Research Field: Mineralogy
Investigating how minerals form in systems as diverse as coral reefs and the human body is
the focus of Dr. Raffaella Demichelis’ research. Her team uses Australia’s latest
supercomputing facilities, huge computers as powerful as thousands of laptops all together,
to predict properties and chemical reactivity of minerals. She led landmark research that
proves a new and more comprehensive theory explaining how minerals form, and solves the
problems related to understanding how atoms arrange into certain mineral structures.
Harnessing and mimicking the rich chemistry observed in nature offers insights into, among
other things, the mechanics of carbon-dioxide sequestration and coral reef preservation, how
kidney stones and bones form, how to control scale formation in industry.
Dr. Demichelis also contributes to develop software that is used in laboratories conducting
research in chemistry and earth science worldwide.
Dr. Demichelis spreads her enthusiasm for science through engaging with outreach and
community building activities. She co-initiated networks in WA aimed to teach software skills
to PhD students and volunteers much of her time to visit schools and mentor kids to possible
STEM career paths.