Professor Gordon Wallace

The Scientist

Imagine if being diagnosed with a spinal cord injury didn’t have to mean a life relegated to a wheelchair. Or if bionic limbs fusing with nerve cells and being controlled by the brain were not just the stuff of science fiction.

Combining nanotechnology with new organic materials that conduct electricity, internationally renowned researcher Professor Gordon Wallace is working towards making what seems like the impossible, a reality.

Prof. Wallace, Director and Founder of UOW’s Intelligent Polymer Research Institute (IPRI) and Executive Research Director at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Electromaterials Science (ACES), is a pioneer in the emerging field of nanobionics. It’s a field that has already produced the Bionic Ear and in the future, has the potential to drastically change the capabilities of modern medicine.

His team have recently had a breakthrough with the development of an inkjet printer that assists nerve cell generation, which has the potential to repair damaged spinal cords and heal hearing damage.

In 1990, Professor Wallace established the world’s first intelligent polymer research laboratory in NSW. He challenged the conventional wisdom that instability in polymer materials should always be eliminated and asserted that this instability could, if understood, be directed and controlled, allowing the creation of “intelligent” polymers – materials that sense and respond to stimuli.

In the past five years, Professor Wallace and his team have attracted over $30 million in research funds, which includes research contracts from BlueScope Steel, Rio Tinto and the USA’s Defence Advanced Research Program Agency (DARPA).

He has published more than 600 refereed papers (350 since January 2000), was elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering in 2003 and of the Australian Academy of Science in 2007. In 2011, he was named as an Australian Laureate Fellow.

To keep up to date with Professor Wallace’s research, follow him on Twitter.

Watch Professor Wallace’s TEDxUWollongong talk on Youtube.

If you can’t access Youtube – Watch on YOUKU