Professor Alan Rowan has a research focus on the interaction of cells with nanostructured materials and surfaces

Professor Rowan is an experienced physical materials chemist with a track record in fundamental and applied research in novel molecules and materials for applications in field as wide as catalysis, nanoelectronics, biomimetic machines and more recently synthetic extracellular matrices. In my group we strive to understand the relationship between molecular architecture and macroscopic functions, designing and synthesizing new materials as well as building new analytical tools to study them. This relationship has led to a fundamental understanding of how to control material properties, which we have applied to a wide range of societal problems such as wound healing, cell growth and organic solar cells.

​After completing his first postdoctoral appointment in New Zealand in 1993 Professor Rowan returned to Europe as a Marie Curie Fellow at the University of Nijmegen. He was based in Europe since then, securing a string of successful Research and Teaching Positions in the Institute for Molecules and Materials (IMM) at the University of Nijmegen. In 2005 he became a Full professor at the University of Nijmegen, where he established a new research department of Molecular Materials, within the Institute of Molecules and Materials. As head of this research cluster Professor Rowan led a team of assistant professors, support staff and more than 50 PhDs and Post Docs and masters’ students.

In 2016 Professor Rowan became the Director of the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology and an ARC Laureate Fellow in the area of mechanotransduction, which allowed me to establish a new research group at UQ in the area of mechano-biochemistry. In addition to his appointment in the AIBN at UQ, he is an honorary Professor at both the University of Stellenbosch (South Africa) and the Radboud University Nijmegen (Netherlands), and has a Special Frontiers Materials Professorship at the Chinese Academy of Chemical Sciences 2015-2016. 

Industry Engagement & Collaborations

As Director of the AIBN, I oversee a team of 500 researchers and professional staff. I am on the Board of the Dow Centre for Sustainability and the University Senior Management Group. In recognition of my translational effort I was nominated in 2013 as one of the Netherlands Science Entrepreneurs of the year. In the last three years I have been granted five patents and have five pending in the area of nanomedicine. I have been involved in the start up of four companies: Encapson, Noviotech, NovioSense and Secmatix

​In my fields of biomimetic catalysis and functional materials, I have had the privilege of working with some of Europe’s best departments and institutes ISIS Strasbourg, Imperial College London, Cambridge University and Oxford University, Max Plank Mainz Germany and KULeuven Belgium, all renowned Centres of academic excellence. This includes collaborations with, and mentorship from, leading figures in the field such as Prof C.A. Hunter, Prof R.J.M Nolte, Prof R. Friend, Prof K. Muellen and Nobel Laureate Prof J.M. Lehn. Key international collaborators include; Prof. M. Stevens (Imperial College, London), Prof. F. Macintosh (UVA Amsterdam), Prof O. Ikkala (University of Helsinki), Prof J. Hofkens (KULeuven Belgium), Prof M. Mueller (Aachen Germany).