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1983 …2022

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Personal profile

Biography

Alison Rodger has been at Macquarie University since 2017 after over 20 years at the University of Warwick. Her research focuses on developing and applying spectroscopic techniques to understand the structure and function of biomacromolecules and their assemblies. Her particular expertise is with spectroscopic biophysical methods particularly circular dichroism and linear dichroism in the UV, visible and infra red regions of the spectrum for use with nucleic acids, proteins, lipids, and carbohydrates. She has designed and applied new techniques to understand how biomolecules interact including micro-volume Couette capillary flow linear dichroism, rapid injection linear dichroism, fluorescence-detected linear dichroism, and Raman linear difference spectroscopy. She integrates the rigour of a quantum electrodynamic approach to spectroscopy with an understanding of the reality of generating data from instrumentation pushed to, or beyond, its limits to answer questions about biomolecular systems. She creates hybrid techniques using absorbance, fluorescence and scattering methodologies. This work is very multidisciplinary in character involving collaborations from medicine to mathematics. At Macquarie she runs an open access biophysical spectroscopy laboratory for collaborators and commercial users.

Alison received her BSc, PhD and DSc from Sydney University, her MA from Oxford, a DSc from Warwick, and her BA from Chester. She was a Beatrice Dale Fellow at Newnham College Cambridge for three years from 1985 while also an Overseas Scholar of the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851. Alison then spent six years in Oxford as Unilever Fellow at St Catherine's College and Violette and Samuel Glasstone Fellow at St Hilda’s. At that time, she set up the first Couette flow linear dichroism facilities in the UK and began her programme of analytical science method development for biomacromolecules. 

At the University of Warwick Alison was the founding director of the Molecular Organisation and Assembly in Cells Doctoral Training Centre funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and also the head of the Department of Chemistry. She is passionate about supporting early career researchers, especially those working across disciplines and was a member of the Plotina EU network funded by Horizon2020 to facilitate the development of Gender Equality Plans in Research Performing Organisations. Alison enjoyed every minute of her 4 years on the Royal Society of Chemistry Council and values being an Emeritus Professor of the University of Warwick.

Alison has been recognised by her scientific community with her election to Fellowships of the Australian Academy of Science (2021) and the Royal Society of Chemistry (2000) and as an Honorary Member of British Biophysical Society (2019). She was nominated as a member of The Analytical Science Power List 2015: top 100 most influential people in the world of analytical science. She received a Science Teachers of NSW Dedicated Service Award (2019) and is a member fo Barker College Council. Recently she has contributed to the wider community with her involvement as a Consultant to the European Science Foundation CASPER (Certification-Award System to Promote gender Equality in Research) project, as an Evaluator in Phase I for Chemical science for the Czech Academy of Sciences (CAS), as a SAGE Panel Member (2019), and as an Australian Research Council Engagement and Impact Assessment– Science and Technology Panel Member.

Research interests

Alison Rodger's expertise spans Biophysical Chemistry, Physical Chemistry, aspects of Theoretical Chemistry, Analytical Science, Biophysics, Biomacromolecular structure and their application in areas such as biochemistry, synthetic biology, and materials science particularly to solution phase biomacromolecule structure and function. Particular areas of interest are:

  1. Development of experiment and quantum electrodynamic theory of spectroscopic techniques, particularly linear and circular dichroisms, polarised luminescencs and Raman methods, for the study of biomacromolecules.
  2. Structure, function and intermolecular interactions of protein systems, including fibrous and membrane proteins.
  3. Structure and function of DNA, DNA/ligand and DNA/protein systems.
  4. Optical characteristics of materials.

Alison Rodger is an international leader in inventing and developing polarised-light spectroscopies to understand the structure and function of biomacromolecules. She develops and uses spectroscopies including and related to
1.    Electronic circular dichroism
2.    Vibrational circular dichroism
3.    Electronic linear dichroism
4.    Vibrational linear dichroism
5.    Electronic absorbance
6.    Infra-red absorbance
7.    Solution-phase Raman
8.    Raman optical activity
9.    Dynamic light scattering
10.    Fluorescence spectroscopy

She has invented four spectroscopic techniques that characterise structures and functions of biomacromolecules and their assemblies in order to solve problems in biology and the biopharmaceutical industry. These are: micro-volume Couette capillary flow linear dichroism, rapid injection linear dichroism, fluorescence-detected linear dichroism, and Raman linear difference spectroscopy. In addition, she has refined and integrated several existing techniques, such as stopped-flow circular dichroism, and developed theoretical methods for interrogating spectroscopic data to extract information about biomolecules. Alison is widely acclaimed for her achievements in integrated spectroscopic techniques.

Her seminal contribution to science results from her ability to combine the rigour of a quantum electrodynamic approach to spectroscopy with an understanding of the reality of generating data from instrumentation pushed to, or beyond, its limits. This work is very multidisciplinary in character. It starts with traditional Physical Chemistry theory and instrumentation, and advances the theory using mathematical concepts from Quantum Physics. In industrial collaborations it oversees the engineering of new equipment, deploys this equipment into biological environments, develops the training needed to understand, use and regulate the equipment, and then creates applications to health.

 

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