AIP Summer Meeting; jobs; conferences; and more physics in September

The call for abstracts for the Summer Meeting is now open. We are excited to offer this conference as a ‘cheap and cheerful’ opportunity on our off-Congress years. All welcome and we especially hope to see lots of our students and ECR members there.

Senior Instrument Scientist and neutron-scattering expert Helen Maynard-Casely’s Women in Physics Lecture Tour has finished after a mammoth 40+ lectures! I attended her talk in Canberra and loved going on a journey through the amazing crystals of solar system. I was so impressed by her storytelling skills. More below.  

Congratulations also to Pegah Maasoumi, who has been touring around Queensland spreading the word about foldable mobile phones, Ironman’s suit and solar panel winners on the John Mainstone Youth Lecture Tour.

National Science Week was again a success last month and featured everything from coffee in space with our Australian Physics co-editor Davis Hoxley, the Einstein Lecture with Elisabetta Barberio, and a look at whether bigger telescopes are always better, with Richard de Grijs. Well done to everyone who helped to spread the word about physics during the week.

Congratulations to the Dark Matter Particle Physics team with the announcement of their Centre of Excellence. More below.

Congratulations as well to all winners at last week’s Eureka Prizes. While seven physicists were finalists this year, sadly none walked away with a trophy. Next year!

Also this month: Register your interest for the International Conference on the Physics of Semiconductors 2020; Virginia Trimble receives cultural award in physics; meet Jane Turner – our September Hidden Physicist; and find an opportunity in our Jobs Corner.

Kind regards,

Jodie Bradby
President, Australian Institute of Physics

AIP News

How neutrons will save the world

Helen Maynard-Casely’s Women in Physics Lecture Tour, taking in 16 cities and towns around Australia,  has come to a close.

The tour took Helen, a senior instrument scientist at ANSTO, to Devonport, Launceston, Hobart, Sydney, Illawarra, Wollongong, Canberra, Toowoomba, Ipswich, Townsville, Adelaide, Perth, Bendigo, Ballarat, Geelong, and Melbourne. More than 1,500 people attended the events.

Her talks revealed that neutrons are much more than just dead weight inside atoms. From finding the shape of a virus and a drug to disable it, to keeping electrons flowing in next-gen batteries, neutrons can help solve some of the greatest challenges we face today.

We congratulate Helen on her fantastic tour around the country, and we asked her a few questions about the experience.

What was the highlight of the tour?

“One highlight was the large number of people I interacted with. In daily life you can fall into patterns in who you interact with, and this tour really pushed my sphere of interactions! Another highlight was the visit to Oakey State High School in Queensland.  It was organised by physics teacher Mitch Holgate and Queensland AIP co-ordinator Joanna Turner. Not only were the students really engaged, but the head of science, Jelena Edhouse, had baked a whole periodic table of cupcakes!

“A second event highlight was the visit to the School for Isolated and Distance Education in Perth, organised by Diana Tomazos. It was a totally difference experience presenting to a camera with students tuning in from thousands of kilometres away.” 

What about your research catches people’s attention the most?

“I hope there was something for all interests in my talk! I featured research by a number of my colleagues at the Australian Centre for Neutron Scattering. I think generally it is the sheer breadth of research at the centre that captures people.” 

What was something you learnt on tour?

“My skills in talking to a range of audiences improved dramatically. A great feature of the tour is the range of events, from local radio interviews and morning teas with physics students to public lectures and seminars in physics departments.”

Do you have any advice for future physicists?

“I worried a lot about in the past about taking the ‘wrong’ path, but I’ve realised more lately that there is no such thing. As long as you keep moving forward, meeting new people and learning, you’ll find your place.”

Send in your abstracts for the 2019 AIP Summer Meeting

Abstract submissions are now open for the 2019 AIP Summer Meeting.

The Summer Meeting will be held at RMIT University in Melbourne from 3–6 December. The meeting aims to showcase upcoming talent in physics and will offer career development opportunities for students and early career researchers, including a jobs fair and a brilliant scientific program. Details here

Abstract submissions close on 18 September, so don’t leave it too late!

Submit your abstract here:

AIP WA Student Conference in November

Save the date for our Student Conference on Thursday November 14.

The AIP WA Student Conference brings together young researchers from around Western Australia. It is an opportunity for early stage physics researchers to present their projects in a supportive environment to a tight-knit community of their peers.

Honours, Masters and PhD students studying at WA institutions are invited to attend and enjoy a day of networking and present their research.

Preliminary details

Date: 14th November, 9 am–5 pm.

Venue: Ross Lecture Theatre, UWA Physics Building

Further details announced in the coming weeks. For more information, contact Mitchell Chiew:

Membership of the Editorial Board of the AAPPS Bulletin

The AIP is seeking a member to nominate for membership of the AAPPS Bulletin Editorial Board. The AIP is one of 17 member societies of AAPPS (Association of Asia Pacific Physical Societies). Appointment to the Board is for a three-year term. It involves taking part in monthly video meetings (about 1 hour duration) and from time to time seeking content for the Bulletin from Australia and New Zealand. There is also a yearly face-to-face Board Meeting held in Pohang, South Korea. All local costs are paid by AAPPS, but not necessarily the airfare.

Although it is not necessary for the AIP to be represented, it is highly desirable (AAPPS sees itself as a third regional organisation on a par with American and European Physical Societies) and other members of the Board appreciate AIP involvement.

The current representative, Brian James, is coming to the end of his appointment. A new appointee would start in January 2020 and overlap with Brian’s term, which ends six months later.

Brian is happy to answer any questions about Board membership ( and if you wish to express interest in nomination please contact AIP secretary Kirrily Rule (

Call for abstracts – International Conference on the Physics of Semiconductors 2020

Semiconductor physics, including electronic, structural, optical, magnetic and transport properties, will all be discussed at the 35th International Conference on The Physics of Semiconductors (ICPS), held in Sydney August 9 to 14, 2020.

The Nobel Laureates and plenary speakers include:

  • Klaus von Klitzing
  • Shuji Nakamura,
  • Donna Strickland
  • Giulia Galli
  • Allan H. MacDonald
  • Jelena Vuckovic

2018 Australian of the Year and quantum physicist, Michelle Simmons, and AIP Vice-President and condensed matter physicist Sven Rogge, both Scientia Professors, encourage you register your expression of interest today.

Read more about the International Conference on the Physics of Semiconductors:

Or submit your abstracts here:

Other physics news and opportunities

Dark matter research centre funded

Last month the government announced $35 million in funding for the ARC Centre of Excellence for Dark Matter Particle Physics, to be led by Professor Elisabetta Barberio and based at the University of Melbourne.

The centre will pursue the discovery and understanding of the nature of dark matter, the invisible substance that is believed to comprise 85% of the universe’s matter.

The centre will carry out cutting-edge experiments to detect dark matter particles directly at the Stawell Underground Physics Laboratory in Victoria and a the University of Western Australia, as well as working on new detection technologies with the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation and Defence Science and Technology.

Other partners in the centre include The University of Adelaide, Australian National University, Swinburne University of Technology, The University of Sydney and several international institutions.

Find out more:

Astronomer Virginia Trimble receives cultural award in physics

Our counterparts, the American Institute of Physics, recently announced that astronomer Virginia Trimble was been selected to receive the 2019 Andrew Gemant Award, an annual prize recognising contributions to the cultural, artistic and humanistic dimension of physics.

With an interest in the evolution of stars, galaxies and the universe, Virginia is a professor in the department of physics and astronomy at the University of California, Irvine. She is also a staff astronomer and member of the advisory board for the Las Cumbres Observatory in Goleta, California, and holds an honorary staff position at the Queen Jadwiga Observatory in Rzepiennik Biskupi, Poland.

Virginia’s PhD research was about the Crab Nebula – the dust, gas and plasma sent speeding into space during a supernova explosion, the light from which was first noted in 1054.

Acknowledging the honour, Virginia said she was both humbled and grateful.

“If I am remembered by the time of my 100th birthday,” she added, “it will be for [being featured in a] Life Magazine article, my year as Miss Twilight Zone, posing for Richard Feynman when he was learning to draw, and the Andrew Gemant Award.”

Read more about the award

For more about our reciprocal membership benefits, please visit

Hidden Physicists – featuring Jane Turner

This section features a different physics graduate each month and highlights the surprising places they’ve ended up.

Name: Jane Turner

Job title and employer: Chief Petrophysicist, Woodside Energy Ltd.

Job description:  Petrophysics is about studying the physical and chemical properties of rock and how it interacts with fluids, particularly in reservoirs of oil and other hydrocarbons.

I’m responsible for ensuring the company properly understands its producing assets, new developments and exploration prospects by ensuring all petrophysical work performed by Woodside or on Woodside’s behalf is reliable, transparent and fit for purpose. I’m also the manager for the Reservoir Development Petrophysical Services Teams. 

Career pathway:

  • Commercial pilot
  • Bachelor of Science Hons (Astrophysics) at the University of Western Australia
  • Geomechanicist at Shell Exploration and Production Europe in Aberdeen, Scotland
  • Geophysicist, Petrophysicist, Reserves Coordinator, Studies and Wellsite Teams Lead, and currently Chief Petrophysicist – all at Woodside Energy Ltd.

Please email if you’d like to nominate a ‘hidden’ physicist for us to profile.

Jobs Corner – physics employment opportunities

The AIP is happy to provide a free link to your physics-related job or PhD opportunity. Please send them to If you would like to feature more details and a picture, please email Kirrily Rule for more information. 

PhD opportunities

Aussie physics in the news

Australian breakthrough in quantum computing

How scattering light could power a microchip revolution

Like Pac-Man: Scientists believe they detected a Black Hole swallowing a neutron star

Pulsar glitch suggests superfluid layers lie within neutron star

Scientists discover star dust in Antarctic snow

Solar physics with the Square Kilometre Array

What we learned from meeting 39 Nobel Prize winners

World first for Australian low-energy electronics research