Dr Marija Gizdavic Nikolaidis
BSc(Hons I) (Belgrade), PhD (Auckland)
- 2016: Professional Teaching Fellow, Lecturer, the University of Auckland, New Zealand
- 2014-present: Senior Research Fellow, the University of Auckland, New Zealand
- 2007–2013: Research Fellow, the University of Auckland, New Zealand
- 2006–present: Assistant Professor, University of Belgrade, Serbia
- 2005–2007: Postdoctoral Research Fellow, the University of Auckland, New Zealand
- 2005: Temporary Senior Tutor, the University of Auckland, New Zealand
- 2002–2008: Temporary Tutor, the University of Auckland, New Zealand
- 2002–2005: Research Assistant, University of Belgrade, Serbia
- 1995–2001: Teaching and Research Assistant, University of Belgrade, Serbia
- 1995–1998: Researcher, Institute of General and Physical Chemistry, Belgrade, Serbia
Research | Current
I am actively involved in the multidisciplinary projects spread across the fields of Physical Chemistry, Green Chemistry, Nanotechnology, Polymer Chemistry, Medical Science, Engineering, Biology, Food Science and Environment.
As a member of Centre for Green Chemical Science, my main research interests are primarily in a new approaches of synthesis biomaterials using eco-friendly microwave irradiation method or electrospinning method for developing a new generation of advanced nanomaterials and nanocomposites for environmental monitoring, food packaging, energy storage, water reuse and biomedical applications.
New approaches of synthesis of antimicrobial polymers and their incorporation in thermoplastics: The antimicrobial polymer technology, AMP (Inventors: M. Gizdavic-Nikolaidis, A. J. Easteal (dec.) and S. Stepanovic (dec.), WO 2009/041837, NZ000254/2010 granted; UniServices Ltd.) has generated an exceptional level of local and international industrial interest across a very wide range of applications and was the cornerstone of the MBIE project, “Hybrid Plastics” (2008-2014).
AMP has already generated industrial interest for a wide range of applications such personal care, health care, wound dressings, water and air filtration, antimicrobial plastic additives, antimicrobial paints and coatings, wood and paper, marine industry and consumer products. The patents for this technology are already granted in New Zealand, Australia and Japan (USA, China and Europe patents applications are pending). AMP technology has exceptional antimicrobial efficacy against a broad range of microorganisms (Gram positive and Gram negative bacteria including multi-resistance bacteria such as MRSA), fungi and viruses at a low concentration load (<1 wt %). This low-cost technology provides a very high speed antimicrobial action and has high temperature resistance. It is non-leachable, non-toxic to mammalian cells and can be incorporated in or coated on conventional plastics. AMP possesses many advantages over currently available antimicrobials such as triclosan and nanosilver. These include increased biocompatibility, no skin irritation and a low probability of bacteria developing resistance due to its multi-faceted mode of killing. Furthermore, AMPs have potential to be used to create anti-tubercular facemasks, which would serve as a cost-effective tuberculosis infection control measure in low-resource, high tuberculosis burden areas.
In 2014 the AMP technology was successfully licensed to the US-based company TiFiber Inc. In collaboration with one of the world’s leading soap manufacturers (Bradford company), TiFiber Inc. is developing an AMP-based formulation that can replace toxic antimicrobials such as triclosan and triclocarban that are currently used in personal care products. In March 2015, TiFiber Inc. was selected as one of sixteen new technology companies (over 2009 exhibitors from 37 countries) to exhibit the AMP technology at the NPE 2015 International Plastic Showcase “Start-up garage” in Orlando, USA. It is anticipated that Tifiber Inc. will begin large-scale production of AMPs in 2017. The antimicrobials market is growing at a rapid pace, with the prediction that it will be worth $US3.3 billion globally by 2018.
As an inventor I am actively involved in the process toward further development and commercialisation of AMP technology.
Antimicrobial and free radical scavenging mechanisms of polymers: This work is in collaboration with A/Prof. Simon Swift (Department of Molecular Medicine and Pathology, School of Medical Sciences, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, the University of Auckland) and Dr. Mark Ambrose (School of Medical Sciences, University of Tasmania, Australia) on the mechanism of antimicrobial action, and provide a more complete understanding of the interaction between polymers and free radicals such as DPPH. One of the research objectives is to explore the relationship between antimicrobial efficacy and free radical scavenging ability. Both properties depend on the availability of delocalized electrons in the conjugated structure of polymers. The nature of the substituent in polymer chain can have a significant effect on both properties. The ‘substituent effect’ most likely involves both electronic and steric factors.
Environment and water treatment: Developing an antimicrobial polymer based water filter: Human development and population growth exert many and diverse pressures on the quality and quantity of water resources and on access to them. 1.1. billion people in developing countries have inadequate access to water. Close to half of all people in developing countries suffer at any given time from a health problem caused by water and sanitation deficits.
Membrane processes deliver high quality water and are increasingly being adopted for this purpose in water treatment systems; however their use for treating recycled water has been limited by membrane biofouling due to organic matter retention and associated microbial growth. The conventional use of strong oxidants (e.g., chlorine) produces harmful by-products and shortens membrane life. To address these limitations in current technology, we propose to investigate a number of new approaches for imparting biofouling resistance to membranes.
To achieve this objective we will incorporate composites of antimicrobial polymer to alter membrane hydrophobicity and prevent the build-up of microbes and organic matter. In this study long-term performing anti-fouling membrane for efficient water recovery will be developed by: (i) in-situ deposition of polymer composite in commercially available membrane systems; (ii) in-situ fabrication of polymer-membrane composites using green microwave method; and (iii) coating of membranes with superior antimicrobial agents. A scaled-down version of applied cross-flow systems will be used to investigate the interactions between microorganisms, organic matter, and modified membranes.
This research is part of the project entitled “Eco-friendly synthesis of new tailored nanoparticles and nanostructured membranes for water reuse applications”, funded by Strategic Research Initiatives Fund, the University of Auckland.
The interdisciplinary UoA cross-faculties team includes Prof. Mohammed Farid (Chair, Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, the University of Auckland), A/Prof. Naresh Singhal (Department of Civil and Environment Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, the University of Auckland), A/Prof. Simon Swift (Department of Molecular Medicine and Pathology, School of Medical Sciences, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, the University of Auckland) and Dr. Filicia Wicaksana (Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, the University of Auckland). This research will bring together top scientists in the field from Europe, Australiasia and Middle East and attract industrial partners.
Green engines for green chemistry: Powerful eco-friendly microwave irradiation system for synthesis of advanced green nanomaterials, zeolites and biopolymer based nanocomposites: This work is in collaboration with Prof. Dragomir Stanisavljev (Faculty of Physical Chemistry, University of Belgrade, Serbia) and Dr. Zoran Zujovic (School of Chemical Sciences, the University of Auckland). The emergence of microwave-enhanced chemistry as an efficient, environmentally benign method of synthesis has been a significant development in recent years. Features of microwave irradiation including solvent-free reactions, low waste, energy efficiency, high yields, short reaction times and possible use of alternative solvents, can play an important role in the development of green chemistry methods. For example, ultrafast and facile synthesis of polymer nanofibers can be carried out using MW with high yield produced after only 5 min (in comparison of 5 h needed by using classic chemical approach to obtain the same yield of ~80 %). This approach has paved the way to possible large-scale production of high-quality advanced green nanomaterials, zeolites and biopolymer based nanocomposites.
In spite of a wide use of MW irradiation in organic chemistry, there is still no clear answer to extremely accelerated reactions or to stereoselectivity which drives system towards aiming products. The complex questions whether all MW effects can be attributed to thermal or to specific and non-thermal effects is at present the subject of much debate which sharply divides a scientific community. The non-thermal effects are a result of the direct interactions of molecules with electromagnetic irradiation, while specific effects include superheating phenomena, the existence of local radiators: i.e. “hot spots”. In order to explain the formation mechanism of nanostructured polymer materials in MW, we based our preliminary hypothesis on the existence of two reaction stages, both affected by microwave irradiation: (a) nucleation and (b) chain growth (polymerisation). The first stage is based on instantaneous heating that develops conditions for homogeneous nucleation. Other effects such as diffusion or molecular agitation could drive the second stage that is also fast. However, the lack of full understandings to what mechanisms drive MW effects and the formation of specific polymeric material make further studies, based on our preliminary data necessary and timely.
The project will address: i) preparation and characterisation of various biopolymer based composites, zeolites and advanced green nanomaterials for environmental monitoring, water reuse, food and biomedical applications; ii) to investigate the thermal, non-thermal and specific MW effects to explain formation mechanisms of advanced polymer nanomaterial. The proposed multidisciplinary study will be in collaboration with Prof. Mohammed Farid (Energy and Environment (Chair); Water and Waste Water Treatment, Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, the University of Auckland), A/Prof. Naresh Singhal (Department of Civil and Environment Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, the University of Auckland) and A/Prof. Simon Swift (Department of Molecular Medicine and Pathology, School of Medical Sciences, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, the University of Auckland).
Electrospun biopolymer based nanocomposites for pharmaceutical, food and biomedical applications: Innovative technologies focused around bio-based materials are currently of high urgency as they can decrease dependencies on fossil fuel. Biopolymers are renewable resources, but also intrinsically exhibit antimicrobial and antioxidant activities, biodegradability, and biocompatibility. Therefore, they are ideal for use in a wide variety of industries such as medicine, agriculture, cosmetics, food packaging, paper coatings, air filtration and etc.
One of the simplest ways of preparing continuous and uniform polymer fibers of varied composition is through electrospinning. Electrospinning has emerged as a powerful and low cost technique for the fabrication of nanofibrous polymer materials with high specific surface areas, controllable compositions, and high porosities for a wide range of applications. Moreover, fibers in the nanometre range are subject to confinement effects that can lead to an enhancement of certain properties, such as surface energy, glass transition, thermal and electrical conductivity, and surface reactivity. Electrospun fibers are probably one of the safest nanomaterials currently used, since they are unlikely to become airborne and penetrate the body because of their length.
The electrospinning of biopolymers for fiber formation is of particular interest not only because the resources are renewable, but also because of the desirable characteristics of these biomacromolecules, including biocompatibility, biodegradability, and exquisite specificity.
The aim of this work was to develop electrospun biopolymer-based nanofibrous composites which will prepared from combination of poly(lactic acid)-PLA, gelatine, collagen, chitosan, cellulose, zein or starch obtained from renewable resources. Research objectives will include a) preparation of various biopolymer composites using different weight ratios of selected biopolymers and combination of solvent mixture b) optimising both antimicrobial and antioxidant properties and the ability of the electrospun materials to support growth and proliferation of mammalian cells and c) physical, analytical, mechanical and/or thermal testing of electrospun fibers as requires by particular application. The proposed study will be in collaboration with Prof. Conrad Perera (Food Science, School of Chemical Sciences, Faculty of Science, the University of Auckland), Prof. Mohammed Farid (Chair, Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, the University of Auckland) and A/Prof. Simon Swift (Department of Molecular Medicine and Pathology, School of Medical Sciences, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, the University of Auckland).
High performances sensors based on nanostructured biopolymer based composites: Due to its intensive use, ammonia is becoming a major environment pollutant. It is widely used in industry, agriculture (fertilizers) and comes from animal waste fermentation. Ammonia gas is as also refrigerant used in mechanical systems. Almost all refrigeration facilities used for food processing make use of ammonia because it has the ability to cool below 0 ◦C. Because the chemical industry, fertilizer factories and refrigeration systems make use of almost pure ammonia, a leak in the system can result in life-threatening situations. All facilities using ammonia should have an alarm system detecting and warning for dangerous ammonia concentrations.
The effects on health depend on the concentration and the time of exposure to ammonia. It can induce respiratory disorder; skin irritation, severe irritation at the ocular level, nausea, headache and an exposition to high concentrations can be fatal. As classical chemical methods for determining ammonia concentration are time consuming, expensive and require trained personnel, electronic sensors were developed to get miniaturized devices with fast response and low cost. The electrochemical sensors are widely used because they are compact and require little power. They are comparatively inexpensive but they need regular recalibration in regard to the range of concentration to detect and their operational time life is limited. Metal oxide semiconductors are also widely used because they can be integrated easily in classical electronic circuits. These sensors have a low detection threshold, are relatively insensitive to the environment and temperature. However, their fabrication requires expensive and high temperature processing operations and they show a poor selectivity. An ideal electronic gas sensor is able to detect very low levels of toxic gases, does not need recalibration and maintenance during one year, presents a low sensitivity to humidity and temperature, with a simple principle of measurement, does not need a great expense of energy, can be very small and can be used in fixed or portable applications, has a short response time and can be integrated in a network (electronic nose). Under this definition, nanostructured polymers are promising materials in regards to their relative simplicity to be synthesised, their high sensitivity, light weight, and ability to operate at ambient temperature.
The aim of this work is to develop nanostructured biopolymer based sensor for use as efficient and low cost ammonia gas sensor for environmental monitoring and food quality applications. Polymer composite will be synthesised using a polyurethane (PU) matrix. The samples will be investigated and characterised from a metrological point of view in terms of response, sensitivity, quantification limit, repeatability and reversibility. This work is in collaboration with Prof. Jean-Luc Wojkiewicz (Environment and Chemistry Department, Ecole des Mines de Douai, France) and Prof. Dragomir Stanisavljev, Faculty of Physical Chemistry, University of Belgrade, Serbia.
Green routes of synthesis zeolites catalysts: Most zeolites are usually synthesised under hydrothermal conditions from silicate or aluminosilicate gels in alkaline media at temperatures between about 60 and 200 °C. The hydrothermal synthesis of zeolites is not a green process due to use of organic templates, high pressure, duration time (hours which is high energy cost process). To overcome the above disadvantages of conventional zeolite preparation processes preparation processes, alternative green routes for synthesising zeolites. Recently, important advances have been made in the synthesis of zeolites, and some typical examples such as a) zeolite synthesis by use of recyclable, low-cost, or degradable templates; b) Organotemplate-free zeolite synthesis; c) Ionothermal zeolite synthesis; d) Solvent-free zeolite synthesis and e) Microwave zeolite synthesis.
In this project two different green approaches will be investigated for synthesis of zeolites using advantages of ionic liquids solvent (to eliminate safety concerns associated with high pressure) and microwave heating (results in energy and time savings during synthesis) and b) solvent free method.
Due to the unique heating method, the microwave-assisted synthesis of zeolites not only increases the crystallisation rate but also results in narrow particle size distribution, as well as controllable crystal orientation. Compared with hydrothermal synthesis, the solvent-free route has obvious advantages, for instance 1) high yields of zeolites; 2) better utilization of autoclaves; 3) significant reduction of pollutants; 4) reduced energy use and simplified synthetic procedures, and 5) significant reduction of reaction pressure.
This projects will include Dr. Zoran Zujovic (School of Chemical Sciences, Faculty of Science, the University of Auckland), Prof. Mohammed Farid (Chair, Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, the University of Auckland), A/Prof. Naresh Singhal (Department of Civil and Environment Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, the University of Auckland) and Prof. Dragomir Stanisavljev (Faculty of Physical Chemistry, University of Belgrade, Serbia).
Green polymer chemistry and bio-based plastics: Modern polymer technology has green routes. In both natural and man-made technologies, polymers play a prominent role as extraordinarily versatile and diversified structural and multifunctional macromolecular materials. The rise of low-cost synthetic polymers with far superior properties, produced in highly energy- and resource-efficient polymerisation processes, accounted for the declining use of the less competitive natural polymers, which amount to less than 1% of today’s plastics production of 300 million tons per year. At the beginning of the 21st Century, we are experiencing a renaissance of renewable polymers and a major thrust towards the development of bio-based macromolecular materials. Is the future of plastics going to be green?
In principle, there are three different strategies towards renewable plastics that are useful in a green economy. In strategy (i), biorefining of biomass and chemical conversion of carbon dioxide are employed to produce synthetic crude oil (“renewable oil”) and green monomers for highly resource- and energy-effective polymer manufacturing processes without impairing established recycling technologies. In strategy (ii), which goes well beyond the green routes of polymers, living cells are converted into solar-powered chemical reactors, exploiting genetic engineering and biotechnology routes to produce biopolymers as well as bio-based polymers. In strategy (iii), carbon dioxide is activated and polymerised.
The aim of this study is to use biopolymers from renewable resources to make biocomposite films (eg. starch/PLA or chitosan/PLA) environmental and food packaging applications. Physical, mechanical and thermal characterisation of prepared starch/PLA and chitosan/PLA films will be performed along with antimicrobial testing against selected bacteria and fungi.
Starch is a potentially interesting biodegradable material due to its availability, low cost and renewability. Moreover, the use of starch in the plastics industry can reduce dependence on synthetic polymers. Starch is a widely used material for making biodegradable plastics. Also, chitosan, as a unique positively charged polysaccharide, has been one of the most popular biopolymers for development of drug delivery systems for various applications, due to its promising properties, including high biocompatibility, excellent biodegradability, low toxicity, as well as abundant availability and low production cost. Chitosan has proven a useful antimicrobial agent in food processing, particularly for improving the shelf life of food materials. However, both pure starch and chitosan based films possesses low mechanical properties. This can be overcome by blending starch or chitosan with PLA to prepare composite with good mechanical properties.
Extraction and characterisation of biopolymers and bioactive peptides from chicken feet for medical applications: Chicken meat produces feathers approximately 5 million tonnes as a waste stream per year and meat processing occurs throughout the year particularly, in centralized locations and the collected feathers have minimal value in poultry industry. Apart from its minor consumption in low grade animal feed, disposal of remaining bulk poses a significant environmental threat to poultry farming industry in addition to landfill, thus making transport the main cost of the raw material. Therefore, from economic and environmental point of views, it is quite desirable to mechanize lucrative and effective process to use these kind of sources in green chemistry.
The objective of this study is to extract biopolymers such as collagen, gelatine and etc. from chicken feet and investigate their purity by SDS-PAGE and UV-Vis methods. Furthermore, hydrolysates and biologically active peptides will be isolated and purified from chicken feet collagen extracts by enzymatic digestion. The antihypertensive properties of these peptides will be examined using various physical and analytical methods (HPLC, FTIR, DSC and SSNMR) to investigate their potential roles in reducing blood pressure. This projects will involve colleagues from Food Science, School of Chemical Sciences, Faculty of Science and Food and Bio-product cluster, Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering, Faculty of Engineering and considerably contribute to Food and Health Programme and Centre for Green Chemical Science, the University of Auckland.
Optimisation of struvite recovery for sustainable phosphate management: Phosphate is an essential element for ecosystem and is mainly used to produce fertilizer. It is a one-way flow element without any feasible substitutes and will be depleted out in 100-200 years. High level phosphate is also the main reason for water pollutions such as red tide and eutrophication. Average phosphorous consumption in New Zealand is 3 times larger than world average, and 7 times larger than that in Europe. Phosphate rock imported in NZ is 800,000 metric ton annually, which is much higher than that in UK, Japan, Norway and Netherland. Besides, Only 7% the phosphate rock can be absorbed by living creatures, the rest are lost to the environment through soil erosion, animal waste and artificial wastewater.
Struvite is a product from phosphorus recovery and is widely used as a slow release fertilizer. Its recovery process is proved to be environmental and economic friendly during wastewater treatment. Currently, some pilot and full scale plants have been built in UK, Japan, Canada and Germany. However, few optimisation condition and process control process has been studied at this moment. What is more, although with a huge amount of living stock and huge amount of phosphate rock importation in New Zealand, few research focus on struvite recovery from these animal waste to reduce the country’s phosphate rock net consumption.
In this work, the model struvite recovery during animal wastewater treatment process will be proposed. It is an attempt to investigate the comprehensive relationship between different influential factors, as well as control process parameters to optimisation struvite recovery since characteristics of wastewater vary by many uncertainties. Developed models and optimisation algorithms can be used directly for New Zealand wastewater treatment plant and livestock industry when the recovery process is introduced. This research is led by Prof. Brent Young (Head of Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, the University of Auckland) and Dr. Wei Yu (Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, the University of Auckland).
Teaching | Current
- ENGGEN140 Engineering Biology and Chemistry, Energy and Fuels - Lecturer
Julia Robertson, PhD candidate
2015-present Member of Centre for Green Chemical Science, the University of Auckland
2011-present Member of American Nano Society
2009 Chemistry Department representative on the Faculty of Science EO committee
2008-present Elected NZIC Secretary Auckland Branch
2008 Temporary NZIC Secretary Auckland Branch
2007–present Elected in Committee of New Zealand Institute of Chemistry (NZIC), Auckland Branch
2002–2004 Elected Chair of the Department of Chemistry Staff/Student Consultative Committee, The University of Auckland
2002 Elected Postgraduate student representative on Faculty of Science Postgraduate Committee, The University of Auckland
2002–present Member of New Zealand Institute of Chemistry (NZIC)
1998–2002 Elected Member of Assembly of Physical Chemistry Society of Serbia
1996-present Member of Physical Chemistry Society of Serbia
Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)
- Robertson, J., Dalton, J., Wiles, S., Gizdavic-Nikolaidis, M., & Swift, S. (2016). The tuberculocidal activity of polyaniline and functionalised polyanilines. PeerJ, 410.7717/peerj.2795
Other University of Auckland co-authors: Simon Swift, Siouxsie Wiles, Julia Robertson
- Gizdavic Nikolaidis, M., Vella, J., Bowmaker, G. A., & Zujovic, Z. D. (2016). Rapid microwave synthesis of polyaniline–C60 nanocomposites. Synthetic Metals, 217, 14-18. 10.1016/j.synthmet.2016.03.009
Other University of Auckland co-authors: Graham Bowmaker, Zoran Zujovic, Joseph Vella
- Gizdavic Nikolaidis, M. R., Jevremovic, M. M., Milenkovic, M., Allison, M. C., Stanisavljev, D. R., Bowmaker, G. A., & Zujovic, Z. D. (2016). High yield and facile microwave-assisted synthesis of conductive H2SO4 doped polyanilines. Materials Chemistry and Physics, 173, 255-261. 10.1016/j.matchemphys.2016.02.011
Other University of Auckland co-authors: Graham Bowmaker, Zoran Zujovic
- Gizdavic-Nikolaidis, M. R., Pagnon, J. C., Ali, N., Sum, R., Davies, N., Roddam, L. F., & Ambrose, M. (2015). Functionalized polyanilines disrupt Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus biofilms. Colloids and surfaces. B, Biointerfaces, 136, 666-673. 10.1016/j.colsurfb.2015.10.015
- Mérian T, Redon, N., Zujovic, Z., Stanisavljev, D., Wojkiewicz, J. L., & Gizdavic-Nikolaidis, M. (2014). Ultra sensitive ammonia sensors based on microwave synthesized nanofibrillar polyanilines. Sensors and Actuators B: Chemical, 203, 626-634. 10.1016/j.snb.2014.07.004
Other University of Auckland co-authors: Zoran Zujovic
- Gizdavic-Nikolaidis, M. R., Jevremovic, M. M., Allison, M. C., Stanisavljev, D. R., Bowmaker, G. A., & Zujovic, Z. D. (2014). Self-assembly of nanostructures obtained in a microwave-assisted oxidative polymerization of aniline. eXPRESS Polymer Letters, 8 (10), 745-755. 10.3144/expresspolymlett.2014.77
Other University of Auckland co-authors: Zoran Zujovic, Graham Bowmaker
- Jevremovic, M., Zujovic, Z., Stanisavljev, D., Bowmaker, G., & Gizdavic-Nikolaidis, M. (2014). Investigation of the effect of acid dopant on the physical properties of polyaniline prepared using microwave irradiation. Current Applied Physics, 14 (9), 1201-1207. 10.1016/j.cap.2014.06.018
- Neo, Y. P., Perera, C. O., Nieuwoudt, M. K., Zujovic, Z., Jin, J., Ray, S., & Gizdavic-Nikolaidis, M. (2014). Influence of heat curing on structure and physicochemical properties of phenolic acid loaded proteinaceous electrospun fibers. Journal of agricultural and food chemistry, 62 (22), 5163-5172. 10.1021/jf500841m
Other University of Auckland co-authors: Sudip Ray, Conrad Perera, Jianyong Jin, Michel Nieuwoudt