Below you can find details about members of the Soft Materials and Colloids Laboratory.

Rico Tabor - group leader


Rico Tabor completed his undergraduate and postgraduate degrees at the University of Bristol, UK, under the supervision of the legendary surfactant chemist Julian Eastoe. In 2009, he moved to Australia for a post-doctoral position at the University of Melbourne, working in the colloid group of Profs Ray Dagastine, Franz Grieser and Derek Chan, using atomic force microscopy to explore fundamental forces in soft systems. In 2012, he was appointed to a lectureship at Monash University, where he started the Soft Materials and Colloids group, whose members research phenomena at the interface of self-assembly and responsive nanomaterials. Outside of work, he spends most of his time walking his dog and researching the best Australian red wines.

Ragesh Prathapan (PhD 2015 - )


Mr Ragesh Prathapan (from India), completed his bachelors degree in electronics and communication engineering. After that he had one year industrial experience in Robert Bosch. He pursued his master's degree in nanotechnology during which he had two publications in RSC publications. He was the gold medallist during his master's degree. He has been offered the prestigious VIDS scholarship as well as IPRS to pursue his Doctorate studies at Monash. During his Phd he will be investigating on multifunctional coatings based on cellulose composites.

Thomas McCoy (Honours 2014, PhD 2015 -)


Tom "The Real" McCoy is from Melbourne, Australia. Tom completed his BSc with Honours at Monash in 2014 under the supervision of Dr Rico Tabor looking at the magnetic recovery of graphene oxide nanosheets for water purification. After a successful Honours year, Tom has returned to the SMaC lab in 2015 to commence his PhD. His work has been featured in The Australian newspaper along with various online news sources. His hobbies include basketball, playing and listening to music and having a frothy or two with mates.

Matthew Pottage (Honours 2013, PhD 2015 -)


Matt Pottage has been a member of the SMaC group since completing his honours year in the lab in 2013, and spending most of 2014 working as a research assistant. He started a PhD through the Monash Chemicals and Plastics Manufacturing Innovation Network, sponsored by 3M, in February 2015. His research interests include the structural investigation of fluorinated amphiphiles to facilitate design of their replacements, and the incorporation of graphene into smart, functional materials.

Muthana Ali (PhD 2015 -)


Muthana Ali was born in Babylon, Iraq and completed his bachelor and masters degree in Chemistry at Kerbala University, Iraq, specialising in the field of inorganic chemistry. At this time, he worked on the preparation, characterization and kinetic study of transition metals complexes as his primary research area. He worked as a lecturer in department of chemistry at Kerbala University for a couple of years. His current research interests are in exploring the synthesis and applications of graphene oxide nanosheets, and their role in micro/nano-fluidic encapsulation for a variety of fluidic applications. In his off time Muthana enjoys the outdoors and is a keen runner and swimmer.

Rajiv Thapa (PhD 2013 -)


Rajiv completed his Bachelors and Masters degrees in biochemistry from the State University of New York. He moved to Monash university in 2012 and joined SMaC Lab in 2015. Rajiv's interest lies in the bacterial membrane composition and their interactions. His current research in the lab involves the study of bacterial membranes and their interactions with nanomaterials using atomic force microscopy.

Sumit Tripathi (PhD 2013 -)


Sumit (from India) is a student of unique PhD research partnership between Monash University and the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay. He completed his BTech in mechanical engineering with Chancellor’s gold medal from CSAU Kanpur (India) and his MTech in chemical engineering from IIT Roorkee (India). He has two years of teaching experience in the field of thermal, fluid and environmental engineering. He has also worked in R&D group of Heavy Engineering Corporation Ltd (a PSU in India) for one year. Currently, he is exploring the rheological complexities of highly concentrated emulsion and also looking for possible solutions to transport such materials through pipelines. He joined SMaC lab in 2015 as part of his joint research program. His hobbies include photography, travelling and playing pool.

Yingxue (Hillary) Hu (co-supervised with Dr Brendan Wilkinson, PhD 2014-)


Yingxue Hu (Hillary) received her BEng Degree in Printing Engineering from Hangzhou Dianzi University (China) in 2008. She then studied material science at University College London (United Kingdom), where she received her Master of Science with Distinction in 2013. After that she commenced her PhD at Monash University (Australia) in 2014. Her current research focuses on the synthesis and characterization of carbohydrate-based photoswitchable amphiphiles.

Jackson Moore (co-supervised with Dr Brendan Wilkinson, PhD 2015-)


Jackson Moore graduated with a Master of Chemical and Materials Engineering degree at the University of Queensland. He has work experience in a wide variety of areas including collecting sterile samples for bacterial testing in the meat industry, studying the rheological properties of hydrated starchy foods, testing process variables that affect product quality in the alumina industry, and designing a membrane separation process for desalinating coal seam gas brine. Jackson's PhD research investigates the synthesis and characterisation of novel sugar-based surfactants with partner company Axieo.

Shane Meaney (co-supervised with Prof. Bart Follink, PhD 2014-)


Shane joined the SMaC lab in February, 2016 having completed two years of his PhD program at the University of South Australia under the supervision of Professor Bart Follink. Prior to commencing his doctoral studies, he completed a double degree in Chemical Engineering and Chemistry at the University of Sydney. Shane's interest lies at a confluence of science and engineering, seeking to improve industrial processes by incorporating novel colloidal materials. His current research involves the development of encapsulation technologies which provide enhanced selectivity and efficiency to critical chemical processes in the mining industry. Outside his studies Shane is an avid traveller and an amateur sportsman.

Joshua Marlow (co-supervised with Dr Toby Bell, Honours 2015, PhD 2016 -)


Josh Marlow completed his 'Bachelor of Advanced Science (with Honours)' in 2015, having completed his honours project under the joint supervision of Drs Rico Tabor and Brendan Wilkinson. After spending several months working in industry, Josh returned to begin his PhD in the second half of 2016, again as part of the SMaC group. His research is focused around the application of fluorescence imaging techniques to lyotropic liquid crystal systems, and the effects of the structure of these systems on the diffusion of particles inside them. His interests include comic books, movies and science communication.

Veena Kelleppan (Honours 2016)


Veena completed a Bachelor of Radiography and Medical Imaging with Honours in 2012, at Monash University. Deciding on a career change, she chose to finish her Bachelor of Science and undertake Honours in Chemistry, again at Monash Uni. Her Honours project focusses on the synthesis and analysis of betaine surfactant molecules. Out of the lab, Veena is a voracious reader, tennis enthusiast and music lover.

Luke Giles (Co-supervised with Prof. Stuart Batten, Honours 2017)


Luke is thrilled to be commencing honours as part of his Bachelor of Science Advanced (Research) degree, with a focus on employing soft materials to form novel and interesting morphologies of coordination polymers and MOFs. Outside of the laboratory Luke enjoys swimming, reading and dabbling in home DIY.

Joshua King (Honours 2017)


Josh is undertaking an Honours project studying the interaction of soft surfaces in complex fluids. As a maths co-major, he will be approaching the problem with both experiments and theoretical modelling.

Alumni and visitors


  • Loughlin Turpin (Honours 2016)
  • Jesse Givens-Lamb (Undergraduate project student)
  • Gene Looi (Nanyang exchange student, Singapore)
  • Nikolas Matovinovic (Undergraduate project student)
  • Andrew Rayner (Undergraduate project student)
  • Shirleen Kirsten (Undergraduate project student)
  • Terrence Ho (Nanyang exchange student, Singapore)
  • Aurore Weissert (International Internship student, France)
  • Nouvelle Ludivine (International Internship student, France)
  • Imdad Ullah (International HEC IRSIP scholar, Pakistan)
  • Sean Siwen Han (Nanyang exchange student, Singapore)
  • Alsu Valiakhmetova (Endeavour scholar, Russia)