John Swan award 2024

  • The John Swan Award is open to students who are enrolled in the 2024 Honours program in the School of Chemistry, Clayton Campus, Monash University and have completed a third year CHM major in the Faculty of Science, Clayton Campus, Monash University.
  • The successful applicant will be awarded the John Swan Award at a celebratory event attended by staff and students of the School of Chemistry in Semester I.

How to apply

Apply online: Application for the John Swan Award

Applications for the 2024 John Swan Award must be received by December 15, 2023.

John Swan Award

John Swan (1924-2015) started his chemical career in an explosives factory and in 1944 completed a Diploma in Applied Chemistry at the Royal Melbourne Technical College (now known as RMIT). He completed a BSc at the University of Melbourne (1947) and won a scholarship to pursue a PhD at the University of London (1949) exploring penicillin synthesis. After returning to Australia he worked for CSIR (now called CSIRO) in its Protein Division, and as a Fulbright scholar travelled to Cornell University Medical College, NY, to chemically synthesise the recently isolated cyclic peptide hormone, oxytocin. In 1966 he was appointed as the first Professor of Organic Chemistry in the School of Chemistry at Monash University. In the 1970s he served as Pro-Vice Chancellor and the Dean of the Faculty of Science (1976-1984). After his retirement in 1985, he established the Victorian Institute of Marine Sciences and the Monash Centre for Human Bioethics. He continued to research the environmental impact of offshore oil and gas exploration, tested and lobbied for cigarette tar content to be publicised on products, and tirelessly planted seagrass into mudflats to restore Westernport mangrove forests. He was a devoted environmentalist, inventor and conservationist, and lover of art, music and poetry.

The John Swan Chemistry Honours Scholarship, established in his honour, is the School of Chemistry's premier award at the undergraduate level. It is awarded to a high-achieving undergraduate student who wishes to continue their passion in chemistry through research in the School of Chemistry.


It is our pleasure to announce the 2022 John Swan Award recipients, Chenxi Zhang and Prue Huntington.

Aviva LyAviva Ly

"Going into my Bachelor of Science, I had always planned to major in chemistry, which is a field of science that has long fascinated me. It underpins so much of the world; many of the issues that we face, such as climate change and antimicrobial resistance, require an understanding of chemistry if we are to tackle them effectively. I wanted to study something exciting that would have broad applications across many industries and allow me to make a difference in society. However, it was not until I completed a third-year research project and a summer research internship that my love for chemistry was truly consolidated. These incredibly fulfilling experiences gave me the opportunity to apply theoretical concepts to practical situations and consequently sparked a passion for research.

This year, I am undertaking an honours project with the Hooper group. I have been exploring the organic synthesis of amino acid analogues for incorporation into cyclic peptides such as cittilins and biarylitides. This will allow us to study the type of crosslinking that occurs within these natural products; it will also provide a better understanding of what mutations can be tolerated by the enzymes that are involved in the cyclisation process. As these peptides have the potential to exhibit antimicrobial activity, I hope that this project will contribute valuable insights towards the fight against antimicrobial resistance"

Chenxi - John SwanChenxi Zhang

"As a continuously improving undergraduate student who has done an extended major in chemistry, my love of chemistry has constantly grown in the past three years. Also, having done all the research units and a summer scholarship program in chemistry, I developed my research skills to a large extent and was deeply inspired by the PhD students and academic staff surrounded me with chemistry spirit, which consolidated my intention to do research as my future career once more. In the third year, I finally found myself with a great passion for organic chemistry, especially in organic synthesis that could allow me to discover greener synthesis pathways and some precursor molecules to be potentially applied into the medicinal field, which can be pretty exciting and satisfying. Therefore, I decided to undertake my honours with a project in Methylenomycin precursors of unusual antimicrobial and fungal activity. Methylenomycin has been known to have antimicrobial activity for over 50 years but with moderate effectiveness. In this project, a recently discovered new precursor molecule of a related structure will be studied with several new routes, and its structure activity relationships will be examined. I believe, with this project, this exciting new candidate can be thoroughly developed toward a novel lead pharmaceutical in the field of antibiotic research."

PruePrue Huntington

"I undertook a Bachelor of Science at Monash after enjoying science throughout school and originally planned to focus on maths and physics, however, was drawn to the practical lab work and real-world experiences that chemistry offered. This led me to change my path and take on an extended major in chemistry.  I was excited to pursue chemistry as I saw it as a way to make a real difference through research and application, particularly in the areas of environmental and medicinal chemistry.  Participating in a third-year research project further inspired me to continue chemistry research into honours as I thoroughly enjoy the process and all aspects of working within the lab environment.

This year I will be undertaking honours within the Robinson group and will focus on the roles disulfide bridges play within peptides in influencing structure and function. Structural modification of this linkage can be used to conformationally restrict the peptide into a bioactive conformation and also provide an opportunity to develop radiopharmaceutical derivatives. I hope this project will help to further understand the mode of action of several important bioactive peptides and further extend their medicinal application."

I.WrightIndia Wright

“During my Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Global Studies, I discovered a love of chemistry for the analytical and critical thinking it applies to problem solving. I gravitated towards the junction between chemistry and biology and saw a lot of potential for applying analytical methods to better understand biological systems. Completing a research project during my undergraduate degree was an incredible experience which introduced me to the field of bioanalytical chemistry through molecular dynamics simulations of peptide aggregation. This inspired me to undertake my chemistry honours project and continue developing my research skills.

This year I will be exploring the utility of electrochemical techniques for assessing the redox balance of mitochondria from reproductive tissues. Electrochemistry shows a promising ability to provide more detailed data regarding redox processes than traditional biochemical techniques. Radical oxygen species and oxidative stress have been implicated in a number of diseases and poor reproductive outcomes, however, debate regarding their production and cellular roles persists. It is my aspiration that this project will add novel insights to improve knowledge of mitochondrial redox balance, with the ultimate goal of informing the development of targeted therapeutics for a range of applications.”