Advance Awards Emerging Leader Category Finalist
Dr Tristan Clemons is a prominent emerging leader in polymer science and a role model to young sports and science enthusiasts everywhere. As an Assistant Professor at the University of Southern Mississippi, one of only a handful of specialised polymer research departments in the U.S., Dr Clemons is pursuing cutting edge research in the way polymer materials can interface with medicine and biology. Dr Clemons and his team are working to enhance bioactivity and the 3D-printing capabilities of the hydrogel of neuronal cells. Ultimately, these techniques will lead the way in regenerative medicine applications for ailments such as spinal cord injury, cancer treatment, wound healing and cardiovascular injury. Prior to moving to the U.S., Dr Clemons was a prominent early career researcher as a National Health and Medical Research Council fellow investigating nanomaterials for the treatment of burns at world renowned The University of Western Australia. The recent career move to the U.S. has provided him greater opportunity to collaborate and seek out new ideas.
Dr Clemons believes in the importance of cross-pollinating different fields of endeavour. Alongside his wife, they have set up the entrepreneurial business ‘Funky Flap Hats’ which are tested with the Australian Radiation and Nuclear Safety Agency for their ultraviolet protection against Australia’s harmful sun. Dr Clemons has also served simultaneously as a goalkeeper for the Australian national field hockey team. He says life as an elite athlete taught him a lot about resilience, leadership and teamwork — skills he now brings to the academic setting. Teaching and mentoring the next generation is central to Dr Clemons’ philosophy. He has been an active volunteer and advocate for science outreach, inspiring thousands of students about the possibilities of a career in science as an ambassador for the Rotary Foundation’s Microscope in Schools project. Professionally, Dr Clemons has supported his peers by organising conferences, reviewing grants, and serving as a research integrity advisor. He has been recognised with several awards including the WA Premier’s Exxon Mobil Student Scientist of the Year award, a WA Tall Poppy award from the Australian Institute of Policy and Science, a number of WA Business News 40-under-40 Awards, and recently recognised internationally as an emerging leader in chemistry with a SciFinder Future Leader in Chemistry award.
“I truly love the process of discovery and finding solutions to problems the world needs.”