Robert Chapman

Robert Chapman

Robert Chapman

BE (Hon 1, UNSW), Ph.D (Sydney), MRSC, MRACI CChem

Lecturer and DECRA Fellow

Contact details

Phone: (02) 9385 5958


Science and Engineering Building (SEB, E8) Room 702

Biographical Details

I completed a BEng in Industrial Chemistry (2002-07) at UNSW with a co-operative scholarship. After a year working in management consulting for the Boston Consulting Group, I moved to the University of Sydney for my PhD in Chemistry (2009-12) under Profs. Sebatien Perrier and Katrina Jolliffe, where I studied the synthesis and self assembly of cyclic peptide - polymer conjugates. I subsequently worked as a research associate in the lab of Prof. Molly Stevens at Imperial College London (2013-15) on the development of nanomaterial based biosensors and scaffolds for tissue engineering, before returning to the School of Chemistry at UNSW as a Vice-Chancellors Research Fellow in 2016. I work within the Centre for Advanced Macromolecular Design (CAMD).

Research projects

My research focusses on the use of enzymes to enable the design multivalent polymer-peptide conjugates for protein binding applications and to design novel biosensors for the detection of disease. I have expertise in well controlled polymerisation techniques, the self assembly of polymer and peptide based nanomaterials, and in nanoparticle based biosensing. Current projects include:

Polymer drugs by combinatorial design: In recent years, triggering apoptosis through cell receptor clustering has emerged as one of the main targets for cancer chemotherapy, and a number of protein therapeutics that work through this mechanism are in clinical trials. However, natural proteins are not ideal therapeutics due to the difficulties in finding the right protein for any given application, their capacity to trigger immune detection and drug resistance, as well as their high cost and poor stability. Peptides that can bind to the relevant cell receptors are known and by presenting these on the surface of a scaffold it is hoped that it will be possible to design synthetic materials capable of clustering cell receptors with similar efficacy. Polymers are attractive scaffolds to use for the presentation of these peptides as they allow precise control over architecture, density, and rigidity, as well as the position and number of binding moieties present. By synthesising libraries different architectures and measuring the relationship between their structure and biological efficacy, my group aims to design synthetic polymer-peptide conjugates for the clustering of death receptors on breast cancer cell lines.
Stabilisation of enzymes in nanoparticles: Despite their extensive use in a range of synthetic, biosensing, and therapeutic applications, enzymes are often highly unstable to heat, pH, and the presence of organic solvents. However, several recent studies have shown that it is possible to protect enzymes against degredation by such environmental factors by encapsulating them within nanocapsules. We are particularly interested in stabilising the enzyme glucose oxidase which we are using to scrub the oxygen from controlled polymerisation reactions allowing them to proceed in low volumes, in the open atmosphere as described above. However, because the enzyme is sensitive to temperature and the presence of organic solvents, the technique only works at temperatures below 55°C, and in a limited range of alcohol / water mixtures. Although a great deal of research has focussed on the immobilization and stabilisation of enzymes on surfaces, relatively little has investigated the protection of enzymes by incorporation within real (< 100 nm) nanoparticles. My group is investigating the stabilisation of glucose oxidase in crosslinked nanogels and inverse miniemulsion capsules, with the aim of both expanding the scope of combinatorial polymer synthesis techniques and of providing general platforms for the stabilisation of therapeutic enzyme.

Research group

Our group works within the Centre for Advanced Macromolecular Discover (CAMD) and the Australian Centre for Nanotechnology (ACN). Please contact me by email if you are interested in joining us. Further information on the application process and available scholarships can be found at the Graduate Research School website, and at the UNSW research scholarships website

Group photos (2019)


Current students

Zihao (Alvin) Li (PhD)Shegufta Farazi (Honours)Henry Foster (Honours)  


With Martina Stenzel:





Yiping Wang (PhD)

Ahmed Mustafa (PhD)

 Daniele Melodia (PhD)







Selected publications

Please refer to my researchgate or google scholar profile for an up to date list of publications. Selected papers are listed below to give a flavour of the research I am involved in. 

Farazi S, Chen F, Foster H, Boquiren R, McAlpine S, Chapman R*Real time monitoring of peptide delivery in vitro using high payload pH responsive nanogelsPolymer Chemistry, 2020,11, 425-432 [emerging investigators issue] 

Graphical abstract: Real time monitoring of peptide delivery in vitro using high payload pH responsive nanogels

Li Z, Kosuri S, Foster H, Cohen J, Jumeaux C, Stevens MM, Chapman R,* Gormley AJ*; A Dual Wavelength Polymerization and Bioconjugation Strategy for High Throughput Synthesis of Multivalent Ligands; J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2019, 141, 50, 19823-19830


Li Z, Ganda S, Melodia D, Boyer C, Chapman R*; Well-defined polymers for non-chemistry laboratories using oxygen tolerant controlled radical polymerization, J. Chemical Education, 2020, ASAP.

Abstract Image

Tamasi M, Kosuri S, DiStefano J, Chapman R, Gormley AJ; Automation of Controlled/Living Radical Polymerization; Adv. Intelligent Systems, 2019, ASAP


Rahimi M, Foster H, Farazi S, Chapman R*, McAlpine S*; Polymer mediated transport of the Hsp90 inhibitor LB76, a polar cyclic peptide, produces an Hsp90 cellular phenotype, Chemical Communications, 2019, 55, 4515-4518.

Graphical abstract: Polymer mediated transport of the Hsp90 inhibitor LB76, a polar cyclic peptide, produces an Hsp90 cellular phenotype 

Chapman R*, Stenzel MH; All wrapped up: Stabilization of enzymes within single enzyme nanoparticlesJ. Am. Chem. Soc., 2019, 141, 7, 2754-2769


Oliver S, Zhao L, Gormley AJ, Chapman R, Boyer C; Living in the Fast Lane—High Throughput Controlled/Living Radical PolymerizationMacromolecules, 2019, 52(1), 3-23.


Yeow J, Gormley AJ, Chapman R, Boyer C; Up in the Air: Oxygen Tolerance in Controlled/Living Radical Polymerization, Chemical Society Reviews, 2018, 47, 4357-4387


Gormley AJ, Yeow J, Ng G, Conway O, Boyer C, Chapman R*; An oxygen tolerant PET-RAFT polymerisation for screening structure-activity relationships, Angewandte Chemie Int. Ed., 2018, 57 (6), 1557-1562


Yeow J, Joshi S, Chapman R, Boyer C; A Self-Reporting Photocatalyst for Online Fluorescence Monitoring of High Throughput RAFT Polymerization, Angewandte Chemie Int. Ed., 2018, 47, 4235-4666


Chen F, Raveendran R, Cao C, Chapman R, Stenzel MH, Correlation between polymer architecture and polyion complex micelle stability with proteins in spheroid cancer models as seen by light-sheet microscopy, Polymer Chemistry, 2019, 10 (10), 1221-1230


Ng G, Yeow J, Chapman R, Isahak N, Wolvetang E, Cooper-White JJ, Boyer C; Pushing the Limits of High Throughput PET-RAFT Polymerization, Macromolecules, 2018, 51 (19), 7600-7607


Ishizuka F, Chapman R, Kuchel RP, Coureault M, Zetterlund PB, Stenzel MH; Polymeric Nanocapsules for Enzyme Stabilization in Organic Solvents, Macromolecules, 2018, 51 (2), 438–446


Milner P, Parkes M, Putzer JL, Chapman R, Stevens MM, Cann P, Jeffers J; A Low Friction, Biphasic and Boundary Lubricating Hydrogel for Cartilage Replacement, Acta Biomaterialia, 2018, 65, 102-111


Chapman R*, Melodia D, Qu JB, Stenzel MH, Controlled poly(olefin)s via decarboxylation of poly(acrylic acid)Polymer Chemistry, 2017, 8, 6636-6643


Qu JB, Chapman R, Chen F, Lu H, Stenzel MH; Swollen Micelles for the Preparation of Gated, Squeezable, pH-Responsive Drug Carriers, ACS Adv. Mater. Int. , 2017, 9, 13865-13874,


Yeow J, Chapman R, Xu J, Boyer C; Oxygen tolerant photopolymerization for ultralow volumes, Polymer Chemistry, 2017, 8, 5012-5022


Chapman R; Gormley AJ; Stenzel MH; Stevens MM; Combinatorial Low-Volume Synthesis of Well-Defined Polymers by Enzyme DegassingAngewandte Chemie Int. Ed., 2016, 55, 4500 - 4503


Liu NJ, Chapman R, Lin Y, Mmesi J, Bentham A, Tyreman M, Abraham S, Stevens MM; Point  of  care  testing  of phospholipase  A2  group  IIA  for  serological  diagnosis  of  rheumatoid  arthritis, Nanoscale, 2016, 8, 4482


Liu NJ; Chapman R; Lin Y; Bentham A; Tyreman M; Philips N; Khan SA; Stevens MM; Phospholipase A2 as a point of care alternative to serum amylase and pancreatic lipaseNanoscale, 2016, 8, 11834 - 11839

Graphical abstract: Phospholipase A2 as a point of care alternative to serum amylase and pancreatic lipase 

Harrison RH, Steele JAM, Chapman R,  Gormley AJ, Chow LW, Mahat M, Podhorska L, Hettiaratchy SP, Dunlop IE, Stevens MM; Dual functional scaffold with opposing cell adhesive and anti-adhesive surfaces generated by flexible usage of surface initiated polymer growth and peptide functionalization. Adv. Functional Mater. 2015, 25, 5748. [Cover article]


Jumeaux C, Chapman R, Chandrawati R, Stevens MM; Synthesis and self-assembly of temperature-responsive copolymers based on N-vinylpyrrolidone and triethylene glycol methacrylate. Polymer Chemistry, 2015, 6, 4116


Lin Y, Chapman R, Stevens MM; Integrative self-assembly of graphene quantum dot and biopolymer into a versatile biosensing toolkit. Adv. Functional Mater. 2015, 25, 3183.


Chapman R; Lin Y; Burnapp M; Bentham A; Hillier D; Zabron A; Khan S; Tyreman M; Stevens MM; Multivalent Nanoparticle Networks Enable Point-of-Care Detection of Human Phospholipase-A2 in SerumACS Nano, 2015, 9, 2565 - 2573

Chapman R, Gormley AJ, Herpoldt KL, Stevens MM; Highly controlled open vessel RAFT polymerizations by enzyme degassing, Macromolecules, 2014, 47, 8541 


Gormley AJ; Chapman R; Stevens MM; Polymerization Amplified Detection for Nanoparticle-Based BiosensingNano Letters, 2014, 14, 6368-6373

Lin Y, Chapman R, Stevens MM; Label-free multimodal protease detection based on protein/perylene dye coassembly and enzyme-triggered disassembly. Analytical Chemistry, 2014, 86, 6410.


Blunden BM, Chapman R, Danial M, Lu H, Jolliffe KA, Perrier S, Stenzel MH; Drug conjugation to cyclic Peptide-polymer self-assembling nanotubes. Chemistry - A European Journal, 2014, 20, 12745.


Chapman R, Bouten P, Hoogenboom R, Jolliffe KA, Perrier S; Thermoresponsive cyclic peptide – poly(2-ethyl-2-oxazoline) conjugate nanotubes. Chemical Communications, 2013, 49, 6522.


Chapman R; Koh ML; Warr GG; Jolliffe KA; Perrier S; Structure elucidation and control of cyclic peptide-derived nanotube assemblies in solutionChemical Science, 2013, 4, 2581 - 2581

Graphical abstract: Structure elucidation and control of cyclic peptide-derived nanotube assemblies in solution

Chapman R; Jolliffe KA; Perrier S; Multi-shell Soft Nanotubes from Cyclic Peptide Templates, Advanced Materials, 2013, 25, 1170 - 1172


Chapman R, Warr GG, Jolliffe KA, Perrier S; Water-Soluble and pH-Responsive Polymeric Nanotubes from Cyclic Peptide Templates. Chemistry - A European Journal, 2013, 19, 1955.

Chapman R; Danial M; Koh ML; Jolliffe KA; Perrier S; Design and properties of functional nanotubes from the self-assembly of cyclic peptide templatesChemical Society Reviews, 2012, 41, 6023 - 6023


Wilkinson BL, Day S, Chapman R, Perrier S, Apostolopoulos V, Payne RJ; Synthesis and Immunological Evaluation of Self-Assembling and Self-Adjuvanting Tricomponent Glycopeptide Cancer-Vaccine Candidates. Chemistry - A European Journal, 2012, 18, 16540.


Junkers T, Delaittre G, Chapman R, Günzler F, Chernikova E, Barner-Kowollik C; Thioketone-Mediated Polymerization with Dithiobenzoates: Proof for the Existence of Stable Radical Intermediates in RAFT Polymerization. Macromolecular Rapid Communications, 2012, 33, 984.


Poon CK, Chapman R, Jolliffe KA, Perrier S; Pushing the limits of copper mediated azide-alkyne cycloaddition (CuAAC) to conjugate polymeric chains to cyclic peptides. Polymer Chemistry, 2012, 3, 1820.


Chapman R; Jolliffe KA; Perrier S; Modular design for the controlled production of polymeric nanotubes from polymer/peptide conjugatesPolymer Chemistry, 2011, 2, 1956 - 1956

Graphical abstract: Modular design for the controlled production of polymeric nanotubes from polymer/peptide conjugates

Dehn S, Chapman R, Jolliffe KA, Perrier S; Synthetic Strategies for the Design of Peptide / Polymer Conjugates. Polymer Reviews, 2011, 51, 214.


Chapman R, Jolliffe KA, Perrier S; Synthesis of Self-assembling Cyclic Peptide-polymer Conjugates using Click Chemistry. Australian Journal of Chemistry, 2010, 63, 1169.