Farewell to Professor Peter Hayes and Professor Suresh Bhatia

20 Jul 2022

The University of Queensland will farewell two professors with a combined 70 years of experience in and dedication to chemical engineering.

Professor Peter Hayes

Professor Peter Hayes joined the University in 1976 and was originally appointed as a lecturer in Ceramic Materials.

“The University has changed from a provincial focus with a relatively low research profile to one that is recognised to be in the top echelon internationally,” he said.

Peter has been instrumental in developing the metallurgical engineering curriculum and research program, having established the Pyrometallurgy Research Centre (PYROSEARCH) with close colleague Professor Eugene Jak.

He also developed the new curriculum for metallurgical engineering, providing students with the knowledge and skills needed for modern industrial practice.

“The metallurgy program was established 70 years ago to support the development of the minerals industry in Queensland,” he said.

“With the development of renewable energy and initiatives to reduced carbon emissions we urgently need to increase the production and secure the supply of critical metals for applications in electric cars, energy generation and storage systems, electronics and advanced materials.

“I look forward to continuing my contact with PYROSEARCH and contribute where I can to their ongoing research.”

Professor Suresh Bhatia joined UQ in 1996 after working at the Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai for 12 years.

Professor Suresh Bhatia

In his time at UQ he has witnessed considerable growth and investment in research.

“UQ built several new institutes and centres which changed the landscape considerably and helped propel the university into one of Australia’s top research institutions,” he said.

Suresh significantly contributed to the field of catalysis and changed the landscape of hydrogen storage after demonstrating that adsorption at room temperature was futile.

“The paper changed the field and direction of funding, including the US Department of Energy, at a time when the area had a significant amount of interest,” he said.

Suresh was previously Head of Department for Chemical Engineering and was instrumental in securing the support for the creation of the School of Chemical Engineering in 2009.

Head of School Professor Justin Cooper-White said both colleagues had left an indelible mark on chemical engineering at UQ, with Peter playing a pivotal role in the success of the Metallurgical Engineering program.

“I would like to sincerely thank both Peter and Suresh for their significant contributions to the School and UQ across teaching, research, and engagement over their many years of service,” he said.

“Peter, up until his retirement, was the longest serving member of the School. Over the past 46 years, under his leadership and guidance, the Metallurgical Engineering program in our School has become one of the strongest in the country and world-renowned – all driven by Peter’s passion for Metallurgy.

“I know that this passion has not abated and will certainly continue into his retirement.”

Professor Cooper-White said it’s unlikely retirement will mark the end of Suresh’s research achievements.

“Suresh was also a long serving member of the School and in his 26 years, above and beyond his contributions as a leader in service and teaching for the School, the fields of catalysis and adsorption have been considerably advanced by his leading scientific contributions,” he said.

“These contributions have provided the School with substantial research profile and visibility, and have been recently recognised by his peers across the globe with him being elected as a Fellow of the International Adsorption Society – a significant achievement.

“I’m confident that his research achievements will continue, even though officially retired, if that last couple of weeks are anything to go by.”

“I look forward to seeing both Peter and Suresh continuing to walk the halls of Chemical Engineering and taking full advantage of the benefits of their new Emeritus status.”  

A farewell event to both Professors will be held in August.