Professor Maria Forsyth

2017 Victoria Prize for Science & Innovation

Professor Maria Forsyth has been awarded the 2017 Victoria Prize in recognition of her trail-blazing contributions to the development of advanced electrolyte materials for electrochemical devices.

For more than 25 years, Professor Forsyth has pioneered the discovery, fundamental understanding and application of ionic materials, long before they were recognised as a unique scientific field. Developing a deeper understanding of the structure and dynamics of these fascinating materials, she has also demonstrated their use in energy devices such as light metal batteries, fuel cells and photo-electrochemical solar cells where these materials are key to improving safety and high temperature performance.

Nearly a decade before the first International Congress on Ionic Liquids, Maria published and patented research on room temperature molten salts, and in the late 1990s she discovered, in collaboration with Professor Doug MacFarlane at Monash University, the ion conductive properties of organic ionic plastic crystals.

Her vision and research achievements have led to the establishment of a world-class facility in Geelong that could one day power the next wave of electric vehicles. The BatTRI-Hub – a collaboration between Deakin University and CSIRO – began operating in 2016 as
a facility to develop the next generation of ‘beyond lithium’ battery technologies. The facility also allows NMR imaging to be applied to the study of electrochemical processes such as corrosion and battery discharge, with the potential to make ground-breaking advances in understanding of the molecular-level operation of these devices.

Along with a small group of international colleagues, Maria established the annual International Sodium Battery Conference in 2014 and hosted the third Conference in Geelong in 2016.

Professor Forsyth’s work has led to many other awards including the Corrosion Medal (2013), Eureka Prize Finalist (2013), and election to the Australian Academy of Science (2015). In 2016 she was awarded the Galileo Galilei Award at the International Symposium on Polymer Electrolytes and in 2017 she was inducted as a Fellow of the International Society of Electrochemistry (ISE).