Dr Shinji Kihara

BSc(Hons), PhD

Profile Image
Research Fellow
Doctoral Candidate - Doctor of Philosophy


Shinji Kihara is a University of Auckland graduate. In 2020, he completed his doctoral thesis titled “Nanoplastics and protein corona – investigating the corona structure and their biological impact”. His interests are diverse; understanding the surface and nanostructure of biological matter (such as proteins and cellular membrane) using X-ray and neutron scattering techniques, and exploring the mechanistic actions of antimicrobial peptides.


2020 PhD (chemistry) – University of Auckland, New Zealand

2017 BSc(1st class Hons) – University of Auckland, New Zealand

Past appointments

2019 Research Assistant – Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand

2020 Research Assistant – Office of Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor, New Zealand

Research | Current

We are looking for passionate students at all levels of expertise and backgrounds. Please contact me or A/Prof. Duncan McGillivray for a project and potential supervision. If you feel your expertise/strengths lie outside the topics below but you find yourselves interested, please do not hesitate to contact me for discussion.

Assessing the molecular and cellular impact of nanoplastics and microplastics:

Plastics are ubiquitous in the planet. Recent discoveries of microplastics and nanoplastics in the environment have raised considerable concerns amongst the public, policymakers, and researchers. The extent of their biological impact is uncertain today, making appropriate risk assessments a difficult task. We are interested in how nanoplastics interact with biological matters at different complexity levels. This research involves participation of students and researchers from different background, physical chemists, biophysicists, and structural biologists to investigate the molecular details of how nanoplastics and microplastics interact (or possibly causes damage to) with biological molecules and assemblies (proteins, cellular membrane, carbohydrates, RNA/DNA, etc), and microbiologists to study the cellular fate (toxicity, uptake, cellular stress, metabolism, etc).

Measuring chemical association of contaminants with Nanoplastic/microplastic surface

The presence of nanoplastics and microplastics in the environment and our everyday lives is widely recognised. However, it is still uncertain what they consist of, e.g. plastic types, sizes, and shape, and how they associate with other chemicals on their surface, all of which are crucial in determining their environmental and health impacts. These particles are hypothesised to carry environmental contaminants and act a “trojan horse” when taken up by biological organisms. We are interested in approaching this problem, using spectroscopy methods (mass-spectroscopy, FTIR, and Raman) and scattering techniques.

Teaching | Current

Chem 310 Structural Chemistry and Spectroscopy

Chem 397 Capstone Green Chemical Sciences


2018-2020 Australian Institute of Nuclear Science and Engineering Postgraduate Scholar (Australia)

2017-2020 University of Auckland Doctoral Scholarship (NZ)


Areas of expertise

Microplastics and Nanoplastics

Small-angle scattering

Light scattering

Synchrotron techniques


Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

As of 29 October 2020 there will be no automatic updating of 'selected publications and creative works' from Research Outputs. Please continue to keep your Research Outputs profile up to date.
  • McDougall, D. R., Kihara, S., Reinhardt, J., Miskelly, G. M., McGillivray, D. J., & Jeffs, A. G. (2020). Biodegradable chelating agent improves the survival of early larvae for shellfish aquaculture. Aquatic Toxicology, 228.10.1016/j.aquatox.2020.105645
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Andrew Jeffs, Gordon Miskelly, Duncan McGillivray
  • Kihara, S., Ghosh, S., McDougall, D. R., Whitten, A. E., Mata, J. P., Köper I, & McGillivray, D. J. (2020). Structure of soft and hard protein corona around polystyrene nanoplastics-Particle size and protein types. Biointerphases, 15 (5)10.1116/6.0000404
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Duncan McGillivray
  • Rani, A., Kavianinia, I., Hume, P., De Leon-Rodriguez, L. M., Kihara, S., Williams, D. E., ... Hodgkiss, J. M. (2020). Directed self-assembly of peptide-diketopyrrolopyrrole conjugates - a platform for bio-organic thin film preparation. Soft matter, 16 (28), 6563-6571. 10.1039/d0sm01071e
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Margaret Brimble, Iman Kavianinia, David Williams, Duncan McGillivray, Juliet Gerrard, Luis De Leon Rodriguez
  • Kavuri, H. A., Kihara, S., McGillivray, D., & Willmott, G. (2020). Poly(vinyl pyrrolidone)-modified metal oxide anode interlayers for stable organic solar cells. Journal of Photonics for Energy, 10 (4), 042003-042003. 10.1117/1.JPE.10.042003
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Duncan McGillivray, Geoff Willmott
  • Kihara, S., van der Heijden, N. J., Seal, C. K., Mata, J. P., Whitten, A. E., Köper I, & McGillivray, D. J. (2019). Soft and Hard Interactions between Polystyrene Nanoplastics and Human Serum Albumin Protein Corona. Bioconjugate chemistry, 30 (4), 1067-1076. 10.1021/acs.bioconjchem.9b00015
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Chris Seal, Duncan McGillivray
  • Kihara, S., & McGillivray, D. J. (2018). Nanoparticle safety review. Wellington, NZ: MacDiarmid Institute of Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology.
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/51809
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Duncan McGillivray

Contact details

Primary office location

SCIENCE CENTRE 302 - Bldg 302
Level 9, Room 931
New Zealand

Web links