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2018 Winner of the Capstone Editing Research Scholarship for Honours Students

Posted by Capstone Editing on 30 May 2018

2018 Winner of the Capstone Editing Research Scholarship for Honours Students

Capstone Editing is very glad to introduce this year’s winner of our  Research Scholarship for Honours Students, Melissa Kate Stanfield.

Melissa is doing her Honours degree in the School of Life and Environmental Sciences at Deakin University, under the supervision of Asssociate Professor Luke Henderson, Professor Russell Varley and Dan Eyckens.

Her Honours topic is a very interesting area. It focuses on reducing the flammability of resin samples via introduction of small, phosphorous-containing organic molecules.

With the funds from this scholarship, Melissa plans to purchase a glovebox. The glovebox would create a safe and controlled environment for her to complete standardise flammability testing and it would ensure that she able to complete this test safely. This data would be a key element to constructing her thesis and determining the impact her research makes on an industry level.  She would also use the funds to purchase a 12-month Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) student membership.

Melissa has just started her Honours degree, furthering a Bachelor of Science completed in 2017. She has a strong academic record which proves her level of dedication. As supported by her supervisor, she is an excellent, motivated and hard-working student. She is currently living in Melbourne and commuting to Geelong, which is 100 kilometers away, every weekday and it takes her an hour each way. She, however, always arrives early and is one of the last to leave.

Melissa recently completed a 12-month internship at CSIRO. She is also a casual academic teaching first year chemistry unit at Deakin University. On weekends, she works as a barista to support herself and her travel for her degree.

She aspires to pursue a PhD in this same research area. Capstone Editing Research Scholarship for Honours Students would help her work towards achieving, high quality, scientifically significant data. Having this high standard in her thesis would contribute to her grade and thus her ability to obtain a PhD scholarship.

Capstone Editing is very happy we can play a role in supporting such an outstanding member of the academic community.


Thesis Title

‘Development of fire-resistant resin systems’

Thesis Abstract

Fires are a cause of enormous amounts of destruction; they pose a risk to human health and the environment through the release of thick smoke and toxic fumes.  The world watched the traumatic Grenfell Tower fire in London 2017; these events are unfortunately a common occurrence. According to America’s National Fire Protection Association, in 2009, 1,348,500 fires were reported causing 3,010 civilian deaths, 17, 050 civilian injuries and $12.5 billion in property damage.

Plastics are prevalent materials in our lives due to their high process ability and adaptability to mould into complex shapes. Upon contact to fire, plastic materials will rapidly degrade into volatile and gaseous combustion products. To reduce the devastating impact of fire, flame-retardants are used. They are added to many flammable materials such as textiles and plastics to stop or delay fire, minimising harm and damage.

The applications for flame-retardants are endless, from home and commercial appliances, electrical equipment, to paints, coatings, insulation materials, carpets and curtains as well as airplanes, trains, and automotive materials. The research and development of flame-retardants is crucial to improve safety and protect the public, especially those vulnerable populations (children, elderly, hospitals) when it comes to escaping an effected fire area.

These flame-retardants often take the form of small molecules that are introduced to plastics to protect the materials from combustion at high temperatures. Halogen-containing flame retardants are commonly used, however there are toxicity concerns when used in high concentrations. An alternative to this is the use of phosphorous-containing compounds which are less toxic, and generally considered more environmentally friendly.

This project aims to synthesise and analyse a range of phosphorus containing flame-retardants for introduction into an epoxy resin material to reduce flammability. It will also entail further examination of the synergistic effects of halogen and phosphorus material on flame retardancy, focusing on evaluating the use of halogens in lower concentrations for harm minimisation.


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