Dr Robert Russell

Bioanalyst, Biodeuteration Lab Manager
Phone - +61 2 +61 2 9717 3691
Rob Russell media centre thumbnail


Role at ANSTO

Rob is responsible for the deuteration of biopolymers within the National Deuteration Facility, and Manager of Biodeuteration Laboratories. He operates and maintains a range of instruments and coordinates asset management.



Rob has expertise in fermentation process development for bacterial, fungal and algal cultures. Complementary expertise includes gel permeation chromatography and mass spectrometry.

Rob has developed novel biopolymer/carbon nanotube composites for biomedical applications. He uses techniques such as NMR and Infrared microspectroscopy to improve understanding of the formation and properties of polymers produced by microorganisms.



Rob joined ANSTO in 1997 working in Environmental Research investigating the role of microorganisms in mining, industrial and radionuclide interactions.
Rob was selected for training on Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry (Cameca, Luxembourg; University of Rouen, France,1999) and applied this to the analysis of biological matrices including crocodile bones, corals and cultured pearls.

Rob developed the capability for biodeuteration of microbial biopolymers and characterisation by small angle neutron scattering (SANS) with the newly-formed National Deuteration Facility in 2007.


Qualifications & Experience

  • PhD in polymer biodeuteration and nanocomposites, University of New South Wales (2018);
  • BSc (Hons) in environmental microbiology, University of Sydney (1992). 
  • Production of novel deuterated biopolymers and characterisation using neutron and infrared beamlines.
  • Fermentation/biotechnology industry (1993-1996).
 Rob is a member of the Royal Australian Chemical Society (MRACI), and was on the Organising Committee for the International Conference on Bio-Polymers (ISBP 2012), Cairns, Australia.



Selected publications

For a full list of Rob's publications please visit his ORCID page.

R.A. Russell, L.J.R. Foster and P.J. Holden. Carbon Nanotube mediated miscibility of Polyhydroxyalkanoate blends and chemical imaging using deuterium-labelled Poly(3-hydroxyoctanoate). Manuscript in preparation.

R.A. Russell, C.J. Garvey, T. Darwish, L.J.R. Foster and P.J. Holden, 2015. Biopolymer Deuteration for Neutron Scattering and Other Isotope-Sensitive Techniques. In Z. Kelman (Ed.), Methods in Enzymology Volume 565. Isotope Labeling of Biomolecules - Labeling Methods, (pp. 97-121) Elsevier, Oxford, UK.

R.A. Russell
, T. Darwish, L. Puskar, D. Martin, P.J. Holden, and L.J.R. Foster., 2014. Deuterated polymers for probing phase separation using Infrared microspectroscopy. Biomacromolecules 15 (2)644-649.

Chan, R.T.H.; Marcal, H., R.A. Russell, Holden, P.J. and L.J.R. Foster. 2014. BioPEGylation of Polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB) Promotes Nerve Cell Health and Migration. Biomacromolecules 15 (1) 339-349.

S. I. Yun, V. Lo, J. Noorman, J. Davis, R.A. Russell, P. J. Holden, and G. E. Gadd, 2010. Morphology of composite particles of single wall carbon nanotubes/biodegradable polyhydroxyalkanoates prepared by spray drying, Polymer Bulletin 64(1), 99-106.

R.A. Russell
, P.J. Holden, K.L. Wilde, C.J. Garvey, K.M. Hammerton, L.J.R. Foster, 2008. Biodeuteration strategies for neutron scattering analysis of bacterial polyhydroxyoctanoate. European Biophysics Journal 37, 711-715.

L.J.R. Foster, R.A. Russell, V. Sanguanchaipaiwong, D.J.M. Stone, J. Hook and P.J. Holden, 2006. Biosynthesis and Characterisation of a Deuterated Polyhydroxyalkanoate. Biomacromolecules, 7, 1344-1349.

G.R. MacFarlane, S.J. Markich, K. Linz, S. Gifford, R.H. Dunstan, W. O’Connor, R.A. Russell, 2006. The Akoya pearl oyster shell as an archival indicator of lead exposure. Environmental Pollution, 143, 166-173.

R.A. Russell
, P.J. Holden, T.E. Payne & G.D. McOrist, 2004. The effect of sulfate-reducing bacteria on adsorption of 137Cs by soils from arid and tropical regions. Journal of Environmental Radioactivity, 74, 151-158