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September–November 2022

A gateway to the history of chemistry in Australia

We need your help in continuing to document the contribution chemists have made to the social and economic development of Australia through contributions to the Encyclopedia of Australian Science and Innovation.

The Encyclopedia is a gateway to the history and archives of science, technology and innovation in Australia and is built from data systematically collected and progressively published in various forms (print and online) since 1985. The Encyclopedia contains quite a lot of information and references to the history of chemistry in Australia, but there are many gaps. It is a community-driven enterprise that relies on volunteers to propose new entries and help amend existing entries. The Encyclopedia includes the Bibliography of the History of Australian Science, which had been published annually since 1981 (see and From 1985 to 2020, the enterprise was housed at the University of Melbourne. It was relocated to Swinburne University of Technology in 2021. The first edition published by Swinburne was in March 2022.

Of the nearly 10 000 entities registered in the Encyclopedia, more than half are individuals and many of the those are chemists of some form or another (552 – as at March 2022). Following the model of the Australian Dictionary of Biography, each entry is tagged with one or more occupations (or functions). By scrolling down, you will find ‘Cereal chemist’ (2), ‘Chemical analyst’ (8), ‘Chemical engineer’ (45), ‘Chemical physicist’ (7) and ‘Chemist’, but on other browse pages you can find ‘Agricultural chemist’ (12), ‘Analytical chemist’ (52), ‘Applied chemist’ (21), ‘Industrial chemist’ (88), ‘Inorganic chemist’ (18), ‘Manufacturing chemist’ (6), ‘Medical chemist’ (3), ‘Medicinal chemist’ (1), ‘Mineral chemist’ (9), ‘Mining chemist’ (2), ‘Organic chemist’, ‘Pharmaceutical chemist’ (1), ‘Physical chemist’ (25), ‘Polymer chemist’ (5), and ‘Quantum chemist’ (2). Biochemists and geochemists have been treated as separate groups. Organisations with a chemical focus have been tagged under ‘Chemical industries’.

For example, there is an entry for Ezio Rizzardo (1943–), an organic chemist who became a leading expert in the chemistry of polymerisation. During his time at CSIRO (1974–2016), he led projects on free radical polymerisation, polymeric biomaterials and engineering polymers. He contributed to the development of nitroxide-mediated living radical polymerisation and invented reversible addition-fragmentation chain transfer (RAFT) polymerisation. His entry in the Encyclopedia is rich in career events and links to entries for related organisations as well as links to entries for prizes and awards. However, apart from a link to CSIROpedia, there are no other references to historical publications and archival collections that tell the story of his life. This is where we need help.

As an expert or practitioner in your field of chemistry, you can let us know of people or organisations who should be, but are not yet, in the Encyclopedia. You can let us know about publications and other sources of evidence (archival resources) that we could register (and link to). If you can supply copies of images, video, audio, publications and documents that will help us build an entry, then that will be useful to students, scholars and researchers now and in the future.

A notable chemical researcher, who does not yet have an entry in the Encyclopedia, is Matthew Hill (PhD 2006), who is working towards the usage of ultra-porous metal–organic frameworks (MOFs) for gas storage and separation. He has a particular interest in carbon dioxide, having discovered a material with a record capacity for its capture, and through simulations predicted materials that could have outstanding potential for separating CO2 from other gases. With useful background information provided by colleagues, Hill is now high on the list for the next edition.

The bibliography also includes the work of David Collins (Monash University and on the backlog list for a personal entry in the Encyclopedia) in Chemistry in 19th Century Australia – Select Bibliography. (See the 2005 Exhibition: An illustrative entry is Bosisto, J., ‘Is the Eucalyptus a Fever-Destroying Tree?’, Pharmaceutical Journal and Transactions (1874–1875), 270. By following the ‘Details’ link, you get to the full entry for the article, including the keywords added by Collins. The link to the personal entry for Joseph Bosisto (1824–1989) takes you to a rich entry with links to archival collections and publications (see

We hope that you will search the Encyclopedia for people who you think should be included and, if they are not, contact us to remedy the situation. Contact us as well if you wish to update or amend existing entries. We would love to hear from you at or

Tom Spurling FRACI CChem and Gavan McCarthy

Of the nearly 10 000 entities registered in the Encyclopedia, more than half are individuals and many of the those are chemists of some form or another (552 – as at March 2022).

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