Making waves in analytical science

UOW researcher Dr Shane Ellis is one of the rising stars on the international Top 40 under 40 Power List

Making waves in analytical science

As a child, Shane Ellis didn’t think he would become a scientist.

“I preferred sports and definitely hadn’t thought of a life in academia. But somehow, science was always easy for me, so those are the subjects I chose in high school,” Dr Ellis said.

After completing an undergraduate degree in nanotechnology and later a PhD at the University of Wollongong (UOW), a career in analytical science felt natural to Dr Ellis. His passion for research brought him to the Netherlands, where he completed a post-doctoral program at the Dutch laboratory, FOM Institute AMOLF, before taking a position as Assistant Professor at M4I in 2014, leading the instrumentation and application development group within the mass spectrometry imaging (MSI) division. Two years ago, at the beginning of the pandemic, Dr Ellis returned to the Illawarra and UOW.

Fast forward to today, Dr Ellis is an Australian Research Council Future Fellow in the Faculty of Science, Medicine and Health and a leader of a research group at UOW’s Molecular Horizons. There, his team focuses on developing innovative technologies based on MSI to image the distribution of lipids and other molecules throughout diseased tissues and cells.

“I believe lipids are a bit of an underdog in scientific research. They’re considered just simple molecules that make up the lipid membrane, but in reality, they’re as intimately involved in many biological processes as proteins. We can learn much about disease mechanisms by studying how the lipidome is altered. One of my main research focuses is in the lipidomics field,” Dr Ellis said.

Dr Ellis has just been announced as one of the rising stars in analytical science by the The Analytical Scientist Power List 2022 – Top 40 Under 40. His nomination is a testament to all the hard work he has been doing at his new MSI laboratory at UOW’s scientific giant, Molecular Horizons.

“This award only bolsters my motivation to keep going. My primary goal is to grow the UOW lab into a world-class MSI laboratory with a broad and complementary set of capabilities. I also want to develop MSI techniques to the point where we clearly know what molecules and biochemical processes we visualise.

“After losing a very dear friend and colleague to cancer, I am also passionate about improving the capabilities for MSI, so it can be deployed to help guide tissue diagnosis and treatment decisions and eventually improve the lives of patients,” Dr Ellis said.

The full list of selected science superstars is here.

ABOUT THE 40 UNDER 40 POWER LIST

‘The Analytical Scientist Power List 2022 – Top 40 Under 40’ was established by The Analytical Scientist magazine in 2013. The selection process for this annual award is two-fold – the Power List relies on nominations from readers worldwide, but then a panel of expert judges decides who makes the final shortlist.

The aim of the 40 Under 40 Power List is to celebrate analytical science’s rising stars, who provide the answers to the 21st century’s biggest questions. They can come from various environments: academia, small business and industry.

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