Rona Chandrawati

Senior Lecturer and Scientia Fellow, University of New South Wales (UNSW)

Dr Rona Chandrawati is Head of the Nanotechnology for Food and Medicine Laboratory at The University of New South Wales (UNSW Sydney), Australia. She obtained her PhD from The University of Melbourne in 2012. She was then a Marie Curie Fellow at Imperial College London before returning to Australia in 2015 as a Lecturer at The University of Sydney. In 2018, she commenced as a Senior Lecturer at UNSW. Dr Chandrawati's research focuses on developing technology to detect diseases better and faster. Early diagnosis has the potential to radically improve the chances of patient survival but figures show that many people do not know they are ill until it is too late. Traditionally, diagnoses are performed in pathology laboratories; however, these tests can be expensive, slow, and are inappropriate for resource-limited settings. Her research team developed colorimetric assays using nanoparticles to detect blood clotting factors, cancer biomarkers, flu biomarkers, and toxic heavy metal ions at clinically relevant levels. These assays will be valuable in prompt identification and early intervention for controlling potential life threatening diseases. The Chandrawati Lab also developed real-time colorimetric indicators attached onto food packaging that change color from blue to red to inform consumers when the food is no longer safe to be consumed. Over the last 5 years, Dr Chandrawati has successfully attracted over AUD 2M in competitive funding as a Lead Chief Investigator. Her accolades include World Economic Forum Young Scientist (2018), Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (2017), Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Outstanding Early Career Research (2017), Engineering Dean’s Research Award (2017), New South Wales Fresh Scientists (2017), Elsevier Woman in Chemical Engineering Award (2015), and Monash Engineering Women’s Leadership Award (2015).