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Virus-fighting scientists recognised with Eureka Prize nomination

08:00am August 01 2023

Professors Antonio Tricoli and David Nesbit spoke to Wire about their groundbreaking research in 2020.

Professors Antonio Tricoli and David Nisbet have been nominated for the Australian Museum's prestigious Eureka Prize science awards in recognition of their research into how bacteria and viruses contaminate surfaces.

As Antibiotic-resistant bacteria and new virus strains become more prevalent, so current disinfection and biosecurity strategies are becoming less effective at combating them. The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the urgent need to develop new ways of preventing the spread of pathogens.

Tricoli and Nisbet are using their findings to develop technologies that can help to mitigate the spread of future superbugs, including a sprayable coating that shields objects from pathogens over months. 

In 2020, Tricoli, a former Westpac Scholar, spoke to Wire about his research, which began after the pair discovered a way to stabilise highly water repellent structures on surfaces.

While some surfaces have long been known to be able to repel water - known as super hydrophobic surfaces, such as the lotus leaf - Tricoli and Nisbet have created a unique solution utilising extremely strong polymer binding that is highly effective in keeping surfaces free from bacteria. 

“The development of this technology, not only mine, but other technology which are able to keep surfaces free of bacteria is essential for not disrupting our way of living in the world economy in the years to come,” Tricoli said.  

Winners of the Eureka Prize will be announced on August 23. 

Josh Wall is the Head of Video at Westpac Wire. Prior to joining the team, he spent 10 years as a video journalist and documentary filmmaker, most recently as Head of Video for the Guardian Australia. He also worked across numerous News Corp mastheads in Sydney as a presenter, producer, writer and video journalist. Josh is originally from Perth, Western Australia where he began his career by co-creating a video magazine that focused on music and the arts.

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