Professor Bronwyn Laycock

Professor

School of Chemical Engineering
Faculty of Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology
b.laycock@uq.edu.au
+61 7 334 68882

Overview

Professor Bronwyn Laycock has a diverse background in translational research, working not only in academia but also in industry and as a consulting chemist, as well as at CSIRO. Her research activities have ranged from bio/degradable polymers, composites, organic and organometallic synthesis, waste conversion technologies, and pulp and paper chemistry, to general polymer chemistry. She is currently working across a range of projects with a focus on materials for circular economy applications and management of the transition to the new plastics economy. The application areas in her research program include biopolymers (particularly polyhydroxyalkanoates), polymer lifetime estimation and end-of-life management/conversion technologies, biocomposites, controlled release matrixes for pesticide and fertiliser applications, polyurethane chemistry, polymer foams, biodegradable packaging, carbon nanofibre production and peptide based conducting nanowires.

She has a strong history of successful commercialisation and impact, being a co-inventor on CSIRO's extended wear contact lens program (recognised as it fourth most significant invention) - for which she was awarded a joint CSIRO Medal for Research Achievement 2009. As a Project Leader and Deputy Program Leader within the CRC for Polymers, she also managed a project that delivered an oxodegradable thin film polyethylene that was commercially licenced by Integrated Packaging. This work earned the team a Joint Chairman’s Award for research/commercialization (CRC for Polymers) and an Excellence in Innovation Award (CRC Association).

Research Interests

  • Biodegradable polymers - Polyhydroxyalkanoates
    Polyhydroxyalkanoates are microbially synthesised biodegradable polymers that have properties comparable with polypropylene. They can be synthesised using mixed cultures from wastewater treatment plants and fermented waste carbon streams, and have very versatile properties depending on feedstock. Not only are they completely biodegradable, even in a marine environment, they are also water resistant (unusual for a biopolymer).
  • Carbon fibres from polyethylene and bioderived polymers
  • Conducting peptide nanowires
  • Controlled release formulations for agricultural applications
  • Polyurethane foams incorporating lignin
  • Biocomposites, particularly wood biopolymer composites
  • Starch-polyhydroxyalkanoates laminates for packaging applications
  • Next Generation fertilisers
  • Nutrient recovery and reuse (WWTP)

Research Impacts

Professor Laycock's research seeks to address some of the challenges around global sustainability and planetary boundaries, such as plastics sustainability, nutrient recovery and efficiency, controlled release formulations and sustainable materials for the circular economy, particularly bioderived materials for packaging, film and other applications, as well as plastics lifetime and impact estimation and end-of-life management.

Qualifications

  • Graduate Diploma in Soil Science, The University of Melbourne
  • Master of Environment, The University of Melbourne
  • Bachelor of Science, The University of Queensland
  • Doctor of Philosophy, The University of Queensland

Publications

  • Nikoli, M, Colwell, J., Yeh, C.-L., Cash, G., Laycock, B., Gauthier, E., Halley, P., Bottle, S. and George, G. (2022). Real-world factors that impact polyolefin lifetimes. Lifetimes and Compatibility of Synthetic Polymers. (pp. ---) edited by James Lewicki. Hoboken, NJ, United States: John Wiley and Sons.

  • Redding, M. R., Witt, T., Lobsey, C. R., Mayer, D. G., Hunter, B., Pratt, S., Robinson, N., Schmidt, S., Laycock, B. and Phillips, I. (2022). Screening two biodegradable polymers in enhanced efficiency fertiliser formulations reveals the need to prioritise performance goals. Journal of Environmental Management, 304 114264, 114264. doi: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2021.114264

  • Solemanifar, Armin, Guo, Xiao, Donose, Bogdan C, Bertling, Karl, Laycock, Bronwyn and Rakić, Aleksandar D. (2022). Probing peptide nanowire conductivity by THz nanoscopy. Nanotechnology, 33 (6) 065503, 065503. doi: 10.1088/1361-6528/ac34a6

View all Publications

Grants

View all Grants

Supervision

  • Doctor Philosophy

  • Doctor Philosophy

  • Doctor Philosophy

View all Supervision

Available Projects

  • PhD scholarships in Bioplastics

    Scholarships available, up to $45,000 p.a. tax free

    12-month industry placements

    There is unprecedented growth in demand for bioderived and biodegradable materials. The new ARC Training Centre in Bioplastics and Biocomposites will capitalise on Australia’s abundant natural bioresources to drive advances in technology for the development of bioplastic and biocomposite products for the new bioeconomy. We are a collaboration between industry, The University of Queensland (UQ) and Queensland University of Technology (QUT). Our vision is to perform leading edge research and to develop industry-ready specialists to underpin Australia’s transition to a globally significant bioplastics and biocomposites industry.

    Up to 3 scholarships are available for outstanding PhD candidates to work in a multidisciplinary research team, embedded in industry. PhD projects are available in each of the following themes: Bioresource transformation, Bioplastic manufacture, Bioplastics applications, Effecting change and sustainability assessment.

    We have a critical focus on providing an exceptional PhD experience. We will deliver targeted training and development opportunities including: leadership, innovation, emotional intelligence, critical thinking and project management.

    As a Centre student you will receive mentoring from academic and industry leaders, access internal funding opportunities, and gain real world experience through extensive industry placements.

    Link to our FindaPhD advertisement https://www.findaphd.com/phds/project/phd-scholarship-in-bioplastics/?p145292

    Link to our PDF here or attached

View all Available Projects

Publications

Book Chapter

  • Nikoli, M, Colwell, J., Yeh, C.-L., Cash, G., Laycock, B., Gauthier, E., Halley, P., Bottle, S. and George, G. (2022). Real-world factors that impact polyolefin lifetimes. Lifetimes and Compatibility of Synthetic Polymers. (pp. ---) edited by James Lewicki. Hoboken, NJ, United States: John Wiley and Sons.

  • Chan, Clement Matthew, Pratt, Steven and Laycock, Bronwyn (2022). Effects of natural weathering on aesthetics, thermal and mechanical properties of completely biodegradable composites. Aging effects on natural fiber-reinforced polymer composites: durability and life prediction. (pp. 173-188) edited by Chandrasekar Muthukumar, Senthilkumar Krishnasamy, Senthil Muthu Kumar Thiagamani and Suchart Siengchin. Singapore: Springer Singapore. doi: 10.1007/978-981-16-8360-2_10

  • Pratt, Steven, Vandi, Luigi-Jules, Gapes, Daniel, Werker, Alan, Oehmen, Adrian and Laycock, Bronwyn (2019). Polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) bioplastics from organic waste. Biorefinery: integrated sustainable processes for biomass conversion to biomaterials, biofuels, and fertilizers. (pp. 615-638) edited by Juan-Rodrigo Bastidas-Oyanedel and Jens Ejbye Schmidt. Springer International Publishing: Springer. doi: 10.1007/978-3-030-10961-5_26

  • Dilkes-Hoffman, L.S., Pratt, S., Lant, P.A. and Laycock, B. (2019). The role of biodegradable plastic in solving plastic solid waste accumulation. Plastics to Energy. (pp. 469-505) edited by S.M. Al-Salem. Kidlington, Oxford, United Kingdom: Elsevier. doi: 10.1016/b978-0-12-813140-4.00019-4

  • Pikaar, Ilje, Matassa, Silvio, Rabaey, Korneel, Laycock, Bronwyn, Boon, Nico and Verstraete, Willy (2018). The urgent need to re-engineer nitrogen-efficient food production for the planet. Managing water, soil and waste resources to achieve sustainable development goals: Monitoring and implementation of integrated resources management. (pp. 35-69) Cham, Switzerland: Springer International Publishing. doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-75163-4_3

  • Laycock, Bronwyn G. and Halley, Peter J. (2014). Starch applications: state of market and new trends. Starch Polymers: From Genetic Engineering to Green Applications. (pp. 381-414) edited by Peter J. Halley and Luc R. Avérous. Burlington, MA, USA: Elsevier. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-444-53730-0.00026-9

Journal Article

Conference Publication

Other Outputs

Grants (Administered at UQ)

PhD and MPhil Supervision

Current Supervision

Completed Supervision

Possible Research Projects

Note for students: The possible research projects listed on this page may not be comprehensive or up to date. Always feel free to contact the staff for more information, and also with your own research ideas.

  • PhD scholarships in Bioplastics

    Scholarships available, up to $45,000 p.a. tax free

    12-month industry placements

    There is unprecedented growth in demand for bioderived and biodegradable materials. The new ARC Training Centre in Bioplastics and Biocomposites will capitalise on Australia’s abundant natural bioresources to drive advances in technology for the development of bioplastic and biocomposite products for the new bioeconomy. We are a collaboration between industry, The University of Queensland (UQ) and Queensland University of Technology (QUT). Our vision is to perform leading edge research and to develop industry-ready specialists to underpin Australia’s transition to a globally significant bioplastics and biocomposites industry.

    Up to 3 scholarships are available for outstanding PhD candidates to work in a multidisciplinary research team, embedded in industry. PhD projects are available in each of the following themes: Bioresource transformation, Bioplastic manufacture, Bioplastics applications, Effecting change and sustainability assessment.

    We have a critical focus on providing an exceptional PhD experience. We will deliver targeted training and development opportunities including: leadership, innovation, emotional intelligence, critical thinking and project management.

    As a Centre student you will receive mentoring from academic and industry leaders, access internal funding opportunities, and gain real world experience through extensive industry placements.

    Link to our FindaPhD advertisement https://www.findaphd.com/phds/project/phd-scholarship-in-bioplastics/?p145292

    Link to our PDF here or attached