Michael Oelgemöller currently works at Fresenius University of Applied Science in Idstein, Germany, as a Professor in Organic Chemistry. He holds an adjunct position as Associate Professor in Organic Chemistry at James Cook University in Townsville, Australia, and a guest Professorship at Ghent University in Ghent, Belgium. 


Michael Oelgemöller is a leading expert in green (solar) and applied photochemistry. He received his Diploma from the University of Münster in 1995 and his PhD from the University of Cologne in 1999. He was a researcher at the ERATO-JST Photochirogenesis project in Osaka (1999-2001) and at Bayer CropScience Japan in Yuki (2001-2004).

From 2004-2008 he held a position as a Lecturer in Organic and Medicinal Chemistry at Dublin City University, Ireland. From 2009-2022 he was an Associate Professor in Organic Chemistry at James Cook University in Australia. In March 2022, he joined Fresenius University of Applied Science as a Professor in Organic Chemistry in Idstein, Germany.

Michael's research activities include synthetic organic photochemistry, solar photochemistry, the development of new photochemical synthesis tools and photochemical water treatment.

Research Opportunities

Michael's research group is very international and multidisciplinary. Potential internship, Honours, BSc, MSc, PhD and PostDoc candidates are welcomed to join us in either Germany, Belgium or Australia. Contact Michael for further details.


Eradicate Insect-borne Diseases

Insect bites from mosquitos or sand-flies are widespread in the Tropics and cause diseases such as dengue, Ross-river fever or malaria. The Eradicate Insect-borne Diseases activities cover prophylaxis, treatment as well as cure. Following the ‘prevention is better than cure’ approach Michael's group is producing a potent natural insect repellent from local essential oils. At present, DEET is used as the most common ‘artificial’ insect repellent, but it is irritant, unpleasant in smell, expensive and known to damage surfaces and fabrics. For the treatment of insect bites, the team is producing anesthetics with reported activity levels higher than those of widely used ones. The synthesis of antimalarials from natural compounds is likewise investigated using artificial and natural sunlight.

Continuous-flow photochemistry – Lab & Light on a chip

Recently, flow photochemistry has emerged as a new synthesis tool that successfully combines the small dimensions of microreactors with continuous flow operation. Michael's group is investigating a series of homogeneous and heterogeneous photoreactions. The research also involves the construction of novel LED-driven microchips and their implementation in the synthesis of platform chemicals. Flexible and inexpensive microcapillary reactors have also been designed and fabricated as part of this research area. The group is a pioneer in this emerging technology and has developed a number of innovative microreactor systems for photochemical transformations in the past. My group is also collaborating with Vapourtec (UK) on applications of the advanced UV-150 flow photoreactor module.

Green Photochemistry – Synthesis of Commodity Chemicals with Sunlight

This research area investigates the large-scale, solar synthesis of fragrances, flavors and pharmaceutical precursors. Additionally, many starting materials are available from biomass, in particular agricultural waste material. Our research results thus help to reduce our dependency on fossil fuel derived chemicals. The group has recently realized the semi-technical syntheses of two commodity chemicals that are of particular interest for the agricultural industry. Michael's group operates a modern CPC reactor (ca. 70 L) equipped with a number of accessories and flatbed reactors (ca.10 L). These reactors can harvest diffuse and direct sunlight and are thus less dependent on weather conditions as concentrating systems, which makes them advantageous for operations in central Germany.

Medicinal Photochemistry – Synthesis and release of bioactive compounds

The neglect of organic photochemistry by the industrial R&D community has left a diverse structural pool of possible new lead structures almost completely unexplored. Michael's group has developed a series of useful photochemical transformations, which are applied to the synthesis of novel bioactive compounds. In particular, the photodecarboxylative (PDC) addition to phthalimides has been utilized in the synthesis of pharmacologically active alkyl- or arylmethylidene isoindolinones. Members of this important target family possess cardiovascular, anti-cancer and anesthetic properties. An alternative approach deals with photochemical macrocyclizations. The focus of this research area is to study photoinduced cyclization reactions of peptides and peptide analogues. An additional research area deals with the photochemical release of pharmaceuticals, in particular photodynamic therapy (PDT) anti-cancer drugs.

Photocatalytic water treatment

The presence of pharmaceuticals in the aquatic environment and their possible effects on living organisms is emerging as a global environmental concern. These persistent organic chemicals are only partially eliminated during conventional wastewater treatment and have been detected in the effluent of wastewater treatment plants. Novel, cost-efficient and climate-smart water treatment technologies are thus urgently needed. Target pharmaceutical analytes are selected based on prescription data and incorporate different pharmaceutical classes. The pharmaceuticals are then degraded by treatment with semiconductor particles and both UV-light and sunlight. An additional approach deals with the development of novel Integrated Photocatalytic Adsorbents (IPCAs), i.e. hybrid materials of conventional adsorbents and titanium dioxide. IPCAs combine the advantageous properties of both substances and merge them into novel ‘capture & destroy’ materials. Likewise, the team has developed porphyrin-TiO2 hybrid materials that overcome the poor absorption characteristics of the semiconductor within the solar spectrum.

Sustainable Aquaculture Water Treatment

Aquaculture is one of the fasted growing industries in the world. One of the major concerns of the aquacultural industry is biosecurity. Species of the genus Vibrio have been recognized as the most significant pathogens in aquaculture of marine fish and have been linked to food poisoning and mass mortality of breeding stock. The same microorganism currently limit closed life cycle farming of tropical rock lobster, which is regarded a lucrative aquaculture product. We are investigating Advanced Oxidation Process (AOPs) involving singlet oxygen as a promising ‘soft’ technique for water sterilization.


Research Online: http://eprints.jcu.edu.au/view/jcu/6C3150224E05CB4B3065E9D6F7FFB869.html

Scopus: http://www.scopus.com/authid/detail.url?authorId=6701439701

Google Scholar: http://scholar.google.com.au/citations?user=EVONqycAAAAJ&hl=en

  • Chemical synthesis; Flow technologies; Green processes; Solar chemistry; Water treatment; Biomass conversion; Photochemical technologies
  • Organic chemistry; Photochemistry; Flow chemistry; Green chemistry; Solar chemistry; Photocatalysis; Water treatment; Aquaculture; Essential oil conversions
  • Organic chemistry; Medicinal chemistry; Pharmaceutical chemistry; Photochemistry; Flow chemistry; Green chemistry
  • 2022 to present - Professor, Hochschule Fresenius - University of Applied Science (Idstein, Germany)
  • 2020 to present - Guest Professor, Ghent University (Ghent, Belgium)
  • 2009 to 2022 - Associate Professor, James Cook University (Townsville, Australia)
  • 2016 to 2017 - Head of Discipline, James Cook University (Townsville, Australia)
  • 2016 to 2017 - Associated Dean of Research Education, James Cook University (Townsville, Australia)
  • 2015 to 2016 - Associate Dean of Research, James Cook University (Townsville, Australia)
  • 2004 to 2009 - Lecturer, Dublin City University (Dublin, Ireland)
  • 2001 to 2004 - Researcher, Bayer CorpScience (Yuki, Japan)
  • 1999 to 2001 - Researcher, ERATO Photochirogenesis Project (Osaka, Japan)
  • 1995 to 1999 - Researcher, University of Cologne (Cologne, Germany)
  • 1997 - Research fellow, Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (Taejon, South Korea)
  • 1993 to 1994 - Visiting Scholar, University of Toledo (Toledo, Ohio, USA)
Research Disciplines
Socio-Economic Objectives
  • 2022 - Visiting Research Fellowship at the CNRS, Toulouse (France)
  • 2020 - PLOS Biology - ‘Top-2% Ranking of Scientists’ in Organic Chemistry
  • 2018 - “well above world standard” (5) ranking for Organic Chemistry - Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA)
  • 2018 - JCU TropEco Sustainability Awards – ‘Highly commended’ research award
  • 2017 - JCU TropEco Sustainability Awards – ‘Highly commended’ staff award
  • 2017 - Visiting Professorship at the Hochschule/University of Applied Sciences Darmstadt, Darmstadt (Germany)
  • 2017 - JCU TropEco Sustainability Awards – Research Award
  • 2016 - Visiting Professorship at the University of Toulouse, Toulouse (France)
  • 2015 - Visiting Research Fellowship at the CNRS, Toulouse (France)
  • 2015 - Visiting Professorship at King Mongkut's University of Technology, Bangkok (Thailand)
  • 2014 - European Photochemistry Association – Photochemical & Photobiological Sciences Prize 2014 for the most highly cited paper published in Photochem. Photobiol. Sci.
  • 2014 - JCU TropEco Sustainability Awards – ‘Highly commended’ staff award for the 'Eradicate Insect-borne Diseases with Sunlight Initiative'
  • 2014 - JCU TropEco Sustainability Awards – Research Award for the ‘Eradicate Insect-borne Diseases with Sunlight Initiative’
  • 2013 - JCU TropEco Sustainability Awards – ‘Highly commended’ curriculum award and ‘Highly commended’ outstanding research award for the ‘Solar Chemicals Research Team’
  • 2012 - Visiting Professor at the Nara Institute of Science and Technology, Nara (Japan)
  • 2012 - Finalist ‘Solar Chemicals from and for the Tropics’ for the Tropical Innovations Award 2012 – People’s Choice Award
  • 2012 - Visiting Professorship at the CNRS/University of Pau, Pau (France)
  • 2011 - Distinguished Lectureship award of the Chemical Society of Japan
  • 2011 - Visiting Professorship at Osaka Prefecture University, Osaka (Japan)
  • 2009 - Visiting Professorship at the CNRS/University of Pau, Pau (France)
  • 2006 - Guest Lecturer at the University of Osaka, Osaka (Japan)
  • 2004 - Bayer Employee award of the Research Centre in Yuki
  • 2000 - Kurt Alder Award of the University of Cologne, Germany
  • 1997 - Fellowship of the Korean Science and Engineering Foundation (KOSEF) and the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD)
  • 2014 to 2020 - Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC)
  • 2015 - Member of the Centre for Biosecurity and Tropical Infectious Diseases (CBTID)
  • 2015 - Member of the Centre for Tropical Water & Aquatic Ecosystem Research (TropWATER)
  • 2014 - Member of the Editorial Board of Sustainable Chemical Processes (Chemistry Central-Springer Science and Business Media)
  • 2013 - Member of the Editorial Board of ChemBioEng Reviews (Wiley)
  • 2012 - Regional Editor for Australia and Member of the International Advisory Board of the Journal of Flow Chemistry (Akadémiai Kiadó)
  • 2012 - Member of the Queensland Tropical Health Alliance (QTHA) within the thematic area of Drug Discovery
  • 2011 - Member and Co-Founder of the Centre for Biodiscovery and Molecular Development of Therapeutics (CBMDT) within the thematic area of Drug Discovery
  • 2010 - Member of the Australian Institute of Marine Science at JCU (AIMS@JCU)
  • 2010 - Member of the Asian and Oceanian Photochemistry Association (APA)
  • 2009 to 2019 - Member of the Advisory Board of Green Chemistry (RSC)
  • 2008 to 2009 - Member and Co-Founder of the Microphotochemistry Cluster in Ireland
  • 2007 to 2009 - Member of the National Centre for Sensor Research (NCSR), Ireland
  • 2005 to 2007 - Member of the National Institute for Cellular Biotechnology (NICB), Ireland
  • 1997 to 2011 - Advisor for South Korea, Osaka, Japan, Ireland and Australia of the GDCh-Jungchemikerforum

These are the most recent publications associated with this author. To see a detailed profile of all publications stored at JCU, visit ResearchOnline@JCU. Hover over Altmetrics badges to see social impact.

Journal Articles

ResearchOnline@JCU stores 203+ research outputs authored by A/Prof Michael Oelgemoeller from 1997 onwards.

Current Funding

Current and recent Research Funding to JCU is shown by funding source and project.

French Embassy - Australia - Fonds Pacifique

Xanthostemon plant essential oils as a valuable renewable resource for medical, agrochemical and healthcare applications.

Indicative Funding
$29,446 over 3 years (administered by Universite de la Nouvelle-Caledonie), in partnership with Institut Pasteur New Caledonia ($3,100) and University of New Caledonia ($24,487)
The genus Xanthostemon consists of about fifty plant species and is endemic to Australia, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and New Caledonia. Australian essential oils are known to contain ?-triketones, which possess broad antimicrobial and insecticidal activities. In contrast, the chemical composition of essential oils from New Caledonian and Papua New Guinean species are unknown. This project will close this gap by harvesting and characterizing essential oils in three tropical countries, identifying and modifying ?-triketone constituents and testing these for insecticidal and antibacterial properties. The results will enable local essential oil producers to diversify and add value to their product portfolios.
Michael Oelgemoeller, Mark Robertson and David Timi in collaboration with Nicolas Lebouvier, Jayson Wau and Tyler Goodine (College of Science & Engineering, Papua New Guinea University of Technology and Universite de la Nouvelle-Caledonie)
xanthostemon plants; essential oil utilization; Photochemistry; renewable materials; Green Chemistry; tropical health

Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development (MAEDI) - Economic, Social and Cultural Cooperation Fund for the Pacific (Pacific Funds)

Mecaflavo - Understanding the Anti-inflammatory Structure-Activity Relationships of Flavonoid Analogues [Comprehension des relations structures-activites dans les MECanismes Anti-inflammatoires d?analogues de FLAVOnoides] ? MECAFLAVO

Indicative Funding
$2,996 over 3 years (administered by Universite de la Nouvelle-Caledonie)
Flavonoids are a class of natural compounds with various phenolic structures that are widely distributed in plants, including fruits and vegetables, tea or wine. The project MECAFLAVO will synthesize and evaluate the anti-inflammatory potential of pinocembrin and pinobanksin analogues in order to understand their mechanism of action, metabolism and therapeutic safety. Through derivatization it further aims to improve the therapeutic profile and applications of these semi-synthetic compounds.
Michael Oelgemoeller and Nicolas Lebouvier in collaboration with Tyler Goodine and Jayson Wau (College of Science & Engineering and Universite de la Nouvelle-Caledonie)
flavonoids; anti-inflammatories; natural products; green chemistry; medicinal chemistry; tropical health

Advisory Accreditation: I can be on your Advisory Panel as a Primary or Secondary Advisor.

These Higher Degree Research projects are either current or by students who have completed their studies within the past 5 years at JCU. Linked titles show theses available within ResearchOnline@JCU.

  • Modelling moisture and temperature profiles in biosolids particles to optimise the thermal destruction of emerging contaminants (Masters , Secondary Advisor/AM)
  • Sustainable production of commodity chemicals from renewable materials (PhD , Primary Advisor/AM/Adv)
  • Investigation of electrodes and applied waveforms for the electrochemical reduction of carbon dioxide to ethylene (PhD , Primary Advisor/AM/Adv)
  • Plant Extracts as a Renewable Resource for Preparative Photooxygenations (PhD , Primary Advisor/AM/Adv)
  • Novel Antioxidant and Antidiabetic Molecules of tropical bush foods/medicines (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • Phytosynthesis and Characterization of Cerium Oxide Nanoparticles for visible light driven Photocatalytic and Antimicrobial applications (PhD , Secondary Advisor)

The map shows research collaborations by institution from the past 7 years.
Note: Map points are indicative of the countries or states that institutions are associated with.

  • 5+ collaborations
  • 4 collaborations
  • 3 collaborations
  • 2 collaborations
  • 1 collaboration
  • Indicates the Tropics (Torrid Zone)

Connect with me

  • 142.335, The Science Place (Townsville campus)
Advisory Accreditation
Advisor Mentor
Find me on…
Icon for Google Scholar profile Icon for Scopus Author page Icon for ResearcherID page Icon for LinkedIn profile page Icon for ORCID profile Icon for Facebook profile page Icon for ResearchGate profile