Peter Lay recognised by ANSTO for contributions to synchrotron research

10 November 2020
Leader in chemistry wins lifetime achievement award
Professor Peter Lay from the University of Sydney has been awarded the Australian Synchrotron Lifetime Contribution Award by ANSTO, the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation.
Photo of Professor Peter Lay

Professor Peter Lay

The award is granted every two years, judged by the Australian Synchrotron User Community, in recognition of outstanding contributions to synchrotron science in Australia. A synchrotron is a type of particle accelerator that allows scientists to unlock the power of subatomic particles to explore a wide range of fields in physics, food science, chemistry, engineering and health sciences.

Peter Lay is a Professor of Inorganic Chemistry in the School of Chemistry in the Faculty of Science and Director of Sydney Analytical, a Core Research Facility at the University of Sydney, which has extensive links with ANSTO through the Australian Synchrotron and the Lucas Heights campus.

He uses X-ray absorption spectroscopy, X-ray fluorescence microscopy and infrared microscopy to study changes in the biodistribution and concentrations of elements and biochemicals in cells and tissues as a result of disease processes and their treatment with drugs.

Professor Lay said: “I feel very privileged to receive this award for my involvement in the development of Australian synchrotron science in Australia and overseas. This has been made possible through generous programs of the Australian Synchrotron and, previously, the Australian Synchrotron Research Program. 

“Continued support from the Australian Research Council through LIEF [Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities] grants and Discovery grants have also been invaluable in enabling this cutting-edge synchrotron science.

“I would like to thank my many mentors and collaborators over the past three decades, in particular, Dr Aviva Levina, who has been involved as a collaborator in most of these studies.”


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Director of the Australian Synchrotron, Professor Andrew Peele, said that Professor Lay had harnessed the power of synchrotron techniques to gain insights at the nanoscale to benefit human health.

“His contribution has been exceptional over many years and he is recognised internationally as a pioneer in using spectroscopic techniques to study anti-cancer and anti-diabetic drugs,” he said.

The Australian Synchrotron is a world-class research facility in Melbourne used by more than 5000 scientists a year. By accelerating electrons at the speed of light around its 216-metre circumference, the synchrotron produces intense beams of light more than a million times brighter than the sun.

These beams are used via experimental facilities to examine the molecular and atomic details of a wide range of materials. Advanced techniques are applied to research in many important areas including health and medical, food, environment, biotechnology, nanotechnology, energy, mining, agriculture, advanced materials and cultural heritage.

Dr Wei Kong Pang has been awarded the Australian Synchrotron Research Award given every year to an emerging leader in synchrotron research with less than 10 years of post-PhD experience.

The awards will be formally presented to both recipients at the Australian Synchrotron User Meeting 2020 on 20 November. Professor Lay will deliver an acceptance address at the meeting.

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