AIP Summer Meeting; neutrons will save the world; foldable phones; jobs; and more physics in July

We are excited to announce that the AIP is running a Summer Meeting on 3rd – 6th December 2019 at RMIT University in Melbourne. The meeting aims to showcase the 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

A group of Australian students are attending the 29th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting in Germany and they’re taking over our new AIP Instagram account. See what they’re doing here.

July 5th 2019 marks the International Day of LGBTQ+ People in STEM. I’m so proud to be the president of an organisation that supports diversity and inclusion in STEM. And take a look at our social media accounts that have gone rainbow for the day!

This month in our new Hidden Physicists section, we’re featuring Eliza-Jane Pearsall, who is loving her job as Assistant Director of Policy Analysis at the Department of Social Security. Get in touch if you’d like to nominate a ‘hidden’ physicist for us to profile. More below.

This month Harvard physicist Lene Hau will present ‘Nothing goes faster than light… usually!’ at UNSW on July 23rd. For August: Helen Maynard-Casely will tour the country to talk about how neutrons will save the world for the Women in Physics lectures; Pegah Maasoumi will be around Queensland, talking about Ironman’s suit and solar panel windows on the John Mainstone lecture tour; and Elisabetta Barberio will present the 2019 Einstein lecture exploring what we know so far about dark matter. Details below.

I am also very proud to say that we found two Australian physicists honoured in the Queen’s Birthday 2018 Honours list. Congratulations to Olivia Samardzic and Michelle Simmons! Olivia is a long-time AIP executive team member and looks after the AIP awards and medals, and Michelle of course is a quantum physicist and 2018 Australian of the Year. If you know of other physicists, please let us know.

We await the results of the South Australian Science Excellence Awards with shortlisted physicists Andre Luiten and James Tickner. Good luck!

In WA, hear from medical physicist Pejman Rowshanfarzad about the latest advances in radiotherapy machines at the WA Branch AIP General Meeting on Thursday 11th July. Register by emailing WA Branch Chair Dean Leggo.

Also this month: mentoring and guidance in careers (MAGIC) workshop for women ECRs, five of Australia’s brightest students to attend the International Physics Olympiad in Israel, apply for a role at CSIRO as an optical satellite systems engineer and more jobs in our Jobs Corner.

Finally, if you know someone considering becoming a member, let them know that now is an excellent time to join. From July 1st, new members pay only 50 per cent of the membership rates for the remainder of the year.

AIP News

AIP Summer Meeting 2019

The second AIP Summer Meeting will be held 3rd – 6th December 2019 at RMIT University in Melbourne. 

The meeting aims to ‘showcase the upcoming talent in physics’ and will offer career development opportunities for students and early career researchers, including a jobs fair and a scientific program. 

For more details and to register, head to

AIP memberships for the rest of 2019 are half price

From July 1st, all new members get a 50 per cent discount on membership for the remainder of the year. 

If you know colleagues looking for ways to contribute and connect to the wider Australian Physics community, then please encourage them to apply.

Join more than 900 other members in an organisation dedicated to promoting the role of physics in research, education, industry and community. We also represent physics in Australia with organisations such as Science and Technology Australia and societies like the Australian College of Physical Scientists and Engineers in Medicine (ACPSEM), Australian Optical Society (AOS) and the Royal Australian Chemical Institute (RACI), among others.

Other benefits include eligibility for prizes, reciprocal memberships with other international professional societies, special rates at physics conferences, physics outreach opportunities and special interest groups.

Email with your membership request or read more about AIP’s member benefits and services online.

How neutrons will save the world

Instrument scientist and neutron-scattering expert Helen Maynard-Casely will visit TAS, NSW, WA, SA, ACT, QLD and VIC as the 2019 AIP Women in Physics lecturer. 

Small and neutral, the often-overlooked neutron is much more than just dead weight inside the atom. Neutrons are the sub-atomic particles that are here to save the world. From finding the shape of a virus and how a drug can disable it to keeping electrons flowing in the next generation of batteries, neutrons can help solve some of the greatest challenges we face today.

The 2019 Women in Physics Lecture Tour dates around the country are:

Helen will also be visiting schools throughout Australia on her tour. All Queensland students are invited to join the following sessions (please email Joanna Turner for more information):  

  • Oakey: 12.15pm – 1.15pm Wednesday 14 August: Oakey State High School
  • Toowoomba: 2pm – 3pm Wednesday 14 August: St Saviours College
  • Ipswich: morning of Thursday 15 August: Ipswich State High School
  • Townsville: 1.30pm – 2.30pm Friday 16 August: St Patricks College

Please check the AIP website and Twitter for updates on how to register.

Increasing diversity and inclusion in STEM

Today we celebrate International Day of LGBTQ+ People in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths.

Friday 5th July 2019 will mark the second International Day of LGBTQ+ People in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths. It is a day to improve visibility and support for LGBT+ people in STEM. 

We celebrate LGBTSTEM Day on the 5th of July as it can be written as ‘507’ which is in nanometres is the wavelength of the colour green featured in the rainbow flag, and is representative of nature.

Read more on how to take part at and take a look at our rainbow logos on our TwitterFacebook and Instagram social media accounts.

Foldable mobile phones, Ironman’s suit and solar panel windows

Don’t miss Pegah Maasoumi, our 2019 John Mainstone Youth Lecturer, as she tours Queensland this August. 

Pegah’s lecture will teach us about the journey of pixels from lab to the market; the mystery behind the foldable mobile phone and Ironman’s suit; next-gen apartment windows that can generate electricity from sunlight; her own journey as a scientist; and other exciting possibilities in nanotechnology.  

Events coming up around Queensland:

  • Friday 16 August: Sunshine Coast (time TBC) 
  • Monday 19 August: Gladstone State High School (12.10pm – 1.20pm) and Trinity College (2.10pm – 3pm) 
  • Tuesday 20 August: Rockhampton Heights College (8.50am – 9.40am) and Cathedral College (12pm to 1pm) 
  • Wednesday 21 August: Brisbane (time TBC)
  • Thursday 22 August: Toowoomba University of Southern Queensland (1pm – 2pm)

Pegah is an ARC Research Fellow in Flexible Electronics at the ARC Centre of Excellence in Exciton Science at the University of Melbourne.

Stay tuned for more details to be announced soon on the AIP website.

Two physicists shortlisted in the South Australian Science Excellence Awards

AIP Fellow Andre Luiten and Chrysos Corporation’s James Tickner are in the running for SA Scientist of the Year and STEM Professional of the Year.

Featured in our March bulletin, physicist-turned-entrepreneur Andre Luiten is head of the Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing (IPAS) at the University of Adelaide. He leads a group of 250 people that encourages and facilitates a close working relationship between industry and academia.

In the running for the STEM Professional of the Year award is James Tickner, Chief Technology Officer at Chrysos Corporation. James and his colleagues at CSIRO have developed a two-minute X-ray scan to determine how much gold is in a sample of ore with an accuracy of better than one part in a million.

The results will be announced at a dinner on Friday 9 August.

We’ll tweet about the winners, so stay tuned on the AIP twitter account.

What is Dark Matter? 

Join experimental particle physicist Elisabetta Barberio at the 2019 Einstein lecture in August.

What lies in the dark space between the stars? How can we measure things that are invisible? What prevents the galaxies from expanding into oblivion?

One explanation is dark matter, otherwise undetectable because it is composed of particles that do not absorb, reflect or emit light. We can only infer that it is there because of its gravitational impact on ordinary matter. The quest to understand it requires innovative approaches.

Learn about new developments to detect dark matter and how an active gold mine in rural Australia may help to solve the mystery. Join Elisabetta Barberio at the upcoming Einstein lecture in Sydney on Thursday 15 August. 

Register for free on Eventbrite:

Other Physics News & Opportunities

Laser and quantum physicists Olivia Samardzic (PSM) and Michelle Simmons (AO) have been recognised in the 2019 Queen’s Birthday Honours List. 

Laser physicist Olivia Samardzic (PSM)

SA Women in Physics Committee member and our long-time volunteer and executive team member Olivia Samardzic was awarded the Public Service Medal – Federal (PSM) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours. 

Olivia received the medal for providing the Australian Defence Force with superior operational capability and for establishing the South Australian Space School.

Quantum physicist Michelle Simmons (AO)

‘For distinguished service to science education as a leader in quantum and atomic electronics, and as a role model’, quantum physicist and 2018 Australian of the Year Michelle Simmons received the Officer (AO) in the General Division of the Order of Australia.

If you know of other physicists on the list, please let us know.

Read the full 2019 Queen’s Birthday Honours List at

Early career mentoring for women

For a chance to develop a variety of practical skills in leadership and outreach, apply for the third Mentoring and Guidance in Careers (MAGIC) workshop.

The workshop is for women and gender diverse early career researchers with a PhD in mathematical or physical sciences, awarded within the past seven years. 

Explore the many facets of forging a career in academic, government or industry settings, and discuss how to pave the way for success and resilience in your career. 

Successful applicants will receive financial support for economy round-trip travel from their home institution to the workshop and will be provided accommodation 18–22 November at University House in Canberra.

For eligibility criteria and registration, head to Applications close midnight 16 August 2019.

Australian students to attend the International Physics Olympiad 

Five of Australia’s brightest will represent Australia at the 2019 International Physics Olympiad in Tel-Aviv, Israel in July. 

National competitions to find Australia’s brightest high school scientists and mathematicians have picked 27 students to represent Australia at the UNESCO-sanctioned International Science, Informatics and Mathematical Olympiads from July to September.

Congratulations to the Australian team heading to the 2019 International Physics Olympiad in Tel-Aviv, Israel, from 7 to 15 July. 

  • Stephen Catsamas, Year 12, Marcellin College, VIC (who attended in 2018)
  • Jessie Lum, Year 12, Pymble Ladies’ College, NSW
  • William Sutherland, Year 12, Scotch College, VIC
  • Simon Yung, Year 12, Narrabundah College, ACT
  • Rosemary Zielinski, Year 12, Merici College, ACT

Across the Olympiads, 2,000 teenagers will take part in Hungary (Biology), France (Chemistry), Republic of Korea (Earth Science), Azerbaijan (Informatics), United Kingdom (Mathematics) and Israel (Physics).

Read the full media release:

Apply for a role as an optical satellite systems engineer at CSIRO by Sunday 21st July (advert)

CSIRO is building imaging systems for satellite launch in the coming years to support Australia’s rapidly growing space industry.

Image credit: SSTL

One key near-term goal for the Australian space industry is to establish sovereign Earth-observing capability.

CSIRO is seeking a committed, experienced optics expert to support the development of hyperspectral and high spatial resolution imaging for upcoming satellite work. You will join a team that will build up a new optics laboratory in downtown Adelaide, where the Australian Space Agency and many new space start-ups are headquartered.

Closing date to apply is 11.59pm AEST, Sunday 21 July, 2019. Apply today.

For more details on how to advertise, please contact Kirrily Rule (  

Hidden Physicists – featuring Eliza-Jane Pearsall

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

Meet Eliza-Jane Pearsall.

Employer: The Department of Social Services which is tasked with delivering a variety of programs and welfare payments, with the mission to improve the wellbeing of individuals and families in Australian communities.

Job title and description: I’m the Assistant Director of the Policy Analysis section and currently working part time after recently returning from maternity leave. My section builds, and uses a model of the entire Australian tax and transfer system (pensions, allowances, family payments, childcare payments and personal tax). This is based on Centrelink data and is projected over the forward estimates.

We support policy development by providing estimates of the cost and broader effects (e.g. number of people affected and demographics of those people) of proposed policy changes. As a senior member of the team, I provide support and quality assurance of others’ work while supervising and mentoring staff through more challenging requests.

But how do physics skills come into it? So I enjoy applying problem-solving skills to my work, often working with others to apply the technical skills from my physics background in novel ways to address the challenges of predicting the shape of a complex and dynamic population in a very intricate system. We are a close-knit team made up of many members that share a strong technical background. Not only is my work mentally challenging and engaging, but most days when I go home I feel like I’ve made a contribution by providing advice to support policy development with the potential to help the most vulnerable Australians. 

Career pathway:  

  • Bachelor of Science (Advanced) with Honours in Physics at ANU
  • 2015 Graduate development program at Department of Social Services. 
  • Seconded to the Parliamentary Budget Office (Australian Parliament House graduate program) for six months in 2016, working on election costings for Labor, the Greens and various backbenchers. 
  • Returned to the Policy Analysis section with additional strategic and supervisory responsibilities.

Please email if you would like to nominate a physicist for us to profile.

Jobs corner

The AIP is happy to provide a link to your physics-related job or PhD opportunity for free. Please send your links 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

A top scientist who overcame poverty is now mentoring Australia’s brightest young minds

Australian space industry has a bright future

Astronomers pinpoint new fast radio burst

Astronomy photographer of the year shortlist announced

A microscopic ‘Great Red Spot’ just confirmed a 70-Year-Old theory on superfluids

Monash Uni looks to spintronics for wearable devices

New Zealand will not pursue associate membership in the SKA Observatory

‘Noise-cancelling headphones’ for quantum computers: international collaboration launched

Sydney-Singapore team manipulate light wave on a silicon chip

To carve out a niche in space industries, Australia should focus on microgravity research rockets


Reach a bigger audience. The Australian physics events calendar is the definitive source for physics events around the country. If your physics event isn’t listed here, ask us about adding it, having it included in these regular bulletins and tweeted from the AusPhysics account.


How neutrons will save the world – Helen Maynard-Casley’s Women in Physics Lecture tour
Dates and locations to be announced in ACT soon. 


AIP event

Nothing goes faster than light…usually! 2019 Dirac Medal and Lecture Professor Lene Hau, Harvard University
July 23 2019 @ 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Tyree Room, John Niland Scientia Building, UNSW Sydney

NSW Physics in the Pub
7 August 2019 @ 7:00pm – 11:00pm
Harold Park Hotel, Glebe, NSW

What is Dark Matter? 2019 Einstein Lecture with experimental particle physicist Eisabetta Barberio
15 August 2019 @ 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm
UNSW Centre for Ideas, Kensington, Sydney

2019 Guild Research Awards Presentation Lecture Evening
16 August 2019 @ 5:00pm
Boston University Sydney Campus


Pegah Maasoumi’s 2019 John Mainstone Lecture series
16 – 22 August 2019 
Various events in Sunshine Coast, Gladstone, Rockhampton, Brisbane and Toowoomba

How neutrons will save the world – Helen Maynard-Casley’s Women in Physics Lecture tour
Dates and locations to be announced in Queensland soon. 


How neutrons will save the world – Helen Maynard-Casley’s Women in Physics Lecture tour in Adelaide
Dates and locations to be announced in South Australia soon. 


How neutrons will save the world – Helen Maynard-Casley’s Women in Physics Lecture tour
6 August 2019 @ 8:00pm
University of Tasmania


Girls in Physics Breakfast – How neutrons can save the world
28 August 2019 @ 7:30am – 10:00am
Monash University, Clayton

How neutrons will save the world – Helen Maynard-Casley’s Women in Physics Lecture tour 
Various dates and locations to be announced in Victoria soon. 

AIP Summer Meeting
3 – 6 December 2019 
RMIT University, Melbourne CBD


AIP General Meeting: WA Branch
11 July 2019 @ 6:00pm – 8:00pm
Physics Building, University of Western Australia

How neutrons will save the world – Helen Maynard-Casley’s Women in Physics Lecture tour in Perth (registration details coming soon)
22 August 2019 @ 6:30pm
University of Western Australia


[ACT] 7th Heavy Ion Accelerator Symposium on Fundamental and Applied Science
9 – 13 September 2019
Canberra, Australia

[VIC] International Conference on Materials Science and Engineering
16 – 18 September 2019
Melbourne, Australia

[SPAIN] World Congress on Lasers, Optics and Photonics
23 – 25 September 2019
Barcelona, Spain 

[SA] 19th Australian Space Research Conference
30 September – 2 October 2019
Adelaide, Australia

17 – 22 November 2019 
Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia

[VIC] 2019 Australian and New Zealand Conferences on Optics and Photonics (ANZCOP) 
8 – 12 December 2019
Melbourne, Australia

[VIC] International Conference on Spontaneous Coherence in Excitonic Systems (ICSCE10)
28 – 31 January 2020
Melbourne, Australia 

[NEW ZEALAND] 44th Annual Condensed Matter & Materials Meeting
4 – 7 February 2020
Rotorua, New Zealand

Contributions and contact details

Please get in contact if you have any queries about physics in Australia:

(Sent by Science in Public, on behalf of the Australian Institute of Physics,

Our mailing address is:
Australian Institute of Physics
PO Box 546
East Melbourne, Vic 3002