Pushpa Janarthanan


Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

Research are available on developing biodegradable polymers for compostable plastics and control the release of active agents for various industrial applications such as drug delivery, tissue engineering and wound healing, antimicrobial medical devices, adsorbents in wastewater treatment, functional food, fertilizer carriers cum super-absorbents. Biodegradable Polymers' formulation relating to nanotechnology are welcomed.


Research activity per year

Personal profile


After graduating from University of Putra Malaysia in 1999 in polymer science, Dr Pushpamalar joined Monash University Sunway Campus as a Lecturer that same year. Upon completing Graduate Certificate in Higher Education in 2002, she pursued a part-time PhD with a Monash University staff scholarship. Juggling being a part-time PhD student, lecturer and mother of two toddlers fine-tuned her time management skills. In 2010, she completed my PhD in “Applied Green Polymer Chemistry” and in 2015 was promoted to Senior Lecturer within the School of Science.

Her research interests are varied, with a theme of using biopolymers derived from waste materials to the value-added product to the industry. The research team and she have been producing Green Biodegradable Polymers as drug delivery systems, biomaterial for tissue engineering and wound healing, packaging materials, adsorbents in wastewater treatment and fertilizer carriers cum super-absorbents for the agricultural industry. More recently, her group has been developing diagnostics kits for sexually transmitted disease detection. The only reason for looking into formulating biodegradable polymers is that it could disintegrate into smaller fragments that are non-toxic remnant after use. She is experienced in producing carboxymethylcellulose (CMC) from plant waste and with incorporating other polysaccharides to prepare hydrogels in forms of beads, disks, microcapsules, and membranes with different properties using various crosslinking methods. It can act as a carrier for active ingredients. It can be used in control release of drug delivery in the medical area and slow release of fertilizer in agriculture. These polymer carriers are also could be utilized to improve wastewater treatment and solid waste management. Different methods could be used to combine different polymers to produce different biodegradable polymers. Silver and ferrous nanoparticles syntheses from various methods using plant sources are also being explored and further incorporated them into the wound healing biomaterial, drug carrier and adsorbent. Graphene oxide is synthesized from graphite and incorporated into the biomaterial for scaffold are also being studied. She has been fortunate to have funding from MOSTI and MOE and collaborate widely including with researchers at UPM, USM, Malaysian Nuclear Agency, A*STAR's Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE), Monash University Australia, Tamilnadu Veterinary And Animal Sciences University (TANUVAS), India. In 2012, she was awarded the Pro-Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Research and in 2015, the TienTe Lee Biomedical Foundation awarded her research the Excellent Scientific Paper Award for 2014. In 2016, her research was further recognized with a Gold Medal at the International Invention and Innovation Exhibition organized by Malaysian Innovation Design Society, under the auspices of MOSTI. Currently, Dr Pushpamalar supervises 10 PhD students and one Masters student by research.

She is the Deputy Director for Monash-Industry Palm Oil Education and Research Platform for the Palm Oil Industry (MIPO) which will serve as a platform for university-industry-government cooperation to improve the competitiveness and sustainability of the palm oil industry in the country. She has a strong interest in helping the next generation of scientists through the organization of several workshops for secondary school students and her appointment as a Panel Judge for the National Science Fair for Young Children 2012. Also guest/editorial board member of EnPress, Hindwai and JResLit Publishers and reviewer for research articles for several renowned international publishers.

Research interests

Research interest is in developing new biodegradable polymers using plant waste and currently focusing on preparing cross-linked CMC hydrogel to be used as control release device for anticancer drug and slow release device for application of fertilizer. CMC and other polysaccharides are also incorporated to prepare drug delivery vehicles and loaded with drugs via physical or chemical methods. There are other active ingredients such as flavors, fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and natural supplements can be loaded to the polymeric material and study the release pattern. Carboxymethyl cellulose and chitosan also used to prepare halloysite nanotubes for application in electronic packaging and automotive industry. Incorporate two different polysaccharides with different properties and prepare desired biodegradable plastics by blending, grafting and other methods. And also research is being done on carboxymethyl cellulose cross-linked with chitosan to prepare hydrogel beads for encapsulating activated sludge from wastewater treatment plant to degrade p-nitrophenol. Silver nanoparticles are prepared from various methods including using plant sources, CMC and cellulose. These silver nanoparticles are incorporated to polysaccharides to form hydrogel and used for wound dressing.

Currently, looking into preparing the biodegradable biomaterials as scaffold for tissue engineering, skin tissue grafting, electroactive cues for neural tissues. This natural polymer containing biomaterial tend to biocompatible with body and reduces or eliminates the toxicity issue that arises when using a synthetic materials

Monash teaching commitment

  • CHM1052 (Chemistry II advanced)
  • CHM2911 (Synthetic chemistry)
  • CHM3922 (Advanced organic chemistry)

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 2 - Zero Hunger
  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 6 - Clean Water and Sanitation
  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy
  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 15 - Life on Land

Research area keywords

  • Polymer Chemistry
  • Organic and Analytical Chemistry
  • Nanotechnology
  • Biotechnology
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Environmental Science

Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

Recent external collaboration on country/territory level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots or