Robert Falconer

Professor Robert Falconer

Professor of Bioprocess Engineering

School of Chemical Engineering and Advanced Materials

Faculty of Sciences, Engineering and Technology

Eligible to supervise Masters and PhD - email supervisor to discuss availability.

Bio-pharmaceutical Engineering

I have published extensively on the subject of liquid formulation of therapeutic proteins. Creation of successful formulations has been a "black art" but a better understanding of the interactions between proteins, their cosolutes (excipients) and water makes formulation more predictable and removes some of the mystery from this commercially important operation. My aim is transfer to the knowledge gained on liquid formulation of therapeutic proteins to the emerging mRNA therapeutics, vaccines and their lipid nanoparticles.

Potential postgraduate projects could include:

  • Formulation of lipid nanoparticles.
  • Physical and chemical stability of mRNA.
  • Scaling up and scale down of mRNA transcription to enable application Quality by Design to this process.


Wine and Grapes

We are interested in improving the technology associated with the winemaking process. The unit operations; cold stabilization, bentonite fining and flotation all have scope for refinement or replacement to make winery operations simpler or more efficient. In the past we identified chitinase as the key protein causing heat-induced hazes in white wines. The elimination of the need for bentonite fining from winemaking should be achievable and is worth further investigation.

Potential postgraduate projects could include:

  • Engineering the next generation of unit operations for elimination of heat-inducted haze in wine.
  • Combining molecular dynamic simulation and experimentation to understand the molecular basis of tartrate crystal formation in wine.



Barley, brewing and beer is an area of personal and professional interest. I am interested in determining the quality markers in barley that go on to dictate malt and later beer quality. We are planning to adapt Quality by Design principles to agriculture and food/beverage processing so we can measure and guarantee malting barley quality to the benefit of the grower, merchant, maltster and brewer. On a personal level I find the history and development of brewing fascinating. The old brewing technology and malted materials would have produced different beers with unique sensory attributes that have long been lost.

Grain (including barley, canola, sorghum) contains anti-nutritional compounds; phytate and the polyphenolics. These molecules interfere with nutrition, and can reduce growth rates and meat yields in domestic animals like pigs, poultry and salmon. We are interested in different approaches to digest or extract the anti-nutritional compounds and improve the quality of the animal feed. 

Potential postgraduate projects could include:

  • Identification of the flavour precursors in malt and barley which dictate finished beer sensory attributes.
  • Characterisation of the key enzymes in malt that dictate the alcohol, residual sugar and sensory properties in finished beer.
  • Detection and elimination of anti-nutritional compounds in grain.


  • Journals

    Year Citation
    2021 Chandler, P. G., Tan, L. L., Porebski, B. T., Green, J. S., Riley, B. T., Broendum, S. S., . . . Buckle, A. M. (2021). Mutational and biophysical robustness in a pre-stabilized monobody.. The Journal of biological chemistry, 296, 1-10.
    DOI Scopus2 WoS1 Europe PMC1
    2021 Hodges, H. E., Walker, H. J., Cowieson, A. J., Falconer, R. J., & Cameron, D. D. (2021). Latent Anti-nutrients and Unintentional Breeding Consequences in Australian <i>Sorghum bicolor</i> Varieties.. Frontiers in plant science, 12, 1-12.
    DOI Scopus4 WoS3 Europe PMC1
    2021 Falconer, R. J., Schuur, B., & Mittermaier, A. K. (2021). Applications of isothermal titration calorimetry in pure and applied research from 2016 to 2020. Journal of Molecular Recognition, 34(10), 1-17.
    DOI Scopus6 WoS4 Europe PMC1
    2020 Kempapidis, T., Bradshaw, N. J., Hodges, H. E., Cowieson, A. J., Cameron, D. D., & Falconer, R. J. (2020). Phytase catalysis of dephosphorylation studied using isothermal titration calorimetry and electrospray ionization time-of-flight mass spectroscopy.. Analytical biochemistry, 606, 113859.
    DOI Scopus1 WoS1
    2020 Toronjo-Urquiza, L., Acosta-Martin, A. E., James, D. C., Nagy, T., & Falconer, R. J. (2020). Resveratrol addition to CHO cell culture media: The effect on cell growth, monoclonal antibody synthesis and its chemical modification.. Biotechnology progress, 36(3), 1-9.
    DOI Scopus5 WoS5 Europe PMC2
    2020 Toronjo-Urquiza, L., Acosta-Martin, A. E., James, D. C., Nagy, T., & Falconer, R. J. (2020). The use of catechins in Chinese hamster ovary cell media for the improvement of monoclonal antibody yields and a reduction of acidic species.. Biotechnology progress, 36(4), 1-10.
    DOI Scopus5 WoS5 Europe PMC2
    2020 Kempka, R., Falconer, R., Gutsulyak, D., & Lewis, R. (2020). Effects of oxide and water on friction of rail steel–new test method and friction mapping. Tribology - Materials, Surfaces and Interfaces, 15(2), 80-91.
    DOI Scopus1
    2019 Watrelot, A. A., Day, M. P., Schulkin, A., Falconer, R. J., Smith, P., Waterhouse, A. L., & Bindon, K. A. (2019). Oxygen exposure during red wine fermentation modifies tannin reactivity with poly-L-proline. Food Chemistry, 297, 124923-1-124923-7.
    DOI Scopus9 WoS9 Europe PMC2
    2019 Toronjo Urquiza, L., James, D. C., Nagy, T., & Falconer, R. J. (2019). Screening Naturally Occurring Phenolic Antioxidants for Their Suitability as Additives to CHO Cell Culture Media Used to Produce Monoclonal Antibodies.. Antioxidants (Basel, Switzerland), 8(6), 1-18.
    DOI Scopus7 WoS7 Europe PMC2
    2019 Falconer, R. (2019). Advances in liquid formulations of parenteral therapeutic proteins. Biotechnology Advances, 37(7), 9 pages.
    DOI Scopus21 WoS21 Europe PMC8
    2017 Bye, J. W., Freeman, C. L., Howard, J. D., Herz, G., McGregor, J., & Falconer, R. J. (2017). Analysis of Mesoscopic Structured 2-Propanol/Water Mixtures Using Pressure Perturbation Calorimetry and Molecular Dynamic Simulation. Journal of Solution Chemistry, 46(1), 175-189.
    DOI Scopus6 WoS6
    2017 Darby, S. J., Platts, L., Daniel, M. S., Cowieson, A. J., & Falconer, R. J. (2017). An isothermal titration calorimetry study of phytate binding to lysozyme. Journal of Thermal Analysis and Calorimetry, 127(2), 1201-1208.
    DOI Scopus19 WoS17
    2017 Song, W., Muthana, M., Mukherjee, J., Falconer, R. J., Biggs, C. A., & Zhao, X. (2017). Magnetic-Silk Core–Shell Nanoparticles as Potential Carriers for Targeted Delivery of Curcumin into Human Breast Cancer Cells. ACS Biomaterials Science & Engineering, 3(6), 1027-1038.
    DOI Scopus41 WoS40 Europe PMC4
    2016 Falconer, R. J. (2016). Applications of isothermal titration calorimetry - the research and technical developments from 2011 to 2015. Journal of Molecular Recognition, 29(10), 504-515.
    DOI Scopus62 WoS60 Europe PMC21
    2016 Bye, J. W., Baxter, N. J., Hounslow, A. M., Falconer, R. J., & Williamson, M. P. (2016). Molecular Mechanism for the Hofmeister Effect Derived from NMR and DSC Measurements on Barnase. ACS Omega, 1(4), 669-679.
    DOI Scopus16 WoS16 Europe PMC3
    2016 Platts, L., Darby, S. J., & Falconer, R. J. (2016). Control of Globular Protein Thermal Stability in Aqueous Formulations by the Positively Charged Amino Acid Excipients. Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, 105(12), 3532-3536.
    DOI Scopus6 WoS6 Europe PMC4
    2016 Raphael, A. P., Crichton, M. L., Falconer, R. J., Meliga, S., Chen, X., Fernando, G. J. P., . . . Kendall, M. A. F. (2016). Formulations for microprojection/microneedle vaccine delivery: Structure, strength and release profiles. Journal of Controlled Release, 225, 40-52.
    DOI Scopus42 WoS46 Europe PMC19
    2016 Kilmister, R. L., Faulkner, P., Downey, M. O., Darby, S. J., & Falconer, R. J. (2016). The complexity of condensed tannin binding to bovine serum albumin - An isothermal titration calorimetry study. Food Chemistry, 190, 173-178.
    DOI Scopus34 WoS33 Europe PMC9
    2016 Png, G. M., Falconer, R. J., & Abbott, D. (2016). Tracking aggregation and fibrillation of globular proteins using terahertz and far-infrared spectroscopies. IEEE Transactions on Terahertz Science and Technology, 6(1), 45-53.
    DOI Scopus18 WoS18
    2015 Van Sluyter, S., McRae, J., Falconer, R., Smith, P., Bacic, A., Waters, E., & Marangon, M. (2015). Wine protein haze: Mechanisms of formation and advances in prevention. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 63(16), 4020-4030.
    DOI Scopus102 WoS94 Europe PMC20
    2015 Wallace, V., Ferachou, D., Ke, P., Day, K., Uddin, S., Casas-Finet, J., . . . Zeitler, J. (2015). Modulation of the Hydration Water Around Monoclonal Antibodies on Addition of Excipients Detected by Terahertz Time-Domain Spectroscopy. Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, 104(12), 4025-4033.
    DOI Scopus10 WoS10 Europe PMC3
    2015 Bye, J., & Falconer, R. (2015). A study of the relationship between water and anions of the Hofmeister series using pressure perturbation calorimetry. Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics, 17(21), 14130-14137.
    DOI Scopus5 WoS4 Europe PMC3
    2015 Platts, L., & Falconer, R. (2015). Controlling protein stability: Mechanisms revealed using formulations of arginine, glycine and guanidinium HCl with three globular proteins. International Journal of Pharmaceutics, 486(1-2), 131-135.
    DOI Scopus30 WoS29 Europe PMC15
    2014 Bye, J., & Falconer, R. (2014). Three stages of lysozyme thermal stabilization by high and medium charge density anions. Journal of Physical Chemistry B, 118(16), 4282-4286.
    DOI Scopus16 WoS17 Europe PMC9
    2014 Bye, J., Platts, L., & Falconer, R. (2014). Biopharmaceutical liquid formulation: A review of the science of protein stability and solubility in aqueous environments. Biotechnology Letters, 36(5), 869-875.
    DOI Scopus34 WoS30 Europe PMC19
    2014 Bye, J., Meliga, S., Ferachou, D., Cinque, G., Zeitler, J., & Falconer, R. (2014). Analysis of the hydration water around bovine serum albumin using terahertz coherent synchrotron radiation. Journal of Physical Chemistry A, 118(1), 83-88.
    DOI Scopus66 WoS67 Europe PMC24
    2013 Meliga, S. C., Farrugia, W., Ramsland, P. A., & Falconer, R. J. (2013). Cold-induced precipitation of a monoclonal IgM: a negative activation enthalpy reaction. Journal of Physical Chemistry B, 117(2), 490-494.
    DOI Scopus7 WoS6 Europe PMC2
    2013 Bye, J. W., Cowieson, N. P., Cowieson, A. J., Selle, P. H., & Falconer, R. J. (2013). Dual effects of sodium phytate on the structural stability and solubility of proteins. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 61(2), 290-295.
    DOI Scopus31 WoS30 Europe PMC8
    2013 Bye, J. W., & Falconer, R. J. (2013). Thermal stability of lysozyme as a function of ion concentration: A reappraisal of the relationship between the Hofmeister series and protein stability. Protein Science, 22(11), 1563-1570.
    DOI Scopus72 WoS69 Europe PMC36
    2012 Falconer, R. J., & Markelz, A. G. (2012). Terahertz spectroscopic analysis of peptides and proteins. Journal of Infrared, Millimeter, and Terahertz Waves, 33(10), 973-988.
    DOI Scopus126 WoS121
    2012 Ghai, R., Falconer, R., & Collins, B. (2012). Applications of isothermal titration calorimetry in pure and applied research - survey of the literature from 2010. Journal of Molecular Recognition, 25(1), 32-52.
    DOI Scopus131 WoS131 Europe PMC59
    2012 Falconer, R. (2012). Terahertz spectroscopy's application to protein chemistry. Spectroscopy Europe, 24(2), 12-14.
    2012 Ding, T., Middelberg, A., Huber, T., & Falconer, R. (2012). Far-infrared spectroscopy analysis of linear and cyclic peptides, and lysozyme. Vibrational Spectroscopy, 61, 144-150.
    DOI Scopus24 WoS25
    2011 Zakaria, H., Fischer, B., Bradley, A., Jones, I., Abbott, D., Middelberg, A., & Falconer, R. (2011). Low-frequency spectroscopic analysis of monomeric and fibrillar lysozyme. Applied Spectroscopy, 65(3), 260-264.
    DOI Scopus17 WoS15 Europe PMC6
    2011 Ding, T., Huber, T., Middelberg, A., & Falconer, R. (2011). Characterization of low-frequency modes in aqueous peptides using far-infrared spectroscopy and molecular dynamics simulation. Journal of Physical Chemistry A, 115(42), 11559-11565.
    DOI Scopus25 WoS25 Europe PMC14
    2011 Falconer, R., & Collins, B. (2011). Survey of the year 2009: Applications of isothermal titration calorimetry. Journal of Molecular Recognition, 24(1), 1-16.
    DOI Scopus44 WoS45 Europe PMC22
    2011 Marangon, M., Van Sluyter, S. C., Neilson, K. A., Chan, C., Haynes, P. A., Waters, E. J., & Falconer, R. J. (2011). Roles of grape thaumatin-like protein and chitinase in white wine haze formation. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 59(2), 733-740.
    DOI Scopus64 WoS59 Europe PMC19
    2011 Falconer, R. J., Jackson-Matthews, D., & Mahler, S. M. (2011). Analytical strategies for assessing comparability of biosimilars. Journal of Chemical Technology and Biotechnology, 86(7), 915-922.
    DOI Scopus18 WoS18
    2011 Falconer, R. J., Chan, C., Hughes, K., & Munro, T. P. (2011). Stabilization of a monoclonal antibody during purification and formulation by addition of basic amino acid excipients. Journal of Chemical Technology and Biotechnology, 86(7), 942-948.
    DOI Scopus41 WoS41
    2010 Falconer, R. J., Penkova, A., Jelesarov, I., & Collins, B. M. (2010). Survey of the year 2008: Applications of isothermal titration calorimetry. Journal of Molecular Recognition, 23(5), 395-413.
    DOI Scopus48 WoS43 Europe PMC19
    2010 Ding, T., Li, R., Zeitler, J. A., Huber, T. L., Gladden, L. F., Middelberg, A. P. J., & Falconer, R. J. (2010). Terahertz and far infrared Spectroscopy of alanine-rich peptides having variable ellipticity. Optics Express, 18(26), 27431-27444.
    DOI Scopus47 WoS47 Europe PMC18
    2010 Falconer, R., Marangon, M., Van Sluyter, S., Neilson, K., Chan, C., & Waters, E. (2010). Thermal stability of thaumatin-like protein, chitinase, and invertse isolated from sauvignon blanc and semillon juice and their role in haze formation in wine. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 58(2), 975-980.
    DOI Scopus76 WoS71 Europe PMC22
    2010 Falconer, R. J., Zakaria, H. A., Fan, Y. Y., Bradley, A. P., & Middelberg, A. P. J. (2010). Far-infrared spectroscopy of protein higher-order structures. Applied Spectroscopy, 64(11), 1259-1264.
    DOI Scopus28 WoS28 Europe PMC11
    2010 McRae, J. M., Falconer, R. J., & Kennedy, J. A. (2010). Thermodynamics of grape and wine tannin interaction with polyproline: Implications for red wine astringency. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 58(23), 12510-12518.
    DOI Scopus95 WoS92 Europe PMC24
    2009 Kaar, W., Hartmann, B., Fan, Y., Zeng, B., Lua, L., Dexter, A., . . . Middelberg, A. (2009). Microbial bio-production of a recombinant stimuli-responsive biosurfactant. Biotechnology and Bioengineering, 102(1), 176-187.
    DOI Scopus16 WoS16 Europe PMC9
    2009 Hartmann, B. M., Kaar, W., Yoo, I. K., Lua, L. H. L., Falconer, R. J., & Middelberg, A. P. J. (2009). The chromatography-free release, isolation and purification of recombinant peptide for fibril self-assembly. Biotechnology and Bioengineering, 104(5), 973-985.
    DOI Scopus15 WoS15 Europe PMC7
    2009 Png, G., Falconer, R., Fischer, B., Zakaria, H., Mickan, S., Middleberg, A., & Abbott, D. (2009). Terahertz spectroscopic differentiation of microstructures in protein gels. Clinical Research in Cardiology, 17(15), 13102-13115.
    DOI Scopus35 WoS29 Europe PMC8
    2008 Hartmann, B., Kaar, W., Falconer, R., Zeng, B., & Middelberg, A. (2008). Expression and purification of a nanostructure-forming peptide. Journal of Biotechnology, 135(1), 85-91.
    DOI Scopus18 WoS17 Europe PMC11
    2008 Hanslip, S. J., Zaccai, N. R., Middelberg, A. P. J., & Falconer, R. J. (2008). Intrinsic fluorescence as an analytical probe of virus-like particle assembly and maturation. Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, 375(3), 351-355.
    DOI Scopus16 WoS13 Europe PMC5
    2007 Mercadé-Prieto, R., Sahoo, P. K., Falconer, R. J., Paterson, W. R., & Ian Wilson, D. (2007). Polyelectrolyte screening effects on the dissolution of whey protein gels at high pH conditions. Food Hydrocolloids, 21(8), 1275-1284.
    DOI Scopus26 WoS26 Europe PMC4
    2007 Mercadé-Prieto, R., Falconer, R. J., Paterson, W. R., & Wilson, D. I. (2007). Swelling and dissolution of β-lactoglobulin gels in alkali. Biomacromolecules, 8(2), 469-476.
    DOI Scopus44 WoS44 Europe PMC7
    2007 Zaccai, N. R., Yunus, K., Matthews, S. M., Fisher, A. C., & Falconer, R. J. (2007). Refolding of a membrane protein in a microfluidics reactor. European Biophysics Journal, 36(6), 581-588.
    DOI Scopus7 WoS5 Europe PMC4
    2006 Falconer, R., Liebich, B., & Hart, A. (2006). Automated color sorting of hand-harvested chardonnay. American Journal of Enology and Viticulture, 57(4), 491-496.
    Scopus7 WoS6
    2006 Mercadé-Prieto, R., Falconer, R. J., Paterson, W. R., & Wilson, D. I. (2006). Effect of gel structure on the dissolution of heat-induced β-lactoglobulin gels in alkali. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 54(15), 5437-5444.
    DOI Scopus34 WoS32 Europe PMC6
    2006 Hanslip, S. J., Zaccai, N. R., Middelberg, A. P. J., & Falconer, R. J. (2006). Assembly of human papillomavirus type-16 virus-like particles: Multifactorial study of assembly and competing aggregation. Biotechnology Progress, 22(2), 554-560.
    DOI Scopus32 WoS26 Europe PMC16
    1999 Falconer, R., O'Neill, B., & Middelberg, A. (1999). Chemical treatment of escherichia coli: 3 selective extraction of a recombinant protein from cytoplasmic inclusion bodies in intact cells. Biotechmology and Bioengineering, 62(4), 455-460.
    DOI Scopus27 WoS25 Europe PMC17
    1998 Falconer, R., O'Neill, B., & Middelberg, A. (1998). Chemical Treatment of Escherichia coli. II Direct extraction of recombinant protein from cytoplasmic inclusion bodies in intact cells. Biotechnology and Bioengineering, 57(4), 381-386.
    DOI Scopus31 WoS29 Europe PMC13
    1997 Falconer, R., O'Neill, B., & Middelberg, A. (1997). Chemical Treatment of Escherichia coli: 1. Extraction of Intracellular Protein from Uninduced Cells. Biotechnology and Bioengineering, 53(5), 453-458.
    DOI Scopus38 WoS37 Europe PMC17
    1997 Wangsa-Wirawan, N. D., Lee, Y. S., Falconer, R. J., Mansell, C. J., O'Neill, B. K., & Middelberg, A. P. J. (1997). Novel fed-batch strategy for the production of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1). Biotechnology Letters, 19(11), 1079-1082.
    DOI Scopus9 WoS8
  • Conference Papers

    Year Citation
    2019 Chandler, E., Falconer, R., & Brown, S. (2019). Optimisation of Aqueous Two-Phase Systems. In 29th European Symposium on Computer Aided Chemical Engineering Vol. 46 (pp. 283-288). Amsterdam, Netherlands: Elsevier.
    DOI Scopus1
    2018 Kempka, R., Falconer, R., Gutsulyak, D., & Lewis, R. (2018). Effects of oxide and water on friction of rail steel-new test method and friction mapping. In Proceedings of the 11th International Conference on Contact Mechanics and Wear of Rail/wheel Systems, CM 2018 (pp. 464-473).
    2013 Ding, T., Middelberg, A., Bye, J., & Falconer, R. (2013). Can Terahertz time-domain spectroscopy detect an extended hydration layer around peptides?. In International Conference on Infrared, Millimeter, and Terahertz Waves, IRMMW-THz (pp. 1-2). Online: IEEE.
    2013 Ding, T., Middelberg, A., & Falconer, R. (2013). Secondary structure evident in the far infrared spectra of peptides. In International Conference on Infrared, Millimeter, and Terahertz Waves, IRMMW-THz (pp. 1-2). Online: IEEE.
    2009 Li, R., Ding, T., Huber, T., Falconer, R. J., Middelberg, A. P. J., Gladden, L. F., & Zeitler, J. A. (2009). Terahertz time-domain spectroscopy of peptides in solution. In 34th International Conference on Infrared, Millimeter, and Terahertz Waves, IRMMW-THz 2009 (pp. 544-+). Busan, SOUTH KOREA: IEEE.
    2006 Mercadé-Prieto, R., Falconer, R., Paterson, W., & Wilson, D. (2006). Probing the mechanisms limiting dissolution of whey protein gels during cleaning. In Food and Bioproducts Processing Vol. 84 (pp. 311-319). Jesus Coll, Cambridge, ENGLAND: ELSEVIER.
    DOI Scopus13 WoS12

I teach Bioprocess Engineering. The material covers the unit operations associated with the manufacture of therapeutic proteins, diagnostics and vaccines. The latest development in regulatory compliance, Quality by Design, PAT and continuous manufacturing are covered.


Current courses

CHEM ENG 4036 Pharmaceutical Process Validation and Quality

CHEM ENG 7063 Good Manufacturing Practice, Validation and Regulation

CHEM ENG 7061 Quality by Design and Process Analytical Technology

BIOTECH 3000 Biotechnology Practice III (engineering part only)


Primary PhD student supervision 

Jordan Bye (thermodynamics of protein stability) graduated 2015.  

Samuel Darby (heterotropic multisite binding to proteins) graduated 2017. 

Lauren Platts (protein stabilisation by small organic molecules) graduated 2017. 

Kimberly Hansford (protein instability during expression) passed viva 2019. 

Luis Toronjo Urquiza (difficult to express proteins) passed viva 2019. 

Niall Bradshaw (phosphate recovery) started 2015. 

Theofilus Kempapidis (phytate-protein interactions) started 2015. 

Emilio Pliego Garcia (brewing, beer-omics) started 2016. 

Hayden Hodges (tannin-protein interactions) started Sept 2017. 



  • Current Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)

    Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name
    2021 Co-Supervisor Effects of Milk Extraction and Starch Modification Methods on the Quality Attributes of Bambara Groundnut and Faba-bean- based Yogurts Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Olaide Akinwunmi Akintayo
    2021 Co-Supervisor Fundamental study of chimeric protein molecular design and stability Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Hong Luo
  • Position: Professor of Bioprocess Engineering
  • Phone: 83134179
  • Email:
  • Campus: North Terrace
  • Building: Engineering North, floor 1
  • Org Unit: School of Chemical Engineering and Advanced Materials

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