputation as a centre of technology and innovation leadership.

Please review the guidelines below for more information.


Award conditions

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Candidate eligibility

For the Ezio Rizzardo Polymer Scholarship candidates can only be from the following universities:

University of Melbourne, Monash University, RMIT University, Swinburne University of Technology, University of Sydney, University of New South Wales, University of Wollongong, University of Newcastle, University of New England, University of Queensland, Queensland University of Technology, Griffith University, University of South Australia, and University of Western Australia


Past winners

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2023 winner

Laila Halim

Laila Halim is passionate about sustainable engineering and creating a healthier planet for future generations. As a first-year PhD candidate at Monash University, she is putting her engineering expertise to work on the plastic waste problem. 

When advanced recycling techniques are applied to plastic waste, a complex mixture of smaller chemical components is obtained. Laila’s PhD project investigates how to filter out the useful components using polymeric membrane materials, in place of traditional high energy means of separation. Once isolated, the useful chemical constituents of plastic waste can be valorised into new products across various industries. She is particularly interested in finding ways to upcycle plastic waste for use in the green energy industry. 

Laila’s research treats plastic waste as an opportunity rather than a burden and contributes to Australia’s circular economy aspirations. She holds a Bachelor of Engineering and a Bachelor of Science and has a stellar academic record with numerous Dean’s List commendations and scholarships. Laila is strongly community minded, evidenced through her work with the Tech Girls Movement Foundation and Engineers Without Borders. 

A man in a patterned dress shirt stands in front of a wall with a large repeating hexagon pattern.
2023 winner

Bailey Richardson

Bailey Richardson is a PhD student at Queensland University of Technology.  

Inspired by the relationship between light and biology which affords processes such as photosynthesis, Bailey aims to understand the natural designs that allow certain biopolymers to use light efficiently.  

By taking inspiration from these designs, he creates novel polymers that can interact with light in similarly specific ways. These materials hold potential to advance our understanding of cellular processes and lead to new ways to diagnose and treat diseases. 

With an exceptional academic record and several awards earned during his undergraduate career at Queensland University of Technology, PhD candidate Bailey is well-equipped to take on this polymer challenge. He’s also passionate about science community building, co-founding the QUT chemistry club. 

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2022 winner

Jefferson Lam

Jefferson Lam is a PhD student engaged in developing the next generation of solar panels.

Technology has a history of taking cues from nature. Jefferson’s vision of ubiquitous solar energy available at low cost inspired him to examine anew the solar energy harvesting systems of plants, developed over millennia.

His research proposal places polymer science and engineering at the forefront, replicating structures seen in plant biology and applying them onto polymers for use in lightweight solar panels.

Jefferson is intent on achieving an important step in the evolution of next-generation solar devices. He wants to contribute to a revolution in the development and widespread deployment of solar energy at ultra-low cost.

Jefferson has built a solid foundation for his continued work towards this vision. He has two STEM degrees, in materials engineering and chemistry, a strong grounding in polymer sciences and renewable energy, and three Dean’s List awards.

See all the winners from the ATSE Awards in 2022

Georgia Hunter
2021 winner

Georgia Hunter, Monash University

Georgia Hunter is an outstanding PhD student at Monash University with two STEM degrees – a Bachelor of Engineering and a Bachelor of Science – who is working to improve the properties of multi-polymer materials.

She is looking to harness design strategies found in nature and develop numerical models to achieve the most desirable combination of properties. With exciting possibilities unlocked with the advancement in multi-polymer 3-D printing, her research proposal could contribute to the manufacture of polymer materials that are as strong and as tough as natural materials. This has been difficult to achieve using ‘conventional’ manufacturing techniques.

Georgia Hunter is continuing her passion for STEM not only in her work but also by teaching the next generation of engineering students as a university tutor and demonstrator.

See all the winners from the ATSE Awards in 2021

Hayden Robertson
2021 winner

Hayden Robertson, University of Newcastle

Hayden Robertson’s PhD program is improving the current understanding of how stimulus-responsive polymers that are grafted onto a substrate to form a “brush” behave in complex media.

Polymer brushes can be used to coat various surfaces including silicon, gold, metal oxides and other polymers. Because their behaviour can be easily controlled and tuned by the presence of different salts or solvents, they have application in many fields, including targeted drug delivery, lubrication, altering the conductivity of a material’s surface and controlling the transport of small particles. They can also be used as anti-fouling agents to keep ship hulls free of contaminants and for organic light emitting diodes in television screens.

Improving the understanding of how stimulus-responsive polymer brushes react in different environments is important as it will lead to the deployment of polymer brushes as smart interfaces with tuneable properties.

As well as conducting his research, Hayden Robertson has also acted as a Student Ambassador for the Bachelor of Science program at the University of Newcastle and been part of the university’s SMART program, delivering science and engineering shows to the general public.

See all the winners from the ATSE Awards in 2021

Charmaine Hee
2020 winner

Charmaine Hee, University of Western Australia

In only her second year of a PhD at the University of Western Australia, Charmaine Hee is working on self-assembling polymers that can be programmed to create complex structures.

Ms Hee’s work is aimed at developing precision and personalised medical solutions through improving understanding of molecular recognition within living cells. Holding a Bachelor of Philosophy with First Class Honours in Chemistry, Ms Hee is also a passionate science communicator who’s been inspiring the next generation of STEM students since the beginning of her undergraduate studies.

The Ezio Rizzardo Polymer Scholarship acknowledges and awards merit and potential impact of an outstanding PhD candidate in polymer science or engineering. It recognises outstanding polymer research in Australia and work that delivers impacts that benefit Australia.

See all the winners from the ATSE Awards in 2020