Robert Abbel


  • Phone: +64 7 343 5851
  • Email: Robert Abbel
  • ORCID: 0000-0002-2273-2216
  • Team: Chemistry and Physics & Polymer Chemistry
  • Role: Senior Scientist and Team Lead


Robert studied chemistry at the Universities of Mainz (Germany) and Toronto (Canada), before moving to the Netherlands for his PhD in supramolecular chemistry at Eindhoven University of Technology. In 2009, he joined Dutch research institute Holst Centre / TNO where he worked on printed and organic electronic materials and devices. Since his move to Scion in 2018, his main research focus is on chemicals and materials derived from renewable resources. Robert is particularly interested in their synthesis, processing and application in functional devices with low environmental footprint. Since 2021, he is also active in the area of microplastics pollution and strategies for its remediation.


  • Diplom-Chemiker (2004; Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz, Germany)
  • PhD in Chemistry (2008; Eindhoven University of Technology, Netherlands)

Research capabilities

  • Polymer and Organic Chemistry
  • Materials Chemistry
  • Biobased functional materials
  • Biorefining
  • Bioplastics and biopolymer composites
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Microplastics

Career highlights

2023 Recipient of Science New Zealand Team Award for contributions to Scion's microplastics research

2021-2023 Co-supervision of a PhD student from Canterbury University, New Zealand

2022 Recipient of a Catalyst Seed grant from the NZ Royal Society for collaboration with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel

2022 Lead organiser of symposium "Paper-Based Packaging" at MRS Spring Meeting

2016-2018 Co-supervision of a PhD student from University of Valencia, Spain

2017 Invited lecture at a winter school for PhD students organised by Imperial College, London

Selected papers

Greene A, Abbel R, Vaidya A, Tanjay Q, Chen Y, Risani R, Saggese T, Barbier M, Petcu M (2024) Environmentally Benign Fast-Degrading Conductive Composites. ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces 25: 455

Theobald B, Risani R, […], Abbel R* (2024) A controlled study on the fate of plastics in aquatic environments. Science of the Total Environment 917: 170301

Quilter H, Risani R, Gallagher S, Robertson M, Thumm A, Abbel R* (2024) Synthesis of hydrophobic biopolyesters from depolymerized Pinus radiata bark suberin. Accepted for publication by Holzforschung

Bridson JH, Abbel R, Smith DA, Northcott GL, Gaw S (2023) Release of additives and non-intentionally added substances from microplastics under environmentally relevant conditions. Environmental Advances 100359

Abbel R, Greene AF, Quilter H, Leveneur J, Risani R, Barbier M, West M, Collet C, Kirby NM, Sorieul M (2023) Crystallization behavior and sensing properties of bio-based conductive composite materials. Advanced Engineering Materials 25: 2200959

Choi J, Visagie I, Chen Y, Abbel R, Parker K (2023) NFC-Enabled Dual-Channel Flexible Printed Sensor Tag. Sensors 23: 6765

Lear G, Maday S, Gambarini V, Northcott G, Abbel R, Kingsbury J, Weaver L, Wallbank J, Pantos O (2022) Microbial abilities to degrade global environmental plastic polymer waste are overstated. Environmental Research Letters 17: 043002

Chen Y, Fang F, Abbel R, Patel M, Parker K (2021) Rapid Fabrication of Renewable Carbon Fibres by Plasma Arc Discharge and Their Humidity Sensing Properties. Sensors 21: 1911