Professor Ben Hankamer

Professorial Research Fellow

Institute for Molecular Bioscience

Affiliated Professor

School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences
Faculty of Science
+61 7 334 62012
0434 603 137


Our group is focused on developing a broad based platform for the structure determination of membrane proteins and macromolecular assemblies, based upon single particle analysis, electron and X-ray crystallography.

Professor Ben Hankamer is the group leader for Membrane Protein Structures research at the IMB.

A strong research focus of his group is on automation to increase the rate of protein structure determination. A selection of proteins involved in a range of important biological processes and biotechnology applications (eg. Biohydrogen) are currently being investigated as part of the IMB's Visual Cell program.

Research Interests

  • The Structural Biology of Photosynthesis
    Algae cells have evolved over ~3 billion years of natural selection to yield a diverse array of highly efficient, self-assembling, light-responsive membranes. These act as Nature’s solar interfaces, via which plants tap into the power of the sun. These interfaces contain nano-machinery to drive the photosynthetic light reactions which convert light from the sun into food, fuel and atmospheric oxygen to support life on Earth. This photosynthetic machinery is intricately arranged in 3D and has evolved to adjust dynamically (i.e. 4D: 3D & time) to changing light conditions to achieve optimal efficiency of solar energy conversion. Structural biology, in the form of cryo- electron microscopy, electron tomography, and single particle analysis therefore provide critical insights into this process and will increasingly facilitates structure guided design of new solar fuel systems.
  • Micro-algae biotechnology
    Algae tap into the power of the sun (> 2300 x total global energy demand) to produce biomass for CO2 water and nutrients. Consequently microalgae can be used for the following High value foods and pharmaceuticals: To develop algae based systems for the production of foods/nutraceuticals, vaccines, peptide therapeutics, novel antibiotics in algae. Reef protection/Bioremediation: To develop algae based bioremediation technologies (e.g. minimising nutrient runoff to the reef; phytomining). Solar Fuels: To develop economic algae based and bio-inspired solar fuel systems (e.g. solar power H2 from water for fuel cells).


  • Doctor of Philosophy, University of London
  • MSc, University of London
  • BSc(Hons), University of Liverpool


View all Publications


View all Grants


View all Supervision


Book Chapter

  • Stephens, Evan, Wolf, Juliane, Oey, Melanie, Zhang, Eugene, Hankamer, Ben and Ross, Ian L. (2015). Genetic engineering for microalgae strain improvement in relation to biocrude production systems. In Navid R. Moheimani, Mark P. McHenry, Karne de Boer and Parisa A. Bahri (Ed.), Biomass and biofuels from microalgae: advances in engineering and biology (pp. 191-249) Heidelberg, Germany: Springer. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-16640-7_11

  • Stephens, Evan, Wagner, Liam, Ross, Ian and Hankamer, Ben (2012). Microalgal production systems: global impact of industry scale-up. In Clemens Posten and Christian Walter (Ed.), Microalgal biotechnology: integration and economy (pp. 267-306) Berlin, Germany: Walter De Gruyter. doi:10.1515/9783110298321.1

  • Hankamer, Ben, Barber, James and Nield, Jon (2005). Structural analysis of the photosystem II core/antenna holocomplex by electron microscopy. In Thomas J. Wydrzynski and Kimiyuki Satoh (Ed.), Photosystem II : The light-driven water : Plastoquinone oxidoreductase (pp. 403-424) Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer.

  • Sennoga, C., Hankamer, B., Heron, A., Seddon, J. M., Barber, J. and Templer, R. H. (2002). Morphological aspects of in cubo membrane protein crystallisation. In Richard H. Templer and Robin Leatherbarrow (Ed.), Biophysical Chemistry: Membranes and Proteins (pp. 221-236) Cambridge, UK: Royal Society of Chemistry. doi:10.1039/9781847550255-00221

Journal Article

Conference Publication

  • Foo, Alexander F. -W., Landsberg, Michael J., Battle, Andrew R., Marsh, Brad J., Hankamer, Ben and Martinac, Boris (2011). Mscl Channels as Nanovales for the Controlled Release of Liposome-Encapsulated Compounds. In: Abstracts - 55th Annual Meeting of the Biophysical-Society. 55th Annual Meeting of the Biophysical Society, Baltimore, MD United States, (277-278). 5 - 9 March 2011.

  • Schenk, P.M.P., Thomas-Hall, S.R., Nguyen, A.V., Malnoe, A., Timmins, M., Stephens, E., Mussgnug, J.H., Rupprecht, J., Kruse, O. and Hankamer, B. (2008). Transcriptional profiling of photosynthetic genes during photo-biological hydrogen production in the green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. In: WHEC2008. 17th World Hydrogen Energy Conference, Brisbane, Qld, Australia, (108-111). 15-19 June, 2008.

  • Hankamer, B., Schenk, P., Marx, U., Posten, C. and Kruse, O. (2007). The Solar Bio-fuels consortium: Developing advanced bio-fuel production systems. In: Photosynthesis Research: Abstracts: 14th International Congress of Photosynthesis. 14th International Congress of Photosynthesis, Glasgow, Scotland, (136-136). 22-27 July 2007. doi:10.1007/s11120-007-9197-6

  • Banks, J. E., Pailthorpe, B., Rothnagel, A.R. and Hankamer, B. (2005). Automatic particle picking algorithms for high resolution single particle analysis. In: Brian C Lovell and anthony J Maeder, Proceedings of WDIC2005 APRS Workshop on Digital image computing. Aust Pattern Recognition Society Workshop on Digital Image Computing, Griffith Universty, South Bank Campus, (127-132). 21 February 2005.

  • Banks, J. E., Rothnagel, A.R. and Hankamer, B. (2003). Automatic particle picking of biological molecules imaged by electron microscopy. In: Bailey and donald G, Image and Vision Computing New Zealand (IVCNZ). Image and Vision Computing New Zealand 2003, Massey University, Palmerston North, NZ, (269-274). 26-28 November 2003.

Grants (Administered at UQ)

PhD and MPhil Supervision

Current Supervision

  • Master Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

Completed Supervision