San Thang

By Helen WolffJune 14th, 2018


San Hoa Thang was born in Saigon, Vietnam on 28 August 1954. He completed his BSc in Chemistry (University of Saigon, Faculty of Science, Vietnam) in 1976, and held the position of Chemist (SINCO Sewing Machine Manufacturing Co., Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam) from 1976 to 1979.

He arrived in Brisbane, Australia as a refugee from Vietnam in 1979. He obtained his BSc (Hons) in Chemistry with Prof Gus Guthrie (Griffith University, Brisbane) in 1983 and his PhD in Organic Chemistry (Griffith University, Brisbane) in 1987 under the supervision of Drs Jenkins and Busfield (Griffith University, Brisbane) and Drs Ezio Rizzardo and David Solomon (CSIRO).


San Thang joined CSIRO in 1986 as a Research Fellow, and then moved to ICI Australia Research Group in late 1987 to undertake the challenge of industrial research in UV sunscreens and agrochemicals.

He re-joined CSIRO in late 1990 rising to the position of Senior Principal Research Scientist in 2000. From November 1999 to May 2000 he spent six months as a Visiting Scientist at EI DuPont Performance Coatings, Troy Laboratory, Michigan, USA.

In 2012 he was appointed Chief Research Scientist with the CSIRO Division of Materials Science and Engineering (CMSE), a position he held until 2014.

From 2014-2018 he was appointed ‘Distinguished Expert’ of the China Recruitment Program of Global Experts (1000 Plan), Beijing University of Chemical Technology (BUCT), China.

In 2015 he became as a Professor of Chemistry at Monash University.

In June 2018, Professor Thang was awarded the Companion of the Order of Australia for his “eminent service to science, and to higher education, particularly in the fields of polymer chemistry and materials science, through seminal contributions as a research innovator, as a mentor, and to the community.”

His research focus is primarily on the interface between organic and polymer chemistry. He is a leading expert in the field of free radical chemistry and polymer chemistry and has developed and held several key inventions in the area of controlled/living radical polymerisation. Significantly, he is a co-inventor of the living radical polymerisation by reversible addition-fragmentation chain transfer (the RAFT process).


As at June 2018, Professor Thang has published 15 book chapters and >130 papers in peer-reviewed journals. His published papers have attracted more than 17,380 citations based on ISI Web of Science Core Collection (June 12 2018), which corresponds to around 127 citations per publication. His h-index is currently 47. He has 31 publications each with more than 100 citations. Most significantly, 1 publication > 3,400 citations (First RAFT communication published in Macromolecules 1998), and 1 publication > 1,500 citations (First RAFT review published in the Australian Journal of Chemistry 2005). The remaining are 1 publication more than 800 citations, 1 publication more than 700 citations, 3 publications more than 600 citations, 1 publications more than 500 citations, 6 publications more than 400 citations, 3 publications more than 300 citations, 2 publication more than 200 citations and 12 publications with more than 100 citations. He is also a named co-inventor of 25 family patents.

Honours and awards


2014- Honorary Fellow (CSIRO Manufacturing)
2015 Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science (FAA)
2010 Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering (FTSE)
2006 Fellow of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute (FRACI C Chem)
2006 Fellow of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC)


2018 Companion of the Order of Australia (recognised for his contribution to science and higher education)
2015 Doctor of the University (Griffith University)
2014 Griffith Sciences Inaugural Outstanding Alumnus of the Year Award
2014 ATSE Clunies Ross Award
2014 Thomson Reuters Citation Laureate (Chemistry)
2013 Pioneers from Asia Trophy (Singapore)
2010 Newton Turner Award (CSIRO)
2009 Divisional Award (Molecular and health Technologies) for ‘Most Highly Cited Publication’ (CSIRO)
2003 CSIRO Medal (seminal contributor) for innovation in polymer science
1990 CSIRO Medal for Research Achievement (team member)
1987 Doctor of Philosophy from Griffith University
1983-1986 Griffith University Postgraduate Research Awards

Memberships of Organisations and Committees

2005-2011 Treasurer, Federation of Asian Chemical Societies
2005 Life Member of the Federation of Asian Chemical Societies
2004-2005 National Representative, Committee on Chemical Education IUPAC
2003-2005 Chairman of Publications, Federation of Asian Chemical Societies
2002 Regional Receiving Editor, the Australian Journal of Chemistry
2001-2003 Secretary General, Federation of Asian Chemical Societies
1998 National Organising Committee Member, World Polymer Congress, Gold Coast
1997-1998 Coordinator, scientific collaboration between CSIRO and The National Center of Science and Technology, Vietnam
1990 Committee Member, RACI Polymer Division 18th Australian Polymer Symposium
1988-1989 Treasurer, Polymer Group of the RACI Victorian Branch
1987 Member of American Chemical Society
1987 Committee Member, Polymer Group of the RACI Victorian Branch
1984 Member of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute (RACI)


  • Thang SH, 2018, Personal communication.