Dr Annie Colebatch

BSc (Hons) (ANU), PhD (ANU)
Rita Cornforth Fellow
College of Science
T: (02) 6125 4293

Areas of expertise

  • Organometallic Chemistry 039904
  • Catalysis And Mechanisms Of Reactions 030601
  • Transition Metal Chemistry 030207
  • Main Group Metal Chemistry 030204
  • Polymerisation Mechanisms 030305

Research interests

We aim to address challenges in sustainability through the development of effective catalysts. Catalysis is the acceleration of a chemical reaction by lowering the energy required through addition of very small quantities of highly active chemicals (catalysts). This is of great significance industrially, as it is estimated that 90% of all products use catalysis during manufacture, environmentally, as catalysis reduces energy requirements for processes, and from a fundamental perspective for our understanding of chemical reactions.

Our focus is on understanding how such processes occur with homogeneous transition metal catalysts. The rational design of efficient catalytic systems requires knowledge of how catalysts and substrates behave in order to tune their reactivity and thereby deliver enhanced performance.

We are interested in designing organometallic catalysts which utilise molecular cooperativity. Our work involves the synthesis of ligands and their transition metal complexes, and studying their reactivity and catalytic behaviour, using an array of techniques including NMR spectroscopy and X-ray crystallography.


Annie completed her undergraduate degree and PhD at the Australian National University. She received an Endeavour Research Fellowship to work at the University of Bath (2015) with Prof Michael Hill, followed by postdoctoral appointments at the University of Oxford (2015-2017) with Prof Andrew Weller and the University of Cambridge (2017-2019) with Prof Dominic Wright. She returned to the ANU in 2019 as a Rita Cornforth Fellow to establish her independent research on the design of transition metal catalysts.

Available student projects

Designing cooperative transition metal catalysts

Transition metal catalysts are pervasive throughout synthetic, industrial and biological chemistry. Traditionally, catalytic activation of substrates occurs at the metal centre. Molecular cooperativity, wherein bifunctional substrate activation occurs across multiple sites within a catalyst, offers a powerful route to improve catalytic efficiency and selectivity, and develop new catalytic processes. We are interested in designing catalyst architectures which promote molecular cooperativity, and investigating the role of both metal-ligand cooperativity and metal-metal cooperativity in enabling efficient catalytic processes.

Catalysts for chemical hydrogen fuel storage

Hydrogen is a clean fuel that will play an important role in the decarbonised economy. However, storage and transportation are challenging as hydrogen is a gas with a low energy density. Chemical hydrogen storage using liquid organic hydrogen carriers (LOHCs) allows hydrogen to be conveniently stored and transported covalently bonded to a suitable carrier, which can be catalytically hydrogenated and dehydrogenated to store and release the hydrogen fuel. In order for LOHCs to become technologically and economically viable, advances in catalyst efficiency, selectivity and stability are required. The goal of this research project is to investigate catalysts for hydrogenation and dehydrogenation reactions of LOHCs using cooperative transition metal catalysts.


Projects and Grants

Grants information is drawn from ARIES. To add or update Projects or Grants information please contact your College Research Office.

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Updated:  29 September 2022 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers