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Professor Stephen William Bigger

BAppSci (UniMelb), PhD (UniMelb), FRACI, MACS, CChem

Professor, College of Engineering & Science

Professor Stephen W. Bigger graduated with a Bachelor of Applied Science and PhD from the University of Melbourne. His PhD was awarded in the applied chemistry field of polymer photo-degradation and stabilisation. After completing his PhD he was appointed as a senior tutor and then lecturer in physical chemistry at the University of Melbourne where he worked for six years before taking up an academic position at Victoria University in 1991.

He has published over 250 refereed papers and conference presentations in his research field and has held several leadership positions including the Head, School of Molecular Sciences and the Acting Executive Dean of the former Faculty of Health, Engineering and Science at VU.

Professor Bigger is a researcher of international standing in the field of polymer degradation and stabilisation and has also published widely in the refereed educational literature in chemistry. He has served on committees for the advancement of chemical education such as the Chemistry Education Association executive committee and has been appointed as subject specialist vetter for VCE Chemistry examinations by the Victorian Curriculum Assessment Authority.

He has been a recipient of the Vice Chancellor's Peak Award for Teaching Excellence and the Vice Chancellor's Peak Award for Research Supervision at Victoria University as well as an Australian Learning and Teaching Council citation for developing and disseminating over a sustained period original and innovative approaches to teaching chemistry to students with diverse backgrounds and interests.

Recent publications

Refereed journal articles

I.S.M.A. Tawakkal, M.J. Cran and S.W. Bigger, "Release of Thymol from Poly(Lactic cid)-Based Antimicrobial Films Containing Kenaf Fibres as Natural Filler", LWT - Food Sci. Technol., 66, 629-637 (2016).

I.S.M.A. Tawakkal, M.J. Cran and S.W. Bigger, "Interaction and Quantification of Thymol in Active PLA Based Materials Containing Natural Fibres", J. Appl. Polym. Sci., 133, 42160-42171 (2016); DOI: 10.1002/app.42160.

S.W. Bigger, M.J. Cran and I.S.M.A. Tawakkal, "Two Novel Algorithms for the Thermogravimetric Assessment of Polymer Degradation Under Non-Isothermal Conditions", Polym. Test., 43, 139-146 (2015).

S.W. Bigger, M.J. Cran and M. A. Bohn, "Novel Theoretical Computer-Assisted Modeling of Isothermal and Non-Isothermal Depolymerization Kinetics", Polym. Test., 44, 1-7 (2015).

L. N. Ngeh, J. D. Orbell, S.W. Bigger, K. Munaweera and P. Dann, "Magnetic Cleansing for the Provision of a Quick Clean to Oiled Wildlife", World Acad. Sci., Eng. Tech., 72, 1091-1093 (2012).

S.W. Bigger, K. Munaweera, L.N. Ngeh, P. Dann and J.D. Orbell, "Mathematical Model for the Sequential Pick-Up of Chemical Contaminants by Magnetic Particles", J. Envir. Engrg., 139, 796-802 (2013).

S.W. Bigger and A.S. Bigger, "FluAnisot: A Simulated Experiment in Fluorescence Anisotropy Measurements", J. Chem. Educ., 90, 386-387 (2013).

S.W. Bigger, A.S. Bigger and K.P. Ghiggino, "FluSpec: A Simulated Experiment in Fluorescence Spectroscopy", J. Chem. Educ., 91, 1081-1083 (2014).

K. Sadler, E. Eilam, F. Barry and S.W. Bigger, "University-Led STEM Outreach Programs: Purposes, Impacts, Stakeholder Needs and Institutional Support at Nine Australian Universities", Stud. High. Educ., (in press); DOI: 10.1080/03075079.2016.1185775.

Invited conference presentations

S.W. Bigger, M. J. Cran and M. A. Bohn, "Non-Isothermal, Non-Arrhenius Polymer Degradation", invited presentation at the 30th Polymer Degradation Discussion Group Meeting, Paris, France, 1st – 4th September, 2013.

S.W. Biggerand M. J. Cran, "Formulation and Characterization of Materials Containing Natural Antimicrobial Agents for Food Packaging Applications", keynote address presented at 3rd International Conference on Materials Processing and Characterization (ICMPC 2014), Hyderabad, India, 8th – 9th March, 2014.

Postgraduate research students

Current Supervision: Co-supervision of 4 PhD students and 1 BSc (Hons) student.

Completions: Supervised 15 PhD students (10 as Principal Supervisor) and 4 MSc students (as co-supervisor)

Research grants

In the period 1988-present, seed grant and research funding to the total of $800,377 was received and significant contributions made to successful research and teaching infrastructure grant applications funded to a total of $1,240,074.

Professional memberships

  • Fellow, Royal Australian Chemical Institute
  • Member, American Chemical Society
  • Member, Polymer Division, American Chemical Society
  • Member, Society of Chemical Industry

Industry experience

Research Scientist, Gas and Fuel Scientific Services Laboratory

Appearances in the media

Study Hails Promise of Bio-Based Plastics in Active Packaging (2011)is about work of SWB’s research team in food packaging using bio-based materials incorporating natural antimicrobial agents. Published by Food Production Daily.

Areas of expertise

  • Application of chemiluminescence techniques to the study of polymer thermal stability
  • Application of lasers to the study of polymer photo-stabilizers using ultrafast time-resolved fluorescence spectroscopy
  • Effects of morphology and catalyst residues on polymer thermal and photo-oxidative stability
  • Natural antimicrobial agents for polymer films used in food packaging
  • Non-isothermal chemical kinetics and its application to lifetime prediction in polymeric materials
  • Oil spill and wildlife remediation using magnetic polymer particles
  • Photo-initiated electron transfer reactions in solvents of low dielectric constant and in mixed solvent media
  • Photo-oxidative stability of polyolefins using accelerated testing and oxygen uptake techniques
Stephen Bigger

Contact details

+61 3 9919 2959
+61 3 9919 2005