Professor Alan E. Rowan received from the University of Liverpool a first class honours in chemistry and was awarded the Leverlhulme Medal. He obtained his PhD degree with prof Ray Abraham at the same university working on the self-assembly of chlorophylls. He subsequently worked for two years in New Zealand with prof Chris Hunter in the area of catenane and rotaxane self-assembly. He returned to Europe as a Marie-curie Fellow to work with Prof Roeland Nolte at the University of Nijmegen the Netherlands, where he continued research in functional supramolecular assemblies. He stayed in Nijmegen and became fully professor in 2005, where he has established a new group in molecular materials, studying the relationship between molecular assembly and functional properties. In January 2016 he left the Netherlands and became Director of the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology at the University of Queensland, Brisbane Australia.
Professor Rowan has performed research at the interface of chemistry and biology with seminal and pioneering work on processive catalysis and functional self-assembly. His is widely recognised as a truly innovative scientist, working toward understanding at the molecular level the functional of hierarchical materials and catalysis. More recently Professor Rowan been intrigued by the complex relationship between the architecture and mechanical properties of the extracellular matrix and its interaction with cells and proteins. His latest scientific achievement has been the development of the first truly biomimetic hydrogel which mimics the mechanic and functional properties of the extracellular membrane. This work has received considerable attention since it is the first step to truly controlling cell behaviour and is now being developed commercially as a wound dressing, drug therapeutic and aid in cell growth.
Professor Rowan has published over 300 hundred peer-reviewed articles and books, in the highest level journals, which were cited 14,000 times. In 2016 Professor Rowan was awarded an ARC Laureate research Fellowship, the highest academic research grant in Australia.