The 2015 EO Tuck Medal

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Associate Professor Troy Farrell, from Queensland University of Technology, is an outstanding industrially focussed applied mathematician. He has been highly successful in addressing challenging and important problems that arise in industrial contexts. His work has simultaneously helped to develop the profession of applied mathematics and has achieved high impact for the industries his research has targetted, generating widespread economic benefits. In so doing, he has set an excellent example for the next generation of researchers. For these achievements, he is an ideal recipient of the E.O. Tuck Medal. 

Since graduating with a PhD in 1999, Troy Farrell has produced more than 25 peer-reviewed journal articles and conference papers, a book chapter, 12 technical reports as well as many that are confidential and hence unpublished. He has been awarded nearly $1 million in grants and $400k in contracts, and has been involved with the supervision of 3 postdocs, 13 PhD and 16 Honours or Masters students. Troy is a highly regarded and award-winning university teacher and supervisor, and has also been recognised for his contributions to QUT's external engagement. He has been a visiting academic at the University of Southampton and at KTH in Stockholm.

Troy has used his in-depth knowledge of applied mathematics and physical chemistry to develop sophisticated models of chemical systems that are of great industrial significance. Some recent applications include batteries, dye-sensitised solar cells, drying of colloidal droplets, the oxidation of biomass stockpiles, and understanding the composition and recovery of coal seam gas being produced in Queensland. His work is mainly undertaken in collaboration with industrial partners, for whom his technical ability would not be applicable without supporting attributes including his work ethic, interpersonal skills, and willingness to undertake confidential research, some of which is suppressed from publication.

Troy is a recognised world expert on the electrochemistry of batteries. A specific highlight is his development of a comprehensive, multi-scale, computational model for primary alkaline battery discharge. The model includes realistic features such as charge transport in the electrolyte and at all physical interfaces in the cell, as well as simulation of the phases and structure of the micro-porous cathode. Troy has also successfully investigated many other features of batteries, including measurement of active material utilisation in primary alkaline battery cathodes, singular perturbation analysis for utilisation of active material in electrochemically active nanoporous particles, and the precipitation of ZnO in separator compartments of primary alkaline batteries.

His recent work on lithium ion batteries has gained international attention. The novelty and impact of this work has led to Troy being invited to give plenary lectures in the Oxford Centre for Collaborative and Applied Mathematics (OCCAM) at Oxford University, and in the Institute for Pure and Applied Mathematics (IPAM) at UCLA.

Dye-sensitised solar cells are another important area where his technical skills have been successfully applied. He has developed a model that accounts for charge transport in the semiconductor and electrolyte phases of the cell, as well as photoelectrochemical production of charge at the semiconductor/dye/electrolyte interface in the anode of the cell. Troy has also been the Principal Investigator in an ARC Linkage Grant on oxidation in biomass stockpiles. Another active research project was with the Australian Institute of Nuclear Science and Engineering on drying of colloidal nanoparticle sol droplets.

Troy's service to the Australian and New Zealand applied mathematics community is also noteworthy. He has done an excellent job as Director of the MISG over the last 3 years. He has a passion for communicating the relevance and effectiveness of mathematics to stakeholders in all parts of the community, as well as facilitating connections between early career researchers and industry.

Other roles of note include being Treasurer for QANZIAM since 2008, and Treasurer for ANZIAM 2009 in Caloundra. He has played a significant role with the QUT Node Leadership of the ATN Industry Doctoral Training Centre in Mathematics and Statistics, a federally funded national centre supported strongly by industry. He is also an important member of the QUT Mathematical Sciences School Executive, holding the position of Director of Industry and Engagement. He is an Associate Editor of ANZIAM J(E) and undertakes reviewing duties for many journals.

The selection panel unanimously recommends that Associate Professor Troy Farrell be awarded the ANZIAM E.O. Tuck Medal for 2015.

On behalf of ANZIAM:

Robert Anderssen (DPAS, CSIRO, Canberra)
Kerry Landman (University of Melbourne)
Robert McKibbin (Massey University)


Updated: 20 Feb 2015