David obtained his PhD in Chemistry at Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand in 1982, and joined the lecturing staff at Massey University, New Zealand in 1986 after three years post-doctoral research work in organic chemistry at The Australian National University in Canberra, Australia (1982-1983), as an Alexander von Humboldt Fellow at the University of Cologne in Germany (1984) and Massey University (1985).
In 2001, David became the founding Director of the Nanomaterials Research Centre (NRC), a research centre set up to develop ‘intelligent materials’ using the tools of nanotechnology, building new materials from the bottom (molecular level) up. From 2001-2007, the NRC developed collaborative research programs in the synthesis and use of porphyrins for photovoltaic and molecular devices, and the development and application of functionalised polythiophenes and carbon nanotubes with researchers in New Zealand, Australia, the USA and Europe. During that time, he also became a founding Principal Investigator (2003-2010) in the New Zealand Centre of Research Excellence, the MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials.
This success was recognised by UoW when David was invited to participate as a Partner Investigator (2003-2007) in the Australian Research Council (ARC) Centre for Nanostructured Electromaterials and the resulting ARC Centre of Excellence (ACES), leading to UoW offering him the position of Professor of Organic Chemistry in 2007. He now leads the Electromaterials research programme in ACES, developing new materials for the Energy and Bionics programs including porphyrins, polythiophenes and nanocarbons. He has led projects in the Energy Program for the development of porphyrin sensitized solar cells, porphyrin light harvesters and catalysts for water splitting.
David is also responsible for organic materials synthesis in the Materials Node of the Australian National Fabrication Facility (ANFF) at UoW. Currently, his research group involves 7 Research Associates and 6 PhD students.
Since 2008, David has led solar projects in the CRC for Polymers (CRC-P) (http://www.crcp.com.au/) and is now Program 3 Polymers for Solar Cells Program Leader in the 5 year CRC-P Extension (2012-2017). This involves researchers at 7 Australian research institutions in the areas of dye sensitised solar cells and solar cell encapsulation. He is also a member of the CRC-P Management Committee.
David has obtained >A$20 million in research funding, published over 150 papers and 20 patents in the areas of porphyrin and conducting polymer chemistry, nanomaterials and solar cells attracting over 3,300 citations. In 2004, he was awarded the New Zealand Institute of Chemistry HortResearch Prize for Excellence in the Chemical Sciences.