Category Archives: News

Awards Announcement

The AIP are delighted to announce the outcomes for the following awards:

2020 HARRIE MASSEY MEDAL

Professor Halina Rubinsztein-Dunlop

The University of Queensland

For her pioneering work in laser micromanipulation, atom and quantum optics, ultracold atomic gases, nano-optics and biophotonics. Her seminal research in the mechanical action of light in biological and micron scale systems has paved the way for optically driven micromachines and led to applications in a diverse range of fields.  Her distinguished achievements in laser cooling and trapping of atoms includes milestones such as the experimental demonstration of dynamical tunnelling and the observation of novel coherent structures in condensed gases.

2020 ALAN WALSH MEDAL

Professor Ann Roberts

The University of Melbourne

Professor Roberts has provided an outstanding contribution to the fields of Plasmonics, Nanophotonics, and Optics more broadly. Her deep understanding of fundamental optics has enabled new advances in art conservation and attribution, particularly in collaboration with the Grimwade Centre for Cultural Materials Conservation, and to the development of new generation banknote security features in collaboration with the Reserve Bank of Australia.

2020 EDUCATION MEDAL

Associate Professor Elizabeth Angstmann

The University of New South Wales

For her outstanding contribution to physics education in Australia by developing innovative approaches to first year and service teaching, increasing the number of students voluntarily electing to study physics, and establishing programs to improve the experience of secondary school physics students in New South Wales.

2020 RUBY PAYNE-SCOTT

Dr Magdalena Zych

The University of Queensland

For her development of an innovative new framework that incorporates relativistic time dilation into the theory of quantum mechanics, and discovery that time dilation leads to a novel form of quantum entanglement and decoherence; and the subsequent proposal of the new paradigm of ‘quantum clock interferometry’.

We congratulate these award winners on their achievements!

Due to a confluence of events including COVID-19 we are still finalizing the award winners for 2019.  The decision was made to go ahead with the announcement of these 2020 awards so as not to further compound these delays. Further information about the delays can be found on our webpage.

New Fellows, old lacrosse teams and how to get to Mars

The humanitarian crisis in India and the current lockdown in Melbourne continue to highlight the need for accessible vaccines around the world — and a large uptake across the population where they are available. Australia is fortunate to be in the latter situation and it is positive to see that future mRNA therapeutics development has been identified as a priority.
 
Cathy Foley, Australia’s Chief Scientist and past AIP president, will chair the 7th International Union of Pure and Applied Physics International Conference on Women in Physics, to be held virtually between 11 and 15 July. The AIP delegation will be led by Pegah Maasoumi from Swinburne University. It was great seeing the recent coverage by the ABC on the participation of women in physics in different countries, featuring Prof Mahananda Dasgupta from ANU.
 
The AIP Summer Meeting (6-12 December) will feature 11 streams covering the broad spectrum of academic and industrial physics activities in Australia. In parallel to the regular Scientific Program, members are invited to send submissions for focused streams on cutting edge research themes. Cut-off date is 14 June.
 
In 2022, the AIP Congress will be held in Adelaide at the Convention Centre from 11 to 15 December. A COVID-related shift of the event meant it was not possible to secure the first week in December, as originally planned.  
 
Congratulations to our colleagues Susan Coppersmith FAA, John Sader FAA, and Gregory Clark AC FAA FTSE for their election to the Australian Academy of Science. Read on for more.
 
If you know a student who has demonstrated ‘excellence in physics’, consider nominating them for the Bragg or Laby medal. There is also a winter vacation internship, and the Science Olympiad is open for registration.
 
We profile John Innis from EPA Tasmania who co-ordinates the ambient air pollution measurement program. He tells us how #PhysicsGotMeHere.
 
This month, back in 1980, our magazine Australian Physics had a story about William Bragg in Adelaide and a photo of him and his lacrosse team. Back in 2021, our next edition magazine includes a feature on the toroidal analyser end-station at the Australian Synchrotron.
 
We’re on the look-out for a co-editor for the magazine so if that sounds like you, please get in touch.
 
And finally, a big thanks to Zurich Instruments, who develop and sell measurement instruments, for sponsoring the AIP.

Kind regards,
Sven Rogge
President, Australian Institute of Physics
aip_president@physics.org.au

Continue reading New Fellows, old lacrosse teams and how to get to Mars

Return to campus, Women in Physics, Science meets Parliament, and lots more in May

It is an impressive triumph of science that just one year after the declaration of the pandemic there are several vaccines in widescale use. The humanitarian crisis in India illustrates that Australia is in the fortunate situation of having close to no local transmission and thus can be cautious in the vaccination roll-out. It also highlights the urgency for countries like ours to support regions in need, in order to limit further mutations and foster a global recovery.

The situation in India and the recent setback with the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine puts the Australian economy, and in particular the higher education sector, further at risk. We need the international undergraduate and postgraduate students to sustain the high quality education and research to which we are accustomed.

PhD students are the key contributors to academic research. They and their host groups are eager to continue their work on site. It is encouraging to see that the slowed vaccination roll-out is prompting discussion about intermediate arrangements while the world cannot yet freely travel. These include serious consideration of university-led pilot quarantine programs put forward initially by South Australia, the ACT and recently by NSW. It would be a welcome triumph if international students return shortly after local ones get fully back onto campus.

An indication that campus life is getting a step closer to normal is the Australian National University physics degree accreditation visit that was just completed. The importance of an accredited program has been taken to a new level in the pandemic. The need to reduce cost, combined with the necessity of online content delivery and assessment, is understandable in a crisis.

The challenge is to ensure that the experience and quality of a physics degree is as high as possible, and above the requirements of the AIP’s accreditation standards. These requirements were a key component in the dialogue between physics departments and their institutions to maintain identity, rigour, and a positive experience for their programs.

Great to see the ANU physics team to be the first program to be reviewed in the pandemic, and many thanks to the accreditation committee (pictured left, by Tim Senden): Michael Wheatland, and Tim McIntyre, led by Professor Deb Kane, and ANU Physics Deputy Director Joe Hope.

The AIP welcomes the government’s focus on research translation. In this context, our Special Project Officer for Policy, Associate Professor Gerd Schröder-Turk, drove a member poll that led to an AIP submission to the Department of Education, Skills and Employment’s consultation on commercialising university research. It emphasised translation opportunities, especially for early career researchers, and the need to stay committed to fundamental science. More details below.

Gerd has also been speaking up over the composition of university councils. See below for details.

In preparation for the AIP Summer Meeting, to be held in December at the Queensland University of Technology, the program committee will select several focused sessions from contributed proposals. These will feature a series of invited talks around a contemporary topic, giving the audience accessible and in-depth understanding, nuanced by multiple speakers. Please start to think about suitable topics, and appropriately excellent presenters – we will be calling for submissions soon!  

The next AIP Congress has been postponed to December 2022. Professor Andre Luiten has stepped down as chair of this event, but remains on the organising committee. The new chair will be Associate Professor James Zanotti. I thank both for their leadership and commitment.  

Congratulations to AIP Fellow Professor David Jamieson of the University of Melbourne, who has been awarded a Wolfson Fellowship by the Royal Society. Read on for more.

Also in this issue of the bulletin, meet the most recent scientist proclaiming #physicsgotmehere, Tamara Martin from the Naval Shipbuilding College. You can also meet one of our valued sponsors, Lastek Pty Ltd.

Kirrily Rule and Jayden Newstead give their impressions of this year’s Science Meets Parliament program, and we introduce the 2021 Women in Physics lecturer, Associate Professor Susanna Guatelli.

Discover, too, some exciting opportunities to nominate for awards and fellowships, and enjoy our latest story drawn from the vaults of Australian Physics magazine.

Plus there’s our monthly round up of Australian physics in the news, as well as employment opportunities and upcoming events.


Kind regards,
Sven Rogge
President, Australian Institute of Physics
aip_president@physics.org.au

Continue reading Return to campus, Women in Physics, Science meets Parliament, and lots more in May

Applications Now Open for the 2021-22 Australian Science Policy Fellowship program

The program gives early- and mid-career scientists the opportunity to work in a Commonwealth Government department for 12 months.

Applications will be open from April 7 to April 26

They are also hosting a public information webinar on Tuesday 13 April from 5:30-6:30pm AEDT. Please click here to register.

For more information: https://www.chiefscientist.gov.au/australian-science-policy-fellowship-program

Please contact Jessica Wright via OCS-projects@chiefscientist.gov.au if you would like to discuss.

Nanotech, patents, time travel and April physics fun

There is still time to have your say on the AIP’s submission to the Federal Government’s consultation on commercialising university research.

In February this year the Department of Education, Skills and Employment released a paper on the topic, inviting input.

Our Special Project Officer for Policy, Associate Professor Gerd Schröder-Turk, organised a member poll to seek responses. You’ll find our draft submission here . We will submit it at midday AEST on Friday, April 9.

The AIP Council and AGM were held virtually this year, and attracted such a good turn-up that we have decided to use virtual formats for all future AGMs.

At the Council meeting the idea of an advisory board was developed. Its purpose will be to advise the AIP executive on how to engage with, initially, potential industry partners. We’re seeking nominations for this project from industry and government, so if you’re interested please get in touch with me.

Speaking of meetings, from this year on, the AIP Congress and Summer Meeting will now be held in the first week of December. The two events are biennial and will alternate with each other. Read on for details of the next Summer Meeting , which will be held in Brisbane 6-9 December.

It was good to hear Dr Cathy Foley, Australia’s Chief Scientist and former AIP President, specify physics as one of the country’s four foundational issues in her recent National Press Club address. The way science is practised, she noted, will be transformed by artificial intelligence and quantum technologies. You can read her speech here.

Dr Foley also took the time to acknowledge ANU physicist Professor Ken Baldwin for his leading role in establishing Science Meets Parliament, the annual series of encounters between researchers and MPs. This year’s event concludes April 1.

Professor Baldwin was the 2019 winner of the AIP’s Award for Outstanding Service to Physics in Australia. Nominations for this year’s award are now open. We’ll have more details in next month’s bulletin.

On the subject of awards, congratulations to Professors Cathryn Trott and David McClelland, who have both been honoured by the Australian Academy of Science. See below for details for those and other awards.

In this edition we feature patent attorney Phil Burns in #Physicsgotmehere; nanotech in optics is the next livestreamed event; you have the chance to access a free copy of Physics World; and, of course, material both old and new from our own magazine, Australian Physics.

Kind regards,

Sven Rogge
President, Australian Institute of Physics
aip_president@physics.org.au

Continue reading Nanotech, patents, time travel and April physics fun

Physics in a pandemic, South Korea ties; send your science selfies

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, federal and state leaders have depended on the expert advice provided by the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee. One of its members include a physicist.

You can meet him in this month’s #PhysicsGotMeHere profile below.

The AIP extends hearty congratulations to University of Queensland physicist Professor Halina Rubinsztein-Dunlop – who last month became the first woman to be awarded the US Optical Society’s C.E.K. Mees Medal.

Make a note in your diary to join Chief Scientist Dr Cathy Foley and a star-studded physics cast for the 2021 Frontiers of Science Forum, on next week. Read on for details.

Read on, too, for news of our forthcoming Summer Meeting, committee opportunities, a prize nomination and new collaborations with colleagues in southeast Asia.

The next issue of the AIP’s print magazine, Australian Physics, will be available soon. While you wait for your copy to arrive, check out this month’s ‘From the Vault’ story’ below.

You may have noticed that the AIP’s Facebook page became a victim of the tech giant’s purge of Australian news sites last month. We’re happy to report that it’s now back online and urge you, if you haven’t already, to check it out and follow us. You can find it here.

Sloshing quantum fluids and puffy galaxies were just two of the Australian physics research stories to make the news last month. Read on for these and more.

And, of course, in this issue you’ll find news of interesting jobs, interesting meetings and many other matters that make up the physics ecosystem in this country. Enjoy!

Kind regards,

Sven Rogge
President, Australian Institute of Physics
aip_president@physics.org.au

Continue reading Physics in a pandemic, South Korea ties; send your science selfies

QLD EXCELLENCE IN PHYSICS TEACHING Award 2021 – nominate now!

The AIP-QLD is looking for nominations of Physics teachers that have made a positive impact to teaching Physics to students at the high school level by anyone of the following criteria.

  1. Promote student interest in physics by providing an environment that stimulates student curiosity and learning.
  2. Use, develop or write innovative instructional materials and new technologies and approaches to the teaching of physics.
  3. Be a positive role model or mentor for other teachers of physics.
  4. Participate in professional development activities in science as a facilitator and continuous development as an effective science educator, with a focus on physics.

If you have a colleague, a former teacher of your own, or have heard of an inspiring teacher in your circle of friends, please consider nominating them for this years award by filling out the nomination form and sending this nomination (or any inquiries) by email to: aip_branchsecretary_qld@physics.org.au

The award consists of a cash prize, plaque and certificate.

Nominations close Friday 4 June 2021.

New hands at the helm, galactic evolution, Science Meets Parliament, and old computers the size of wardrobes

Welcome to the first edition of the AIP bulletin for the new year.

I’m Sven Rogge, president-elect of the AIP and Scientia Professor at UNSW, Sydney, studying condensed matter physics and, in particular quantum electronics.

As president-elect, I’d like to thank outgoing president, Jodie Bradby, for her tireless and inspiring work in the position. I would also like to formally welcome the rest of the new executive. We’ll all take up our offices following the AGM next week.

The priorities established by Jodie during her tenure will not be shifting. I look forward to progressively reaching more physicists – especially younger ones – around Australia, and gradually growing our membership. In addition, I want to engage more physicists outside academia to work with the industry to showcase the important work that is happing in this area.

As our long-running series, Hidden Physicist, demonstrates, the practise of physics is not confined to academia, but is a critical element of many industries.

Hidden Physicist has now been renamed #PhysicsGotMeHere. It will continue, I hope, to play a part in breaking down silos between public and private sector physicists. Read on for this month’s article.

Read on, too, to find out more about the AIP’s new vice-president, Nicole Bell.

In our next livestreamed talk, ANU astronomer and ASTRO 3D director Lisa Kewley will discuss the physics of galactic evolution. More details below.

We bring you news of some interesting career opportunities, in the form of prizes, scholarships and an academic position.

As usual, we round up some of the exciting pieces of Australian research that have made it into the news – including a new world record for the stable transmission of a laser through the atmosphere.

And please enjoy this month’s deep-dive into the vaults of the AIP’s venerable magazine, Australian Physics.

My colleagues on the executive and I are keen to hear thoughts from any and all members about the future of physics in Australia, and how the discourse in our discipline should develop. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Kind regards,

Sven Rogge
President-elect, Australian Institute of Physics
aip_president@physics.org.au

Continue reading New hands at the helm, galactic evolution, Science Meets Parliament, and old computers the size of wardrobes