Damian Laird  from Murdoch University in Perth Australia.

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    Dr Damian Laird
    BSc (UNSW), BSc (Hons) (Tasmania), PhD (University of Newcastle)

    Lecturer - Chemistry

    About me

    I am currently a Lecturer in Chemistry in the School of Engineering and Information Technology and arrived at Murdoch via a pretty circuitous route.

    After undertaking a BSc in Marine Science (Environmental Chemistry) at the University of NSW, I moved to Hobart and completed my BSc (Honours) year at the University of Tasmania in the field of marine chemical ecology under the tutelage of David Ritz and Adrian Blackman. This was followed by some time away from university working as an analytical chemist, including stints at Rosemount Estate and Coldstream Hills wineries. The lure of research saw me return to academia at The University of Newcastle (the one in Australia not the one in England) from where I received my PhD in Chemistry in 2003 – still marine and natural products related but this time looking at the chemotaxonomy of Australian seaweeds with Ian van Altena. That then led to a two year postdoctoral position in the Department of Medicinal Chemistry at the University of Utah in the group of Professor Chris Ireland, isolating and characterising compounds from marine invertebrates (mainly sponges) that showed potential application in cancer treatment before I returned to Australia and took up my position at Murdoch.

    Teaching area

    In 2018 I am involved in teaching in the following units:

    Semester 1        

    CHE103 Introduction to Forensic Science

    Co-coordinator; lectures in Paint, Glass, + Print Forensics

    CHE144 Foundations of Chemistry

    Lectures in Organic chemistry

    CHE207 Chemical Analysis

    Coordination of lab program; lectures in Separations and mass spectrometry, Atomic Spectroscopy; laboratory demonstrating

    CHE308 Organic and Biological Chemistry II

    Lectures in Medicinal Chemistry, laboratory demonstrating

    Semester 2        

    CHE144 Foundations of Chemistry

    Co-coordination, lectures in Organic chemistry

    CHE205 Organic and Biological Chemistry I

    Lectures in Structure Elucidation, Bioinorganic Chemistry, Biological Chemistry



    Research areas

    Research in the Laird group is centred around the detection, analysis, and characterisation of organic compounds and materials. Using combinations of liquid and gas chromatography, mass spectrometry, nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, and the skills of collaborators within Murdoch University and across Australia, we are involved in projects in the following areas:

    Isolation and Characterisation of Natural Products

    Analysis and Reactivity of Organic Compounds in Industrial Processes

    Resource Recovery and Utilisation from Industrial Waste Streams

    Production and Functionalisation of Novel Nano Materials

    Chemistry Education and Outreach

    Details of specific projects within these categories can be found below.

    Current projects

    Bioactive compounds from natural sources


    Organics in Bayer Liquours

    Biopolymer production using carbon from industrial waste streams

    Production and Functionalisation of Carbon Microspheres

    Professional and community service

    Member of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute

    Member of the American Chemical Society

    Member of the Royal Society of Western Australia

    Associate Editor of Journal of the Royal Society of Western Australia

    Doctoral and masters supervisions


    Mrs. Shaymaa Albohani

    Eggshell membrane templated bimetallic transition metal oxides for use in supercapacitors

    Co-supervised with Dr. Manickam Minakshi (Murdoch University)

    Ms. Ankitha Randhir

    Microalgae culture for sustainable sterol production

    Co-supervised with Dr. Navid Moheimani (Murdoch University)

    Mr. Emeka Nwoba

    Novel photobioreactor for co-generating algal biomass and electricity

    Co-supervised with Dr. David Parlevliet (Murdoch University), Dr. Navid Moheimani, and Professor Kamal Alameh (Edith Cowan University)


    Mr. Lou Daniels

    Oxidation of Gold at Elevated Temperature in the Presence of Various Sodium Compounds

    Co-supervised with Professor Glenn Hefter (Murdoch University)


    Mr. Craig Blake

    Carbon waste to carbon product: converting oxalate to PHB

    Co-supervised with Dr. Leonie Hughes

    Mr. Jack Weatherhead

    Phytosterol production in microalgal cultures: ecophysiology and gene expression analysis

    Co-supervised with Dr. Andrea Paparini and Dr. Navid Moheimani



    Mr. Nicholas Daniel        2015

    Quantitative analysis of boehmite and gibbsite by vibrational spectroscopy

    Co-supervised with Professor Glenn Hefter and Dr. David Henry

    Currently PhD student at Murdoch University

    Mr. Joe Digas                2016

    Synthesis and characterisation of surface functional carbon spheres obtained by the hydrothermal carbonisation of glucose with small molecular additives

    Co-supervised with Dr. David Henry

    Ms. Lauren Frank          2012

    Production of microbial polyhydroxyalkanoates using  multiple carbon sources

    Co-supervised with Dr. Leonie Hughes

    Ms. Tracey Herdman    2011

    Studies Toward the Synthesis of Pycnanthuquinones

    Co-supervised with Dr. Kate Rowen

    Ms. Caroline Thai         2009

    Behaviour and Characterisation of Humic Acid in Highly Alkaline Solution

    Co-supervised with Professor Glenn Hefter

    Currently QC Chemist at CSL Behring

    Mr. Alex Yong                2008

    Production and Extraction of PHB based bioplastic

    Co-supervised with Dr. Leonie Hughes

    Enquiries from students wishing to undertake graduate studies in any of the research areas of interest to the Laird group are welcome. You can contact Dr. Laird by email.

    Details of scholarship opportunities at Murdoch University can be found at our.murdoch.edu.au/Student-life/Finances/

    Opportunities also exist for undergraduate research and Honours students. Contact Dr. Laird for further details.


    Journal Articles

    Ishika, T., Bahri, P., Laird, D.W., Moheimani, N.R. The effect of gradual increase in salinity on the biomass productivity and biochemical composition of several marine, halotolerant and halophilic microalgae, Journal of Applied Phycology, accepted for publication.

    Ishika, T., Moheimani, N.R., Bahri, P.A., Laird, D.W., Blair, S., Parlevliet, D. (2017). Effect of salinity on fucoxanthin production in saline microalgae, Algal Researc, 28, 66. doi: 10.1016/j.algal.2017.10.002

    Daniel, L., Laird, D.W., Hefter, G.T. (2017). Sodium peroxide fusion for reliable determination of gold in ores and metallurgical samples, International Journal of Mineral Processing, 168, 35. doi: 10.1016/j.minpro.2017.09.001

    White, C., Laird, D.W., Hughes, L.J. (2017). From carbon waste to carbon product: converting oxalate to polyhydroxybutyrate using a mixed microbial culture, Journal of Environmental Chemical Engineering, 5(3), 2362. doi: 10.1016/j.jece.2017.04.040

    Rowen, C., Woods-McConney, A., Hughes, L., Laird, D. (2017). Outcomes of a chemistry content professional learning session: Teachers’ perspectives, Teaching Science, 63(2), 42.

    Albohani, S., Minakshi Sundaram, M., Laird, D.W. (2017). Polymer templated nickel cobaltate for energy storage, Renewable Energy and Environmental Sustainability, 2, 9. doi: 10.1051/rees/2017002

    Zhang, J., Dell, B., Ma, W., Vergauwen, R., Zhang, X., Oteri, T., Foreman, A., Laird, D., Van den Ende, W. (2016). Contributions of root WSC during grain filling in wheat under drought, Frontiers in Plant Science, 7, 904. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2016.00904

    Henry, D.J., Laird, D.W. (2014). How old is my bronze cannon? A laboratory exercise linking analytical chemistry, spectroscopy and metallurgy, Journal of Laboratory Chemical Education, 2(4), 73. doi: 10.5923/j.jlce.20140204.04

    Laird, D.W., Rowen, C.C, Machold, T., May, P.M., Hefter, G.T. (2013). Volatile products from the degradation of organics in a synthetic Bayer liquor, Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research, 52(10), 3613. doi: 10.1021/ie3024824

    Laird, D.W., Henry, D.J. (2013). Is there Ni in my liquor? A hands-on laboratory exercise for relating chemistry to extractive metallurgy, Journal of Chemical Education, 90(12), 1671. doi: 10.1021/ed400106m
    El-Harbawi, M., Shaaran, S.N.A.B., Ahmad, F., Abd Wahi, M.A., Abdul, A.,

    Laird, D.W., Yin, C.-Y. (2012). Estimating the flammability of vapours above refinery wastewater laden with hydrocarbon mixtures, Fire Safety Journal, 51, 61. doi: 10.1016/j.firesaf.2012.03.004

    Machold, T., Laird, D.W., Rowen, C.C., May, P.M., Hefter, G.T. (2011). Decomposition of Bayer process organics: Phenolates, polyalcohols, and additional carboxylates, Hydrometallurgy, 107(3-4), 68. doi:10.1016/j.hydromet.2011.01.008

    Laird, D.W., Bennett, S., Bian, B., Sauer, B., Wright, K., Hughes, V., van Altena, I.A. (2010). Chemical investigation of seven Australasian Cystophora species: New chemistry and taxonomic insights, Biochemical Systematics and Ecology, 38(2), 187. doi: 10.1016/j.bse.2009.12.010

    Machold, T., Macedi, E., Laird, D.W., May, P.M., Hefter, G.T. (2009). Decomposition of Bayer Process organics: Low-Molecular-Weight carboxylates, Hydrometallurgy, 99(1-2), 51. doi: 10.1016/j.hydromet.2009.06.005

    Laird, D.W., LaBarbera, D.V., Feng, X., Bugni, T.S., Harper, M.K., Ireland, C.M. (2007). Halogenated cyclic peptides from the sponge Corticium sp., Journal of Natural Products, 70(5), 741. doi: 10.1021/np060489v

    Laird, D.W., Poole, R., Wikstrom, M., van Altena, I.A. (2007). Pycnanthuquinone C, an unusual 6,6,5-tricyclic geranyltoluquinol from the Western Australian brown alga Cystophora harveyi, Journal of Natural Products, 70(4), 671. doi: 10.1021/np060566m

    Laird, D.W., van Altena, I.A. (2006). Tetraprenyltoluquinols from the brown alga Cystophora fibrosa, Phytochemistry, 67, 944. doi: 10.1016/j.phytochem.2006.03.011

    Conference Presentations


    Albohani, S., Minakshi, M., and Laird, D.W. Polymer templated nickel cobaltate for energy storage, World Renewable Energy Conference XVI, February, Perth, Australia; poster.

    Albohani, S., Laird, D.W., Minakshi, M. Egg Shell Membrane Templated Nickel Molybdate for Supercapacitor Electrodes, RACI Centenary Congress, July, Melbourne, Australia; poster

    Laird, D.W., Hughes, L.J., Rowen, C.C., Woods-McConney, A. Using outreach, professional learning and research to build a co-operative learning community for chemistry education, 1st ACS Asia Pacific Regional Meeting, Seoul, Korea, November; oral.

    Ishika, T. et al. Saline microalgae for fucoxanthin production, 6th Congress of the International Society for Applied Phycology, Nantes, France, June; oral


    Albohani, S., Laird, D.W., and Minakshi, M. Do porosity templates improve the performance of supercapacitor electrode materials?, 40th Annual Condensed Matter and Materials Meeting, Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga; poster

    Hughes, L., Rowen, C., Laird, D.W., and Woods-McConney, A. What (WA) Teachers Want, RACI Chemical Education Division Symposium, Monash University; poster


    Rowen, C.C, Machold, T., Laird., D.W., Hefter, G.T. and May, P.M.  Reactivity of Organic Compounds in the Bayer Process, Royal Australian Chemical Institute, 13th National Convention, Melbourne; oral

    White, C., Hughes, L.J., and Laird, D.W. Biopolymer Production from Organic Carbon Wastes, Royal Australian Chemical Institute, 13th National Convention, Melbourne; poster


    Yong, L.Z., Laird, D.W., and Hughes, L.J. Optimising the Production of PHB from Activated Sludge,  Combined Biological Sciences Meeting, Perth; poster

    Technical Reports


    Machold, T., Rowen, C.C., Laird, D.W., and Hefter, G.T. Analysis of Worsley Alumina Bauxite Digests, confidential report for BHP-Billiton Worsley Alumina