Centre for Chemistry Research Fellow Dr Voltaire Velazco was in his element looking out to the ocean and Illawarra escarpment from his vantage point on top of the Molecular Horizons building.
When complete, the new molecular life science research facility at the University of Wollongong will provide a clear view to the horizon for atmospheric chemistry researchers to monitor the Earth's atmosphere and air quality more accurately.
Dr Velazco was at a Topping Out Celebration on Wednesday to mark the completion of the uppermost concrete slab of the five-storey building, which will house a suite of advanced technology to help researchers in their work to solve the world's biggest challenges such as developing new forms of antibiotics and curing cancer.
Molecular Horizons will also be the new home of UOW's Centre for Atmospheric Chemistry, with the purpose-built design allowing for the Centre's atmosphere and air quality measuring instruments to be positioned on the rooftop with a clear view to the horizon.
Dr Velazco said moving six key measuring instruments to the top of the building will particularly strengthen researchers' ability to more precisely measure the average air quality within a five kilometre radius of UOW's campus, its Innovation Campus and Wollongong Hospital.
"We were limited in access to the sky and now we will have a clearer view to the ocean all-year round," he said. "The big difference is we can now measure as soon as the sun comes up, giving us better, more sensitive measurements."
The Centre has been operating from the rooftop of UOW's Chemistry (Halpern) Building since 1996.
It has worked with partners including NASA and ANSTO. Research ranges from monitoring the air quality in Wollongong and surrounds to measuring carbon dioxide and its effects on the Earth's climate.
Dr Velazco welcomed the upcoming move to the Molecular Horizons building.
"The extended observation geometry will enable added information on the ocean's boundary layer , as well as information on how trace gases react to light as the sun rises," he said.
"There are so many new topics and possibilities to explore and this puts UOW in a stronger position as a coastal atmospheric monitoring site."
Professor Alison Jones, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Health and Communities) said the milestone marked a "fantastic celebration for the Illawarra community".
"[The building] is major investment that is a game changer in terms of health and medical research, but also our understanding of basic science and the science of below the cell level and the science of the atmosphere," Prof Jones said.
The Executive Dean for the Faculty of Science, Medicine and Health, added Molecular Horizons was significantly contributing to the local economy.
"What this means for the Illawarra is we got a world centre of excellence being built here that is going to build jobs and going to build opportunities for our communities to have wonderful interactions with this centre over the years," she said.
"This is also our chance to establish the Illawarra as a leader in molecular science research."