Professor Tim Wess | UniSC | University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

Accessibility links

Professor Tim Wess

BSc. Newc., Ph.D. Physics, Edin., GradCert (Wiradjuri Language and First Nation Building) C.Sturt, FRSA, PFHEA, FRSB, FRSB

  • Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic)
+61 7 5459 4465
Office location
The Chancellery, Level 1, Building C
Sunshine Coast
Professor Tim Wess

Professor Tim Wess is an experienced biophysics researcher who has a substantial track record of academic leadership both in Australia and in the United Kingdom, with expertise in governance, strategy and policy development.

As Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) of the University of the Sunshine Coast, Professor Wess is responsible for UniSC's six Schools: the School of Business and Creative Industries, School of Education and Tertiary Access, School of Health and Behavioural Sciences, School of Law and Society, School of Nursing, Midwifery and Paramedicine, and the School of Science, Technology and Engineering.

Along with the academic functions of UniSC, Professor Wess oversees the related academic support areas including Library Services, the Academic Support Unit (ASU) and the Centre for Support and Advancement of Learning and Teaching (CSALT). He is also Chairperson, Academic Board, Co-Chair of the University Sustainability Forum, Chair of the Clinical Board and Chair of the University Athena Swan Gender equity committee.

Before being appointed in 2018 as UniSC’s first Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic), Professor Wess was the Executive Dean of the Faculty of Science at Charles Sturt University in New South Wales, where he developed the Three Rivers University Department of Rural Health.

On the international stage, Professor Wess has held several academic roles in the United Kingdom including as Pro Vice-Chancellor of Cardiff University, Co-opted Council Member of the University of Wales, Newport, and the Head of School of Optometry and Vision Sciences at Cardiff University.

As a scientist, Professor Wess’s research has focused on the characterisation of biomaterials using large-scale infrastructure, such as synchrotron and neutron sources. His portfolio of published research includes more than 130 publications on the structure of collagen, elastic proteins and bone.

Social justice and equity are strong components of Professor Wess’s work in and beyond the higher education sector. He is a former member of the Athena SWAN SAGE National Advisory Group for gender equity in Australia, which built on his experience with this group in the UK.

Professor Wess also has a strong interest in languages which led him to complete a Graduate Certificate in Wiradjuri Language and Nation Building. He did this to support his work in raising awareness of Close the Gap initiatives, cultural wellbeing through language reclamation, and as an advisor to cultural science projects with the NSW Office of Environmental Heritage.

  • Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
  • Fellow of the Royal Society New South Wales
  • Fellow of the Royal Society for Biology
  • Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

Tim's background is in biophysics where he developed expertise in the characterisation of non-crystalline biological materials, allowing him to make significant contributions to the understanding of important structural biomolecules such as collagen, cellulose, chitin, fibrillin and elastin – all of which provide the scaffolding of all multicellular organisms.

The further study of these biomolecules in historical and archaeological contexts means Tim has been able to work on some of the most important objects and artefacts produced by humans, including the Domesday Book and Dead Sea Scrolls.

Research areas

  • Biophysics

Over 120 publications with a h-index of 49.

Notable publications:

JPRO Orgel, TC Irving, A Miller, TJ Wess (2006) "Microfibrillar structure of type I collagen in situ" 
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 103 (24), 9001-9005, 820 Citations.

MJ Collins, CM Nielsen–Marsh, J Hiller, CI Smith, JP Roberts, RV Prigodich, T J Wess, J Csapo, AR Millard, G Turner–Walker (2002) "The survival of organic matter in bone" Archaeometry 44 (3), 383-394, 533 Citations

A Sionkowska, M Wisniewski, J Skopinska, CJ Kennedy, TJ Wess (2004) "Molecular interactions in collagen and chitosan blends"
Biomaterials 25 (5), 795-801, 448 Citations

DJ Hulmes, TJ Wess, DJ Prockop, P Fratzl (1995) "Radial packing, order, and disorder in collagen fibrils" Biophysical journal 68 (5), 1661-1670,  347 Citations

JPRO Orgel, A Miller, TC Irving, RF Fischetti, AP Hammersley, TJ Wess (2001) "The in situ supermolecular structure of type I collagen" Structure 9 (11), 1061-1069, 333 Citations.

LH Thomas, VT Forsyth, A Šturcová, CJ Kennedy, RP May, CM Altaner, David C Apperley, T J Wess, MC Jarvis (2013) "Structure of cellulose microfibrils in primary cell walls from collenchyma" Plant physiology 161 (1), 465-476, 262 Citations.