The Wark marks 20 years of impact


The Ian Wark Research Institute (The Wark) celebrated its 20th anniversary last month, marking the milestone with a showcase event that highlighted the Institute’s significant contribution to science both in Australia and internationally.

Over its 20 year history, The Wark has worked side by side with industry to deliver innovations in the fields of energy, biomaterials and minerals research.

More than 180 PhD students have graduated from The Wark, and they have been successful in securing top jobs in industry, government and other higher education institutions not only in Australia but around the world.

(L-R): Dr Dusan Losic, Professor Martin Cole and Professor Magnus Nydén at The Wark 20th anniversary showcase event. (L-R): Dr Dusan Losic, Professor Martin Cole and Professor Magnus Nydén at The Wark 20th anniversary showcase event.

Professor Magnus Nydén, Director of The Wark, said the celebration was a great opportunity to bring together current staff and students with a number of alumni and the Institute’s three founding fathers, Emeritus Laureate Professor John Ralston, Professor Roger Smart and Professor Roger Horn.

“During the showcase we got to hear some of the history from these leaders while current research staff and students presented on a variety of the cutting-edge research taking place at The Wark today,” he said.

“The 20th anniversary celebration event also saw a number of prominent alumni returning to share their stories, including Dr Chris Greet, Dr Stephen Clarke, Dr Nicola Lake and Dr Adam Feiler.”

Reflecting on The Wark’s history, Prof Nydén said that since the beginning, the Institute’s research has been making an impact in a range of industries, from health to mining.

“From cancer diagnosis and minerals processing to biofouling prevention and energy capture and conversion, The Wark’s research is making a difference in the real world,” he said.
“To strengthen the research even more, two highly prestigious State Government positions have been established in The Wark - the SA Professorial Chair in Mineral Processing in 2012 and the SA Professorial Chair in Energy in 2014.

“Maintaining international standards of research and education excellence in the science and technology of particle and material surfaces has been the Institute’s humble goal from the beginning.

“Our researchers continue to meet and exceed this mission statement and along the way, we have become a powerful research hub, driving innovation relevant to industry and the community.

“From October 1999, The Wark was chosen to be an Australian Research Council Special Research Centre for Particle and Material Interfaces.

“Over the years The Wark has been a key contributor to UniSA’s research in Physical Chemistry and in Resources Engineering and Extractive Metallurgy, both of which received ratings of 5 in the 2012 Excellence in Research for Australia assessment, indicating outstanding performance well above world standard in these areas.

“The Wark has also led a number of ground-breaking projects including the AMIRA P260 – a 25 year collaboration with the global mining industry that has, according to an independent assessment, returned over a billion dollars of value to industry at a ratio of 22-to-1 for every dollar invested.”

In his closing address at the 20th birthday anniversary celebrations, Prof Nydén called on researchers to see the challenges in the field of colloid and interface science as opportunities to develop new applications and revolutionise existing processes.

“The grand challenge of colloid and interface science is also our biggest opportunity. Right now, we’re extremely good at understanding how high quality materials behave but when the quality varies, like raw materials do in mineral, food and pharmaceutical processing, we still have a long way to go,” he said.

“The 20 years of hard work, great people and fantastic infrastructure at The Wark combined is a very solid ground for taking the science to the next level and to make an even bigger impact moving forward.”